Finding the Inspiration for Becoming Rich Through Financial Curiosity

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Light Money by Salvatore Vuono

The following is a contribution from my good friend MMD at My Money Design. 


I graduated from college and began my career exactly a decade ago this year. When I think back to the months leading up to my first real job, it’s funny to think about how different my priorities were compared to now. I thought that landing that big job was the path to becoming rich, and that wealth was measured by how big your paycheck was every two weeks.

That’s the reason it’s funny to think back on it. I couldn’t have been any more wrong or further from the truth.

Acting on Financial Curiosity


I suppose that lots of young college students graduate every year with the expectation that the road to getting rich is somehow connected only to your ability to navigate from an entry level position to Vice President of a company. How was I to be any different or any less naïve? After all, the Internet was not as flush as it is now with tons of stories and great examples of entrepreneurial success. Little did I realize, however, that you only start to see the thing you’re after once you start looking for it.

It was early on at my job that I was handed my retirement plan packet without any explanation or instruction. Beyond my Dad and whatever literature accompanied that 401k package, I really had no clue what I was supposed to do and how I was supposed to pick out my funds.

Something didn’t feel right. Blindly picking out your investments from a cold piece of paper didn’t really seem like the path to becoming rich. There had to be more to it than this. Of course as I found out, there was.

Learning About Becoming Rich


I had long held an interest in how all things financial worked, and I figured this was just as good of a time as any to get more involved with my money and really take a solid interest in what investing was really all about.

Before long, I was getting my hands on every piece of financial literature I could find. I got to know the differences between an IRA vs 401k and how I could leverage each to my advantage. I got to know what variables would either make or break my retirement, and how important it was to carefully lay out a plan that I would be able to follow.

Interestingly, the greatest place my financial curiosity led me was not to any one specific type of investment or account. It was rather more of a change in thought.

Discovering Passive Income


The more I learned about investing in my 401k, IRA, and other taxable accounts, I realized that the power of these funds wasn’t necessarily in how much money I could build in the shortest amount of time. No, the real benefit was this:

  • I learned that money makes more money without me having to work for it.

This simple yet effective idea was different from anything I had ever heard about or been taught from anyone. From doing absolutely nothing other than being the owner of that investment, I was seeing first had how I could be making more money. My investments were growing without my involvement. This was definitely one of those pivotal “ah-ha” moments in life, and it begged the follow-up question:

  • What other ways are there to grow your money without actually having to “do anything”?

Every Accomplishment Is an Inspiration


Ever since then, the sky’s been the limit when it comes to actions that will create wealth. Working and saving were an okay foundation, but becoming rich, retiring early, or even building unlimited wealth would have to come from actions beyond. The more I accepted this, the more I began researching, reading, and looking for anything I could that would expand my knowledge about building passive wealth.

Over the years, I’ve tried a number of different things from licensing music to dividend investing.  Even the act of starting my blog was an effort where one of the objectives was to bring in some extra cash. Building these passive streams became the focus of my blog as I move from idea to idea and document my progress.

With every small accomplish or revenue, I want to find a way to make it grow. With every failure I want to figure out why it didn’t work and take things in a different direction.

Absolutely none of this would have been possible if I hadn’t first taken a larger interest in what was going on with my finances. I knew that people were getting rich all the time, and it surely wasn’t from working more and hoarding all their money. There was a secret to building wealth and I wanted to find it.

If there’s anything I can encourage you to do, it’s to get active with your finances and figure out what’s going on. You don’t have to know everything, but you should at least have the curiosity to ask why. For me, it opened my eyes to a world that only a few people ever know about, and even fewer people find the ambition to explore.

I feel lucky to know what I know, and I’m thankful to have found so many great resources along the way. Sometimes searching for the answer to something can lead you to a place you didn’t even know existed. I’m glad I was curious enough to find that out.


What was your a-ha moment and how did it help you in terms of learning more about how your finances work towards you becoming rich over time?


Editor’s note: I can relate to MMD’s thoughts as it was not until I began to take interest in my finances and how they worked for me that I was truly able to harness them for our benefit. I, like MMD, am thankful for what I have had the benefit of learning and if I can do it then anyone can.


The following post was a contribution from My Money Design, a blog that is all about figuring out how to make your money work for you so that you can spend your time the way you want.

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John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.


  • I would agree: most people think the key to getting rich is to find a good job and advance. In all honesty, that is certainly one way to do it. However, as you state, the best way to do it is to learn about money. You don’t even need a great job or to own your own business if you can learn to manage your money correctly.

  • I actually was “financially curious” all the way back in middle school. I was very interested in HOW people became wealthy. Was it their job? Did they invest in things that produced income? How much of a factor was being born into a wealthy family? All these things are questions that still interest me, but now that I have started my career I realize there is an endless number of things to learn and research. Increasing income and creating passive income are two topics that I’m particularly interested in right now.

    • DC, we have a lot of similarities then. I remember opening my first CD at the bank when I was 16. That seems so simple now. But back then my friends thought I was some kind of financial genius for doing so.

    • DC, we have a lot of similarities then. I remember opening my first CD at the bank when I was 16. That seems so simple now. But back then my friends thought I was some kind of financial genius for doing so.

  • Michelle says:

    This is something that I have been learning over time. My blog has definitely helped me ramp everything up a little bit too because I learn so much from the pf community!

  • Love this, MMD and John!! I’m convinced that those who posess financial curiosity have a much greater chance of getting out of debt and becoming financially free. It all starts with a yearning from the heart. Once we learn that money is a tool and not something to be feared, our world of learning is wide open!

    • Thanks Laurie! Money is definitely a tool. I like to think of it like fire. It can change your life and keep you alive when you need it the most. But used the wrong way, and it will burn your house down.

  • My Financial Independence Journey says:

    My blog is basically an excuse to learn about investing and it’s really worked. It’s improved my knowledge of investments in general, specific companies, and options. And that’s only been in the last 4 months. It also provides encouragement to keep building wealth – outside the blogosphere, people look at me like a grew a second head if I say I want to save 50% of my income.

    • Then you are using your blog in preciously the right kind of way! I’ve got to say that ever since writing for my own blog, my knowledge of money topics has exponentially increased. You tend to really get to know a topic inside and out before you go hitting post on your website. The commentors will tear you apart if you put something out there that is not right!! 🙂

  • I certainly thought getting a good job was all it took to be rich. I actually saved a higher percentage of my income when I was a resident, although I used it for buying stuff like a mountain bike instead of investing for the future of paying off loans, but I should have kept that same percentage when I got the real job. They should give make you come up with a money design before you graduate.

    • Wouldn’t that be a great class to take in college? Most people don’t know what kind of job or what they’re going to do with their lives when they graduate. How about adding on a class that teaches you how to prepare for when all that stuff is said and done!

  • pauline says:

    So much to learn! and so many approaches. I like to read and learn from other people, you never know when it may make a big impact on your finances and life.

    • Agreed! There are a lot of ideas out there; good ones that you and I would have never came up with. If you’re open to the idea and willing to listen, sometimes you don’t have to go far to find them.

  • Jake Erickson says:

    I completely agree with everything that was said here. I was financially curious even back in high school (and probably before), so I’ve had quite a bit of time to learn about the various methods to building wealth. I kind of feel bad for the people who never get “financially curious” because they could work hard their whole life and still have no money if they didnt plan correctly.

  • Nice one MMD. I completely agree. It wasn’t until I paid off my last credit card that I finally found what I could do with my money. I am slowly working toward putting my money to work for me and I hope that it will pay off.

  • I’ve been interested in money since my father started talking to me about. More specifically, I was fascinated with the relationship people had with it. They wanted it so badly but they treated it with such disregard in many instance. They claimed it would make everything perfect, but they seemed so unhappy. I absolutely agree the way people get introduced to a 401k is appalling. Most people have zero knowledge in investing and given some beautifully designed brochures but that’s about it. Sadly, more people don’t act on their financial curiosity (mostly because they have little). It would make a huge difference in this world if they did. Great post, MMD and John!

    • I happened to notice a few people in our break room filling out their 401k packet as if they were circling random letters on a high school ACT test. It’s sad that that’s all the effort some people want to put into how they will handle their life savings.

  • Taking an interest in finance is definitely the first step to reaching money goals. It’s hard to inspire that interest in others, though, which is I guess why we blog. 🙂

  • I’ve been financially curious since my Dad took away the “start up costs” to my first business to teach me about net profit. I was seven. Budgeting and saving I have down, but investing I have a ways to go. I’m starting to explore more about investing (outside of my 401k) and how to make my money work for me! Great post and I’ll have to check out your blog. 🙂

  • I was both fortunate and unfortunate in learning about money. I was able to see family members unfortunate situations based on the decisions they made towards money and took that as motivation to never be in that situation.

    • Same here! I’ve seen family members miss every family gathering and others work until they passed away. That’s not what I want, and I use those memories as my motivation to keep pushing on.

  • I wholeheartedly agree with all of this. I can’t even remember what sparked my financial curiosity, but from that point on it’s been a never-ending learning curve. I’ve loved almost all of it, and can’t imagine where I’d be without the desire to learn.

  • Love MMD and his story! I’ve always been pretty financially curious. Started supporting myself independently young and realized just how much those entry-level salaries DON’T get you. In fact, my senior year of high school we had a guest speaker come in and show us charts of how early saving could result in tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands dollars more each year by retirement. I was on the edge of my freaking seat.

  • Nice article MMD! I recently graduated college and luckily I know that a large paycheck does not a rich man make. Still, that is a good message to get out to my peers!

    • Thanks Nick. It’s definitely all fine and good to get a great job and start a great career. But the sooner you get multiple things going on, the more unlimited your wealth potential will truly be.

  • I take issue with the assumption that we all wish to be “rich.” Frankly, I have no desire. While I’m saving just in case, I really hope to never have to retire. I LIKE working. And I like working for somebody else so I don’t have to worry about sales, payroll, overhead, etc.

  • Justin says:

    Like you, I’ve always had an interest in personal finance. But it wasn’t until my honeymoon that it really became a passion. I found a book, with a good title, read it and I was hooked. The book might have been wrong on some things, but I’m glad that it helped me find my passion.

  • I think the majority of people out there work a job and see their only opportunity to making more money as 1) getting promoted or 2) getting another job. I’m not a freelancer, but I would imagine that there are similar parallels. For instance: There is probably some desire to “move up” on getting higher quality, better paying customers or better types of projects, isn’t there?

  • I wish more people would take a few days to read a good financial book. Honestly – when you’re young and hungry for information, where else can you find it than in the pages of a good book from an author that is living proof?

  • The term “financial curiosity” can easily be twisted to justify unwise decisions. Way to keep things down to earth.

  • It’s interesting how, while that is the traditional idea of how to get rich (working for somebody else), the real success stories are of those who work for themselves or just find ways to make money that doesn’t include working (passive income). Curiosity is a beautiful thing!

  • The most important thing you can ever do is get involved. Once I took an active role in my investment decisions instead of leaving it to others I felt much more comfortable. Understanding where things are going and what could possibly happen make you much more aware. The financial crisis was a big eye opener for me and even though we all lost money, I learned something in the process.

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