18 Ways to Get Rich From Nothing

A happy couple at a home on the water that they bought after getting rich from nothing

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As of 2022, approximately 64% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Whether you fall into this category or not, you may have felt financial stress at one time or another. As many others do, you may have struggled to save money or pay off debt. But, there are a set of people who have gotten rich from nothing.

People who get rich from nothing often do this following a set of methods that gives them a high chance of success. This doesn't involve playing the lottery, getting incredibly lucky, or inheriting all of their money.

In fact, very few rich people inherit their money, win the lottery, or attribute their wealth to total luck. 

Let's be clear. In this article, we won't be talking about how to get rich quickly, as get rich quick schemes are often designed to harm your finances, not help them. Instead, in this article, we'll talk about how to get rich from nothing, over time, throughout your life, using methods that are well thought out.

These methods can help you become a millionaire if done over a period of a few decades.

Let's jump in and first talk about what being rich means.

What Does Being Rich Mean?

As we go over getting rich from nothing, it's good to note that being rich doesn't have a specific net worth or income value associated with it. Meaning, for some, having a net worth of $1 million might be considered rich, while for others, having a net worth of $10 million might be considered rich. Likewise, you might consider having an income of $200,000 per year as being rich, and others might consider having an income of $500,000 per year as being rich.

Being rich is about having the comfort of living your life the way you want, without worrying about money. Similarly speaking, financial independence is when you have enough wealth and income from that wealth to make work optional.

When it comes down to it, the definition of being rich comes down to your own personal definition as it pertains to your lifestyle and how much wealth and income you need to live your life the way you want without having to worry about money.

Net Worth and Income

Net worth is defined as adding up everything you own, such as your belongings, your house, the value of your bank and investment accounts, and so on, and then subtracting everything you owe, such as your credit card debt, mortgage, loans, and so on. If you have a negative net worth, that means you owe more money than the value of everything you own.

Having a higher net worth is associated with being richer. That is, having a $1 million or more net worth makes you a millionaire.

But there are other ways to feel rich that aren't related to money. For example, if you live a healthy life, have loving relationships, help out the needy by volunteering your time, and do other things that make you happy, then you are living a rich life, regardless of how much money you have.

Of course, having more money helps with many aspects of your life. Building up monthly income, whether from active forms of making money like working a job or running a business, or having passive income such as through dividend investing, opens more opportunities.

When you have a higher income, you can afford to spend money on things that make you happy. It also allows you to cover things such as top-tier medical care, send your children to colleges or further education, travel to exotic locations, and more.

Money is a tool that buys you freedom, and that's why pursuing a rich life makes sense.

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How To Get Rich From Nothing

Studies show that most millionaires earned their money themselves and did not inherit their wealth. Instead, they followed similar methods that have been proven to work. Surprisingly, many high net worth individuals didn't earn their wealth through having very high wages. Instead, many millionaires started with average salaries and employed things such as living frugally, investing their money, and not spending their money on things that they didn't need.

In the following sections, we'll go over several ways that you can get rich from nothing. Remember, this is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Getting rich can take your whole life, and it's not simply about generating as much money as possible. Instead, it's also about changing the way you look and think about money, so you're not only building wealth, but not spending your money frivolously either.

1. Change the Way You Think About Money

To some, they feel like money runs their life. They work day in and day out to make money, to use that money to survive. These people might dislike money and feel like money is ruining their life. They might feel like there isn't enough money and there's no way to get more. They could feel as though there should be either someone, or the government, to step in and help them out.

Realize that it doesn't make sense to wait to be rescued from whatever financial situation you're in. That day may never come. So instead, change the way you think about money.

Robert Kiyosaki, the author of Rich Dad Poor Dad, is quoted for saying that instead of saying to yourself things such as “I can't afford that,” when faced with financial struggles, instead ask yourself, “How can I afford that?” and challenge yourself to come up with a way to afford things that are currently out of reach.

This can be applied not only to things like luxury purchases but also for getting out of debt, affording to buy a house, a car, paying off credit card debt, or even sending your kids off to college.

When you change your mindset about money and realize that money is a tool that opens opportunities for you and allows you and your loved ones to live your lives more comfortably, then money seems like something you want to obtain more and more of so that you can help yourself and those around you.

2. Figure Out Your Numbers

There are primarily two numbers that you'll want to figure out as you work to build up becoming rich from nothing. The first number is how much income you feel you'll need each month to be comfortable. 

For example, if you think you can live off of $5,000 per month for the rest of your life, then you need an annual income of $60,000.

Once you've determined your required annual income, the second number to figure out is how much wealth you need to have to pay you $60,000. This second number is subjective as different ways of having wealth will pay you different returns.

As an example, if you have $2,000,000 in dividend-yielding stocks and ETFs that pay an average dividend of 3% per year, then you would be able to earn $60,000 per year passively with $2,000,000 in investments.

Likewise, if you owned real estate valued at $1,000,000 and took home $60,000 each year from rent, then your minimum wealth number would be lower.

The bottom line is that you'll want to know how much wealth allows you to live comfortably, which will give you the feeling of living a rich life.

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3. Create a Budget That's Right For You

Creating a budget and tracking your spending are powerful ways to see where your money is coming from and where it's all going. Using a budget, you can figure out if you're spending too much money in specific categories or if you have more opportunities to save, invest, or pay off debt.

One popular budgeting method is the 50/30/20 budget method, which allocates 50% of your money to needs, 30% to your money to wants, and 20% to save and invest. Of course, you can save and invest more money than 20% or spend less than 30% of your money on wants if that makes sense to you personally.

What's important about budgeting and tracking your spending is finding ways to maximize your savings rate. Your savings rate is the percentage of total income you save or invest each month. For example, if you take home $4,000 per month and have $1,000 of that leftover at the end of the month, your savings rate would be 25%.

One of the best ways to get rich from nothing is to maximize your savings rate, as the more you save and invest, the faster you can build wealth and the more of your wealth you'll keep, as you won't be spending money on things that you don't need.

4. Live Below Your Means

Living below your means comes down to spending less than you make, which is a fundamental way of getting rich from nothing. Additionally, living below your means comes down to saving money, not sinking into credit card debt, cutting back on frivolous spending, and looking for ways to increase your income.

Generally speaking, living far below your means also equates to having a higher savings rate, as you have more money left over each month, which can be used to continually improve your financial situation. 

When you live below your means year after year, you'll build wealth and be able to live a richer life.

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5. Have a Frugal Mindset

Similar to living below your means, but perhaps taking it a step further, getting rich from nothing is obtained more efficiently when you have a frugal mindset. A frugal mindset comes down to removing many things you don't need from your life.

Some examples of living frugally include:

  • Downgrading your internet service to a speed that still works but saves money
  • Canceling cable and using streaming services instead
  • Not buying designer clothing and handbags
  • Making your own coffee
  • Going out to eat less often and cooking at home instead
  • Shopping at second-hand stores and dollar stores
  • Purchasing fewer video games and other entertainment items
  • Unsubscribing to things you're no longer using
  • Going on vacation during off-peak season to save money on hotels, airfare, entertainment tickets, etc.
  • Living in a home that suits your needs versus living in a lavish home that is barely affordable

When you live frugally for many years, you'll grow your wealth more effectively, which will help you become more financially independent.

Once you've grown your wealth to the level at which you feel comfortable living off it, you can start adopting a more rich mindset and add more luxuries to your life because your money will be earning more money, and you won't have to sink into debt to buy yourself those luxuries.

6. Curb Impulsive Spending

Impulsive spending hurts your wallet and can be emotionally draining. Many people who impulse spend feel better at the moment but ultimately feel guilty or ashamed when they've realized how much they've spent and that their purchases didn't make them feel any better in the long run.

That's because, for some, impulsive spending is done when we are having a tough day or are in a cruddy mood. If you have trouble with impulsive spending, the first thing you need to do is identify your impulses so that you can take steps not to spend money when you're feeling the need to.

From there, it helps to do things such as deleting your credit card information from online stores and finding healthy activities to do when you have the urge to spend.

Read this guide to help your curb impulse spending.

When you cut back on spending money frivolously, you'll be able to build wealth much easier and get out of and stay out of credit card debt. 

7. Pay Down Your Debt

It's challenging to get rich from nothing if you have a lot of debt – particularly credit card debt. If you have one or more credit cards with high balances, then you'll want to prioritize paying them down. Credit cards that have high interest rates eat away at your money. 

It might be tempting to pay just the minimum payment each month to your credit card balances, but this keeps you in debt much longer, and you'll rack up interest payments as well.

Instead, aggressively pay down your credit cards using as much available money as you can. Not only can you cut the amount of interest you'll pay, but you'll significantly cut back on how long it'll take you to pay down your cards.

8. Make SMART Financial Goals

Goals give you direction and help you stay focused, whether they're financial in nature or about anything else. When you create financial goals, it's key to create SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Sensitive.

Additionally, it helps to have short-term goals and long-term goals. For example, a short-term goal might include something such as, “I will pay off my $3,000 in credit card debt in the next 12 months.” A long-term goal might be, “I will invest a total of $100,000 in my retirement accounts over the next 10 years.”

Read this article to get more information on how to make SMART financial goals successfully.

9. Find Ways to Cut Back Living Expenses

Most people can lower their living expenses in one way or another if they sit down and figure out where they're overspending. For example, a common expense that can be reduced is one's auto insurance. The Zebra is a free website that allows you to compare auto insurance quotes side-by-side to see if there's a better fit for you than your current provider.

Other common expenses that can often be lowered include:

  • Cable, internet, and phone bills: These can often be negotiated or reduced by signing up for a less expensive plan. The app Trim will negotiate your cable and internet bills for you, saving you money in the process.
  • Mobile data plans: If you're not using all of the data that you're signed up for, sign up for a lower amount of data. You can often save $10-$30 per line per month by doing so.
  • Electricity, heat, and water: Simple things like shutting off lights, altering your thermostat, or taking shorter showers all add up and can save you money. Check out this guide for saving money on heating expenses.
  • Healthcare-related expenses: By staying healthy, you'll go to the doctor less frequently and need less medical care. The same is true for keeping your teeth well-maintained, as you'll save on dental procedures.
  • Buy certified pre-owned cars: Buying a car that's 1-2 years old can save you over 20% of the price of a new car. On a car valued at $30,000 new, you could save over $6,000 by buying it 1-2 years later preowned. 

There are many other ways to save money on living expenses. Check out this article for 40+ ways to reduce your day-to-day expenses.

10. Invest Early and Take Advantage of Compound Interest

Investing your money allows you to take advantage of compound interest, which grows your wealth exponentially faster than simply storing your money in a savings account. The younger you start, the more money you have the potential to have.

For example, if you invested $10,000 per year from the time you were 25 to the time you were 55, at a return of 8%, a conservative estimate for the average return of the S&P 500, then you would have over $1,100,000 at age 55, even though you only invested $300,000 of your own money.

If you're still not convinced, let's use a more simple example. Say you invest $5 per day, every day, from the time you turn age 18 to the time you turn age 65. How much does $5 per day get you? We'll assume you get the same 8% return on investment on average.

It turns out, if you invest $5 per day from the time you're age 18 to the time you're age 65, at 8% return on investment, you will end up with a little over $825,000 while you would only have invested $85,775 of your own money. That's pretty amazing.

You should always take caution in what you invest in and understand what it is you're investing in. To learn more about investing, you can read books, blogs, watch YouTube, or discuss options with a financial advisor.

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11. Build Multiple Sources of Income

Having multiple sources of income is a wise move as it creates security in the event one source goes away. It is financially risky to have only one source of income, such as one job with no other income sources. The reason for this is because if you have one source of income and you lose it, such as you lose your job, you are without income, and until you replace it, you will start depleting your savings and eventually sink into debt.

Instead, having multiple sources of income gives you protection from being in this situation. Even if you have one main source of income, like a full-time job, and several smaller sources of income, you lower your risk to financial distress.

Other sources of income include:

  • Side hustle/business income
  • Income from stock market dividends
  • Rent from real estate
  • Royalties from things you sell, such as eBooks on Amazon KDP

You can also increase your overall income by stacking income sources, a technique that's great for getting rich from nothing.

12. Build Passive Income

Passive income is income you earn around the clock, whether you're sleeping, hanging out, driving, eating, and so on. It's money that you're not actively working for but still earning. Examples of passive income include:

  • Investment dividends
  • Affiliate marketing revenue from a niche site
  • Ad revenue from a blog
  • Royalties from an eBook
  • Rental income
  • Interest from your bank accounts

Passive income is often sold as a get-rich-quick scheme online, but the reality is, it takes time and often money to build up a passive income stream. There are many passive income methods to choose from.

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13. Focus on Your Finances and Avoid Keeping Up With the Joneses

Keeping up with the Joneses is when you compare yourself to others, or what you believe others are doing. For example, if you regularly surf Facebook and see your friends posting glamorous things that they're buying, and you start buying those things, you would be attempting to keep up with them.

This can also be true if you regularly go out with your friends to clubs, concerts, and events, and spend as much money as they are.

When you attempt to keep up with the Joneses, you spend money that you could have saved or invested. You live a lifestyle based on what you feel everyone else is doing when the smarter thing to do is not compare yourself to others and instead focus on your own finances. 

While it may appear that your friends are buying luxury items carefree, you often don't know much about their financial situation. They could be living paycheck to paycheck, deep in debt, or worse. That's why it's better to focus on building wealth and take no heed to the frivolous spending habits of those around you.

You'll be the one who retires on your own terms, comfortably while living a rich life years later, while they may continue to struggle for years upon years because they were all trying to keep up with one another.

14. Automate Your Finances

Setting up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account, retirement accounts, and investment accounts makes you save money for the future without even having to think about it. As an example, if you set up an automatic transfer of $50 from your checking account to your emergency fund and set it to weekly, you would have added $2,600 to your emergency fund in one year without even having to think about it.

Likewise, if you set up automatic payments to all of your bills, you can avoid paying late fees, and missed payment fees, and you might even cut down on interest payments. By automating your finances, you're saving yourself time in the future by spending time now setting everything up.

Check out this article for more information on how to automate your finances.

15. Have a Long-Term Mindset

Building wealth takes time. In fact, becoming truly wealthy can take most of your life. That said, the more you focus your efforts on making money, the quicker you can realize the product of your efforts. 

It's tempting to be impatient when building wealth, but your patience will pay off when you can retire on your own terms, have more opportunities open to you and your loved ones, and live a more comfortable life.

For those who put in the extra effort when they're young and build up a nest egg early, they may very well have the opportunity to retire at a younger age or work only part-time later on. Many stories exist of individuals who start in their early 20s and hustle for 10-15 years before retiring in their mid to late 30s. While this is not the path for everyone, the option certainly does exist.

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16. Learn as Much as you Can About Money

Financial literacy will open doors for you as you learn how you can build and preserve wealth. To keep learning more about money, read personal finance books and blogs, listen to podcasts, and watch personal finance YouTube videos. It costs very little to become financially educated, and such benefits will change your life.

You can also learn more about personal finance from in-depth courses found on Udemy and Skillshare. These paid courses deep-dive into personal finance topics that you may not be able to find in other places, plus you may get access to the course's creators to ask questions and learn further.

Check out Clean Cut Finance's recommended reading for several book ideas to sharpen your financial literacy.

17. Seek a Mentor

Surround yourself with successful people who understand how money works. When possible, seek out a mentor who can answer specific questions and help you on your journey to build wealth. This person might be a successful relative, a business owner you know, a person in a community you're a part of, or a higher-up at your job.

When seeking a mentor, focus on building a relationship with them first. Don't simply ask someone, “Will you be my mentor?” as that might be offputting. Instead, work on getting to know them and letting them get to know you. Take an interest in their success and their work and when you feel comfortable enough, let them know that you're interested in someone teaching you the ropes and ask if they would be interested.

Many successful people are willing to mentor the right person if they have time to, so be on the lookout.

18. Teach Your Kids to Be Self Sufficient

Much like how you're learning to build wealth and become rich from nothing, teach your kids to do the same. Children who have a good money mindset will be more successful themselves when they're adults. 

Teach your kids important life skills. Some examples include paying them to do chores and odd jobs, instilling them the importance of reading and educating themselves, teaching them how to treat others, pushing them to take care of their health, and so on.

Wrapping It Up

This article should have shown you that there are ways to get rich from nothing that doesn't involve schemes or vast amounts of luck. By being intentional about how you approach money, you greatly increase the likelihood that you will be a more wealthy person and be able to live a rich life.

While one can't guarantee that they will be rich one day, these methods and strategies certainly have been proven to work for many that use them.

Start today on building a rich life for yourself so that in the future, you can live more comfortably.