George Samuel Clayson was an American author and entrepreneur. Clayson is best known for writing a series of informational pamphlets about being thrifty and how to achieve financial success. His book, The Richest Man in Babylon, compiled from such brochures, was first published in 1926 and became an international bestseller.
George Clayson was born in Louisiana, Missouri. He attended the University of Nebraska. In 1898 Clayson served in the United States Army during the Spanish–American War.
In the early 1900s, George S. Clason started two companies, the Clason Map Company of Denver and the Clason Publishing Company. The Clason Map Company was the first to publish a road atlas of the US and Canada but didn't survive the Great Depression.
As he gained significant business experience through his map company, Clason saw another, more enduring, consumer need: building wealth. Through his writings, he aimed to guide others in handling their finances.
In 1926 George S. Clason began writing about thriftiness and saving money to build wealth, using parables that were set in ancient Babylon. Clason compiled his thoughts in pamphlets he printed and distributed through banks, investment houses, and insurance companies.
The most popular ideas were compiled into the book The Richest Man in Babylon — The Success Secrets of the Ancients. Clason is credited with coining the phrase, "Pay yourself first".
"Pay yourself first" means that before you spend any income, you should squirrel some of it away. Better yet: Automate the process, diverting funds into a separate account so they seem even less available.
After the stock market crash in 1929 and the onset of the Great Depression, Clason’s message had particular relevance.
Following the success of The Richest Man in Babylon, Clason repackaged and reprinted the message under several titles, including Gold Ahead, Out of the Ruins of Babylon, Seven Remedies for a Lean Purse, and Seven Keys to a Full Purse.
George Clayson died in Napa, California, in 1949.