Overall income potential: Excellent – Although it’s very possible to make $0 with a niche site if it doesn’t receive traffic, you can also make a lot of money if you rank well for good keywords.  It’s not likely that you’ll make a living off one site, but they are generally easy to build.  If you can build one successfully, you can probably build several more.
1) Save Like Nobody Owes You Anything. Passive income starts with savings. Without a healthy amount of savings, nothing works. Your overall “Money Strength” will be an F- if you do not build a financial nut. In our current low interest rate environment, you must save even more than before. It’s important to also realize that the savings I am referring to is AFTER-tax savings. You need to save money after contributing to your 401k and IRAs since you can’t touch pre-tax retirement accounts without a penalty until 59.5. Ideally everyone should max out their pre-tax retirement funds first, but if you don’t have enough funds and want to retire earlier then a decision to have more accessible post tax money will still work.
Your articles are so in-depth and helpful, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I am a 22-yr old finishing my last semester of college, studying Computer Science and Psychology. I’m in a really good place with my finances (2k savings, no student debt, only expenses essentially rent, groceries, and utilities) and I want to get ahead financially so I can pay my parents back and save up a lot.
“There is no such thing as 100% passive income,” says Flynn. “Even with real estate you still have to manage your properties, or even with the stock market, which is potentially passive income, you still have to manage your portfolio. With online business, there is no such thing as 100% passive income — and this is coming from a guy with a blog called SmartPassiveIncome.com. The definition of passive income is ‘building these businesses of automation,’ but in order to keep them automated and keep that trust going with your audience on top of that, you do have to keep it up every once in a while — so a lot of time upfront and a little time after. But there is alway time involved.”
I really need to add more streams of income and especially the passive type. I mainly have w-2 income like most people. I purchased a rental income a little less than a year ago but there have been some hiccups so I don’t think there’s much income from that as of now. I’d definitely be interested in some side income but it’s tough with a little one…you know how it is! Will be interested if there are legit paid survey sites since you mentioned that you would do that when junior starts school.
If you’re into antiques, for example, you could check out garage sales for hidden deals then capitalize on your knowledge to turn a profit. Perhaps you’re into video games, specific brands of clothing, or something else. Whatever it is, with a little research, it’s possible to turn your knowledge into cash with an eBay store. Best of all, you can sell from the comfort of your own home.

What are your thoughts on an Immediate Annuity as a passive income vehicle? I suppose it’s not a great investment since you never get your principal back, but the risk is zero and the cash flow is fairly good, approaching 6% currently. And, since you are guaranteed payments for life, you may not care that you never see your principal again anyway since you’ll be dead!

I cut back on medicolegal work to free up time and reduce stress. I spend most of my time on medical directorship work and clinical practice. Free time is spent on exercising, travel, time with family, and blogging. I spend virtually no time on the other income streams at this point. Getting the plate spinning can be tough but then the momentum keeps them turning.

Investing in bonds: Similarly, bonds are an attractive way to engage in passive income. Over a recent 45-year period, bonds funds, as measured by Vanguard Funds, returned 7.1%. Of course, there's no guarantee that investments in stocks or bonds will always work out well, investing in them is by far the surest way to generate money through passive income.


The surveys from home, you added a link for “everything we needed to know” it sent me to a site where I had to pay them $35 or $45 to get started. It doesn’t say anything about how, until you pay them. You sent us too the site BUT, have you checked it? Is it safe? Will they take my $, & I get nothing? If you say its OK, then fine, but usually these things are bad news. I fell into one when I was young. Proof reading at home. They sent you a book on how to do it, & then a “LIST” of all the company’s that hired at home proof readers. Well, they sent me the book, which was fine. But, the list they sent me had nothing but company’s that only hired people with long time prior experience proof reading. So, it was useless to me. ;(
Purchasing a rental property is another common way that individual generate an income stream.  It is very similar to investing, in that you take a sum of money to purchase the property, and the property returns a cash flow – rent.  You do have expenses related to this that are different from investing, such as a mortgage, utilities, property taxes, etc, which all must be taken into consideration when calculating a return on rental property.
While it is important to find something that you love to do and turn it into a money making business, you do have to be cognizant of the return as you pointed out. There are many opportunities that I found and tried out that at the time seemed great. But when I took a step back, I realized that I was working a lot for very little income whereas other things I love doing brought in much more money.
Don't mistake passive income with zero work. It's still work, it's just that your income is not directly tied to the hours worked. Anyone who owns rental properties knows that it's considered passive income but there is quite a bit of work involved. The work is front heavy but if you are lucky, you can collect rental checks without incident for many months before having to do work.

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Refinancing may not be worth it to you, depending on your situation and interest rates, but maybe a reverse mortgage is just what you need. It's typically an option well worth considering for those in or near retirement. A reverse mortgage is essentially a loan, with the amount borrowed not having to be repaid until you die, sell your home, or stop living in it (perhaps because you moved to a nursing home or died). At that time, the home can be sold to cover the debt -- or your heirs can pay it off and keep the home. Reverse-mortgage income is often tax-free, which is another big plus. The amount you get can be delivered in monthly installments, providing very passive and reliable income in retirement.
I don’t really know much about those…I should take a look from a diversification standpoint. If you don’t mind me asking, what do you target for your net effective tax rate on your passive income? Also, I’m sure you’ve probably covered this somewhere, but how do you deal with healthcare? One more dumb question…have you found that you spend more or less money than you anticipated once you retired?
1) Save Like Nobody Owes You Anything. Passive income starts with savings. Without a healthy amount of savings, nothing works. Your overall “Money Strength” will be an F- if you do not build a financial nut. In our current low interest rate environment, you must save even more than before. It’s important to also realize that the savings I am referring to is AFTER-tax savings. You need to save money after contributing to your 401k and IRAs since you can’t touch pre-tax retirement accounts without a penalty until 59.5. Ideally everyone should max out their pre-tax retirement funds first, but if you don’t have enough funds and want to retire earlier then a decision to have more accessible post tax money will still work.
Pardon for being a bit of a newbie to true investing outside of a 401k. What about those of us who have 1) Just been laid off, and unable to find work due to lack of a degree (apparently 17 years in the industry with 5 certifications is just simply not enough – which is okay. It gave me the kick in the arse to get back to school finally) 2)Have three children to support (age 11 and under), and 3) Oh yeah – cannot find work. What do you recommend when the only source of positive revenue has ceased to come in and you now have less time than ever – due to responsibilities (i.e. doing well in university = academic scholarships means investment in time, plus spending 20 min breaks with kiddos) – to create positive sources of income ? I truly am wondering from an investor’s point of view how you would handle the pivot point of life if ever you had been faced with it. I realize this may be only imaginary, but at this point, I welcome your “what ifs” scenario on this one. You’ve truly done amazing work and I thank you for being so transparent.
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."

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How passive it really is: Excellent – Once your ads are running, you could literally just sit back and watch the money roll in.  Again, you are spending money to make money here, so there is risk involved.  However, once the ads are set, the income can be very passive.  Keep in mind, you may need to monitor and possibly modify ads if they aren’t performing well.
I’m looking at accepting a professor job. It’ll be more than a 50% pay cut. But I’ll have the same life you describe – endless summers and an entire month every winter to ski. I’m thinking in the end, eventually, I might even end up wealthier in more ways than one. Happy people tend to be the most successful. I have no desire to diversify. Dividend stocks allude me. CDs seem like a good choice for older people, but I have time on my hands and real estate knowledge, so I’m sticking with what I know, despite the fact that most people will tell me it is foolish and I should diversify.
I have several streams, which is really nice because you never know when one will dry up. I think I will be losing one of my contract optometry positions later this year. It sucks because I like the job, but it won’t be financial ruin. Even if you have a secure job, the side income does allow you to meet goals faster. I don’t think I’d ever go back to relying on one job, even if it was awesome.
5) Determine What Income Level Will Make You Happy. Think back to when you made little to no income as a student. Now think back to the days when you just got started in your career. Were you happy then? Now go over every single year you got a raise or made more money doing something else. How did your happiness change at all, if any? Everybody has a different level of income that will bring maximum happiness due to different desires, needs, and living arrangements. It’s up to you to find out your optimum income level.
Great ideas here, and thanks for the link! I’m definitely interested in learning about using an Ebay store, although I’ve heard they are not as effective as they used to be. One interesting problem that arises though is with online work, that is, work performed via the internet. If one does not reside in one’s home country while doing it it might be considered illegal (so check on all those tax implications).
Flynn, who blogs at Smart Passive Income and discusses his secrets at the Smart Passive Income podcast, defines passive income as “building online businesses that take advantage of systems of automations that allow transactions, cash flow and growth without requiring a real-time presence. We don’t have to trade our time for money one to one. Instead, we invest our time upfront, creating valuable products and experiences for people, and we reap the benefits of that time invested later,” he says, adding, “It’s not easy. I just want to make sure that’s clear.”
Lending Club went public in 2014 and is now worth about $1.7B. They advertise P2P lending returns of over 7% for well-diversified portfolios of over 100 notes. I’ve personally been able to achieve a 7.4% annual return over the past two years in a completely passive way by investing in A and AA notes. Others have achieved a 10% annual return through relatively minimum effort.
For instance, a business owner who works in the company she or he founded would have to pay an extra 15.3 percent in self-employment payroll taxes compared to someone who merely had a passive interest in the same limited liability company who would pay only income taxes. In other words, the same income earned actively would be taxed at a higher rate than if it were earned passively.
Those are the different sources of income for our household in 2015. It’s good to have a solid earned income, but you need investment income to become wealthy. The key is to save a significant percentage of your income and invest consistenly. This will create different streams of investment income which will compound over time. If you make a lot of earned income, but don’t have much investment income, then there might be a problem. This probably means you spend most of it and aren’t investing enough. That’s not good because earned income do not last. We all get old sometime and you can’t work forever.
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