How To Get Rich From Nothing (Plus Strategies)

Many people (let’s assume most) dream about getting rich one day. What is it about being rich that is so intriguing?

A combination of freedom, options, and the American dream has made being rich a goal for the majority. But most of us do not start out with much money, or maybe with no money at all.

Are there still ways to become wealthy even if you don’t begin your life with a family with money or great connections? Yes, you can become wealthy no matter what.

In this article, you’ll find examples of famous people who started out poor and are now rich, as well as tips for making the most of your opportunities and advice for becoming wealthy. Here’s how to get rich from nothing, with examples and proven ways included. 

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rich woman with eyes closed holding hundreds of dollars fanned on gray background

What Does it Mean to be Rich?

Before you try to create goals or decide anything, having a definition of riches is essential. How do you define being rich?

There are actually a lot of definitions of wealth, but for this article, let’s assume that having a high net worth and being able to afford to do many of the things you want to do in life because of your money makes you rich.

Related: 8 Main Differences Between Rich vs Wealthy

What is net worth? Your net worth combines all the assets that you own, such as investments, savings, 401Ks, etc., and your debts or liabilities ( mortgages, loans, etc.).

Your debts and liabilities take away from your net worth, and your assets add to it. You can calculate your own net worth using this free calculator.

So, suppose you have two million dollars in assets but one million in debts and liabilities. In that case, you actually have a net worth of one million dollars. 

You should also try to remember that these days, with credit cards and loans, it’s easy to look “rich” without actually having much money. Think about net worth and assets instead of thinking of wealth in terms of large houses and fancy cars. 

The rich strive to have a high net worth. The more assets you have and the less debt you have, the higher your net worth can become.

Related: Is Being Debt-Free the New Rich?

But you should also think about what being rich means to you. Does it mean not having to work anymore? Or does it mean having a large home or a lot of money saved for retirement?

Consider what matters to you and what amount of money you need to achieve your goals. When you have what you need to live the life you want, that is another definition of being rich.

How Can I Get Rich from Nothing? 

The big question. How does a person who does not currently have any money become rich?

There are several steps involved to put yourself in the best possible financial situation and one day be considered rich. They do take time and are not easy, but the good news is that most of them are simple.

As long as you can be dedicated to the process, you will be on your way to setting yourself up well financially. Check out the steps below.

1. Educate yourself about money.

It would be foolish to go try and be a professional hockey player when you know nothing about the game. The same can be said of building wealth.

Before you try to invest, save, or do anything with your finances, you must educate yourself about money. 

Begin by reading books. You can use your library or buy them if you prefer.

Start with general ones that help you gain financial literacy. From there, you can move into reading about more complex topics, like passive income and investing.

You might also learn by watching YouTube videos or listening to podcasts by financial experts. Read blogs, consume any media you can find, and take in all the information you can about money from various sources. That way, you can become well-rounded. 

Remember to consistently research new topics, take notes, and think about what you’re learning. This is a vital part of becoming rich. You will get nowhere without knowledge, so try to retain what you learn.

On that same note, make sure the information that you’re consuming is coming from reliable sources. Many people dole out investment advice that’s short-sighted and can lead you to financial ruin.

Speaking with a certified financial advisor that is a fiduciary is a great way to plan your financial future with someone who has a positive track record.

2. Set goals.

Once you’ve taken the time to learn about finance, you can begin setting some goals for your life. Think a few years ahead in your life and determine what you’d like to be doing with your time.

Once you know where you want to get to, you can break it down into goals. After deciding what your life will look like years from now, you can start writing down your goals.

It’s vital that you write them down because this will make it easier to accomplish them. Start with your big dream or vision, and then break it into more manageable goals.

Check out this example:

Let’s say you have twenty thousand dollars in debt and a negative net worth. Your job pays alright but not too much.

In ten years, you’d like to be debt-free, with a higher paying job and a net worth of at least $200,000.00. You would also like to buy a house. (This is the vision, the big goal.)

You will create smaller goals to get to this point, which is where having a plan comes in. 

Related: Intermediate Financial Goal Ideas

3. Have a plan.

Setting goals is part of having a plan, but the other part is knowing what to do when obstacles or unexpected things occur. 

Using our earlier example, you can break your goals down into years, like this:

Years 1 and 2: Take on an extra job and pay off debt; look for a better job.

Years 3,4, and 5: Start a higher paying job, begin saving money for a higher net worth, start passive income side hustles, and save for a house.

Years 6,7, and 8: Double your income, save for a house, and continue to build a high net worth.

Years 9 and 10: You reach your goal of being debt-free, buy your home without going into debt, and reach your goal of a $200,000.00 net worth.

Once you have your yearly goals mapped out, you can break each part of that goal into smaller and smaller steps. Breaking the steps down into achievable chunks makes it seem less daunting and gives you a roadmap of where you need to go.

Knowing the next stepping stone on your journey will allow you to be open and available to take opportunities that present themself.

Your goals and vision will vary depending on what is important to you, but you can create your own path to get to where you want to be. As for the other part of the plan, build in things like savings to help you out in case of emergencies and keep you on track.

Also, think about other obstacles that could get in your way, like feeling unmotivated. Make a plan for dealing with these things when they happen, so you don’t lose momentum.

4. Live a disciplined life, including your personal life and money habits.

Many things affect your finances, and not all of them are directly about money. How you live your personal life dramatically affects your earning potential and ability to succeed.

You should practice discipline in the other parts of your life, and it will affect your money, too. 

As an example, if you want to become wealthy but spend your weekends on social media or watching TV, you could find it challenging to practice self-discipline the rest of the week.

Instead, change your habits towards wealth-building ones. Begin learning new skills, exercising, and reading on the weekends. Your personal life will improve and that will help you succeed with money.

Next, your money habits matter. We all know we can’t just wake up and be rich one day, with no effort on our part. Instead, you should stick to a budget, work hard, save, and invest consistently. Good money habits will naturally lead to building wealth over time.

5. Avoid toxic relationships.

It is very accurate that you will be influenced by those around you. Make sure that the people you spend the most time with are people you want to be like.

For example, if you want to be rich, spend time with disciplined and successful people. You will learn from them and be encouraged.

Suppose there are toxic relationships in your life, and you feel like they are unbeneficial and stopping you from achieving your dreams. If this is happening, try limiting interaction with those people or completely cut them out of your life if the relationship is very bad.

Remember that choosing your friends wisely is one of the best things you can do for your future, and it’s a healthy step towards building wealth and positive living. 

It’s also important to choose any new friends that you make wisely. Seek out friendships with positive people that you want to be like.

And make sure you are a good friend to them, as well, remembering to support their goals and dreams. 

6. Stop trying to impress others.

You will struggle to get to where you want to be if you are constantly focused on other people’s opinions. Understand that you will likely be misunderstood when you make different choices and choose to live a disciplined life. 

People may not like what you’re doing if it goes against what’s “normal.” For example, if you refuse to take out student loans and spend your college summers working, your peers may not understand.

Or if you choose to work long hours instead of shopping with friends on the weekends, they may be offended. Remember to surround yourself with supportive people who understand and encourage your goals.

Don’t worry about what others are saying. You may do things differently than them, and that’s okay.

You are doing what you need to do to reach your own goals. They should focus on their own lives.

And remember that people’s opinions can change and are not to be relied on. Keep at it with your financial goals and vision, and someday others may be asking you how you did it. 

7. Expect it to take time.

Getting rich by using discipline and hard work is not a quick process. It is not like winning the lottery.

You must save over time, make sound decisions, and constantly remind yourself of your goals. Expect this to take years, not days or months. 

You can still become wealthy reasonably quickly with dedication, but this could still mean at least a decade, not a short time. It will be worth it, and living your life according to your dreams is the best way, even if it isn’t instantaneous.

One way to help yourself be successful is to not expect quick results and celebrate the small victories along the way.

Pay off your debt? Celebrate! Save $20,000? Be proud of that accomplishment!

Remember to not become so focused on one goal for your life that you don’t enjoy the whole process that gets you there. 

8. Develop multiple streams of income.

Rich people are known for having multiple income streams. It’s safer for your finances, and it also can help you make more money.

Many people have their day job as a source of income and maybe a side hustle. It’s time to move beyond that.

Keep those one or two income streams, but add more. You can do this by looking at passive income opportunities. Rental income, creating a product, an online store, etc., are all ways to put in some upfront effort and then get the benefits of it for years.

Choose income sources that you can create on the side and then build up to make a nice amount each month or year. Slowly add to your income sources over time, and it will help you get rich.

Give yourself a goal. For example, make $1000 a month from passive income by (time frame). It’s essential to have something to work towards, and when you reach one goal, add another.

You’ll be surprised how much passive income you can build in a short time!

9. Invest.

The best-known way to get rich from nothing is investing. You can invest money in several different ways.

But basically, you add some of your own money to an investment. Over time, it makes interest, which eventually, through years, compounds and makes your money grow and end up with a lot more wealth.

Well-known investors include Warren Buffet and Geraldine Weiss. It’s possible to learn about investing and become very good at it, as they have. 

But it’s also very easy to lose money through poor investments. This is why I always recommend sitting down with a certified financial advisor to learn about the options and have investment questions answered by a professional.

Examples of investing are mutual funds, stocks, real estate, and other sources. Choose things that you understand well and have done research on.

In fact, take some time to specifically read about and listen to talks about investing from people who know what they’re doing. It will help you to pick good options for your future wealth.

There are different ways of investing, too. You can hire someone to help you, check out robo advisors, or do a DIY approach. Do what you have time for and what makes sense for you. 

But remember, never invest in something you don’t understand.

Related: Can You Lose Money in a Roth IRA?

Is it Possible to Become Rich From Nothing?

Since becoming rich has more to do with time, dedication, and hard work than anything else, you can become wealthy from nothing.

You do not have to be born into a wealthy family or become an overnight success to gain wealth. You can do this over time by being disciplined and setting goals.

You have probably heard of many people who have become rich from nothing. Oprah Winfrey became successful after growing up without money and worked hard to become one of the wealthiest women in the entertainment industry. 

Ralph Lauren is also a self-made multi-billionaire. He grew up in the Bronx without money and made himself successful through his fashion designs.

From her Harry Potter series and movies, J.K. Rowling has become very rich but had to fight through poverty and several rejections to finally become successful. She is now worth billions of dollars.

Larry Ellison grew up on the south side of Chicago and was extremely poor. He co-founded a software company called Oracle and is now worth billions of dollars. 

Dolly Parton is from a huge family with twelve children and grew up quite poor. She has now become an incredibly successful singer worth hundreds of millions of dollars. 

These are just some of the most famous examples of people who started out with no money and are now highly successful.

Becoming wealthy and staying that way has much more to do with determination and hard work than suddenly being born rich or gaining wealth. It is possible for anyone to do this by practicing good habits and making sound decisions. 

It also seems that these people followed their talents and interests and made money doing what they loved. While it can be challenging to make money from a hobby, if you start a business venture or invest in something, you should choose something interesting to you. 

How Can I Get Rich with No Money?

Getting rich even when you are raised in the middle class can be daunting. Building wealth when coming from a background of poverty may prove even more challenging.

But it can be done, as countless successful celebrities and business owners have confirmed. There are some tips to remember if you are unsure how to get rich.

1. It is not easy, and requires hard work.

Accept that building riches is not an easy path. It will not suddenly appear.

The best way is to start and understand that it will take quite a bit of time and effort before you get to a point where you consider yourself wealthy. But it will happen if you have a plan and continue to work hard. 

Remind yourself constantly of what you’re working towards and build a life around hard work to help you reach the place you want to be.

2. Adopt a positive money mindset.

You might be asking what your mindset has to do with becoming rich. As it turns out, your mindset is really everything in terms of success.

Before you start, it’s important to know that you have what it takes to become rich. This is where a positive money mindset comes in.

Tell yourself that it is not only possible but inevitable. Then make a plan to get yourself to where you want to be.

Tell yourself you will be successful and focus on your goals and keep going. A negative attitude towards wealth can bring you down and keep you from being successful, so stay positive!

Related: Surpising Differences Between a Rich vs Poor Mindset

3. Find your net worth.

Your net worth is easy to calculate. Add up everything you consider to be an asset (investments, savings, etc.) and subtract all debts.

The amount that is left is your net worth. For example, if you have $500,000 in assets but owe $400,000 in debts and liabilities, your net worth is $100,000. 

If you’d rather avoid doing all the math, simply total your assets and debts, and then plug the numbers into a net worth calculator to get your answer. 

Once you find your net worth, understanding your next steps will be much easier. You may find that you are excited about your net worth and can set up a plan to continue to build what you have. 

On the other hand, if your net worth is in the negative or not where you want it to be, it is still better to know. Then you can decide how to pay off debts and build up your assets to reach your financial ideals.

4. Set a clear, tangible goal.

After understanding your net worth, you can decide on a clear and tangible goal. If the wealth you want seems far away, then set up smaller goals to reach along the way.

You can start off with paying off $5000 of debt and then investing $100,000 later. Your goal needs to be very clear with actual numbers and a plan to reach it.

Your goal needs to be tangible, meaning something real that you can accomplish. For example, if your salary is currently $30,000 per year, you may make a concrete goal to get to $40,000 by the following year.

Use a practical approach, and you will stay motivated. This doesn’t mean you can’t have massive goals, like making six figures a year or becoming a millionaire; it just means that you should work towards these goals in more manageable steps.

It is also helpful to make your goals something that you can see often. Write down the steps you are currently taking to reach your dreams.

Make them screensavers for your phone or write them on your mirror. If you know where you’re going and are constantly reminded of your goals, it will help you to naturally work to attain them.

The more you can visualize and focus on your ideals, the faster you will likely accomplish what you want.

5. Develop a budget.

It will be very challenging to get rich without making a budget. This does not have to be a super detailed plan with no room for fun.

Your budget can be anything you want! The necessities that must be part of it are your savings plans and a way to pay your bills. These are non-negotiables. Anything else can be added in later, but do these first.

Your budget is a system that tracks all bill amounts and how much you want to save and spend. So start off by writing down your expenses, and from there, see what you have left.

Or you can start with how much you want to save, add costs, and see what is leftover. There are lots of ways to do a budget.

You can use an app on your phone, a budget planner, someone else’s budgeting ideas, or a system that you come up with on your own. There are a lot of popular methods, including a Zero-Based Budget and automation budgets that are often called No Budget Budgets.

Good apps for budgeting include Mint and Every Dollar. The only requirements you must follow are that your budget works for you, makes sense for your life, and helps you be financially responsible.

Related: All the Types of Budgets You Can Choose From to Fit Your Life

6. Track your spending to get your money under control.

The majority of people spend more cash unnecessarily than we’d like to think we do. That’s why tracking your spending can be eye-opening.

Spending money does not have to cost you your financial goals. There are ways to responsibly spend while keeping a budget and saving for the future.

Tracking your spending starts with looking back over the last few months at your statements and seeing what you’ve spent on. Then, make a note of things that may have been mindless purchases that were either unnecessary or you didn’t get much value from. 

After you know what type of spending you don’t want to do, you can decide how to spend better in the future and how to reach your savings goals. Knowing where your money goes will help you understand your finances and figure out how to get rich from nothing. 

7. Pay off debt.

There’s no question about it – debt will slow you down in your finances because it is money that has to be paid back someday, usually with interest. Student loans, mortgages, and credit card spending are all forms of debt.

To become wealthy, get rid of these things that lower your net worth.

You can make a plan to pay off the debt over a series of months or a few years if necessary. However long is needed to pay it back.

Remember that while it may be hard work, paying off debt brings your net worth into the positive instead of the negative, which will help you become rich.

Paying off debt is a step that can take some time, but look at it this way: You are creating a higher net worth with every dollar you pay off, and you are giving yourself freedom from having to make so many payments in the future.

You are truly investing in yourself and your goals when you choose to pay off debt.

It’s common to take on some side hustles to pay off loans. This can be especially helpful if most of your income goes towards bills currently.

If your day job doesn’t leave much money left over, consider taking on a weekend or after-work job for a short time to get ahead with money. 

Related: Creative Ways to Pay Off Debt

8. Start investing and saving.

Once you make a budget, have goals, and pay off debt, you are in an excellent position to begin saving and investing. Start off with saving up some money, making sure you have enough in your emergency fund, and then move on to investing.

The thought is, that investing gains you a profit over time because your money will grow. And the more you invest, the more you can make.

But, like I mentioned earlier, investing poorly can lose money and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Be sure to choose wise investment options that you’ve thoroughly researched, and be prepared to leave your money to grow for several years. 

Take the necessary time to learn about investing first by speaking with a certified financial advisor, reading books, and asking lots of questions. Never invest in something that you don’t completely understand, and continue to gain knowledge even after you begin investing.

How to Get Rich Working a Normal Job

The majority of us may read this and think, “It would be great to get rich, but I work a regular job with a regular paycheck. How is getting wealthy even possible?” But it is! When working a normal job, you can become rich, given some hard work and time.

Increase Your Income

The best way to get rich while working a typical job is to find ways to increase your income. While it may take more work, the fact is the more money you make, the faster the process to becoming wealthy, and the more wealth you can accumulate.

There are many ways to increase your income, and while all of them require effort, there are multiple options to choose from, so you can decide what works best for you.

Also, remember that even if you have a “normal” job, if you have extra money left at the end of your paycheck, or your expenses are pretty low, you may already have some money to save. You can start there, saving and investing what you can and then looking for ways to increase your income.

If you are paid by the hour, one way to earn more is to work more hours at your current job. If your manager is okay with it, you can try to add in as many extra hours per week as you can reasonably take on.

There may be restrictions about working overtime, but even adding a few extra hours a week can make a big difference. 

Begin by letting your manager or whoever does the schedule know that you are available for extra hours. Also, let your co-workers know that you would like to cover any shifts they can’t make it in for. You may find it surprising that you get plenty of extra work just by asking.

If you are not paid hourly or working more hours is not possible, you might consider taking on a second job. Your second job can be anything, even something that you can work at remotely, like blogging or administrative work online.

That way you might have the opportunity to work in the evenings or on weekends. Here’s a guide for making extra money online that helps you get started and gives you some ideas.

You can also start a side hustle after work or on days off, like house sitting, pet sitting, or selling a product. Pick something with hours that work around your day job and something that pays well enough to be worth it. Try to use all the extra money you make towards your wealth goals. 

This one takes some prep time, but if you can get what you want, it has the potential to make your income go up instantly: ask for a raise.

Before doing this, make sure you have proof of the excellent work that you do, including any projects you’ve headed up or assisted with, number of sales, etc. Whatever applies. Then, armed with this information, respectfully ask for the amount you feel you deserve. 

Another way to make more money is to begin creating passive income streams. Passive income usually takes some upfront work and then becomes something that doesn’t require much effort but continues to provide you with income.

Examples of passive income are writing an eBook, an invention, or selling a unique idea. Find out what type of passive income work you enjoy, and then take the time to set up several sources that will grow over months and years.

Want more income? Develop an online product. Online products can be apps, digital printables, and any other product that is available for sale online.

Try creating a product of your own and selling it in your online store or on your website. You might create printable wedding invitations, digital planners, artwork, or anything else you have the talent or knowledge to make.

Last, investing in real estate is a great way to make a side income passively. It does require some time, knowledge, and money, so you may need to save up for a while.

After you save up some money, you can buy a property to rent or maybe fix it up and remodel it, then sell it for more than you bought it for. (Which wouldn’t be as passive but has the potential for a larger reward upfront.)

If you have the space, you might rent out part of your home to get income from a renter. Rental income is a great passive income source that can be pretty consistent.

Remember that you can also decrease your spending and expenses while increasing your income. This will give you more money to invest, save, or pay off debt.

Reassess your budget and see where you can cut costs in ways that you won’t notice too much, and add that to the money you are using to build wealth. 

Take Advantage of Free Money

People that are wealthy or want to become rich use free money to their advantage. You might think you don’t have access to any free money, but chances are, you do.

The more money you save or earn, the better off you will be financially. Here are some of the free money options that may be available to you.

First, your 401K match at your place of employment. Many employers will offer their employees a way to save for retirement through their 401K. But a lot of times, there is a percentage match.

The employer will put money in the account to match your contribution up to a certain amount. This may be something like 3 percent, for example. 

Since this money does not come out of your paycheck but is just extra, you should absolutely put money into your 401K, at least to get the employer match. This is money you do not have to pay back; it’s truly free! 

Another way you can get free money is by negotiation. You can negotiate many things like your phone bill, cable bill, internet, or other things you pay each month or year.

Try to find cheaper plans or see if you can get your bill lowered. This is a great way to put money back in your pocket and make some extra savings.

Third, rebates are another way to save money. Many people may not take advantage of rebates because there’s a bit of extra work involved.

You can often get rebates for items you buy and save some money that way. You may need to mail in something, and then you’ll get some money back. 

Last, a more recent way to get some free cash is through your stimulus money. You may have received a check or a deposit into your account as part of the stimulus package.

If so, you are getting an advance on a refundable tax credit. Speak with your accountant to learn how it specifically affects your tax situation since everyone’s taxes are different.

Obviously, first, use this for immediate needs and bills. But if you happen to have money left over, consider saving or even investing it. While this is not a permanent solution, it can help you jumpstart your savings or investments. 

Getting rich from nothing is not easy but can be accomplished by a determined person

This article has shown that getting rich from nothing is entirely possible, even though it isn’t easy to do. It’s essential to stay focused and be determined.

If you get distracted and lose sight of your goals, becoming rich may become more challenging. But the person that keeps going and doesn’t give up will eventually become wealthy.

To recap, here are some of the most critical aspects of building wealth from nothing.

  • Know what you’re doing – take the time to learn about investing, saving, and proper budgeting. It will be worth your time!
  • Stay motivated – attitude is everything, and you are more likely to succeed if you think positively. 
  • Stay organized – create budgets, make a plan, and have goals for your money.
  • Hang out with the right people – avoid toxic people and don’t worry about what others are doing; focus on yourself.
  • Do the right things with your money – invest, know your net worth, and pay off any debts.

If you remember these things, it will help you stay the course and continue moving in the right direction with your money. You can teach yourself to be determined and focused, even if it doesn’t come naturally.

A few final thoughts for when you do become wealthy. Following these ideas will help you get there, and when you become rich, you should keep some things in mind. 

First, remember that your wealth can help your family and friends. And a lot of other people.

Be generous towards others whenever you can be. And try to leave a legacy with your wealth for your family. Things like helping out with college tuition and helping your children and family to become financially literate are essential things that will last for lifetimes. 

Next, always keep learning and looking for new ways to make money. Become a student of finance, and always stay interested in wealth building.

Even when you have made your money, it’s important to understand trends and be aware of the different ways of growing wealth.

Plus, you might find out something new that helps you make even more money. So don’t go on autopilot once you become rich. 

Last, make sure your money keeps growing. You’ve learned some things about investing in this article, but remember to choose sound investments that will make you more money over time.

Instead of sticking your money into a savings account that will eventually be worth less, take the time to ensure that your money is invested correctly and makes the best return that it can. If you find it can do better, make the necessary moves to increase your wealth and earn more from investing.

Once you have a lot of money, making more is usually not difficult, as long as you stay involved with your investing and wealth building. 

While becoming rich is never easy, you can do it! No matter your net worth, age, or career, it is possible to make wise choices that will help you be wealthy later in your life. Use this guide about how to get rich from nothing to help you, and continue to seek out new information.

Remember that there is always a way, and keep searching for wealth-building ideas that work for you! 

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Steffa Mantilla

Certified Financial Education Instructor

Steffa is a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) and the founder behind Money Tamer. Her 12-year background in operant conditioning and positive behavioral change training is used to help people find effective motivators to change their harmful money behaviors. Steffa explains the reasons “why” behind people’s financial behaviors and how to successfully change them. After paying off over $80,000 in debt through budgeting, she now teaches families how to get their own finances in order. You can learn more about her here.

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