You’ve seen some of these money experts share their knowledge of investing, saving, spending, and starting businesses on television. You may have also read their books. But you might not know their backstories — how some of the nation’s top money minds got their starts.
How did these 10 experts, some of whom are among the 10 richest people on the planet, get to where they are now? Read on to learn how famous financial pros from Michael Bloomberg to Suze Orman made millions and billions before trying out their expert tips for yourself.
Net worth: $76.8 billion
The former mayor of New York and a 2020 presidential candidate, Michael Bloomberg, started his career on Wall Street in 1966 in an entry-level job after earning his MBA from Harvard. He rose through his company to lead its information systems division but was let go in 1981 when the company was acquired.
The following day, he used his severance package to found his own company with the goal of bringing transparency and fairness to the financial world through technology. The company, Bloomberg LP, now employs about 20,000 people in 70 countries. Forbes pegs his net worth at $76.8 billion, making Bloomberg the twelfth richest person in the world.
Bloomberg on entrepreneurial success: “We’ve grown from four people in one room to 20,000 people in over 70 countries — so that’s the biggest change. But the company’s values have stayed the same. Hard work, collaboration, giving back — that’s what inspired us at the start, and that’s what’s leading us into the future.”
Net worth: $106.1 billion
Buffett has been thought of as the best investor for a long time. He bought his first stock when he was 11 and filed his first tax return two years later, according to Forbes. He is the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, the parent company of more than 60 companies, including GEICO, Fruit of the Loom, Dairy Queen, See’s Candies, and Kraft Heinz.
Forbes estimates Buffett’s net worth at $106.1 billion, making him one of the 10 richest people on the publication’s list of billionaires. He has vowed to give away more than 99% of his wealth through the Giving Pledge.
Buffett on the roller coaster nature of stocks: “You’ve got to be prepared when you buy a stock to have it go down 50% or more and be comfortable with it, as long as you’re comfortable with the holding,” he told Berkshire Hathaway shareholders in 2020.
Net worth: $600 million
In his early 20s, Grant Cardone developed a substance abuse problem and spent his money on drugs and alcohol. “I should have been spending that money on things that would help me develop new skills, gain knowledge, and make powerful connections,” he told CNBC’s “Make It.”
“I didn’t realize any of this until much later. At 25, I spent my last $3,000 on an audio program that taught me about sales and how to close deals. I can honestly say that the investment and commitment to go ‘all in’ are the reasons for my success today,” he said. Today, he is a bestselling author, owns seven companies, and runs a top conference for entrepreneurs.
Cardone on achieving financial independence: “So, how do you achieve financial freedom when you have absolutely nothing? No money, no skills, no savings, no contacts, no support? You start by getting into the right mindset,” he wrote on his blog. “A positive mindset, determination, grit, and passion are what will get you from A to B, from broke to financially independent.”
Net worth: $150 million
The host of CNBC’s “Mad Money” and the network’s subscription podcast, “CNBC Investing Club with Jim Cramer,” Cramer is a graduate of Harvard Law School. After passing the New York State Bar Exam, he worked in sales and trading for Goldman Sachs before starting a career managing hedge funds.
He retired from the business in 2001, a year after his rate of return exceeded 36%, according to his CNBC bio. He founded The Street and is also a best-selling author.
Cramer on investing at a young age: “Thanks to the magic of compounding, the earlier in your life you start investing in the market, the bigger your long-term gains can be,” he told CNBC.
Net worth: $100 million
The author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” one of the best-selling books on personal finance, Robert Kiyosaki changed the way many people think about money. A native of Hawaii, he turned down a job with Standard Oil after graduating from college to join the military during the Vietnam War.
After his tour of duty was done, he took a position at Xerox and rose to become the company’s top salesperson before opening his own company, Rippers, which brought the nylon and Velcro wallets to market.
Kiyosaki on technology: “Technology has brought both speed and innovation to the world of money,” he wrote to mark the 25th anniversary of his famous book. “All the more reason, it seems, to do all that we can to get smarter with our money, learn as much as we can, and take control of our financial futures.”
Net worth: $450 million
When Peter Lynch started caddying at age 11, he overheard conversations on the golf course about investing and stocks. His interest was piqued, and he kept track of the stocks.
“I didn’t even have any money. But I watched them go up. I said, ‘Wow, this looks like a great thing to do.’ So I did,” he told Fidelity Viewpoints. “At Boston College, I did a report on the air cargo industry, and I bought $300 worth of tickets from Flying Tiger Airlines.” The Vietnam War took off, and they had to fly a lot of stuff to Vietnam. I think I paid for graduate school with Flying Tiger.”
He went on to run Fidelity’s Magellan Fund from 1977 to 1990, growing its assets from $18 million to $14 billion under his watch.
Lynch on stocks: “Long term, the stock market’s a very good place to be. But I could toss a coin now. Is it going to be lower two years from now? Higher? I don’t know. But more people have lost money waiting for corrections and anticipating corrections than in the actual corrections.”
Net worth: $400 million
Kevin O’Leary, aka Mr. Wonderful from television’s “Shark Tank” and “Dragons’ Den,” started a software company in his basement in 1986 that he and his partners sold in 1999 to the Mattel Toy Co., CNBC’s Make It reported. He went on to launch investment and wine companies and write a best-selling book on financial literacy.
O’Leary on hard work: “I respect any entrepreneur that’s not afraid to just work, simple as that.” “It’s a 25-hour day; there are no shortcuts,” he posted to Twitter in May 2022.
Net worth: $75 million
Suze Orman, best-selling author and host of the “Women & Money” podcast, didn’t grow up with plans to be a financial guru. She stumbled into it.
At 29, while working as a waitress, she shared her dreams of opening a restaurant with the diners she’d served for years. Believing her, they invested in her dreams, and she turned to a professional to help her grow the money. And he lost it all. From that experience, she learned all she could about the stock market and finances and got a job as a stock broker, laying the foundation for her career.
Orman on saving money: “It can be $10 a month, $200, or $1,000,” she wrote on her blog. “All I insist is that you make this automatic. That is a proven way to stay committed to a savings goal… The set it and forget it approach is how you will reach your savings goals.”
Net worth: $200 million
Dave Ramsey’s father instilled in him the value of making money at an early age, so as a preteen he mowed lawns. While still in college, he earned his real estate license and started selling properties, and by his mid-20s, he was living high, earning $250,000 a month with a real estate portfolio of $4 million — until he lost it all when the banks called in their notes on the loans and he was forced to file for bankruptcy.
He learned everything he could about money, got back on his feet, and started sharing what he knew with others. Today, he gives advice through his best-selling books and “The Ramsey Show,” a radio show he hosts during the week.
Ramsey on spending: “When you have to go out, make a list of only the things you need and take just enough cash with you to make the purchase,” he wrote in 2015 in his advice column. “Spending money on a bunch of stuff you don’t need and probably don’t really want isn’t going to bring you contentment.”
Net worth: $11.5 billion
Charles Schwab founded his brokerage company in 1971, borrowing $100,000 from his uncle to do so. The company grew after Schwab started charging half the fees of full-service brokers, and 50 years later, the company has accounts worth $7.8 trillion and averages 6 million trades per day, according to Forbes. According to Forbes, his net worth as of right now is $11.5 billion.
Schwab on money: “You’ve always got to worry about it,” he told Money magazine in 2007. “I worry in a different way now. I worry about the responsibility of wealth.”