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“There is no such thing as 100% passive income,” says Flynn. “Even with real estate you still have to manage your properties, or even with the stock market, which is potentially passive income, you still have to manage your portfolio. With online business, there is no such thing as 100% passive income — and this is coming from a guy with a blog called SmartPassiveIncome.com. The definition of passive income is ‘building these businesses of automation,’ but in order to keep them automated and keep that trust going with your audience on top of that, you do have to keep it up every once in a while — so a lot of time upfront and a little time after. But there is alway time involved.”

Hi Sam! I loved your sentence, “There’s so much information in my head that I need to write it down or else I might explode.” That’s exactly how I feel! I never thought of myself as a writer, and especially not a blogger, but recently I’ve started dabbling in it and it feels so nice to get everything out! I’m dedicated to helping others succeed with personal finances, and there are plenty of “how-to” sites, but it’s important to get people thinking and motivated to prepare, plan, and save!

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!
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Blogs and authority websites are different than niche websites, because they generally imply on-going content generation.  Sure, I could stop writing on this blog today and let it sit forever, but that’s not the intention of the blog.  Furthermore, blogs and authority websites tend to include a community or social aspect.  We have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts (can someone explain to me why the hell I haven’t made a Facebook page yet?), and we discuss various topics in the comments of each article or blog post.  Although SEO does affect traffic, community is more important.

I think more and more people are recognizing the advantages of having multiple sources of income, thanks to the Great Recession. It was a real wake-up call to many good workers who lost jobs not because of poor performance but due to restructuring and cost-savings. They never considered themselves to be vulnerable and they were. We do have multiple streams of income and a fully-funded emergency fund, which has helped my family weather the ups and down life has brought us, including job loss.

Crowdfunding is a newer way to invest, having emerged onto the scene just within the last few years. Most people have heard of sites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe, and a very similar concept exists for real estate. Developers are always looking to raise capital to fund their projects. Through the various online platforms, investors have access to these projects and can choose to invest in both residential and commercial properties. See the List of My Favorite Crowdfunding Sites.
Well written piece, but I question the core premise. Why the fascination with maximizing “income” (passive or otherwise). Shouldn’t the goal simply be to maximize long-term after tax growth of your entire portfolio? If this takes the form of dividend paying stocks, so be it. But what if small caps are poised to outperform? What if you want to take Buffet’s or Bogle’s advice and just buy a broad market index like the S&P 500, (no matter what the dividend because you’ll just have it automatically reinvested to avoid the transaction fees).
I knew I didn't want to work 70 hours a week in finance forever. My body was breaking down, and I was constantly stressed. As a result, I started saving every other paycheck and 100% of my bonus since my first year out of college in 1999. By the time 2012 rolled around, I was earning enough passive income (about $78,000) to negotiate a severance and be free.
Available only at participating H&R Block offices. CAA service not available at all locations. H&R Block does not provide immigration services. An ITIN is an identification number issued by the U.S. government for tax reporting only. Having an ITIN does not change your immigration status. You are required to meet government requirements to receive your ITIN. Additional fees and restrictions may apply.
Most credit card companies offer sign-up bonuses to entice you to open a credit account with them. As long as you don’t spend money just to hit the minimum balance and always pay your balance on time, this can have a minimal impact on your credit score while earning you hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars a year. Some of the best travel credit cards offer 100,000 points to new accounts when you meet reasonable spending requirements.
We are going to start with 1.5 years of all spending needs in cash. We will draw 1800 to 1900 per month. We will add to this from the index funds by taking a portion of the gains in good years to supplement. This is the total return portion of the equation. Obviously, if stocks decrease drastically over a 5 year period, then I would have to reload by selling some of the ETF holdings.
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Another way to wring income out of stocks, even if they don't pay dividends, is to buy stocks that you expect will appreciate in value over time and then, when you need income, sell some shares. If you have a fat portfolio of such stocks when you retire, you might sell some shares every year to create a cash stream for yourself. Studying and choosing the stocks that will perform very well for you is easier said than done, though, so if you don't have the interest, skills, or time to become your own stock analyst, consider simply investing in a low-fee broad-market index fund or two, such as one based on the S&P 500. Here's how much you might accumulate over several periods if your investments average 8% average annual growth:
Developing passive income is different. With the exception of one of my passive income streams (cryptocurrency mining), all of the others require real, hard work. Truly, I understand the barriers for people getting into building alternative income streams. I would say that most people WANT passive income, but truly aren’t willing to put in the blood, sweat, and tears to make it happen.
Hey Mike! Love this article. Recently, I paid off my student loans and am crazy focused on creating multiple passive income streams. Currently, all my passive income comes from real estate and because of your great articles on the subject I called to check out refinance options! I had no clue about CD laddering, dividend investing or P2P lending until two weeks ago when I started doing my research on where to put my hard earned money. I had been just saving it but when I looked at the terrible 0.01% return I said forget it! 2 % for me is a great way to start. It is better than what I have been getting outside of my real estate. Also, creating products is a must! I’m working on this type of royalty too. I find it so exciting to learn how to use your money to make money. Thanks and I will be sure to link to you when I start my blog!

I also noticed that in your passive income chart at the bottom that you don’t include your internet income other than sales from your book. Is there a reason for that? Do you not consider is passive because you are actively blogging all the time to create it? Or do you just not want readers to know how much money you generate from blogging activities?
Refund Transfer (RT) is a tax refund-related deposit product provided by Axos Bank™, Member FDIC. Fees apply. You must meet legal requirements for opening a bank account. RT is a bank deposit, not a loan, and is limited to the size of your refund less applicable fees. You can e-file your return and get your refund without an RT, a loan or extra fees. Maine License No.: FRA2. Available at participating offices.
Writing an e-book is very popular among bloggers, as many have noted that “it’s just a bunch of blog posts put together!” You will not only have to make an investment of time and energy to create the e-book, but market it correctly. However, if marketed correctly (through blogging affiliates in your niche, for example), you could have residual sales that last a very long time.
Buy a small business: A local small business, like a car wash or a laundromat, is a great way to put money down on a money-making venture. Automate it so you don't have to be on the premises unless you're collecting money. Go into a local business with your eyes wide open - study the books, especially on income and expenses, and examine water and utility bills if your venture will be open 24 hours.
None legally required, but 7-21 days is standard for most employers. Typically, 10 working days. Many U.S. companies give only one week, and then frequently only after completion of a year of employment [e]. A recent United Nations survey indicates the average number of vacation days actually taken to be of 13 per year [f]. This corresponds to the fewest vacation days amongst advanced economies.
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.

A lot of people don’t even know about my life insurance business, but it’s a huge part of my success. Like my other big projects, however, I started it to help people. Over the years, I’ve seen so many people who are uninsured or underinsured. For whatever reason, they don’t understand the importance of life insurance. Worse, they don’t understand how affordable it is for the average family.


For 2017 federal tax paid with personal Mastercard®, American Express®, Visa® and Discover® credit cards, 1.98% of the tax amount (minimum charge with all credit cards of $2.69). For 2017 federal tax paid with Visa, Discover, or Mastercard branded consumer debit cards, and ATM (PIN-less) cards, a fixed fee of only $2.65 per transaction. Depending upon the card you elect to use, you may be able to earn rewards. Contact the financial institution that issued your card for specific terms and agreements. Payments processed by WorldPay, Inc., an IRS approved payment processor. The IRS payment date will be equal to the date the transaction is authorized and completed. It may take the IRS 5 - 7 days to post the payment to your tax account.
Since I knew I’d eventually be losing my day job income, I had to set realistic goals. There was no way I was going to make a six figure salary blogging and working online after only 2 years but I thought it might be possible to cover our monthly expenses for a few months while I took time off and looked for a new job. I already had some secondary sources of income and there were others that I specifically tried to build up.
​Self Publishing is mainstream today. When you purchase an eBook off of Amazon there’s a pretty good chance you’re buying a self-published book. Self-publishing is also ridiculously easy. I tried this a few years ago and couldn’t believe how simple the process was. To self-publish a book you’ll first need to write and edit it, create a cover, and then upload to a program such as Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. Don’t expect instant success though. There will need to be a lot of upfront marketing before you can turn this into a passive income stream.
“The biggest surprise is real estate being second to last on my Passive Income Ranking List because I’ve written that real estate is my favorite investment class to build wealth. Real estate doesn’t stack up well against the other passive income sources due to the lack of liquidity and constant maintenance of tenants and property. The returns can be huge due to rising rental income AND principal over time, much like dividend investing. If you are a “proactive passive income earner” like myself, then real estate is great.”

This is a venture that is growing rapidly. You can create videos in just about any area that you like — music, tutorials, opinions, comedy, movie reviews — anything you want . . . then put them on YouTube. You can then attach Google AdSense to the videos, which will overlay your videos with automatic ads. When viewers click on those ads, you will earn money from AdSense.


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Active income is needed because you know you can always push away to bring in steady income. Passive income is needed to bring in a little extra on the side. You must ensure to never put all your eggs in one basket. When generating multiple streams of income, you must have different sources to rely on – because in the end, nothing is 100% reliable.
Dividend Income: Dividend income is wonderful because it is completely passive and is taxed at only 15% if you are in the 25%, 28%, 33%, and 35% income tax bracket. If you are in the 39.6% income tax bracket you will pay a 20% tax on your dividends. My dividend income portfolio mainly consist of dividend equity and bond ETFs such as DVY, VYM, MUB, TLT, and IEF. Total stock and bond income is a little over $100,000 a year due to a heavy accumulation of stocks and municipal bonds after selling my house.
I think more and more people are recognizing the advantages of having multiple sources of income, thanks to the Great Recession. It was a real wake-up call to many good workers who lost jobs not because of poor performance but due to restructuring and cost-savings. They never considered themselves to be vulnerable and they were. We do have multiple streams of income and a fully-funded emergency fund, which has helped my family weather the ups and down life has brought us, including job loss.
The second category of passive income is drawing on sources that do not require capital to start, maintain, and grow. These are far better choices for those who want to start out on their own and build a fortune from nothing. They include assets you can create, such as a book, song, patent, trademark, Internet site, recurring commissions, or businesses that earn nearly infinite returns on equity such as a drop-ship e-commerce retailer that has little or no money tied up in operations but still turns a profit.
Blogging is still going to take work starting out. That path to $5,000 a month didn’t happen overnight but just like real estate development, it build up an asset that now creates constant cash flow whether I work or not. I get over 30,000 visitors a month from Google search rankings, rankings that will continue to send traffic even if I take a little time off.
John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Selena Maranjian owns shares of Amazon, Costco Wholesale, National Grid, Realty Income, and Verizon Communications. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon, eBay, National Grid, and Verizon Communications. The Motley Fool recommends Costco Wholesale, Lowe's, The TJX Companies, and Welltower. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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.

My returns are based on full cash purchase of the properties, as it is hard to compare the attractiveness of properties at different price ranges when only calculating down payment or properties that need very little rehab/updates. I did think about the scores assigned to each factor, but I believe tax deductions are a SIGNIFICANT factor when comparing passive income steams.


Reality One: We live in a competitive and fast changing world. Business has become highly specialized and niched because knowledge is growing exponentially, requiring specialized skills to employ it properly. Successfully competing in many widely varying fields is contradictory to the specialization and complexity required by our current business climate.


In expensive cities like San Francisco and New York City, net rental yields can fall as low as 2%. This is a sign that there is a lot of liquidity buying property for property appreciation, and not so much for income generation. This is a riskier proposition than buying property based on rental income. In inexpensive cities, such as those in the Midwest, net rental yields can easily be in the range of 8% – 12%, although appreciation may be slower.
Now I’ve been using Swagbucks for a while and have found the money works out to just under $2 an hour so this isn’t something that’s going to make you rich. You’d have to work 2,500 hours to make $5,000 so that’s about three and a half months, non-stop. The thing with Swagbucks though is you can do it when you’re doing something else so I flip through surveys and other stuff while I’m cooking dinner or flipping channels.
After many years I finally achieved FI and my dividend portfolio basically covers my living expenses. My wife still works in wealth management and I also help her grow her client base. Just about to release a book that I co-authored called Victory Lap Retirement which will be a new source of income. Also plan on doing public speaking and seminars in support of the book which will be an additional new source of income. I will also be creating a Victory Lap website and blog to help sell the book and hopefully over time create a VL community. I will not advertise as I do not want to commit to when I have to produce a blog. I worked hard to get FI and I don’t want to give my freedom back by forcing myself into a set schedule if that makes sense. So basically I will end up with 5 sources of income including ss and most of them are aligned with my passion play. Not a bad way to go out.
Investing in rental properties: Another form of real estate investment, rental investments (i.e. becoming a landlord) could steer you down the passive income path of steady monthly rent checks that you can use to pay off a mortgage loan on the rental property. After the mortgage is paid off, those monthly checks go right into your bank account -- potentially for years to come. 
None legally required, but 7-21 days is standard for most employers. Typically, 10 working days. Many U.S. companies give only one week, and then frequently only after completion of a year of employment [e]. A recent United Nations survey indicates the average number of vacation days actually taken to be of 13 per year [f]. This corresponds to the fewest vacation days amongst advanced economies.
Domain names cannot be replicated. If one is taken, the only recourse would be to approach the owner to discuss a sale. While there are other variations you could choose, sometimes owning a certain domain (especially if it is attached to your business) can be worth the premium. Often, people will scout out domain names that are still available, buy them, and then sit on them in order to sell them down the road. Depending on who may want the domain down the road, you could sell it for a large markup.

One of the things I'm surprised your article doesn't mention is the tax advantages of this type of investment. The depreciation and rehab costs (purchasing distressed properties) can be huge deductions to ones income taxes, which none of the others have. Then, along with the appreciation of real estate, this passive income investment outperforms the notion of maxing out my 401k as well.
Thank for this extensive work. When you make extra money you need to think simple. First thing you should consider is whatever you do must be safe enough that you don’t lose your initial investment as well. Also, look at the ways you can reduce your costs. This could be car insurance savings or paying back expensive loans or card balances. Saving is making money as well.
Unfortunately, it can be financially devastating when a spouse – and especially a primary breadwinner – loses their life while their family is still young. LifeInsurancebyJeff.com was created to help people realize just how much coverage they need, then to steer them toward companies that offer quality life insurance policies for a price they can afford.
Lending Club (U.S. Residents Only) – I talk about Lending Club in every one of my income reports, because I still believe it’s the best source of passive income, even though it’s not my largest source.  You can get started for as little as $25, and over the past 2+ years, my interest rate has been 7% or higher, which I think is very good given the relatively low risk involved.  This is even more true given the recent market downturn. You can read about how I select my investments here.
Now I’ve been using Swagbucks for a while and have found the money works out to just under $2 an hour so this isn’t something that’s going to make you rich. You’d have to work 2,500 hours to make $5,000 so that’s about three and a half months, non-stop. The thing with Swagbucks though is you can do it when you’re doing something else so I flip through surveys and other stuff while I’m cooking dinner or flipping channels.
Speaking of credit cards, if you don't use them to rack up debt, you can instead use them to generate income streams for you -- via their cash-back or rewards programs. Some cards offer flat-rate cash-back percentages up to about 2%. Others target certain kinds of spending or certain retailers. If you spend a lot at Amazon.com, for example, you can get a card that rewards you with 5% cash back there -- which can really add up. (It's not hard to spend $250 per month at Amazon, which is $3,000 per year -- enough to earn $150 back.)
Refinancing your mortgage is a passive income generator? Yup, it sure can be. If you're making monthly mortgage payments of $1,600 now, and you can reduce that to $1,300 per month by refinancing your home loan at a lower interest rate, you'll keep $300 in your pocket each month. Of course, refinancing isn't free -- there are closing costs. Still, if you plan to stay in your home long enough to more than break even, refinancing is well worth it. As an example, if your closing costs are $6,000 and you're saving $300 per month, you'll break even in 20 months -- less than two years!
Some people take it automated well before the year is up. When it converts, it converts. If you target the right people and you're able to create the right message that appeals to your audience, you might just hit a home run. An automated webinar often involves the creation of a webinar funnel. That includes, not only the webinar, but also the email sequences, and possibly a self-liquidating offer, and maybe some done-for-your services and up-sells.
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.
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