4 Steps to Go From Rags to Riches by Using Your Rags

Identify your current assets and put them to work building wealth

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Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

Step one: examine your rags

One person’s rags are another person’s riches. I was born into a loving family with two educated parents. Money was very tight, but I never went hungry and I always had a roof over my head. I’m white, cisgender, and heterosexual. I have no major physical or mental disabilities. Getting good grades took effort but was well within my skill set.

  • friends: close and distant
  • education: formal and informal
  • race, ethnicity, skin tone
  • gender and sexuality
  • socio-economic status as a child and now
  • money: current balances of debt and/or savings
  • social networking connections
  • faith: religious connections from childhood and now
  • physical and mental abilities and disablities
  • trama: past and present
  • employment
  • physical items: car, laptop, steam cleaner, whatever
  • residence: where you live geographically as well as dwelling type and condition

Step two: recognize and cherish the good

What do you have going for you? Healthy body? Sound mind? Great friends?College degree? Trust Fund? Okay, probably not that last one or you wouldn’t be reading this article. Still, everyone has some assets material or immaterial. What are yours?

Step three: reframe and flip the bad

Now it’s time to look at the negatives in your life. What’s holding you back? Debt? Fear? No money? Disability? A power structure stacked against you? These are real liabilities and it’s okay to feel the pain of having a longer road ahead of you than the person who started on third base.

Step four: start putting your assets to work

Now you are coming from a growth mindset. You have acknowledged that you are already rich in some way and you are ready to get richer.

  • Do you have good friends? Use your people to give you support and keep you going when times are tough. Network, lean on friends for job leads, advice, favor for favor type help.
  • Loving parents? Maybe you can move into their basement to save money on rent. Can they support you while you’re getting your business off the ground?
  • Skills or potential in some area? Get a side hustle going.
  • Trama in your past or present? Are there parts of your story that you can safely share? Thoughtful writing about your life experiences can be healing for you and extremely helpful to others going through a similar situation. It can also earn you real money if you do it well.
  • Do you have a college degree or even just some coursework that feels like a waste? Make use of your college career center even if you are years past graduation or looking in an entirely different field than your major. Join alumni groups and use those connections.
  • Do you own a car? In a pinch, you could live in your car like John Paul DeJoria did while starting his iconic John Paul Mitchell Systems. This may be extreme, but he did go from homeless to billionaire.


  • Recognize the ways in which you are already rich and leverage them to make yourself richer.
  • Be creative in identifying your assets and putting them to work for you.
  • Be patient but persistent. Get rich quick schemes rarely work but frugal living combined with sensible investing can do wonders.
  • Use time to your advantage. Debt and investments both add up faster than you think. Avoid the one and embrace the other.
  • Your only race is with yourself. Stop asking yourself if you are doing better than Joe Blow. Ask if you are doing better than you were last year.
  • Embracing a positive mindset energizes you and helps keep you going for the long haul.

Writing, wondering, and wandering across three continents. Living, Learning, and Laughing along the way. https://tinyurl.com/MaryDeVries

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