(This is part of a new and ongoing series called Thor’s Day Cultural Resource Management Archaeology Hacks. Quick as lightning, these tips are designed to help you make the impact of Mjölnir on your next project.)
“‘But all I earn is mine to keep, is it not?’ I demanded.
“’Far from it,’ he replied…’ What have you to show for your earnings of the past month? What for the past year? Fool! You pay to everyone but yourself… If you did keep for yourself one-tenth of all you earn, how much would you have in ten years?’” (The Richest Man in Babylon; Clason 1926:25—26).
That passage is from the legendary personal finance book The Richest Man in Babylon, which is a must-read for everyone working in cultural resource management archaeology. It was written by George Samuel Clason and initially composed of a series of pamphlets distributed by banks in the 1920s. It was first published as a book in 1926, just before the Great Depression, and has been republished many times since because the basic information in this book is sound advice for anyone living in a capitalist society. This is not really an archaeology hack as much as a maxim for financial survival that everybody should follow.
The book is a series of parables written in the syntax of the King James Version of the Bible. It is portrayed as the account of a British archaeologist that discovered a series of cuneiform tablets in Mesopotamia that contained the secrets of wealth. Clason’s book is supposed to expand upon the information on the tablets.
In the book, two friends ask the Richest Man in Babylon, named Arkad, how they can also become wealthy. Arkad gives them seven commandments if they are to become wealthy. The first commandment is for them to start saving a portion of their income. Arkad recommends saving 10 percent.
Why save 10 percent of your income?
- You probably will not miss such a small amount.
- It forces you to live within your means because you cannot save what you spend (Which is Arkad’s second commandment).
- If you cannot spare 10%, this goal will force you to cut back your expenses until you can manage it.
- It gives you a baseline goal to work towards.
- You will create a nest egg that can be used for investments and to prevent financial catastrophe.
Of course, you can save more but making a goal of putting aside 10% of your income is an excellent start. They key is to deposit your 10% BEFORE you pay anybody else. You have to pay yourself first otherwise you won’t do it because it is much more fun to spend money than it is to save it.
This simple exercise is the first step toward becoming financially independent. All of us have to work in order to survive in the United States. It is far easier to save a dollar earned rather than earn another dollar. Dutifully saving 10% is not difficult and it will continue growing throughout your adult life. You will be amazed how fast a paltry $100—200 each month can grow into thousands of dollars. I’ve practiced this exercise since I was a teenager and this has allowed me to buy a house, cars, and make investments. As an archaeologist, I could not rely on my employer to pay my expenses so I had to build my own safety net. That 10% has saved me and my family more times than I can count because, whenever I got laid off or had to relocate, I could always draw upon my emergency fund until we got back on our feet.
Clason explains, “The turning point in these men’s lives came upon that day when they realized the truth that had come from…Arkad to them: A part of all you earn is yours to keep.” Saving 10% of your income could be a turning point in your life as well.
You can download a free copy of The Richest Man in Babylon here (www.ccsales.com/the_richest_man_in_babylon.pdf)
Do you regularly put away some of your income? If so, write a comment below or send me an email.
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