One thing I’ve realized is this: It’s FAR easier to work for an employer than it is to develop durable passive income streams for the average person. Why? Because working for an employer in a place that “needs” you means that it’s possible to show up and give a 50% effort. You can show up, put in your time, go home, have a beer, watch TV, and rinse and repeat all without REALLY having to put in the effort.
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However, under certain circumstances, payment for personal services performed in the United States is not considered income from sources within the United States. For example, personal services performed by an independent nonresident alien contractor specifically exempted by a tax treaty. For more examples, see the Pay for Personal Service section in Publication 515, Withholding of Tax on Nonresident Aliens and Foreign Entities.
Build an investment portfolio that pays out dividends (Stocks / Bonds / Mutual Funds). Dividends are payouts that companies give to their investors as a portion of their earnings. They’re often paid out quarterly. If you’ve already got an investment portfolio, it’s time to take a good look at which stocks, bonds, or mutual funds you own. You’ll see consistent returns from the ones that pay dividends. This is a fantastic way to earn passive income. Invest once and watch the returns pile up.
I was just curious what your thought was on actively managing your properties vs. getting a property manager? I recently started using a property manager and it has been a wonderful experience. It’s like there is now complete radio silence from the property since everything goes through the manager. I used to spend tons of time driving to it and showing it to prospective renters, doing background checks, doing maintenance, etc. It was amazing how much of a drain it was just thinking about what might go wrong. Now with a property manager I just get a .pdf statement in my e-mail and the rent gets deposited in my account like magic! I’m a big fan of property managers and think they are worth twice what I pay them.
Another source of income (or at least revenue) can be selling things you no longer use. When we go through our closets and drawers, I tend to find a lot I can do without. Some goes to Goodwill / Salvation army / Habitat Restore (tax deduction = income), some is resold on Amazon or eBay, some goes to the trash. I’m not sure if reselling something you paid more for should really count as income, but it’s money in the door, or less money out as is the case with donations.
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service categorizes income into three broad types, active income, passive income, and portfolio income. It defines passive income as only coming from two sources: rental activity or "trade or business activities in which you do not materially participate." Other financial and government institutions also recognize it as an income obtained as a result of capital growth or in relation to negative gearing. Passive income is usually taxable.
Maybe you’re obsessed with homemade jewelry and want to sell your wares on Etsy. Or, perhaps you’re well-versed on the Amazon reselling game and want to earn extra cash finding unicorns (rare and valuable products) and reselling them for profit. Maybe you’re obsessed with a specific topic and want to start a blog that can one day bring in advertorial and affiliate income.