We encourage a more holistic, total return approach to your sustainable spending needs from investments. An improved portfolio includes a wide range of income sources providing both cash flow and capital growth. Your chosen blend should match your overall financial goals, considering your tolerance for risk, time frames, income and liquidity needs with a spending rate that sustains the investor’s wealth.
The key liability that remains, as human capital dwindles, should be funding one’s retirement income. Given the blended retirement pattern discussed in this column last March, we can expect that some retirees will start spending their financial capital and others will keep building it, at least for a while. Do you know how your investor clients plan to blend remaining human capital with their (hopefully growing) financial capital and social capital to meet their remaining (and, one hopes, limited to retirement income) liabilities?
Finally, I imagine the biggest debate with my ranking is Creating Your Own Product as the #1 passive income source. If most people have never created their own product, then it’s easy to give it a thumbs down. There won’t be much complaint about Private Equity Investing being in last place because most people are not accredited investors. But given I believe that plenty of people can create their own product if they try, pushback is inevitable because a lot of people simply don’t try!
My personal finance blogs were started with $100, but you can start a blog with $20 if you buy hosting on a monthly basis. That’s 4 Starbucks coffees or 4 packs of cigarettes many paycheck to paycheck people do find a way to buy. After six months of HARD work, my first site started generating $2,000 a month, and today, those three sites generate over $5,000 a month, while all I have put in was hosting for $100-ish every year each, and a website redesign for under $1,000 after three years. Freelance writing and translation jobs are also a sizable part of my income that did not require any upfront investment. Investing $10 a month in index funds is also a realistic way for many to build yet another income stream.
A normal distribution (bell curve) is the limit of what one would find by adding up the value of many independent quantities such as the height of people in a large group. A power law distribution is the limit of what one would find by multiplying the value of many independent quantities such as the relative size of forest fires over a large enough area and a long enough period of time.
In focusing on your wealth management goals, investment income is obviously critical but you might fund your goals from wider sources of income. A typical long-term portfolio might produce about half its return as income and the other half as capital growth, though in times of duress the capital growth component wanes. In this low-interest rate climate, some sources of income have become quite expensive and may prove disappointing against your spending needs. But by tax efficiently and sustainably drawing income from wider sources, you might meet your goals while more prudently balancing risk against reward.