Good suggestions. I have many of these. One word about the “app” idea. I had a great idea related to personal taxes that I tried to get off the ground with my accountant as a partner. I would say it’s difficult to do this unless you have a coder on your team. Hiring someone is not really viable financially unless the app is simple. When we finally got the quote for a coder to write what we wanted (and after doing lots of mock ups ourselves and getting a demo for investors) the estimate was about 750k just to really get started.
Currently we have a duplex and a condo that we rent out. I manage the properties myself so it does take a little time. The rental properties are mostly passive, but I have to do some work occasionally. Recently, I had a tree trimming company out to trim the maple in the back and remove some dead arborvitaes along the fence. We decided to replace the arborvitaes with potted bamboos to help screen the property. So this past weekend, we split a pot of bamboo and planted some mint in the garden. That one sentence sounded easy, but it took us 3 hours to do. We carted an old pot of bamboo from our balcony and it was a struggle. That thing must have weighed 100 lbs. Anyway, we’re willing to put some work into the duplex because we plan to relocate there at some point. Also, the rental income shows up as negative income in our tax due to depreciation. That’s a nice side benefit to being a landlord.
I think it’s funny how 1500 is the amount of extra income you mention because that’s what I’m shooting for! If I can make that much more each month to supplement my regular income, I will have almost all of my school debt payed off in one year! I’m really motivated. I use Mechanical Turk with Amazon to perform menial task and get a few extra bucks. I also use Varolo which is a fairly new idea. I really think it has potential. If you don’t mind me promoting it, here it goes.
This was a very inspirational article! I too spent 20+ years in a high-stress career selling a high-end product under a 100 percent commission plan; that is, no salary! I realized, after racking up millions of frequent flyer miles, that there had to be a better and less-stressful way of making a living. My goal was to design my own lifestyle free of corporate shackles, which required a pre-determined amount of passive income.
I need to create a passive income stream that has a definable risk profile.I have $250k cash as a safety net in my savings account getting a measily 40 bps but I am somewhat ok with this as it is Not at risk or fluctuation (walk street is tougher nowadays). i have 270k in equity in my house, thinking of paying off the mortgage but probably does make sense since my rate is 3.125 on a 30 yr. I have 275k in my 401(k) and another 45k in a brokerage account that is invested in stocks that pay dividends.
Coaching – I’ve been coaching ever since I was in college and I love it. And since I coach a club team, the time commitment averages only about 10 hours a week. The money isn’t great if you depend on it for living but it’s the perfect secondary source of income since it’s very easy for me to get hired as a coach(and it’s tax free through business deductions).
The one thing I learned though from all those childhood experiences though is that you never can depend on one source of income. Eventually my mom caught on and stopped giving me all those extra bags of chips and I had to figure out a new way to make money. No matter how safe something seems there’s always the chance that you could lose that income and be stuck with nothing.
If you can max out your 401k or max out your IRA and then save an additional 20%+ of your after-tax, after-retirement contribution, good things really start to happen. If one is looking for earlier financial independence, such as retiring in their 40s or early 50s, it may be a good idea to skew towards more after-tax savings and investments given one has to wait until 59.5 to withdraw from their 401k or IRA penalty-free.

These are most of the ways that I use to try and diversify my income. Add them all up and they’re still nowhere near my day job income but they’re getting closer every day. No matter how much you make it’s imperative to start thinking about additional ways to make money. Real estate and investing are some of the best passive sources of income but it’s also important to think of alternative active sources of income. For most people, those two things will never be able to equal your day job pay but secondary active sources could one day replace your day job whether you want it to or not.
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 run several online businesses now (all it takes to start one is a domain, hosting, and maybe incorporation). There are two notable ones. The first is meal plan membership site called $5 Meal Plan that I co-founded with Erin Chase of $5 Dinners. The second is the umbrella of blogs I run, including this one and Scotch Addict. They pay me ordinary income as well as qualified distributions since I'm a partner.
The source of pension payments is determined by the portion of the distribution that constitutes the compensation element (employer contributions) and the portion that constitutes the earnings element (the investment income). The compensation element is sourced the same as compensation from the performance of personal services. The portion attributable to services performed in the United States is U.S. source income, and the portion attributable to services performed outside the United States is foreign source income.
Thanks for the info…I kind of figured it is really not that expensive to live if you are not an extravagant person. I could definitely figure out how to funnel expenses through a part time business…I think I keep thinking along the lines that I’m going to be paying the same tax rate after retirement, but reality is you could get pretty lean and mean if one focused on it. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being utter panic mode, how worried are you about your “pile” lasting through a 50 year retirement now that you are a couple years into it?
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.
Blogging – I guess you could say I’m a professional personal finance blogger since I own two sites and I’m making decent money every month. The income started off slow but has been consistently increasing. It’s not as much as I make with my day job but my best blogging month was equal to about one paycheck at my old day job.  While I had to learn how to set up and use WordPress myself, you can learn how to blog and make money online at
3. Create spokes off of each of these categories with ideas on how you can make money at them. Earning sources include books, courses, merchandise, coaching, freelancing, speaking, training, selling advertising, and affiliate marketing. For example, a virtual assistant can create tangible or digital products, such as books, courses, and videos that teach others how to be a virtual assistant in the “products” spoke. For services, she can offer additional services, coaching or speaking (i.e. How a Virtual Assistant Can Save Businesses Time and Money).
I formed a publishing company a number of years ago and have published a couple of technical books I’ve written since then. I doubled my goal for copies sold, but it’s definitely not enough income to retire on. Writing books is a tough area. You’ll definitely be proud of the accomplishment and seeing the sales happen around the world, but it’s tough to make it really profitable.
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.
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.
What I’m doing: I view passive income as funny money to keep myself sane during this long journey. I estimate 2-10 years to get to my goal depending on how active I am. The dollars created are just points one can accumulate. I’ve made passive income goals for each passive income type and check in at least once a year like I am now to make sure I’m on track. Passive income is also carefully managed to minimize tax liability. When you can build a buffer for a buffer, you are then free to take more risks.

Wages received for services rendered inside the territorial limits of the United States, as well as wages of an alien seaman earned on a voyage along the coast of the United States, are regarded as from sources in the United States. Wages or salaries for personal services performed in a mine or on an oil or gas well located or being developed on the continental shelf of the United States are treated as from sources in the United States.