Many times, observing millionaires and billionaires can make one feel inadequate or hopeless – like you'll never be able to compete. But behind a few wealthy celebrities is a bootstrap story just like yours. When you read the rags-to-riches story of someone who had to earn every penny, it has the opposite effect: you find inspiration and encouragement.
Here are 10 famous folks whose stories can help solidify your motivation to save money, invest in yourself, and keep hope alive.
- Ingvar Kamprad: You might not recognize his name, but you'll know his company's moniker right away: IKEA is famous for progressive, sharp, affordable, and easy-to-assemble furniture, but very few know that the Swedish entrepreneur who started the company lived on a farm as a boy. When his father rewarded him for good grades by giving him a bit of cash, the young man began a little venture that turned into one of the largest companies in history.
- Oprah Winfrey: Perhaps the most personable billionaire in history, Oprah Winfrey has shared openly about her humble beginnings. Born to a teen mom, Oprah lived her first years with her grandmother on a farm. It wasn't until she won a beauty pageant and landed a gig with a local radio station that her open and empathetic voice was heard by the masses. Today, she's not just a billionaire, she's also one of the most influential women alive.
- Ben Franklin: That's right, Benjamin Franklin wasn't born into the aristocracy like so many powerful men of his time. Instead, his father ran a struggling candle- and soap-making operation that produced such a meager living that young Ben quit school at age 10 to work full time.
- Lebron James: King James, as he's now called, wasn't always on top of the world. Born into a mostly single-parent family, stability was rare, and he lived in multiple homes and households. When he discovered his knack for hoops, he applied himself and sacrificed everything to invest in his talent. Today, this record-breaker is anything but poor.
- Jan Koum: An immigrant from Kyiv, Ukraine, Koum and his mother came to America in 1992 and lived on government assistance while working in a grocery store and as a babysitter, respectively. With little money, he enrolled in San Jose State University to invest in himself – especially his knack for computer programming. He put himself through school by working a side gig until he landed his first engineering role at Yahoo. Then, Koum and a friend wrote a mobile messaging program called "WhatsApp," which was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion.
- Halle Berry: Believe it or not, Halle Berry stayed at a homeless shelter in Chicago as a young adult when her mother decided not to continue supporting her search for an acting gig. Today, the actress is the personification of success, with a tough under armor to boot.
- Houdini: When Erich Weiss (Houdini) was 9 years old, his father and mother weren't able to bring in enough income to secure housing for the family, so Houdini went to work. His job? A child trapeze artist. At the age of 12, Houdini "pulled a Houdini," and disappeared from under his parents' roof to work magic tricks on the street for coins. Not many years later, he was one of the highest paid performers in history and remains one of the most famous magicians of all time.
- Steve Harvey: Funnyman, producer, TV show host, actor and author Steve Harvey wasn't always a smashing success. In fact, in his early career he found himself just a gig or two short of being on the streets. Then, sure enough, circumstances changed for the worse, and before he knew it, Harvey was staying in his vehicle between jobs. He didn't give up, though, and today his estimated net worth is over $100 million.
- Walt Disney: Yep, the man whose legacy spreads so much joy to so many people came from poverty. In Disney's early days, all the family's boys worked daily on paper routes at 4am each day, making $3 a week at most. It wasn't much, but the family couldn't imagine life without the income. Today, Disney's company is ranked #8 on Forbes' list of the World's Most Valuable Brands.
- J.K. Rowling: Author of the famous Harry Potter books, Joanne Rowling wrote the first of the series in coffee shops with a baby in tow. What critics called "unpublishable" Rowling saw as valuable. She saved her pennies and worked hard until the lovable young wizard captured readers' hearts. The rest, as they say, was history.
You don't have to live in a vehicle to identify with some of these stories. Just the reality that some millionaires and billionaires weren't handed their wealth is inspiring. When you need motivation to save money or apply yourself, think about one of these figures and keep at it. You're in good company.
Image Source: Flickr