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.
However, under certain circumstances, payment for personal services performed in the United States is not considered income from sources within the United States. For example, personal services performed by an independent nonresident alien contractor specifically exempted by a tax treaty. For more examples, see the Pay for Personal Service section in Publication 515, Withholding of Tax on Nonresident Aliens and Foreign Entities.

I remember seeing a number of my co-workers get laid off in 2008 and many of them had only worked for the one company. They had mortgages to pay, colleges to pay and families to support and they were scared out of their minds for what they would do next. After watching that happen, I vowed that I wouldn’t suffer the same fate. It’s one of the main reasons I started my own company. I tell people now that instead of one boss (i.e. one company), I have hundreds of bosses and it makes me feel more secure about my longterm prospects.
I just graduated college in May and was fortunate enough to secure an entry level consulting position that pays 55k/yr (a little less than ~35k after 401K, other benefits, and the lovely taxes that government bestows upon us). I started from “scratch” with my finances and have ~$2.3k in an online savings account. Since starting work a couple of weeks ago, I’ve had an aggressive savings plan (saving around ~40-50% of my monthly income). However, I’m going to become even more aggressive and live off 1 paycheck a month (and save the other paycheck) like you have suggested in many of your blog posts.

If you are a photographer looking to diversify your income stream, putting together styled stock photo packages can be lucrative. For example, a package of 15 wedding-themed stock photos for $10. You can then market this to any bloggers or businesses who are in the wedding business for their use (photos of different engagement rings styles are super popular). Through this method, it’s possible to make a continuous stream of income off of photos you’ve taken once (similar to a licensing deal).
The key thing to note in those various streams is how few of them rely on my active participation on a daily basis and how they are fueled from savings. My active participation is in the blogs and $5 Meal Plan. Everything is passive, outside of routine maintenance like updating my net worth record, and none of them would be possible if I didn't have the savings to invest it.
The first time I did affiliate marketing was way back in the day on my architecture exam website. I connected with a company that sold practice exams, which gave me $22 for every person who bought one of their exams via my site. Since then, I’ve generated over $250,000 simply by recommending that product alone. Again, this is a product that was not mine, but one that has still been helpful to my audience. This was all done with thousands of visitors a month. Not millions, or even hundreds of thousands.
Have a low barrier to entry. You can’t start a real-estate empire if you don’t have the capital required to buy property. You can’t drive for Uber if you don’t own a car. You can’t start a travel blog if you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere Kansas. You get the point. Every side hustle has a barrier to entry, make sure you pick one where you meet the requirements. But remember, the lower the barrier to entry, the more competition there normally is.
1) Save Like Nobody Owes You Anything. Passive income starts with savings. Without a healthy amount of savings, nothing works. Your overall “Money Strength” will be an F- if you do not build a financial nut. In our current low interest rate environment, you must save even more than before. It’s important to also realize that the savings I am referring to is AFTER-tax savings. You need to save money after contributing to your 401k and IRAs since you can’t touch pre-tax retirement accounts without a penalty until 59.5. Ideally everyone should max out their pre-tax retirement funds first, but if you don’t have enough funds and want to retire earlier then a decision to have more accessible post tax money will still work.
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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