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You might not think of paying down debt as an income-generating activity, but it kind of is. Think of it this way: If you owe $10,000 and are paying 20% interest on it, that's $2,000 in interest payments annually. Ouch. Pay off that $10,000, though, and you'll be keeping that $2,000 in your pocket. It's very much like earning a guaranteed 20% return on the debt that you retire, and 20% annual returns are way more than you can expect from the stock market or elsewhere. Note that some credit cards may be charging you 25% or even 30% interest, so paying such debt off as soon as possible is a no-brainer financial goal.
However, I think for those who are willing to do what it takes, the sky is the absolute limit. As an example, I’m trying to take a page out of FinancialSamauri’s book and create an online personal finance and investing blog. It is an enormous undertaking, and as a new blogger, there is a seemingly endless amount of work to be done. That said, I hope that one day I can not only generate some passive income from the hours of work I have put and will put into the project, but I hope to be able to help OTHERS reach their financial goals.
I've now only got an SF rental condo and a Lake Tahoe vacation rental in my real-estate-rental portfolio. Although I miss my old house, I certainly don't miss paying $23,000 a year in property taxes and another mortgage, and dealing with leaks and managing terrible tenants. I drove by the other day and couldn't believe how much noisier and busier the street was than where I currently live. I wouldn't be comfortable raising my son there.
I get excited every paycheck because I know my investments are going to increase by a decent chunk. I use Mint to keep a close eye on what the current value is at and make goal marks to hit. Every time I hit a goal, I do a little happy dance and decide what I want my next marker to be and when I want to hit it by. I’m nowhere close to being financially independent or even debt free, but it’s exciting to see the ground work being laid and watching it grow.