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.
I enjoy how you lay out real numbers. A lot of people wouldn’t do that. While you admit that you are somewhat conservative, I think the $1M in CD’s is just too conservative. Assuming you don’t need the cash flow now (which you say you just save anyways) then all that could be invested for potentially higher returns. For example, what if you bought San Francisco real estate along the way instead of CD’s. Or, an SP500 Index fund. I bet your average return would have been higher than 3.75%. Sure you could lose it, but the point is if you don’t need the cash flow now, you should try to increase that nut as high as possible until the day you actually need it. Your nut could be $5M right now if you had invested in asset classes other than CD’s for the last 14 years. Don’t get me wrong, you have done far better than me, but I guess I would take a little more risk if you don’t rely on that cash flow.
Not only that but in almost all other cases there is the illusion of influence, which is itself a psychological and emotional cost. If you invest in a business that your friend or family member is running, you can see how things can get messy. You have thoughts on how things should be done, they have competing thoughts, if things aren't going well… we know how this story goes.
This can be a little easier said than done, but if you have a large social media following, you can definitely earn money promoting a product or advertising for a company. You can even combine this with different marketing campaigns if you are an influencer and have your own blog (advertisement + affiliate income). This is how many bloggers make money! Again, it is not 100% passive but once set up correctly and then scaled, can be surprisingly lucrative.
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.
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.

"But for our jobs, for how we make money, I think many of us — most of us — have one way we make money. It can be very risky. I've really come to believe, and have done a lot of research over the years, that one of the best ways that we can create real, legitimate professional stability for ourselves is by choosing to cultivate multiple income streams.


Even if each patron only contributes a very small amount each month, it can still be a huge source of income. Take a look at the Patreon page for Kinda Funny, an internet video company. They have over 6,209 patrons which means an average of just $3 a month would be a monthly income of almost $19,000 – plus they get cheerleaders that are always happy to spread the word on their brand.
The type of business you should start depends on your passion and existing skill set. If you love baking, for example, you could consider starting a home-based cake or brownie business. Love to sew? Spend your free time creating the perfect crafts, then turn around and sell them with your own Etsy store. Love dogs? Consider watching dogs out of your own home and marketing your services on a website like Rover.com.
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.
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.
Hannah UnplannedFinance That’s a good way of putting it, Hannah. I would say it’s better to get into the investing game before an emergency comes up, of course, so that your investment income is a bit more stable (hopefully). They’re good parts to include in your whole plan, which should be a balanced one. I was coming at this from more of a “how to prepare” perspective.
In 2017, I ended up deploying roughly $611,000 into stocks and $604,327 into municipal bonds. The stock allocation should boost dividend income by about $12,500 a year, and the municipal-bond portion should boost income by about $18,000 a year after tax ($26,000 pre-tax). Therefore, total passive income gets an about $38,500 lift, which recovers over half of my $60,000 loss from selling the house.
​Network marketing, or multi-level marketing, seems to be on the rise. Companies such as Young Living Oils, Avon, Pampered Chef, and AdvoCare are all multi-level marketing companies. You can earn passive income through network marketing by building a team underneath you (often referred to as a down line.) Once you have a large team you can earn commissions off of their sales without having to do much.
eBay Store: It’s now easier than ever to run an online eBay store. You can, of course, acquire products to resell on eBay. But you can also create an online store to market products that others are selling on eBay and share in the commissions generated by the sales. Recently I interviewed a family friend who started her own eBay store and now makes five figures from home. Check out the interview here.
When you build a business, you're giving up active income (instead of working for pay, I'm volunteering at my own business) for future active and passive income. In the meanwhile, you'll need a way to pay for your expenses. It could be that you're building a business on the side, so you still have a day job, or you're living on those savings. Either way, you need a cushion.

However, you should pick a niche and blog about that. If you're launching a money related blog, maybe it'll be about how to make money in real estate or simply how to make money online. Pick the niche and stick to it. If it's a diet and fitness related blog, maybe the niche is the Ketogenic diet, the Atkins diet or some other form of diet or fitness.
Investing in Index Funds – I use Vanguard for this, but there are several reputable sites out there that allow you to do the same thing.  It’s a good way to invest excess cash that you don’t need now and use it to diversify your portfolio.  I’m not going to make a specific recommendation here, but Vanguard does have a page that will make a recommendation to you based on your risk tolerance.  This is generally going to require more up-front money than Lending Club (probably $1,000+), but if you have the money, it’s something to consider.
Capital growth in your portfolio can offset the eroding effect of inflation.  But any capital gains that exceed the overall inflationary effect can be drawn off to augment your portfolio income.  Of course, you must first generate those gains by making thoughtful investment selections.  While allowing strongly growing assets to keep doing that, it is prudent not to allow them to become a dangerously large part of your portfolio lest they go off the boil.  So if you selectively trim profitable positions along the way, you can boost your income.
You might not think of paying down debt as an income-generating activity, but it kind of is. Think of it this way: If you owe $10,000 and are paying 20% interest on it, that's $2,000 in interest payments annually. Ouch. Pay off that $10,000, though, and you'll be keeping that $2,000 in your pocket. It's very much like earning a guaranteed 20% return on the debt that you retire, and 20% annual returns are way more than you can expect from the stock market or elsewhere. Note that some credit cards may be charging you 25% or even 30% interest, so paying such debt off as soon as possible is a no-brainer financial goal.
We had a few property managers, but I wasn’t happy with their work. They didn’t really paid much attention to our properties and the tenant had a tendency to do whatever they wanted to. One tenant built a tree house at our old 4-plex. We didn’t find out about it until the neighbor sent a letter of complaint. If you have a good property manager, then keep them!
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​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.
Real estate crowdsourcing allows you to surgically invest as little as $5,000 into a residential or commercial real estate project for potentially 8 – 15% annual returns based off historical data. Such returns are much better than the average private equity, CD, bond market, P2P lending, and dividend investing returns. With P2P lending, borrowers can sometimes default and leave you with nothing. At least with real estate crowdsource investing, there’s a physical asset that’s backing your investment.
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