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 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.
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.
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.
5. Make sure you are properly diversified. Capital preservation is underrated. We saw a lost decade for tech stocks between 2000 and 2010 after the first dot-com bubble burst. It actually took 13 years for Nasdaq investors to get back to even. Investors in the Borsa Istanbul stock market index just gave up 10 years' worth of gains after they saw a plunge in their currency, partially due to increased tariffs by the US and a lack of confidence in the government. Your passive income needs to be properly diversified in order to take the hits.
Social Security — Depending upon your income, Social Security benefits might be entirely tax-free or partly taxable. Ex: If your income is more than $25,000 — or $32,000 if married filing jointly — up to 85% of your Social Security benefits is taxable. When figuring your income, include tax-free interest income and 50% of your Social Security benefits.
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Whether you take a “distribution” (aka free-cash-flow) in the form of a dividend, interest payment, capital gain, maturing ladder of a CD, etc, you are still taking the same amount of cash out of your portfolio. Don’t fall for the trap of sub optimizing your overall portfolio’s performance because your chasing some unimportant trait called “income”.
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Andrew Rafal, Founder and President of Bayntree Wealth Advisors in Arizona, recently told me about his push to get clients to diversify their income streams. The Great Recession feels like an eternity ago now that the economy is looking up, he says. The job market is strong and consumer confidence is through the roof. As a result, it’s possible people are getting a little too comfortable.
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