Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Richest Man in Babylon ~ Verdict

The richest man in Babylon

I was reading an article by Dennis Ng on "The Richest Man in Babylon" and some of his thoughts and while I thought some of the strategies were pretty obvious to everyone, it is still a good refresher even for myself from time to time.

1st Strategy —Save at least 10% of your income

In the book The Richest Man in Babylon, Arkad shared that when an individual's income increases, his or her expenses would also typically increase. As a result, this individual would fail to accumulate any savings or wealth. In light of this, Arkad says that the first step to riches is to cultivate the good habit of saving. And by this, I suggest that the simplest way is to save at least 10% of your income.
Such is the importance of cultivating this habit that when I started working in 1993, I have been following Arkad's recommendation to save money religiously. In which case, I saved 20% of my income monthly then. To make this saving process more effortless, you can arrange for your bank to automatically channel a specified percentage of your income into a separate savings account using GIRO. By doing so, you separate your savings from the bank account meant for your day-to-day expenses and better set the perimeter for what can be spent and what cannot be spent for the nitty gritty. If you can save 10% of your monthly income, you would have saved more than a year's worth of income after a decade!

My Verdict - Fair enough I think this is the basic of all financial freedom strategy and one that everyone must start off with. I Conquered this.

2nd Strategy - Control your expenses

Our desires and wants are unlimited but our financial resources are limited. As such, we need to differentiate our needs and wants. When learning how to manage your money wisely, you have to first prioritise what needs to be bought versus what you would want to buy. Only after you have purchased what you need, should you contemplate buying things that you want with the leftover. In which case, your total expenditure should not exceed 90% of your income. By doing so, you can satisfy your desires and wants without exhausting the amount that you earn.

My Verdict - I Conquered this as well. Managing well my expenses is something that I get used to improving it from time to time and it'll become a sort of a habit. One important note to take from this is to spend well on necessary things but not on luxury and "wants" items. You get what I mean.

3rd Strategy - Learn to grow your money

Most people only know how to save, but do not know how to grow their money. If the interest that you earn from bank deposits is only 1%, while inflation rate is at 3%, you are effectively losing 2% every year! Instead of becoming richer, you are in actual fact, become poorer and poorer over time.
As a result of inflation, where the value of a dollar drops over time, we need to do more than just save—we need to learn how to grow our money. Metaphorically speaking, we need to learn how to convert our "golden eggs" into a "golden goose", so as to help lay us more golden eggs (money making money). Over time, when the income from your golden goose, or various investments, exceeds your expenses, you would have achieved financial freedom. By then, you can choose to stop working and yet keep up your current lifestyle.

My Verdict - I Conquered this but still in the midst of acquiring more "Golden Goose" that can lay golden eggs for me from time to time. In fact, the recent golden eggs (dividends) which I receive in the month of May is enough for me to save up to 100% of my monthly income for the month of May, and possibly June.

4th Strategy - Protect your capital from losses

Warren Buffett, the richest investor in the world, said that the first rule of investing is that we do not lose our money. By that, he means that when investing, we should always protect our capital from losses. But how do we protect our capital in an investment?
Before you place your money into any investment, you need to work out the worst case scenario—the amount that you can stand to lose from the investment. To safeguard your capital, do not place all your eggs into one basket. Instead, you should diversify your savings into different investments. This way, even if some of the investments incur losses, you might still be able to keep your capital intact when you make gains in other investments.

My Verdict - This is the hardest among the all strategies and something which I intend to keep improving from time to time. Risk begets rewards. The higher the risk, the more rewards you get and vice versa. For me, I intend to stay safe and steady over time to time.

5th Strategy - Buy a house instead of renting one

Everyone needs a roof above their head. If you are to rent a house, the incurred monthly rental snowballs into a significant amount over time. On the other hand, if you are to buy a house, you would have to pay monthly housing loan installments, but have a house to keep when you eventually pay off the loan.
The thought of owning your house outright might also be the source of impetus that drives you towards working harder so as to finance the loan accrued.
In 1995, I bought a HDB resale flat when property prices were high. Despite weathering a couple of economic downturns in 1998's Asian Financial Crisis and 2003's SARS Crisis, the market value of this HDB flat is still 50% higher than the transacted amount paid for nearly two decades ago. Today, this HDB flat is very much a valuable asset.

My Verdict - I Conquered this. A house is one asset that will generally increase its value over time so always start early to buy. Buying a property also allows you to tap onto the leveraging advantage portion that if you succeed, it will sail you for life.

6th Strategy - Transfer risks through insurance

In life, there could be the occurrence of accidents and events that could potentially wipe out our accumulated assets and income, therein putting an abrupt stop to all our financial aspirations.
By obtaining suitable insurance plans, we can transfer this risk to insurance companies. Such plans include term insurance, comprehensive medical insurance plans, critical illness plans or accident plans, just to name a few. By acquiring such plans, you ensure that no matter what happens, the financial well-being of your family and yourself is being taken care of.

My Verdict - I Conquered this. I have a life and hospitalization insurance which I bought not long ago considering the importance of this. The thing with insurance is that it is seen by many as a waste of money and something that you will never ever have to benefit from unless something happens. The thing is you can never know what happens tomorrow, don't you?

7th Strategy - Increase your earning capacity

If your income is limited, your savings is also naturally limited. Thus, in order to increase your savings, you can either cut down on our expenses, or increase your income. And since there is a limit to how much you can cut down on your expenses, you should really aim towards increasing your income to better grow your wealth.
But how can one go about increasing his or her income? You can do so when you expand your earning capacity by upgrading yourself through courses and further training. With more knowledge or greater skills, you put yourself in a better position to increase your income.
As it is, you should strive towards lifelong learning and continuous growth. With the world moving at a quick pace, you need to be constantly learning and improving so that you do not fall behind others. By adding more value to the work that you do, you can most definitely increase your income and fatten your purse in due time.

My Verdict - My working income increases for more than 20% when I change my job recently. Having said that, this will be one strategy which I do not intend to develop moving forward, the reason being the more you are earning, the more time you are probably consuming on your work. And this is not the intent of my financial freedom strategy in the first place.

OVERALL VERDICT - I've seen many people complaining time and time again, whether the fact that they have to raise their elderly or the increasing costs such as the increasing COE and HDB prices or even the fact that they are not educated enough to command a higher job to get a higher pay. The same people who complain yesterday is the same people who complain today and will be the same people who complain tomorrow. The common thing with these people is that they never put the blame on themselves. It is like two teams competing for a football match and the team that loses blame their losses due to the refereeing decision.


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