Podcast Episode - The Richest Advice Ever


About Suze, Financial Independence, Podcast, Saving, Saving Money


May 19, 2019

Listen to Podcast Episode:

In today’s podcast, Suze shares with you the book that set her on the path to financial freedom.


Podcast Transcript:

So many of you write me and you ask me this question, you say Suze, what was the first book that you ever read that changed your life before you became Suze Orman? What was that book? Because it's true. I've now written 10 personal finance books, all of them in my opinion, absolutely fabulous. Especially not only Women & Money, but my very favorite book of all books I have ever written is The Nine Steps to Financial Freedom. Subtitle, practical and spiritual steps so you can stop worrying. I loved that book more than any book. It was really the first big book that I wrote. And the words just came flowing out of me off of my fingertips. I remember having this feeling as I was writing this going, please don't ever stop, please, my fingers were tingling. It took me a month and a half to write that book. And as you know, that book went on to be one of the best-selling books of all time. But this podcast is not about my books. This podcast is about a book that I truly believe is one of the best personal finance books that have ever been written. And can you imagine, that here I am telling you about a book that isn't my book. It was a book that was written in 1926. And the name of the book is The Richest Man in Babylon. What did I just say? The richest man in Babylon? But Suze, this is a podcast called Women & Money. I know, I know. But it's okay. Because men are very vital in our lives. This podcast was never meant to be excluding men. It was to be Women & Money and the men smart enough to listen. But men have been very vital in my life, and very important, and beneficial. And I'm sure the same is true for you. And this one man George Clason, who wrote the richest man in Babylon, really laid the financial foundation that I was looking for. Now this book came out many, many years ago. And recently they decided they were going to bring it out again. In this book, it is a classic. Sold like two million copies. And I got a call, and really an incredible honor. And I was asked, would I like to write the introduction to this book because they are bringing it out again. And I said are you kidding me? I'd be more than honored. And so today's podcast, I would like you to hear the introduction that I wrote. I'd like you to hear me reading it to you, and after you hear that, if you want to go to Amazon or a bookstore and you want to pick up The Richest Man in Babylon, you should absolutely do. So now it's really important for me to say this. Do I make one penny If you buy the book? I do not. So many of you are just so skeptical. Oh, Suze Orman wants you all to go and buy The Richest Man in Babylon because I bet she makes a dollar or two or three from every book that is sold. I don't. The sole purpose of this podcast, the sole purpose of what I do, is to provide you with information. No matter where that information comes from, that could hopefully change your life, inspire you, motivate you, encourage you, and sometimes console you that everything is gonna be all right. So with that, here we go. In the more than 90 years since The Richest Man in Babylon was first published, just about everything to do with personal finances has been transformed. This book came out three years before the Great Depression began. There were no government guarantees that money saved at a bank would be fully insured. The safety net of Social Security would not come into being for another nine years. Medicare would not arrive for another 40. The first mutual fund was launched just two years before The Richest Man in Babylon was published in 1926. Today, there are roughly a bazillion mutual funds and exchange traded funds you can invest in. It would be another 25 years until the curse that is the modern day credit card would be launched. Can you imagine the skepticism you would receive if you did a bit of time travel to the 1920s and tried to explain the miracle that is the ATM? A convenience that is so common today, that we don't even think of it as some sort of technological wonder. Exactly how would you go about explaining that all your banking, bill paying, and investing can be done on a computer, that is also a phone, and happens to fit in your pocket. There sure wasn't an app for that a century ago. So why would I jump at the opportunity to reintroduce a book that by American standards is practically ancient? Because this book speaks to anyone who is eager to build a more financially secure life. And it's timeless. It is just as spot on today as it was generations ago, To be clear, there is one obviously dated notion, and it's right there in the title. In fact, every character in the book is a man. That's reflective of the time when it was written. Women didn't handle the money, or the money decisions. We've obviously come a long way on that front. That's not a reason to dismiss the heart of the book. It's clear message of how to build lasting wealth is not gender-dependent. If you find the gender bias annoying, just recast all the characters in a way that enables you to read and absorb the wisdom. For in these pages are all the key steps that will help you create wealth, grow your wealth, and live a truly rich life. Despite what the financial world wants you to believe, needs you to believe, success is not a function of the latest investment and financial fads. Or access to the reams of data at our fingertips. If that were the case, millions of households wouldn't be weighed down by record levels of credit card debt, and there wouldn't be an endless stream of surveys telling us that most Americans are extremely anxious that they aren't saving enough for retirement. Clearly, the latest advice isn't sufficient or effective or sufficiently effective. That's where I think this book can help. Dig into The Richest Man in Babylon, and you will understand how just a handful of commitments can transform your financial life. The stories in this book were first presented as standalone brochures written by George S. Clason. The owner of a road atlas manufacturer. I think that may help explain the success of the book. Mr. Clason, the atlas publisher, knew the best way to help people get where they want to go is to provide clear navigational direction. That's exactly what he has done with this book. Laid out the financial rules of the road. After distilling financial principles into very clear, simple directions, his next genius move was to deliver that advice in the form of stories. We all love a good story. Yet most of the time, personal finance books are written as fact-based, do this, don't do that directives. Not as a story that we can relate to. The writers of the new testament understood the power of teaching moral lessons in the form of stories rather than simple lists of shalts and shalt nots. Kudos to Mr. Clason for following that example, and creating simple parables set in ancient times that are easy to a. understand and b. remember. Those stories really grabbed me when I first read this book more than 30 years ago. In fact, this is the first financial book I ever read, and to this day, it remains my favorite. A brief personal history. The best-selling books, the award-winning cable television show, and my years of connection with millions of Americans looking for no nonsense help managing their financial lives came only after a long detour. Following college at the age of 29, I was earning $400 a month as a waitress. In today's dollars, that's a still measly $1,300 or so a month. Let's just say I was not yet on my road to wealth. I eventually made my way into the financial services world, first working as a stockbroker and then running my own financial planning firm before I started talking to and counseling a national audience. When I started my transition into the world of personal finance, I was greener than green. I learned the mechanics, laws, and regulations of money management in a broker training program and then when I earned the certified financial planner designation. But this book was my introduction to the most important financial principles of all. Which have nothing to do with arcane tax laws, banking regulations, or highfalutin investment theory. It teaches you how to become a person who chooses actions that build wealth. Today, there is no shortage of financial advice at your fingertips, be it online in books or through working with a financial advisor. Perhaps you don't need to be told yet again how important it is to save for retirement, or not carry gobs of credit card debt. You've heard that plenty. Where you need some help, is in motivating yourself to choose financial security. To finally have the resolve to follow through and take the steps to start building lasting wealth. There are no shortcuts. Yet these steps will slowly, but surely build your wealth. Of course, the steps can only work when you make the commitment to see them through. Having great intentions doesn't fund your retirement. Wanting and wishing do not create a large emergency cash fund. You choose financial success by your actions each and every day. Tucking some of your salary into a retirement account is a personal choice. Deciding that you will not load up on credit card purchases you can't pay off is a choice. And too often we convince ourselves that the choices necessary to build financial security are just too hard, or too unpleasant. The Richest Man in Babylon presents the counter argument. Making choices today that bring long term security will bring you instant liberation. You will be energized by knowing you are now making choices that give you control of your money, your life, and your future. The richest man in Babylon remains relevant today because it focuses on the timeless law, that it is our personal behavior that creates or destroys lasting wealth. The Richest Man in Babylon spoke to me in a way no other book or colleague ever did. Actually Arkad spoke to me. You will soon get to know our Arkad. The Richest Man in Babylon is waiting to show you the way to financial success. Like me, Arcade was not born into success. And like me, he suffered a great financial loss early in his life. We both made bad investments because we didn't yet know any better. He worked his way through the setback, and devoted his life to understanding not how to get rich fast, but how to build wealth that lasts. Exactly what I was after. I am an unabashed cheerleader for the simplicity of the advice in this book. By removing the mystery and confusion that typically surrounds money, Mr. Klassen makes financial security accessible to all. He seemed well aware that he would get some pushback on It's easy to absorb lessons. And one passage, Arckad is speaking to men who want to know how he became so successful. He shares a very basic piece of advice, and has met with some skepticism. Our Arkad tells them, derive not what I say because of its simplicity, truth is always simple. That is exactly what today's financial service industry doesn't want you to know. It is an industry that needs you to feel so confused and overwhelmed that you will turn to it for help, and pay plenty for that help. The truth is, that if you master the simple lessons in this book, you will be in great shape. After that, feel free to further learn and explore investing strategies. But know, that you can turn out a lot of the noise and create financial security solely by following Arkad’s advice. Besides, simplicity is often sneaky smart. You probably heard the phrase pay yourself first. Mr. Clason is credited with coming up with that powerful rule for this book. Our Arkad and other characters repeatedly emphasize that you should make it your highest priority to always save at least 10% of your earnings. Whatever your income high or low, always save at least 10%. It worked for Arkad. I found the road to wealth when I decided that a part of all I earned was mine to keep. That's priceless and timeless advice that works just as well whether you are saving coins in ancient Babylon, or contributing to a 401k or Roth IRA. With that commitment in place, Arkad then shares what I considered the secret sauce of financial security. “Budget thy expenses, that thou must have coins to pay for thy necessities to pay for thy enjoyment, and to gratify thy worthwhile desires without spending more than 9/10 of the thy earnings.” When I recently reread the book, this passage jumped out at me. I have long spoken about the freedom and happiness that comes from living below one's means and within one's needs. The fact that Americans have more than 800 billion in credit card debt suggests Arkad and I still have some work to do. But our shared message is that this is not an exercise in denial. You can give yourself an occasional treat, but you give yourself lasting wealth when you grasp that power and happiness comes when you manage to save a little, and spend within your means. The book covers all the basic personal finance topics, savings, spendings, the power of compound interest, and home buying gets the full parable treatment here. Mr. Clason also drops nuggets along the way on how to navigate sticky personal relationships. One that rings so true for me, “if you desire to help thy friend, do so in a way that will not bring thy friend’s burden upon thyself.” As I have counseled for years, a true act of generosity must be generous to both the recipient and the giver. Putting your finances at risk to help someone is not generous. Don't worry, Arkad is not some lifeless, rich killjoy. Mr. Clason takes care to create a portrait of a very full and fulfilled person. Arkad was famed for his great wealth. Also, he was he famed for liberality. He was generous in his charities. He was generous with his family. He was liberal in his own expenses, but nevertheless, each year his wealth increased more rapidly than he spent it. Who wouldn't want to be just like Arkad? At a certain point as you work your way through the book, you will be struck by some repetition. The characters change, but the advice doesn't. That's a function of this book. Having begun life as a series of brochures that were distributed by banks and insurance companies, the repetition was a way to make sure anyone who was given a particular brochure would get Mr. Clason’s a-list advice. My advice is to dig in, learn, be entertained, and hopefully be inspired. If you find yourself noticing some repetition, consider that a sign you've absorbed the lesson well. No need to keep reading if you don't want to. I hope you will emerge energized to take another shot at how you approach your relationship with money, focusing on the simple and true advice in these pages. I wish you success in creating the riches you want, and that you so deserve.


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