Stock dividends: Some stocks, especially stocks from big corporate standouts, pay dividends to shareholders based on the number of shares they own, and the percentage of the stock price on the dividend date. For example, if a company pays out 3% on a stock that's trading at $100 per share, you'll earn $3 for every share of that stock you own. Add it up and that can be good take-home pay as a passive investment.

Andrew Rafal, Founder and President of Bayntree Wealth Advisors in Arizona, recently told me about his push to get clients to diversify their income streams. The Great Recession feels like an eternity ago now that the economy is looking up, he says. The job market is strong and consumer confidence is through the roof. As a result, it’s possible people are getting a little too comfortable.


Our most significant source of income is Mrs. RB40’s earned income, but that will change when she retires in a few years. Luckily, our expenses are at a reasonable level and we don’t need to replace her whole income to keep the same lifestyle. For 2015, our other sources of income just about covered our cost of living. The high-tech antitrust settlement gave us a shove to get over the finish line. That’s just a one off, though. I’m not too worried because there are other ways to generate some income to make up for Mrs. RB40’s paychecks. Here are some of them.
This is an interesting take and good advice for those who probably do not need to ever worry about becoming destitute. I’m sorry but too many of your options including your own list of income require quite a bit of initial investment/capital and these suggestions are useless to those living paycheck to paycheck. I’d like to see the average low to middle income household purchase additional property for rental, invest in their portfolio (if they can even start one), or even afford to have a vehicle or room to rent. Far too first world of a solution for the general public.
I really enjoyed how you listed all of the reasons to build passive income streams as well as the framework. You also made an interesting point about freelance writing on how the more skilled writers want to keep posts for their own website. Good insight because freelance writing is something I’ve been looking into for income recently. Also, it’s amazing what you’ve been able to accomplish with your blog over the past 6 years. It’s so motivational to see the success of Financial Samurai. I’m not in a place to afford any consulting, but, I wish I could pick your brain or get mentored by a successful blogger such as yourself…Not trying to blow smoke lol. It would just be so great to have someone who’s done it provide guidance around the direction of the blog, ways to earn, and on the general concept. Always enjoy your posts. Thanks for sharing :)
Mike, I don’t consider the income from FS to be passive, as I’m spending time commenting to you right now. But since 75% of my traffic comes from search, the most traffic I would probably lose is 25% for probably a year. And then my search word rankings would probably slowly fade given frequency of posting new content is one of the search algo variables.
Right now, I’ve got my day job, some index funds, a small income from my blog (about a penny a day so far – ha!), and some knitting patterns I designed and have for sale at various sites around the internet (not surprisingly, that doesn’t bring in much either). Eventually I’d like to write an ebook, although I have no idea what the topic would be yet. I’ll keep plugging away and hopefully it’ll become clearer in the future!
I just can’t seem to get my head around creating my own online product. When you talk about it, you make it sound like its mostly just about putting in the time and plugging away at it. Problem is I can never seem to come up with any ideas for a site or product that seem remotely unique or compelling or that I have any special knowledge about. The stuff I do know about is pretty commodity type knowledge that can mostly be found on thousands of sites on the internet already. Any tips on discovering what your “unique angle” is? I mean, you have a pretty compelling and somewhat unique personal story of working on wall street and then walking away at a young age.
Investing in Index Funds – I use Vanguard for this, but there are several reputable sites out there that allow you to do the same thing.  It’s a good way to invest excess cash that you don’t need now and use it to diversify your portfolio.  I’m not going to make a specific recommendation here, but Vanguard does have a page that will make a recommendation to you based on your risk tolerance.  This is generally going to require more up-front money than Lending Club (probably $1,000+), but if you have the money, it’s something to consider.
What I’m doing: My realistic goal is to have a blended annual return of 2x the risk free rate. With a current 5% hurdle, I am not paying down mortgages that cost less than 4%. Debt at 5% is a wash. My realistic blue sky scenario is a 3-4X rate of return over the risk free rate which can be achieved with property, stocks so far for the past five years, and certain private equity investments. Where I am dragging is my blended average CD interest rate of roughly 3% from an old CD coming due. I’ve rolled some money into a 12-month CD with CIT Bank at 2.5%. It’s the best rate I can find. 

The craziest part of this was I’d wake up in the morning and there would be more money in my bank account, from people who had bought my book overnight. When you think about it, an online store that sells something that’s digital is something that’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Using tools, software and systems, you can automate the delivery process so you literally don’t have to do anything to serve that audience. That’s super powerful.
Truebill is an app that helps you save money by identifying recurring subscriptions and other bills and helping you cut costs by negotiating better rates and fees. One of their partnerships is with Acradia Power, which has the potential to save you up to 30% on your electric bill. It searches for better power rates in areas where competition is allowed, and it locks in the better prices for you.
Social Security — Depending upon your income, Social Security benefits might be entirely tax-free or partly taxable. Ex: If your income is more than $25,000 — or $32,000 if married filing jointly — up to 85% of your Social Security benefits is taxable. When figuring your income, include tax-free interest income and 50% of your Social Security benefits.
I read about early withdrawal penalties on IRAs/401Ks very often. Almost always with a statement of “locked up” or “can’t touch” until 59.5. I’m sure you and well informed readers as well know about SEPPs in regard to IRAs/401Ks. For those that don’t SEPPs aren’t perfect but they are a way to tap retirement funds penalty free and I will be using in the future as I have over half of my equity investments within retirement accounts. South of a mil, North of a half. Let me add that I think your blog is outstanding.
You may think of a savings account as just that, savings. But it’s actually another form of income as the money in the account will draw interest. And while this interest may be small, it’s still better than $0. Eventually, you can invest this money whenever an opportunity presents itself in order to gain other income streams.  Look into Tax Free Savings Accounts if you are going this route.
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.
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.
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. ;(
There is a specific tax definition of passive income, known as “passive activity” to the Internal Revenue Service. Passive income is any income you make without actively working or are materially involved. The IRS defines it as any rental activity or any business in which the taxpayer does not “materially participate.” Nonpassive activities, or active activities, are businesses in which the taxpayer works on a regular, continuous, and substantial basis.
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.
Nobody gets early FI investing in bonds, CD’s, or even stocks unless they make a huge income or are extremely frugal or a combination of both. Paper assets just don’t provide enough returns. Business income can be great but it is typically not as semi-passive as I would like and there is a relatively high failure rate. That is if you can monetize an ideal to begin with. RE investing needs to be higher ranked IMO as a way that the “average guy” can become FI.
How do you do this?  Well, try to get the highest paying job you can!  Ask for a raise!  Utilize services, such as Glassdoor.com, to see how your salary competes with others in your same job.  Some companies really force employees to leave to get a raise, and then come back for another raise.   This industry jumping promotional strategy is very common and could work.

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.
"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.
Dividend investing is right up there for sure. You don’t have to charge $48. You can charge <$10 to boost sales. The internet has enabled so many creatives to publish their works at a low cost. People will surprise themselves if they try to create like when they were in school. The other reason why I have Creating Products edging out dividends is because of the much higher POTENTIAL to make a lot more money. For example, $20,000 a year in book sales requires $570,000 in dividend investments to replicate the same amount. Plus, there is capital risk. With book sales, there is a correlation with EFFORT, and you are not beholden to the whims of the markets.

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!
One of the easiest ways to get exposure to dividend stocks is to buy ETFs like DVY, VYM, and NOBL or index funds. You can also pay an algorithmic advisor like Wealthfront to automatically invest your money for you at a low fee. In the long run, it is very hard to outperform any index, therefore, the key is to pay the lowest fees possible while being invested in the market. Wealthfront charges $0 in fees for the first $15,000 and only 0.25% for any money over $10,000. Invest your idle money cheaply, instead of letting it lose purchasing power due to inflation. The key is to invest regularly.
I actually spent a year and a half working as an affiliate marketer (mostly selling drumming related products – lessons, kits ect). 5 years on and one of my one page sites (which I’ve not touched) still nets me about $150 a month. I won’t be retiring off that but only really now appreciate the reverse pyramid approach to entrepreneurship (working for nothing initially but later being paid without effort!)
I’m hoping to have about 10g saved by this time next year, which I know is nothing huge but seeing as I’m at 2.5g right now and owned 3 dollars to my name on Aug.9 I’m pretty happy with my progress :). But at my age, without a stable career, while working part time and having to go to school full time, what is a realistic path I could pursue to create passive income online, or even income that requires effort such as writing, but one that is more flexible than working in a stationary low-paid position for 10 dollars an hour? I need to work for now to show taxable income for the government to get my residency, but after that I know my time could be better served than earning 8 dollars an hour, I’m just not sure where to go from here. I considered flipping domain names, or penny stocks, or sports gambling, but again that’s not passive income and in reality they are more or less just forms of me gambling.

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.
If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself no longer able to physically work in your chosen position, developing a skill set that will allow for a complete career change is a must. The passive income route as a second career is a great backup allowing you to hire out what you can’t physically do. Early on in my career I found I was unable to physically tolerate exposure to tobacco smoke. At that time, smoking was allowed in all offices, restaurants, etc. I was blindsided; who ever thought? It virtually removed me from most positions I had schooling for. As luck would have it, I had purchased a duplex while working and saved a small sum. When I had to leave my career, I made a down payment on another duplex doing any maintenance I could myself. If a physical setback of another sort should happen, I can hire.

Coaching – I’ve been coaching ever since I was in college and I love it. And since I coach a club team, the time commitment averages only about 10 hours a week. The money isn’t great if you depend on it for living but it’s the perfect secondary source of income since it’s very easy for me to get hired as a coach(and it’s tax free through business deductions).
Nobody gets early FI investing in bonds, CD’s, or even stocks unless they make a huge income or are extremely frugal or a combination of both. Paper assets just don’t provide enough returns. Business income can be great but it is typically not as semi-passive as I would like and there is a relatively high failure rate. That is if you can monetize an ideal to begin with. RE investing needs to be higher ranked IMO as a way that the “average guy” can become FI.

With the way the economy is going Multiple streams of income is the way to go if you know what your doing. I luved your insight and your so right there are so many ways. The best way that i know of is to brand oneself cause people dont join business they join YOU. Like , trust is key ingredient along with building your list after all the money is in the list or should i say the people in the list. The best part with the system im presently using is i still get paid with affiliate even if they don’t join my primary biz…

What I’m doing: My realistic goal is to have a blended annual return of 2x the risk free rate. With a current 5% hurdle, I am not paying down mortgages that cost less than 4%. Debt at 5% is a wash. My realistic blue sky scenario is a 3-4X rate of return over the risk free rate which can be achieved with property, stocks so far for the past five years, and certain private equity investments. Where I am dragging is my blended average CD interest rate of roughly 3% from an old CD coming due. I’ve rolled some money into a 12-month CD with CIT Bank at 2.5%. It’s the best rate I can find. 


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