Pardon for being a bit of a newbie to true investing outside of a 401k. What about those of us who have 1) Just been laid off, and unable to find work due to lack of a degree (apparently 17 years in the industry with 5 certifications is just simply not enough – which is okay. It gave me the kick in the arse to get back to school finally) 2)Have three children to support (age 11 and under), and 3) Oh yeah – cannot find work. What do you recommend when the only source of positive revenue has ceased to come in and you now have less time than ever – due to responsibilities (i.e. doing well in university = academic scholarships means investment in time, plus spending 20 min breaks with kiddos) – to create positive sources of income ? I truly am wondering from an investor’s point of view how you would handle the pivot point of life if ever you had been faced with it. I realize this may be only imaginary, but at this point, I welcome your “what ifs” scenario on this one. You’ve truly done amazing work and I thank you for being so transparent.

Think about it.  If you are saving for retirement, you are trying to save enough in investing to generate enough income to replace your primary salary.  Let’s take my friend’s example above: $50,000 a year.  To generate $50,000, you would need to have almost $1,700,000 saved, and be able to generate a 3% cash flow on that money (which is reasonable if invested in dividend paying stocks).


Passive income differs from earned income and portfolio income in a variety of ways. Passive income is generally defined as a stream of income earned with little effort, and it is referred to as progressive passive income when there is little effort needed from the individual receiving the passive income in order to grow the stream of income. Examples of passive income include rental income and any business activities in which the earner does not materially participate during the year.

If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself no longer able to physically work in your chosen position, developing a skill set that will allow for a complete career change is a must. The passive income route as a second career is a great backup allowing you to hire out what you can’t physically do. Early on in my career I found I was unable to physically tolerate exposure to tobacco smoke. At that time, smoking was allowed in all offices, restaurants, etc. I was blindsided; who ever thought? It virtually removed me from most positions I had schooling for. As luck would have it, I had purchased a duplex while working and saved a small sum. When I had to leave my career, I made a down payment on another duplex doing any maintenance I could myself. If a physical setback of another sort should happen, I can hire.

Your articles are so in-depth and helpful, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I am a 22-yr old finishing my last semester of college, studying Computer Science and Psychology. I’m in a really good place with my finances (2k savings, no student debt, only expenses essentially rent, groceries, and utilities) and I want to get ahead financially so I can pay my parents back and save up a lot.
Dividends made sense 40 years ago as a relatively simple rule of thumb, but after all the work done by John Bogle with index investing, and academics with Monte Carlo sims and the 4% rule, dividend investing just isn’t the simplest, cleanest way to invest or receive passive income anymore. It’s actually significantly more risky compared to index investing, because dividend companies are a much smaller share of the total global economy compared to the broader indices.
However, until we get another reset in valuations (I’m calculating a 40% to 50% correction is justified ), I’ve moved largely to the sidelines. Beginning in July 2013, I began slowly reducing equity exposure and am now sitting firm at 40% with the balance in various forms of 5 yr cd’s and short duration bonds. This is down from over 60% when I ramped up to take advantage of the March 2009 lows.

Another benefit of investing in rental properties is the loan pay down. If you obtain a loan to buy the property, each month your tenants are paying off part of the loan. Once the mortgage on the property has been paid off, your cash flow will increase dramatically, allowing your mediocre investment to skyrocket into a full-fledged retirement program.


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Mike, I don’t consider the income from FS to be passive, as I’m spending time commenting to you right now. But since 75% of my traffic comes from search, the most traffic I would probably lose is 25% for probably a year. And then my search word rankings would probably slowly fade given frequency of posting new content is one of the search algo variables.
There is a specific tax definition of passive income, known as “passive activity” to the Internal Revenue Service. Passive income is any income you make without actively working or are materially involved. The IRS defines it as any rental activity or any business in which the taxpayer does not “materially participate.” Nonpassive activities, or active activities, are businesses in which the taxpayer works on a regular, continuous, and substantial basis.

Thirst for income is likely to continue with interest rates expected to stay low, keeping government bond yields low for longer and their valuations unattractive.  Looking past bonds, the prices of high-dividend shares are historically high, which limits the likelihood that their dividends will rise markedly from here.  Striving too high for an income target tends to push your portfolio further out on the risk spectrum.

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