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!
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.
Now, all that said, if capital (savings) grows faster than the growth of the economy, those with savings will see their wealth grow at a faster rate than those who rely on the growth of their income. While this is not an extension of Piketty's argument (you can't take an idea that applies to a population and a whole economy and boil it down to the individual like this), it's not an unreasonable conclusion to take and apply to your own life. (Piketty does talk about this on an individual level, but says it's more impactful for billionaires vs. millionaires – though we have limited data into individuals)
Think about it. If you are saving for retirement, you are trying to save enough in investing to generate enough income to replace your primary salary. Let’s take my friend’s example above: $50,000 a year. To generate $50,000, you would need to have almost $1,700,000 saved, and be able to generate a 3% cash flow on that money (which is reasonable if invested in dividend paying stocks).
Rental properties are defined as passive income with a couple of exceptions. If you’re a real estate professional, any rental income you’re making counts as active income. If you’re "self-renting," meaning that you own a space and are renting it out to a corporation or partnership where you conduct business, that does not constitute passive income unless that lease had been signed before 1988, in which case you’ve been grandfathered into having that income being defined as passive. According to the IRS, "it does not matter whether or not the use is under a lease, a service contract, or some other arrangement."
I’ve built several businesses since 2008 using one or more of these models. I’ve been featured in magazines and articles across the globe, and since I started my journey I’ve generated over $5M in earnings from these businesses. All of my income and expenses for those businesses dating back to October 2008 have been tracked publicly on SPI.com. You can see 10 years of income reports here.
In terms of whether transactions are liable to tax, the important distinction is that when you bought what you intend selling, you did not buy it with the intention to sell it on at a profit. For example, if you repeatedly buy and sell vintage dresses on eBay at a profit, then these transactions will be considered trades and you ought to include your profits in taxable income.
That's odd, because lot of these questions are actually pretty easy to answer. The IRS is good about publishing the data. Given that – and given the recent interest in personal income inequality, I decided to write a little bit about the different kinds of income people report on their tax returns. A longer paper – Sources of Personal Income – is here, but for a brief overview, you might want to check out the top ten sources of income:
This figure is based on purchasing power parity (PPP), which basically suggests that prices of goods in countries tend to equate under floating exchange rates and therefore people would be able to purchase the same quantity of goods in any country for a given sum of money. That is, the notion that a dollar should buy the same amount in all countries. Hence if a poor person in a poor country living on a dollar a day moved to the U.S. with no changes to their income, they would still be living on a dollar a day.
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Just like any industry, there is good and not so good. The good part of passive income is that it can lead to multiple streams of revenue. Entrepreneurs understand more income sources means a more stable business and more room to grow. Implementing passive income strategies creates exciting possibilities and opportunities. Passive income sources allow me to have freedom and financial security in my life and business. I can spend my time traveling or writing, knowing that I'm stilling making income.
It’s nice to have 2,3, or 4 phases. We have different phases too. Right now, Mrs. RB40 is still working. Once she retires, then we’ll rely on my online income, rental income, and our taxable accounts for at least 5 years while we build our Roth IRA ladder. After that, it will be a mixture of online income, taxable account, and Roth withdrawal. Until we’re qualified for social security benefit.
After these tenants move out, I'm thinking of just keeping the rental empty with furniture. It sounds stupid to give up $4,200 a month, but I really hate dealing with the homeowner association, move-in/move-out rules, and maintenance issues. Given that the condo doesn't have a mortgage and I have to pay taxes on some of the rental income, I'm not giving up that much. The condo can be a place for my sister, parents, or in-laws to crash when they want to stay in SF for longer than a week or two.
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4. Focus first on passive income streams that you create once but they continue to generate income. For example, writing a book is a passive income stream. You write it once and sell it over and over. The word passive is a little deceptive because you need to market the book. Nevertheless, compared to non-passive sources of income, which you need to do over and over to make money, such as providing a service, passive income streams require less time once they’re created. Other forms of passive income include other written works (i.e. courses), audio or video creations, affiliate marketing, licensing your idea, franchising, or continuity programs (i.e. memberships).