The most liquid of the private investments are investing in equity or credit hedge funds, real estate funds, and private company funds. There will usually be 6 month – 3 year lockup periods. The least liquid of the private investments are when you invest directly into private companies yourself. You might not be able to get your money out for 5-10 years, depending on the success of the company and upcoming liquidity events.
Currently we have a duplex and a condo that we rent out. I manage the properties myself so it does take a little time. The rental properties are mostly passive, but I have to do some work occasionally. Recently, I had a tree trimming company out to trim the maple in the back and remove some dead arborvitaes along the fence. We decided to replace the arborvitaes with potted bamboos to help screen the property. So this past weekend, we split a pot of bamboo and planted some mint in the garden. That one sentence sounded easy, but it took us 3 hours to do. We carted an old pot of bamboo from our balcony and it was a struggle. That thing must have weighed 100 lbs. Anyway, we’re willing to put some work into the duplex because we plan to relocate there at some point. Also, the rental income shows up as negative income in our tax due to depreciation. That’s a nice side benefit to being a landlord.
In order not to succumb to that, Flynn says it’s important to know your motivation. “Passive income is important to me not just for the financial security but so I can spend time with my family,” he says. “I’ve been able to work from home and witness all my kids’ firsts. I have a one-year-old and a four-year-old, and that's what drives me and gets me pushing through those hard times and why I keep creating new products and why I want to help other people do the same thing.”
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. 🙂
Refinancing your mortgage is a passive income generator? Yup, it sure can be. If you're making monthly mortgage payments of $1,600 now, and you can reduce that to $1,300 per month by refinancing your home loan at a lower interest rate, you'll keep $300 in your pocket each month. Of course, refinancing isn't free -- there are closing costs. Still, if you plan to stay in your home long enough to more than break even, refinancing is well worth it. As an example, if your closing costs are $6,000 and you're saving $300 per month, you'll break even in 20 months -- less than two years!

It’s obvious that stocks outperform real estate in terms of capital gains, but I would like to see S&P compare to Real Estate in SF, Manhattan, LA. Our house in NC was $80,000 20 years ago. It’s only $150,000 now. Same house in Santa Monica went from $200,000 to $1.8 million. People who happen to bought real estate in major metropolitan would have a natural positive association with real estate investment.
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).
One aspect you might want to add to your scoring is “inflation protection”. At one end, bonds and CDs generally pay a fixed nominal coupon that doesn’t rise with inflation. Stock dividends and Real estate rents (and underlying property value) tend to. Not reallly sure how P2P lending ranks- though I suppose the timeframes are fairly short (1 year or less?) and therefore the interest you receive takes into account the current risk free rate + a premium for your risk. Now that I think about it, P2P lending probably deserves a lower score in the activity column than bonds too (since you probably need to make new loans more often).
We’re currently at four and about to add a fifth. The more diverse the less risk. The less risk the lower the risk mitigation needs (ie insurance). We are high income but historically we’ve focused on the two w2 incomes and investment returns. At some early stages in your career focusing on your W-2 might yield better returns. Once you’ve got a certain level marginal gains from raises begins to decline. We’re at that stage where alternative income importance is increasing.
In the runup to the Second World War, the United States had suffered through the Great Depression following the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Roosevelt's election at the end of 1932 was based on a commitment to reform the economy and society through a "New Deal" program. The first indication of a commitment to government guarantees of social and economic rights came in an address to the Commonwealth Club on September 23, 1932 during his campaign. The speech was written with Adolf A. Berle, a professor of corporate law at Columbia University. A key passage read:
Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses – This one might not seem like a source of income but ever since I discovered how lucrative churning credit cards can be I consider it part of my income. Just last year alone, I made over $10,000 tax free in travel, cash and gift cards from various sign-ups. It’s not as simple as just signing up for a card though, it requires a lot of research and some maintenance every couple weeks.
3. Start as soon as possible. Building a livable passive-income stream takes a tremendously long time, largely because of declining interest rates since the late 1980s. Gone are the days of making a 5%-plus return on a short-term CD or savings account. Today, the best 12-month CD is at 2.5%, and the best money-market rate is about 1.85%, which is not bad, considering such rates were below 0.5% just a couple of years ago. Know that every $100 you save can generate at least $2.5 in passive income.
Among the many passive-income opportunities that exist, interest is a very popular one, along with dividends. Unfortunately, we've been living in an environment of ultra-low interest rates for many years now, so even a savings account with $100,000 in it might only grow by $1,000 or $2,000 per year. Interest rates seem to be rising, though, so take heart -- and know that in many past years, bank accounts and CDs and bonds have paid rates of 5%, 8%, and even 10% or more.
I agree mostly with the real estate advice. I’m looking for ways to take advantage of the condo I own to get up the rent from ~$0.90/ft to the $1.2-1.5/ft that seems more like the range in the same area. I’d have to put in a bit of capital (probably 10k on the low end for just the basics up to 40k if I wanted to remodel the kitchen and 2 bathrooms up to par with the area), so the return is likely there if those upgrades warrant $1.30/ft (given the unit is larger than most 2br/2ba in the area).
I was so excited when I opened a higher interest savings account and I started getting ‘real’ passive income. Instead of 5 cents from my bad savings account, now I get $10 a month in interest for just keeping my emergency fund full! If I saw a nickel on the street, I’d pick it up but it’s not too exciting. If I saw $10 laying on the street and picked it up, it would make my week! The account is like finding that $10 on the ground every month 😉
I just graduated college in May and was fortunate enough to secure an entry level consulting position that pays 55k/yr (a little less than ~35k after 401K, other benefits, and the lovely taxes that government bestows upon us). I started from “scratch” with my finances and have ~$2.3k in an online savings account. Since starting work a couple of weeks ago, I’ve had an aggressive savings plan (saving around ~40-50% of my monthly income). However, I’m going to become even more aggressive and live off 1 paycheck a month (and save the other paycheck) like you have suggested in many of your blog posts.
What I’m doing: I view passive income as funny money to keep myself sane during this long journey. I estimate 2-10 years to get to my goal depending on how active I am. The dollars created are just points one can accumulate. I’ve made passive income goals for each passive income type and check in at least once a year like I am now to make sure I’m on track. Passive income is also carefully managed to minimize tax liability. When you can build a buffer for a buffer, you are then free to take more risks.
“Where a lot of people mess up is they try to build a business or create a product that serves everybody, and by trying to serve everybody, you serve nobody. You have to specialize and niche down and find a market with a pain point that you, based on your experience, based on your education and based on your passion, can help,” he says. Your earnings will directly reflect how well you serve that particular audience, and the more your message resonates with them, the more opportunities you’ll have to sell to them.
Very enlightening. I like that you have a number of discreet passive income streams working for you. I”m not sure about such a large CD/ bank holding though, though it looks as though its giving you a fairly healthy income. How do you feel about a rising inflation rate on your effective real cash return? I’m looking to diversify beyond my current dividend passive income. Rental income is what I expect we’ll be harvesting next. P2P lending is a little too out of my comfort zone. I had a lot of exposure to consumer credit risk models at a prior role, and it scared me the heck away from consumer lending!
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.
The first step is to think about what you can do that’s unusual or valuable to other people. Do you know a second language well enough to teach it to others, or have a skill like woodworking, crochet, or playing a musical instrument? People pay for all kinds of lessons. Just log onto the “services” section at Craigslist.org to start brainstorming what you could offer. If you’re not sure whether there’s a market for your skill, post an ad on Craigslist or on a local message board and see whether anyone contacts you about it.
I wanted to specifically call out one particular strategy within equity investing that bears mentioning – dividend growth investing is when you focus on stocks that not only pay a dividend but have a history of strong dividend growth. When I was first building my portfolio of individual stocks, I focused on buying companies with a history of dividends, a history of strong growth, and financials that supported a continuation of both.
"But for our jobs, for how we make money, I think many of us — most of us — have one way we make money. It can be very risky. I've really come to believe, and have done a lot of research over the years, that one of the best ways that we can create real, legitimate professional stability for ourselves is by choosing to cultivate multiple income streams.
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 >

So many great tips in this big post, thanks! I think it’s so true that people should focus on the things they do well at and are interested in. And yes save, save, save in the beginning and throughout. I have several interest and dividend earning investments and am looking to expand further. Diversification is a great goal for all of us so we can avoid having all our eggs in one basket.


If you’re considering real estate for your portfolio, let me give you some advice: Don’t jump in without a ton of research. It’s not as easy as they make it look on shows like Flip or Flop. There’s a lot that goes into becoming a successful landlord or flipping houses for a profit. Plus, a lot can go wrong and your mistakes can eat up your profits quickly.

“Where a lot of people mess up is they try to build a business or create a product that serves everybody, and by trying to serve everybody, you serve nobody. You have to specialize and niche down and find a market with a pain point that you, based on your experience, based on your education and based on your passion, can help,” he says. Your earnings will directly reflect how well you serve that particular audience, and the more your message resonates with them, the more opportunities you’ll have to sell to them.
“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.”

"Create your own products and services," financial blogger and life coach Michael Tamez tells Bustle. "Any company you could ever work for can replace you at any time. However, your individuality can never be replaced! I encourage you to explore your creative talents and abilities more. What are you good at? How can you monetize that talent and perhaps even build a business out of it? Have you experienced something extraordinary in your life, and because of it, have tons of knowledge and wisdom to share? ... Creating your own products and services can create steady streams of residual income, which pays you continuously, even when you're not working. Essentially, you bust your ass once and get paid for the rest of your life — even when you're sitting on the beach, sipping coconut rum. Just remember this: When you invest in your creative abilities, you become irreplaceable!"
Others may define it more narrowly, but to me, PPC arbitrage basically involves setting up PPC ads (via Google AdWords or similar platform) and directing the traffic that results from ad clicks to a landing page or straight to an affiliate link (which many platforms don’t allow anymore).  The goal is obviously to earn more from the affiliate income than spent on the ad clicks.  You aren’t adding any value, but merely earning more from traffic than what it costs you to generate that traffic.
Two months into my work hiatus and I’m doing well. I’ve made a little bit more than I’ve spent and I’ve worked about four hours a day on average. Ultimately, I’ll know I’m ready to make the permanent jump to a 4 day work hour when my passive income plus side incomes equal my day job income. Until then, I’m going to go back to my day job and keep grinding it out.

AbigailP That’s a really valid point, and I totally understand that piling more work on top of your day job isn’t for everyone. Before I started freelancing, I relied only on my day job because I was too drained to focus on other things by the time I got home. I think I’m used to it now, but it’s not easy, especially with chronic fatigue. Having a network to fall back on, or having a Plan B, is still very valuable.


Lending Club (U.S. Residents Only) – I talk about Lending Club in every one of my income reports, because I still believe it’s the best source of passive income, even though it’s not my largest source.  You can get started for as little as $25, and over the past 2+ years, my interest rate has been 7% or higher, which I think is very good given the relatively low risk involved.  This is even more true given the recent market downturn. You can read about how I select my investments here.
I wanted to specifically call out one particular strategy within equity investing that bears mentioning – dividend growth investing is when you focus on stocks that not only pay a dividend but have a history of strong dividend growth. When I was first building my portfolio of individual stocks, I focused on buying companies with a history of dividends, a history of strong growth, and financials that supported a continuation of both.
“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.”
The much loved model for bloggers and content creators everywhere and for a good reason…it’s pretty easy to write a 60-80 page ebook, not hard to sell say $500 worth a month through online networking, guest posting and your own SEO optimized blog, and well you get to keep a large whack of the pie after paying affiliates.  Hells yeah!  Continue reading >
Vanguard: Vanguard has a minimum of $50,000 and a fee of 0.3%. Rebalancing is done automatically once every quarter and tax loss harvesting is done on a client-by-client basis. We included Vanguard because clients who invest between $50,000-$500,000 have access to a team of financial advisors. Those with accounts over $500,000 will have a dedicated advisor.
The reason I consider dividends artificial and believe they don’t matter is because you can just as easily reinvest your dividends. If a stock is worth $100/share, I don’t care if it issues a $1/share dividend or if the share price instead increases to $101/share – either way, I have the same amount of money, because there’s no difference to my net worth whether I take the dividend or sell part of a stock.
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Leonardo da Vinci is another example of someone who was a "wide achiever," in the words of Roman Krznaric, author of "How to Find Fulfilling Work." Da Vinci was alternately a portraitist, an inventor, and a scientist. Krznaric says that in light of decreasing job security today, spreading yourself among several different jobs, as da Vinci did, is probably a smart thing to do.

​Affiliate marketing is the practice of partnering with a company (becoming their affiliate) to receive a commission on a product. This method of generating income works the best for those with blogs and websites. Even then, it takes a long time to build up before it becomes passive. If you want to get started with affiliate marketing check out this great list of affiliate marketing programs.

Investing in a business: Another good way to generate passive income is to invest in a business --even a small one -- in return for a percentage of the profits - just like Shark Tank, only smaller. Lending $10,000 to a local business that, for example, is working on a mobile app for Apple phones could lead to a passive income-generated share of the profits when that mobile app starts selling like hot cakes.


Capital growth in your portfolio can offset the eroding effect of inflation.  But any capital gains that exceed the overall inflationary effect can be drawn off to augment your portfolio income.  Of course, you must first generate those gains by making thoughtful investment selections.  While allowing strongly growing assets to keep doing that, it is prudent not to allow them to become a dangerously large part of your portfolio lest they go off the boil.  So if you selectively trim profitable positions along the way, you can boost your income.
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