Building Wealth from Nothing Is Stupidly Simple If You Want It to Be

But financial success won’t happen overnight.

Matt Lillywhite
Apr 5 · 5 min read
Photo by Gabby K from Pexels

I’m not a rich asshole or someone who’s always had a lot of money. I grew up with a single mom on the poverty line. We didn’t live in a massive house. Nor did we have a lot of cash to spend on lavish things. But we did what we could to get by.

I was told that the odds of accomplishing anything meaningful in my life were small. “The odds are stacked against us” is something my friends would say all the time. And to be honest, they were right. I was just a kid from a tiny town in the south of England. The probability of building wealth or achieving financial freedom was basically zero.

But one day, everything changed. I finally had enough and said to myself that I would break the cycle of generational poverty. Sure, I was born into a family with little money. I couldn’t change that. However, I could adjust my actions to create a better financial future. So that’s what I did.

Here’s how.

I experienced one failure after another. My lack of discipline created poor spending habits, and it became increasingly difficult to remain motivated. Personal finance was completely new to me. At times, it genuinely felt like I was learning a foreign language.

But every day, I tried to learn something new about personal finance. I watched YouTube videos on money, stocks, and the real estate market. I read articles from reputable financial sources such as CNBC, Forbes, and Business Insider. Also, I listened to podcasts and audiobooks that spoke about the importance of building wealth.

Honestly, I didn’t know how the hell I was going to improve my circumstances. But I was absolutely determined to make my dreams a reality. And looking back, my sheer willingness to persevere, despite the odds, was something that enabled me to make a lot of progress.

I quite literally went from zero to one hundred. And from then on, my rate of financial growth was exponential.

Day by day, little by little, I improved my net worth. How? I minimized my expenses as much as possible. Then, I did everything within my power to increase my income. Anything that didn’t go towards necessities was put into my savings account.

Even though I was only putting in $10 a day, I was able to save several thousand dollars each year as a result of implementing this strategy. And sure enough, it quickly became much easier to sleep at night. After all, I had peace of mind knowing that I could afford an emergency expense.

Since then, I’ve made weekly contributions towards a “worst-case scenario fund.” Sometimes referred to as an emergency fund, it’s a place to store several months' worth of expenses. Quoting an article published by Investopedia:

“The first step is to determine how much you spend each month. Housing, transportation, and food will likely be the categories that eat up most of your cash. The average household spends 62% of its income, which averages $73,573 before taxes, on these items, according to the BLS Consumer Expenditures report. Once you know your total expenses for each month, multiply that number by three. Reaching that number will be your initial goal.”

Here’s something that took me a long time to realize: a little bit of daily progress is better than none at all. That’s why it’s good to focus on the small wins and the little accomplishments which make you smile. Feel proud of everything you achieve — and try not to worry about what other people are doing. Because when you continually put one foot in front of the other, you’ll inevitably create a much better financial future over time.

So what did I do next? I learned how to invest. It’s a skill that’s enabled me to become financially free over the past couple of years. After all, my net worth is no longer dependent on the hours I work every day.

One of my favorite strategies is dollar-cost averaging. It’s something that’s helped me to grow my net worth without even having to worry about timing the market or “buying the dip.” Quoting an article published by Forbes:

“Investing is never easy, especially during one of the most volatile years in the stock market’s history. Whether you have extra cash sitting on the sidelines or are second-guessing your investment strategy, it’s easy to let hindsight bias or a fear of losing money impact your decisions. Especially when investing during a recession or economic crisis, dollar-cost averaging can be an effective way to reduce the risk — and fear — of investing at the wrong time.”

For the past 18 months or so, I’ve had automatic daily purchase orders set up to ensure I’m always buying into the market. And since the average annual rate of return is approximately 10%, my net worth is consistently increasing over time.

I grew up on the poverty line. I know what it’s like to have an empty bank account and to be kept awake by the prospect of being unable to afford basic groceries. I understand how difficult it is to find hope when everything feels hopeless.

But I’ve learned that building wealth from nothing isn’t complicated. In fact, it can be stupidly simple if you want it to be. However, a prerequisite is accepting that you won’t become wealthy overnight. It takes time. It takes patience. And perhaps most importantly, it takes a lot of discipline.

Eliminate the narrative in your head that’s prevented you from succeeding. Realize your full potential, and understand that a better life is within your reach. My friend, it’s totally possible for your dream to become a reality.

You just need to be willing to work for it.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational and entertainment purposes only. It should not be considered professional financial or legal advice.

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Matt Lillywhite

Written by

I write for people who want to live a happier life in the modern world. Let’s chat:

Ascent Publication

Strive for happier. Join a community of storytellers documenting the climb to happiness and fulfillment.

Matt Lillywhite

Written by

I write for people who want to live a happier life in the modern world. Let’s chat:

Ascent Publication

Strive for happier. Join a community of storytellers documenting the climb to happiness and fulfillment.

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