With passive income sources, you can go long periods of time without doing work, yet still earn income. In some cases, that income can expand without much additional input from you. For example, if I build a website in 5 hours and after a month, it has only made $50, my time to that point was worth $10/hour. It doesn’t stop there, however. In a year, if the site has earned $600, the value of those initial 5 hours grows to $120/hour. As time goes on, that number can continue to grow indefinitely.

Generating multiple streams of income can have a major impact on your finances. Even an extra income of $500 each month could go a long way towards paying down debt or increasing your investments. We often hear about the importance of diversifying our investments, but diversifying our income streams is just as important, particularly in difficult economic times.

There are a couple of problems with direct investment in real estate though. It’s expensive to buy even a single property, a minimum of tens of thousands of dollars, and there’s no way most investors can build a portfolio of different property types and in different regions to protect from those risks when you have all your money in just one or two investments.

Portfolio income can come from multiple sources – interest/bond coupons, stock dividends, financial strategies including derivatives and capital growth.  Each offers some cash flow and some also offer potential capital gain with some risk from liquidity and volatile prices.  In this low-yield environment, many investors rely too heavily on cash flows and to pursue this are venturing further into riskier areas than they’d normally consider.