People Share Their 'Rags To Riches' Stories

It takes real sweat to make it out of poverty.

We should disclose that some people are stuck in a cycle, sometimes through no fault of their own.

But for those of you hitting a snag, there are a few key steps you can take to lift yourself up.

After Redditor 3j2m23 asked the online community, "People who went from, 'rags to riches,' how did you do it?" many weighed in with their stories and advice.

"I started bagging groceries..."

I started bagging groceries, worked may way up to assistant store manager. When I was a child I used to cry myself to sleep hungry and sweating. Now I make enough money for my family to live comfortably. I also just got my savings account up to 6 months of living expenses. I just moved up by working with others and respecting those that are respectful. I get it, it isn't the best job, but when I look at my kids and know they have a head start in life, it makes me feel amazing inside.


"I had maybe a few hundred bucks..."

Background: early 40s man. I was shown the door at 18; I had maybe a few hundred bucks and a crap job when I left home (I remember taking a shower when I found a room to rent... and realizing I didn't own a towel :/).

  1. I focused on education in a STEM field (for me, computer science), getting a degree at a state university so I didn't graduate with significant debt, and smartly financing any debt I did have. That English degree is tempting, but the salary just isn't there.
  2. I focused on doing really well with that degree. Buckle down at your job, make yourself invaluable, get raises, change jobs to get a salary bump where you can.
  3. I learned finance well. I understand the importance of an emergency fund. I understand how finance and mortgages work. I understand basic investing and retirement fund options.
  4. Being frugal. This doesn't mean living like a monk, but it does mean: don't be dumb with your money.
  5. Avoid: expensive degrees, cars, silly expensive living situations, etc. I find most people's (major) debt is often in one of these categories.
  6. Never willingly run a credit card balance.

Lastly, I play the long game. I don't buy individual stocks. If it isn't an ETF or a mutual fund, I want nothing to do with it.


"I finished high school..."

Was on my own at age 16 after leaving an abusive household (emancipated).

I finished high school by going to class during the day and working a minimum wage job at night. Barely made enough to pay rent, and often ate at the homeless shelter. I'd get maybe 3-4 hours of sleep between work and school. After graduating I enlisted in the Air Force. The Air Force gave me the tools and means of escaping poverty, and provided me with the family I always longed for. Best choice I ever made. Now all my paychecks just pile up in my savings account because I have no idea what to spend them on, but I know that I have more money saved away than most will ever be able to save in a lifetime. The key was never spending beyond my means, and never borrowing money.


"Family came from a communist country..."

Family came from a communist country with absolutely nothing - to this country with absolutely nothing. When you have nothing, you'll work night and day for everything at 100% capacity, since there's literally no other choice. Working any job that'll hire you, saving every penny you earn like its your last, and having no time to enjoy anything. Biggest thing though was education.. bust your butt in the right places and you will go a long way.


"24 years later..."


I grew up poor.

Food banks, social housing, 5 people in a 2 bedroom house, alcoholic and abusive mother, absentee father... The regular dirt poor white trash.

I was kicked out at 14 and ended up on an emancipation social welfare allowance and was flatting. To get myself through school, I used to steal fruit from neighbourhood trees and eat 1kg of bacon, 1 kg of cheese, and 2 loaves of bread a week. It cost me $15.

24 years later, I own my own home, earn $100k a year and support 3 kids and a SAHM.

How? Education and hard work. I'm also of above average intelligence and am a tall, fit, reasonably attractive white male. It is an advantage.

From my childhood, I also have pretty well developed survival instincts and I feel like I can read people really well. I use that to play chess with positions at work. It is manipulation, but I don't hurt anyone, I just advance myself.

So, a combination of innate ability and privilege combined with hard work and education.


"And before you call me..."

Married well.

And before you call me a gold digger, I mean I married someone the polar opposite of my own family. Good work ethic, secure job, and actually has goals. TOGETHER we have managed to create a decent enough life that we are considered upper middle class.

So maybe not rags to riches, but certainly rags to resources.


"Taking advantage..."

Taking advantage of my lucky breaks and California real estate.

Put myself through college, got an engineering job, met an amazing woman who a) was also an engineer and b) knows money like a mad woman. Were always careful with our money.

Bought a house that was a bank repossession at the bottom of the market. The company we worked for gave stock options before the dot com thing. Exercised the options at an advantageous point and paid off the house. Got a job in Silicon Valley just after the housing crisis and their relocation package included paying closing costs on a house. My wife insisted on renting out the first house and buying a second house using this package and down payment she had saved from a contracting job she'd had. Sold first house, did a 1031 exchange, and bought rental properties.


"I read a lot..."

I worked two full time jobs for 6 years with no vacation. This started at 28. I put the earnings from the second job into stocks and mutual funds. I remained consistent in my savings for 25 years. I took a vacation every year but kept things on the modest side. I read a lot about investing. While i made some mistakes, they were small. When the portfolio got too big to handle, i hired a professional. In really good times, it's easy to make money in the markets. This advisor kept me from making mistakes when things looked dicey. So invest early, put a little away every month and graph your progress.



FAR from riches, but I'm doing pretty well. Went to college, got a degree, and landed a job. Now I had been living near campus, with roommates, and now made more money. Why increase my expenses? I stayed there 2 more year, got a promotion, and then moved to a nicer house, but with roommates. Everyone was mid to upper 20's, no party, real jobs, house stayed clean, etc. Meanwhile I'm making 80K, so 60K after taxes, my monthly expenses are about 2K on the average month, throw in a random trip, new tires, etc and I spend about 30K a year, while saving 30K a year. Now I'm in the pay cash for a house if I wanted to.


"Started working in a shop..."

I came from a home where we had nothing, just some money from the government to pay our rent. Started working in a shop at 16, got a full time contract at 18. Got my first mortgage at my 19th birthday, bought my first boat at 22. Now I'm 27 and about to buy another apartment, renting out the first one for passive income. I'm born in Amsterdam and house prices sky rocketed in the last 5 years, I just got lucky I guess. I did go bankrupt at 22, mother passed away and I made some bad decisions with my money, I also lost the boat, which I planned to live on and travel around with at 25. But managed to keep the house.

These days I make around 2000 Euro per week and after taxes and expenses I keep around 6000 a month. I have my own small transport company and things are just going really well, I travel around a lot and don't have too many worries, just enjoying life I guess, I have 1 good friend but I don't see him that often, he's living his own life. I just have my dad left and a half brother, I only see them once every 2 to 3 years.

Not going out too much and making your own meals helps a lot, I always calculate how much I can save by making my own meals. Min/maxing your income and expenses gives joy as well.


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