Income-generating assets are another of many passive-income opportunities. A classic example is making money in real estate via owning rental properties. It can seem perfect: You buy an apartment building or house, rent it out, and then sit back and collect checks every month from your tenants. The reality isn't always so rosy, though. For one thing, you'll need to maintain and repair the property, as well as paying taxes on it and insuring it. It may not always be occupied, either. You may have trouble finding tenants, or finding tenants who pay their rent reliably. Some tenants may damage the property, and others may be hard to get rid of. You'll be the one they call in the middle of the night if the roof is leaking, and you'll have to clean and perhaps freshen up the property between tenants. You can outsource much of this to a property management company, but it will take a cut of your income, often about 10%.
I have to agree. Our Duplex cost us 200k initially in 1998. Over time and completely refurbishing the property with historically appropriate sensitivity, we invested another 200k or so. We just had a realtor advise us we could ask 700k for it today. It nets us 30k annually after taxes, insurance and maintenance. We still have a loan on it which I have not taken into account, that will be paid off within 5 years if we keep it. My mental drama now is, while I am quite giddy over the prospect of earning a tidy sum of profit if I sell, what then would I do to equal the ROI and monthly income this thing generates? Rents are low, they should be 4k a month and will only go up. Tempted to keep it and not sell. And while I do have some stocks, I basically suck at them. I am much better at doing properties.

Vending machines are not completely passive but are similar to being a real estate investor with lower stakes. The key to making these successful is to get high value locations and negotiate good deals with the people who own those locations. You need to decide which machines you want to run, get the necessary licenses to operate them (you're selling items so you need to get sales licenses and whatnot from your state), buy the machines and a truck for the items in the machines, find a supplier of the products, and then finally you can secure locations. Finally, you need to service them periodically or hire someone to service them.
The first time I did affiliate marketing was way back in the day on my architecture exam website. I connected with a company that sold practice exams, which gave me $22 for every person who bought one of their exams via my site. Since then, I’ve generated over $250,000 simply by recommending that product alone. Again, this is a product that was not mine, but one that has still been helpful to my audience. This was all done with thousands of visitors a month. Not millions, or even hundreds of thousands.
Thanks for writing this Mr. Samurai. I just got over the student loan hump but I feel pretty good about it at 27 having a graduate degree and being 100% debt free. Now that I’m on the other side it is good for my brain to absorb some of your knowledge regarding passive income investments. I love gleaning wisdom from older folks who have been there and done that. Mentors rock!
Investing is arguably the easiest way to make passive income.  The problem is most investments sound good in theory but don’t work out so well in practice.  And if you don’t have much experience or access to capital, let alone the time to work it all out, it can seem more or less impossible.  However, there is one smart way to invest that just might work.  Continue reading >
One of the best ways to build wealth is to get a handle on your finances by signing up with Personal Capital. They are a free online platform which aggregates all your financial accounts on their Dashboard so you can see where you can optimize. Before Personal Capital, I had to log into eight different systems to track 28 different accounts (brokerage, multiple banks, 401K, etc) to track my finances. Now, I can just log into Personal Capital to see how my stock accounts are doing, how my net worth is progressing, and where my spending is going.

One of the best ways to build wealth is to get a handle on your finances by signing up with Personal Capital. They are a free online platform which aggregates all your financial accounts on their Dashboard so you can see where you can optimize. Before Personal Capital, I had to log into eight different systems to track 28 different accounts (brokerage, multiple banks, 401K, etc) to track my finances. Now, I can just log into Personal Capital to see how my stock accounts are doing, how my net worth is progressing, and where my spending is going.
Start an affiliate marketing website: This passive income model works for individuals who already own a bog or website. Here, your business goal is to contact companies and offer to tout their products and services, usually for a fee or a commission, based on the number of page views you get. Studies show that more people spend time online and less watching TV or reading the newspaper. Take advantage of that leverage and earn income from the tens of thousands of companies who want to reach an audience - maybe your audience. Either reach out to companies directly or go through a site like ClickBank, which offers affiliate marketing opportunities.
I agree that it is important to establish multiple sources of income, but I would be hesitant to group dividend stocks and real estate into the “multiple streams” bucket. Those are investments, and living off of investment income because you are in an emergency state is not a good plan. Cash flow from investments ebbs and flows more than the cash flow from a day job.
Right now we have five, but we’ll probably cut that down to four at ER next year. Current: W-2, business income, rental income, interest on personal loan plus accounts, dividends and cap gains. Future: subtract W-2 for the most part, not counting little “fun work” projects. If we were looking to live the high life, we might aim for the millionaire’s seven sources, but we feel like our four sources will let us live very comfortably with plenty of contingency plans in place. 🙂
“The biggest surprise is real estate being second to last on my Passive Income Ranking List because I’ve written that real estate is my favorite investment class to build wealth. Real estate doesn’t stack up well against the other passive income sources due to the lack of liquidity and constant maintenance of tenants and property. The returns can be huge due to rising rental income AND principal over time, much like dividend investing. If you are a “proactive passive income earner” like myself, then real estate is great.”
Dividends made sense 40 years ago as a relatively simple rule of thumb, but after all the work done by John Bogle with index investing, and academics with Monte Carlo sims and the 4% rule, dividend investing just isn’t the simplest, cleanest way to invest or receive passive income anymore. It’s actually significantly more risky compared to index investing, because dividend companies are a much smaller share of the total global economy compared to the broader indices.
A lot of people don’t even know about my life insurance business, but it’s a huge part of my success. Like my other big projects, however, I started it to help people. Over the years, I’ve seen so many people who are uninsured or underinsured. For whatever reason, they don’t understand the importance of life insurance. Worse, they don’t understand how affordable it is for the average family.

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.


Thank for this extensive work. When you make extra money you need to think simple. First thing you should consider is whatever you do must be safe enough that you don’t lose your initial investment as well. Also, look at the ways you can reduce your costs. This could be car insurance savings or paying back expensive loans or card balances. Saving is making money as well.
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