Givens was born and raised in Decatur, Illinois. His father, a construction company owner, deserted the family and left them poor. This situation made things tough around the house, and it affected the Givens mentally.
In a 1989 interview, Givens said he once considered himself a "loser," and at 16 wrote a suicide note. He began his career in music, by first forming a band called "Chuck Givens and the Quintones." He reportedly made more money performing at weekend shows than his normal job at a local foundry. He may have had a slight connection with the creation of the famous single, "Hang On Sloopy". After the creation of a small recording industry and book agency in Nashville, he lost it all to a fire in 1960s, which was uninsured. After spending time "learning financial lessons", Givens slowly built a multimillion-dollar empire in the late 1980s, writing such books as the best-selling Wealth Without Risk and Financial Self-Defense. He became a best selling author, with two books in the Bestsellers list during 1990s. Also during his financial peak, he owned the Charles J. Givens organization, which counted at more than 450,000 members. The company provided financial education, and brought in $104 million of revenue.