Came to the U.S. as an immigrant in 1968 from a poor Asian country with only $100 in my pocket. Took advantange of 401-K savings plan by contributing 10% of my pay. My employer matched the first 6% savings (50 cents/dollar saved). Did not know anything about investment so 100% of 401-k money was invested in index 500. No other savings except 401-K. Retired in 1999 at 55 years old with about $1.2 million in 401-K and $450,000 lump sum pension which I rolled over to IRA. I invested this money in bonds and only buy equities (small cap index) whenever value drop to at least 50% of its high. I made a lot of money by investing in small cap index (ticker, IWM). Because of the risk involved, I don’t buy individual stock.

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. Physical 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.

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.