People who are born into financial hardship don’t always stay that way. One person asked an online forum for their rags-to-riches stories, and the 800+ responses didn’t disappoint. These are the highlights.
Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
1: Cheap Education
One commenter wasn’t born rich but now makes six figures at 24. The strategy? “Went to the cheapest University in my state, studied Computer Science – graduated with a 3.8 GPA.” They even treated their parents to a dream vacation: “My mom got emotional because we were able to afford it without depleting our savings account.”
2: Don’t Play Catch Up
This first-generation rich person said the key to unlocking wealth is to forget “keeping up with the Jones.” They commented, “Just do your own thing, save, invest, live a bit beneath your means, and have contingencies in case of a rainy day.”
3: Network, Network, Network
Living within, or below, your means is the first step to accruing wealth. According to one poor-turned-affluent adult, the next step is to shake the right hands. “I made some lucky choices as a young adult, which turned out to be lucrative financially. I fell into a job I never expected and had good contacts that helped me grow in my profession. That turned into better pay.”
4: Franchise Riches
One commenter says their girlfriend’s father was impoverished with no education but got rich by buying a Subway with his relatives. “The business did well, and he expanded to 15 Subways and commercial properties, so he pulls in around $800k annually. If he could do it, anyone can, but it normally requires pooling money to buy a franchise or something to that extent.”
5: Teach Yourself
One wealthy commenter lived an unprivileged childhood but is well off now. “I used the internet to educate myself about personal finance. My parents don’t know what an ETF [exchange-traded fund] is. I wasn’t taught about it, but I have access to the world’s knowledge, so there are no excuses anymore.”
6: Income Is Everything
After being raised by a single mom in the 90s, one engineer took the community college to state school pipeline and is now making six figures. “Grew up broke, and I budgeted hard through my college years, but the only thing that turned the corner was having a nice income after graduation.”
7: Keep Learning
One person told their story of being a 9th-grade dropout to a successful software developer, all while battling Lyme disease. After years of grueling work moving up as a developer, they struck gold. “I have a paid-off house and don’t really ever need to work again. I work a couple of months a year, though, just because I enjoy it.”
8: Don’t Listen to Mom
One commenter saw their parents rack up insurmountable credit card debt growing up, so they knew what to avoid. Now they have millions in retirement savings, “Just by being methodical and by staying out of consumer debt. In summary, I did everything my parents didn’t do and avoided doing what they did.”
9: Wealthy Wedding
One commenter said, “My grandmother went from extreme poverty as a single mum of 4 kids to becoming a multimillionaire.” There’s a certain “ring” to how they did it… “by marrying a multimillionaire.” There’s always that as a backup plan.
10: Money Isn’t Everything
One commenter grew up on food stamps in a dysfunctional and abusive household. They used their resiliency to escape that pattern and build a new, more abundant life. “I think if I had grown up wealthy, I wouldn’t have settled for such a small stipend for those couple of years. I know that money doesn’t buy happiness from my childhood, so I’ve been building a fulfilling life outside of the office.”
11: Military Megabucks
One Army soldier built their wealth through military relief opportunities. “I used Tuition Assistance to pay for a master’s degree to boost my academic history. While getting my MBA, I was hired at a tech company. And then from there, I have been moving between different tech companies to increase my salary.”
12: Thank Your Lucky Stars
One commenter grew up extremely poor and got a new start as a refugee in Canada. “I never would have made it here without a hunger to learn as much as I could to make myself invaluable to others,” they said. “I also saved every penny I could and found cheap or free ways to stay entertained.”
13: One Degree Richer
Having been raised by teachers, one person said they didn’t have very much growing up. Their pathway to prosperity? “I went to a public college and got a CS [computer science] degree.”
14: Use What You Know
One commenter says that using your background to your advantage can set you ahead. “You know how to survive if you’re poor, you don’t love it, but you can do it. The Ivy leagues fear it.” They believe, “No one can stop you from being the absolute best in your domain. That choice is yours.”
15: Stay Focused
One former poor person studied hard, got a scholarship, and never stopped dreaming to strike it rich. “Became a physician and worked my butt off. I worked tons of menial jobs while in school but never took my eyes off the prize,” they said. “I am still frugal.”
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