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Wednesday 7 December 2016

How to become wealthy - the ancient way

Joe Barry

Published 06/04/2016 | 02:30

Saving one tenth of your income is the cornerstone for a prosperous future
Saving one tenth of your income is the cornerstone for a prosperous future

There are many ways of getting rich and some say one of the easiest is to write a book on that subject.

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Numerous best sellers have been written about making money and their authors have all gone laughing to the bank with their profits.

Almost everyone wants to be rich, so the trick is to find a text that appeals to the general public and then put together a reasonable and readable summary of what is needed to become a multi-millionaire.

The ridiculous part of all this is that the requirements for making lots of money are very simple. Work hard, keep saving a portion of your income, invest wisely and learn from your own mistakes and the mistakes of others.

Ok, it helps to have a bit of luck also but some people have the knack of making their own luck and spotting the right time to buy or sell. You could of course also write a book on how to lose weight, which is a hot topic these days. The answer to that one is also easy. All that needs to be done is to eat less and move more.

Once you stretch that simple lesson in to about 20 chapters you have your bestseller. Then there is that other perennial goal that people have strived to achieve for thousands of years, how to beat ageing and remain looking youthful. This has made billions for the cosmetic industry ever since our ancestors emerged from their caves and began using skin care treatments such as mare's milk and honey mixed with yak dung.

When starting off in life, however, becoming rich is the principal goal of most ambitious young people.

One book, which I have just finished reading is a classic of its kind. Over two million copies have been printed and while I was sceptical initially, I must admit that in terms of describing, in a simple and entertaining manner how to become rich, it hits the nail on the head.

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The book is The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clayton.

Originally he wrote it as a series of separate informational pamphlets to be distributed by banks and insurance companies. The pamphlets were later bound together and published in book form in 1926.

Since then it has been reprinted umpteen times and after browsing the internet booksellers, my second hand copy cost me the princely sum of €2.50. To explain my original scepticism, I will quote some text from the cover: "This astonishing bestseller holds the secrets to all your ambitions and desires and everything you wish to accomplish. This is the book that holds the key to personal wealth."

Ok, nice one guys, but do you honestly expect me to believe that? However, as I read through the chapters I realised that this is a book everyone should have and for less than three euro, what have you got to lose? It is only 150 pages so you could read it in an afternoon.

The text consists of a collection of parables set in ancient Babylon where the characters, two poor tradesmen, learn simple lessons in financial wisdom from a wealthy merchant. His first piece of advice is to learn how to live within your means and each year, put one tenth of your income aside.

Willpower

Once you have achieved that, learn how to make your savings multiply. The two men protest that they are too poor to save anything, but of course they are wrong. In more modern times, Parkinson's Law dictated that "expenditure rises to meet income".

This is a proven fact yet the truth is that we can all deny ourselves some purchases, whatever they might be and save the money, provided we have the willpower.

Money makes money, but first you have to accumulate a bit.

While the parables relate to ancient times, they are just as relevant today as they were 4,000 years ago when Babylon was the wealthiest city in the world.

It is the manner in which every aspect of managing money is covered and in a language that any of us can relate to that appealed to me.

The richest man of the title even told how he lost all his own savings originally, but having learnt a good lesson from this mistake he simply started again and went on to make his fortune.

Get a copy and leave it around for your children to read. It contains some of the best lessons and advice they could ever get.

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