According to Uncle Sam, you need to be "materially involved" in an enterprise to earn active income. With passive income, it's just the opposite, as the IRS deems you to be earning passive income if you're not materially involved with a profit-making enterprise. By and large, expect income to be taxable if you are engaged in a passive income enterprise. You will need to report earnings to the IRS.
The average population of counties with per capita incomes above the state's was twice as high (921,098) as those with a per capita income below the state average (546,543). Even this difference is minuscule when population density is considered: Counties with a per capita income above that of the state were eight times as dense on average (1,540.2 persons per square mile) than those with per capita income below that of the state (192.1 persons per square mile).

Right now we have five, but we’ll probably cut that down to four at ER next year. Current: W-2, business income, rental income, interest on personal loan plus accounts, dividends and cap gains. Future: subtract W-2 for the most part, not counting little “fun work” projects. If we were looking to live the high life, we might aim for the millionaire’s seven sources, but we feel like our four sources will let us live very comfortably with plenty of contingency plans in place. 🙂
If you know anything well, a place, how to fix something, how to make something, how to do something, you can write a guide for it. You can sell your guide as an e-book, offer it as a download for a fee on your site or reach out to bloggers with similar content and ask if they will offer it as a paid download on their website (for a price of course).
If you’re worried about launching a new product, and think you might need some feedback to make it really good, Flynn recommends “pre-selling” an idea — for instance, offering a limited number of spots or seats into, say, a course you create and giving the test group specialized attention so you can see how to improve the content. Once it’s revised (or, if it’s software, once all the bugs are removed), you could open it up to your whole audience.
Inspired by you, I started a tax/personal finance a month ago. I figured if it works out, it will create a good side income for me. If not, at least I can use the blog to build my brand as a tax lawyer. Other than that, my current investment portfolio is heavily focused on index funds because of its historical performance and tax & cost efficiency. Right now my dividends income every year is about $14,000. I also have a good amount of unrealized capital gains every year from my investment, though I don’t count the capital gains as my passive income as they are paper gains, at least for now.
"For long-term savings, investing in low-cost index funds is the ultimate passive strategy," Goudreau says. "As legendary investor Warren Buffett recently told CNBC’s On the Money, 'Consistently buy an S&P 500 low-cost index fund. I think it's the thing that makes the most sense practically of all time.' By not picking individual stocks and, instead, buying a low-cost fund that tracks the market, you pay less in fees and take less of a risk. Then you can sit back and watch your money grow over time."
If you have a spare bedroom, you can find a roommate or list the space on AirBnB for travelers. Having a roommate is the more passive of the two, as being an AirBnB host will require more work in the form of turning over the room between stays. This is a super painless way to earn $500 to $1,000 a month without much effort – you may even be able to cover your mortgage payment with this extra income!
So many great tips in this big post, thanks! I think it’s so true that people should focus on the things they do well at and are interested in. And yes save, save, save in the beginning and throughout. I have several interest and dividend earning investments and am looking to expand further. Diversification is a great goal for all of us so we can avoid having all our eggs in one basket.
I make some income from Retire by 40. Right now, all of the income is from advertising. If you’re curious about my online income, you can sign up for our monthly newsletter and see the break down. I’m not exactly sure how I would categorize my online income, though. If I stop blogging, the income will continue, but I’m sure it would decrease over time. I guess blogging income is 50% active and 50% passive at this point.
Consider refinancing your mortgage if you haven’t done so in a while before interest rates go up further. Or consider leveraging cheap money responsibly to acquire hard assets. LendingTree Mortgage has one of the largest lending networks online, and they will contact you immediately with their offers. You want lenders competing for your business, and get hard quotes so you can pit them against each other.
The surveys from home, you added a link for “everything we needed to know” it sent me to a site where I had to pay them $35 or $45 to get started. It doesn’t say anything about how, until you pay them. You sent us too the site BUT, have you checked it? Is it safe? Will they take my $, & I get nothing? If you say its OK, then fine, but usually these things are bad news. I fell into one when I was young. Proof reading at home. They sent you a book on how to do it, & then a “LIST” of all the company’s that hired at home proof readers. Well, they sent me the book, which was fine. But, the list they sent me had nothing but company’s that only hired people with long time prior experience proof reading. So, it was useless to me. ;(

In 2012, even I wrote a 150-page eBook about severance package negotiations that still regularly sells about ~35 copies a month at $85 each (2nd edition for 2017) without any effort. In order to generate $2,975 a month or $35,700 a year in passive income as I do now, I would need to invest $892,500 in something that generates a 4% yield! To earn $10,000 a year in passive income would therefore need roughly $250,000 in capital.
Distribution of family income - Gini index measures the degree of inequality in the distribution of family income in a country. The more nearly equal a country's income distribution, the lower its Gini index, e.g., a Scandinavian country with an index of 25. The more unequal a country's income distribution, the higher its Gini index, e.g., a Sub-Saharan country with an index of 50. If income were distributed with perfect equality the index would be zero; if income were distributed with perfect inequality, the index would be 100.
Nobody gets early FI investing in bonds, CD’s, or even stocks unless they make a huge income or are extremely frugal or a combination of both. Paper assets just don’t provide enough returns. Business income can be great but it is typically not as semi-passive as I would like and there is a relatively high failure rate. That is if you can monetize an ideal to begin with. RE investing needs to be higher ranked IMO as a way that the “average guy” can become FI.
Quick question. I’m 21 years old and currently working full time (50 hours a week averaging about 12 dollars an hour. I was working 35 making enough to get by and save a little, but I read your post on the notion of working more than 40 to get ahead and decided a third job was best while I’m getting residency to get lower- instate tuition at OSU. So props, you had a direct influence on my life.)
Or, there is another theory for your primary salary – generate enough to have a little excess cash flow, but do it at a place that you can work stress free and have time to dabble in other projects.  A good friend of mine has this setup – he works 10-5 and makes $50,000 a year.  This allows him to easily cover all of his expenses, but the shorter hours and flexibility in his job allows him to pursue his secondary income generating ideas!
And real estate does more than just track inflation – it throws off income (which is important to some people and useful to most). And while your underlying asset is appreciating, the income also grows as rents increase over time. And if you make smart and well-timed purchases, both rents and asset values can increase at well above the rate of inflation.
Why did P2P lending get a liquidity ranking of 6? It is quite possibly the most illiquid investment option you listed. You said you rank liquidity by “difficulty level of withdrawing your money without a massive penalty”, and for Lending Club notes, it’s not only difficult and extremely time consuming to sell all of your notes in their super illiquid market, but you would have to sell your notes at large losses to hope to get others interested in buying your notes. On top of that, it is impossible to withdraw your money any other way other than just waiting for interest/principal to pay off every month until maturity in 3 to 5 years. You can’t just one day tell Lending Club “I want to quit, please give me my money back.” One can even argue that it is less difficult to sell a home (in order to “withdraw” the money invested) than to withdraw all of their money from a P2P loan portfolio because it is very possible to sell a home before 3 to 5 years.
CBDT Chairperson, Central Board of Direct Taxes Investigation Division of the Central Board of Direct Taxes Central Board of Excise and Customs Chairperson Central Board of Excise & Customs Income Tax Department Central Economic Intelligence Bureau Directorate of Revenue Intelligence Tax Administration Reform Commission Goods & Services Tax Council
If an investor puts $500,000 into a candy store with the agreement that the owners would pay the investor a percentage of earnings, that would be considered passive income as long as the investor does not participate in the operation of the business in any meaningful way other than placing the investment. The IRS states, however, that if the investor did help manage the company with the owners, the investor's income could be seen as active since the investor provided "material participation." 
Another great way to get started is to identify an area of interest you have. For instance, Robert Duff has been successful in building passive income by selling books on Amazon. Then, go out and start talking to people. Ask them, “What are you struggling with right now? What are your biggest pains? What’s something you wish existed that doesn’t?” That’ll give you some ideas about where to get started.
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Jennifer Barrett, chief education officer at Acorns and editor-in-chief of Grow, agrees with Goudreau. "Developing steady passive income streams can be a great way to supplement your regular paycheck and boost your bottom line," she tells Bustle. "Just be sure to do your homework ahead of time so you're aware of the costs and risks involved and realistic about the income you can expect. Investing regularly in the stock market can provide earnings over time from compounding market returns. But there are also ways to create steady streams of passive income that pay out at regular intervals — from investing in stocks that pay dividends and bonds that pay interest to investing in a rental property or renting out your own home."


This figure is based on purchasing power parity (PPP), which basically suggests that prices of goods in countries tend to equate under floating exchange rates and therefore people would be able to purchase the same quantity of goods in any country for a given sum of money. That is, the notion that a dollar should buy the same amount in all countries. Hence if a poor person in a poor country living on a dollar a day moved to the U.S. with no changes to their income, they would still be living on a dollar a day.
It seems like common sense but it’s so easy to rely on your day job income to pay for everything. I used to get paid a lot of money to go into work and sit at my desk for 8 hours a day and then go home. No manual labor required, no staying late hours(in my case at least) and a pretty low stress environment. I loved my job and without fail, every two weeks on the dot, a nice fat paycheck would show up in my bank account. All I had to do was show up at work every day and I was pretty much guaranteed to get paid.
This is an interesting take and good advice for those who probably do not need to ever worry about becoming destitute. I’m sorry but too many of your options including your own list of income require quite a bit of initial investment/capital and these suggestions are useless to those living paycheck to paycheck. I’d like to see the average low to middle income household purchase additional property for rental, invest in their portfolio (if they can even start one), or even afford to have a vehicle or room to rent. Far too first world of a solution for the general public.

Stock dividends: Some stocks, especially stocks from big corporate standouts, pay dividends to shareholders based on the number of shares they own, and the percentage of the stock price on the dividend date. For example, if a company pays out 3% on a stock that's trading at $100 per share, you'll earn $3 for every share of that stock you own. Add it up and that can be good take-home pay as a passive investment.

What I Do: I’ve set up multiple investment accounts outside my main operations bank that deals with working capital e.g checking, paying bills. By transferring my money to a couple brokerage accounts and two other banks as soon as it hits my main bank I no longer have temptation to spend on frivolous things. As a result, I can wake up 10 years later and reap the rewards of compounding. My 401(k) is the best example where constant contributions over 18 years has grown to over $500,000 without any savings pain given it just became a part of life. Real estate is also a fantastic asset class for the long term. It’s fantastic to enjoy your home, pay down your mortgage each month, and end up with a paid off asset that has likely appreciated during your time of ownership. 


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What I find most interesting is the fact that I had never considered options like LendingTree or realityshares for other income sources. Investing in property has been too much of bad luck for people that I know personally, so I am interesting in getting involved in a situation where I would have to be dealing with maintenance issues or tenants. There are services for you to do that, but I had not come across any that didn’t eat most if not all of the earnings. Then again, I live in the NY area. Investing in the midwest would not be reasonably possible for me, directly, but reading about realityshares is something I am going to look into further. That might be a real possibility.
4. Focus first on passive income streams that you create once but they continue to generate income. For example, writing a book is a passive income stream. You write it once and sell it over and over. The word passive is a little deceptive because you need to market the book. Nevertheless, compared to non-passive sources of income, which you need to do over and over to make money, such as providing a service, passive income streams require less time once they’re created. Other forms of passive income include other written works (i.e. courses), audio or video creations, affiliate marketing, licensing your idea, franchising, or continuity programs (i.e. memberships).
Overall income potential: Excellent – Although it’s very possible to make $0 with a niche site if it doesn’t receive traffic, you can also make a lot of money if you rank well for good keywords.  It’s not likely that you’ll make a living off one site, but they are generally easy to build.  If you can build one successfully, you can probably build several more.
4. Focus first on passive income streams that you create once but they continue to generate income. For example, writing a book is a passive income stream. You write it once and sell it over and over. The word passive is a little deceptive because you need to market the book. Nevertheless, compared to non-passive sources of income, which you need to do over and over to make money, such as providing a service, passive income streams require less time once they’re created. Other forms of passive income include other written works (i.e. courses), audio or video creations, affiliate marketing, licensing your idea, franchising, or continuity programs (i.e. memberships).
Another way to generate passive income is to invest and be a silent partner in a business. This is very risky, but with risk comes the potential for high returns. For example, several years ago both Lyft and Uber were looking for private investors to invest in their companies. Today, they are worth billions - but you as an investor would only reap that benefit if they go public via an IPO, or get acquired. So, it's risky.

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Anthony, nice setup! To your question about the rental mortgages, you haven’t said what interest rate you are paying. As a start, if you are paying more than the risk free rate (Treasury bills) which you probably are, then a true apples to apples comparison would be yes, pay off the mortgage. But, if you are comfortable taking more risk, you have other options to invest in which you *hope* will yield you more over the coming years. You also didn’t say whether the rentals generate net income and if so, how much? What is the implied rate of return on the equity you have invested in them? If you pay the mortgages off, you’ll have even more equity tied up, will the extra net income make that worthwhile? Maybe you should use the money to buy more rentals instead, if purchase opportunities still exist in your town. … this is less of an answer than a framework to analyze the decision, hope it is helpful.
I agree that it is important to establish multiple sources of income, but I would be hesitant to group dividend stocks and real estate into the “multiple streams” bucket. Those are investments, and living off of investment income because you are in an emergency state is not a good plan. Cash flow from investments ebbs and flows more than the cash flow from a day job.
The other point is that it is pretty easy to get started.  You don’t need to be super rich, and you don’t need a lot of time to get started.  To say it requires no time would be a lie, but you don’t need to make anything listed above your life.  You can work at your job, invest your excess income, save to buy a rental property or rent out a room in your current house, and you start a side job online without breaking a sweat.
I’ve had more jobs than I can count since I ‘officially started working’ at the age of 14. And I say officially because I was always hustling as a kid. There were the ordinary things like lemonade stands and selling my old junk at our family’s yard sales but I could get pretty creative when it came to making money. In high school, I remember asking my mom to give me extra bags of chips and snacks in my lunch so that I could re-sell them to my classmates for 75 cents or even a dollar. I was kind of a chubby kid so I guess my mom just figured I liked to snack a lot.
I wish I had more time to put into real estate. Given the run up since 2012, I may even be interested in selling my condo that I currently rent out. I need to get it appraised to really see what it’s worth, but I think conservatively it’s gone up ~50%, although rent is probably only up ~10% or so. I am bullish on rents going up in the future… mostly in line with inflation, or perhaps even slightly faster due to constricted credit and personal income growth which should provide a solid supply of renters. At this point, I just don’t want to manage the property. I’ll probably look into a property manager as my time is likely worth turning it into a nearly passive investment.
3. Start as soon as possible. Building a livable passive-income stream takes a tremendously long time, largely because of declining interest rates since the late 1980s. Gone are the days of making a 5%-plus return on a short-term CD or savings account. Today, the best 12-month CD is at 2.5%, and the best money-market rate is about 1.85%, which is not bad, considering such rates were below 0.5% just a couple of years ago. Know that every $100 you save can generate at least $2.5 in passive income.
Consider refinancing your mortgage if you haven’t done so in a while before interest rates go up further. Or consider leveraging cheap money responsibly to acquire hard assets. LendingTree Mortgage has one of the largest lending networks online, and they will contact you immediately with their offers. You want lenders competing for your business, and get hard quotes so you can pit them against each other.
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The other point is that it is pretty easy to get started.  You don’t need to be super rich, and you don’t need a lot of time to get started.  To say it requires no time would be a lie, but you don’t need to make anything listed above your life.  You can work at your job, invest your excess income, save to buy a rental property or rent out a room in your current house, and you start a side job online without breaking a sweat.

If you know anything well, a place, how to fix something, how to make something, how to do something, you can write a guide for it. You can sell your guide as an e-book, offer it as a download for a fee on your site or reach out to bloggers with similar content and ask if they will offer it as a paid download on their website (for a price of course).
There are a ton of ways to diversify your investments, some of which can send real income your way. By opening a brokerage account and investing in ETFs or mutual funds, you can earn real returns you can use to supplement your income. Of course, the flip side can also happen – as in, you can lose money. So, make sure you understand the risks before you dive in.
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