Long Island, New York has recently been named one of the most expensive places to live in the country. That's where I'm from. I lived a normal childhood in the suburbs; two working parents who made a comfortable living for their family of four. At age eleven, both of my parents suddenly lost their jobs within about a year and a half of each other. Over the next nine years to follow, we struggled to make ends meet. My mom was put on disabilities due to a seizure disorder and my dad worked odds and ends jobs when he could, but was often inhibited to work consistently by his horrible, chronic back pain. We often went days without heat and hot water during the freezing cold winters, and spent weeks at a time having nothing but pasta for dinner (because a pound of pasta can feed a family of four for under a dollar). Eventually, shortly after my 20th birthday, everything fell apart; we lost our house and my parents separated. I realized very early on that if I wanted a life akin to what I once had, I was going to have to make it for myself. I got my first part-time job at age 14 working nights as an assistant coach for my local baton twirling organization. At age 18, I knew college was looming and that my one job wasn't going to be enough, so I got a second part-time job in retail. I worked extremely hard all through high school and finished 8th in my class of 400 students. Because of my academic success in high school, I earned a Dean's Scholarship at a great local private college. Luckily, the scholarship and financial aid helped tremendously with tuition, but I still had to take out thousands of dollars in student loans. I chose accounting as my major in college, and did very well earning a 3.8 GPA. As a result, I was able to begin my graduate studies a year early, and earned my MBA in Accounting by age 22 with a 3.9 GPA. I began working at local accounting firms at age 19 (another part-time job I worked through college!) Now I am 23 and working full-time at a job I absolutely love, halfway through my CPA exams, and making a very generous salary to boot! Mine is not exactly a rags-to-riches story, but, like my story's title suggests, I was able to build my own financial success from the group up, from nothing. Through a lot of hard work in high school, college, grad school, and my jobs, I have been able to build a strong and fantastic career that I am very proud of!