Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Richest Man in Babylon – Outstanding Book

I just finished reading (err… listening to) Richest Man in Babylon (audio download, audio cd) and it is an incredibly worthwhile piece of media (I learned a lot + I was entertained, and it was the perfect length - see this post). The book is written mostly as a narrative fable with the financial advice brilliantly, seamlessly, and entertainingly woven into the narrative. As for the audio version, the narrator was perfect with a low and somewhat husky voice that evoked auditory images of ancient Babylonia. This is the best financial book I think I have ever read – informative, interesting, entertaining, useful, all in all great.

Some highlights (I’m paraphrasing since I listened to it):
  • Babylonian advice for becoming wealthy: Save 1/10 of all you earn. As is repeated ad nauseam in the book “1/10 of all you earn is yours to keep.” Live on the other 9/10.
  • Apparently, without knowing it, I have been proposing a Babylonian scheme for debt repayment (see this post): Save 1/10 of all you earn. Use 2/10 of all you earn to repay your debt. Live on the other 7/10.
  • Babylonian advice about housing: If you can realistically turn one of your expenses into an investment – do it.
  • Babylonian advice about work: Work is your greatest friend and ally in building wealth, don’t be afraid of it. Also, doing work well is good for the soul.

There are only two places where I felt the book fell short.
  1. Its investment advice (remember this book was written in the 1930s). While the advice was sound, I think it was a bit too conservative for modern long term investors.
  2. It highlighted savings, time, hard work, and planning as great creators of wealth, but fell short of any analysis of the degree to which people working for you create wealth for you.

The book briefly discussed whether everyone could be wealthy, but I found the response to be unfulfilling. I am left pondering whether it is possible for everyone to be wealthy or if wealth as opposed to an objective standard of living is a relative distinction where only a certain number of people are ever able to be wealthy

End thought: This is an amazing book. I can recommend it to anyone without reservation; it is a well told story with rock solid financial advice.

or audio version

1 comment:

Suresh said...

More generally, fully 30% of your income goes to increasing your net worth. Knowing that and taking into account risk, you can determine what combination of debt payment and investment gets you the best rate of return.