5 People Who Found Financial Success On Their Own Dime

These people went out on a limb and ultimately reaped the fruits of their labor.

We're often warned that money's the root of all evil. But, when you learn the reasons behind how people got rich, it's easy to see that, when placed in the right hands, money can change lives. Whether they worked tirelessly for all they've earned, or fortune unexpectedly fell into their lap, many people who've gotten rich understand what it's like to bounce from one end of the spectrum to the other. Some of those who have gotten rich used their personal struggles to fuel their success, while others embraced their spontaneous ingenuity to earn their unforeseen payout. Yet, regardless of how people become rich, only those who put their money to good use can truly consider themselves wealthy. Here are just five examples of people who made money thanks, in part, to both luck and determination. 


1. This woman whose search for affordable childcare inspired her to create a database for working parents.

When Sheila Lirio Marcelo found herself struggling to find affordable, quality childcare, the working mother decided to create her own fix for the problem. Her solution? Care.com. Now, as the founder, chairwoman, and CEO of the company she founded in 2006, Marcelo uses her success to lift up others, as she recognizes that she never would've been able to accomplish these goals on her own. Much like the babysitters featured in Care.com's database, Marcelo understands that success isn't a solo endeavor and that we all need help along the way.

In an interview with the The New York Times, Marcelo notes that it's important to create leaders so that one individual doesn't feel compelled to manage the entire business all at once. "I think it's learning the different styles that people have, and harnessing their strengths, and how they get motivated and what inspires them to get stuff done," she explained.

Care.com, which now serves more than 27 million people across 20 countries, has since expanded to include housekeepers, pet caregivers, and eldercare workers. As her personal and financial successes grow, Marcelo's actions constantly reinforce the significance of teamwork and support.

2. Thos movie director who lived out of his car before selling the rights to his first film.

During the early 1980s, James Cameron still had yet to make a name for himself. In fact, according to IGN, when the aspiring filmmaker was writing The Terminator, he was "barely making ends meet, even living in his car for a time." Regardless of his financial situation, however, Cameron's main concern wasn't making money. Instead, he was determined to direct his screenplay despite his limited experience. 

When he pitched The Terminator at meetings, production companies said they liked the script, but they didn't like the idea of allowing him to retain control. Thus, Cameron persevered and partnered with producer Gale Anne Hurd, who ultimately bought the rights to the screenplay for $1 and named Cameron the director. The Terminator went on to earn $77 million worldwide, launching a franchise and Cameron's career simultaneously. Since then, the notorious director has gone on to create some of the highest grossing films to date. Perhaps you've heard of Titanic and Avatar?  

3. This man who didn't know the art covering a hole in his wall was worth a whole lot of money.

One day, an anonymous employee at a tool-and-die company in Indiana spent $30 on some used furniture and an old painting. As Mental Floss notes, the man decided to strategically hang the picture over a hole in the wall that'd been bugging him. However, it wasn't until years later, when he was playing a board game called Masterpiece, that he realized his makeshift repair job might actually be an incredibly valuable piece of work,

"Much to his surprise, one of the cards in the game featured a painting of flowers that looked a lot like the one he had on his wall," Mental Floss explains. "So he went online and found that his painting was similar in style to the work of Martin Johnson Heade, an American still-life artist best known for landscapes and flower arrangements. Through his research he found the Kennedy Galleries in Manhattan, which handles many of Heade's works, and asked them to take a look at his painting. They agreed and were able to verify that the piece of artwork covering the hole in his wall was a previously unknown Heade painting, since named Magnolias on Gold Velvet Cloth." 

In 1999, The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston purchased the painting for $1.25 million — enough to fix the hole in his wall (and his wallet) without fail. This story gives to show that people can get rich quick in the most unexpected ways. 

4. This woman who found empowerment through writing about her harrowing experiences.

Author Jessica Knoll told Moneyish that surviving her sexual assault motivated her to write and be successful, as she believed that, to increase her value, she needed to earn money and, with that, her independence. 

"It's a combination of deeper drives or deeper pain that I've experienced in my life, and a determination to never feel vulnerable again; never feel like anyone can take advantage of me again and get away with it," Knoll said. "I want to feel secure; I want to feel safe; I want to have my own agency and never be silenced again. I want to be my own boss. I want to make my own hours. I want to live my life on my own terms," she added. "Nothing can buy you happiness; not one thing is going to guarantee happiness or satisfaction in your life — but money helps."

8. This man whose bookmark kept falling out of place, so he invented something that's stuck with us all.

In 1974, an unassuming 3M new-products developer, Arthur Fry, became increasingly frustrated when the bookmarks in his church hymnal kept falling out. As GOBankingRates writes, Fry subsequently remembered an adhesive developed by chemist colleague Spencer Silver that stuck to products but easily peeled off. "The next day at work, Fry made a few samples of the Press 'n Peel memo pad — now Post-it — for his co-workers to try."

While it took some tweaking, by 1980, Post-it Notes were ready for the public. In 1981, 3M named Post-it Notes its Outstanding New Product, garnering outside recognition and widespread sales. Currently, Post-it Notes are sold in more than 100 countries and, in honor of his ingenious creation, Fry was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2010. 

Cover image via Artem Bali / Pexels


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