I enjoy how you lay out real numbers. A lot of people wouldn’t do that. While you admit that you are somewhat conservative, I think the $1M in CD’s is just too conservative. Assuming you don’t need the cash flow now (which you say you just save anyways) then all that could be invested for potentially higher returns. For example, what if you bought San Francisco real estate along the way instead of CD’s. Or, an SP500 Index fund. I bet your average return would have been higher than 3.75%. Sure you could lose it, but the point is if you don’t need the cash flow now, you should try to increase that nut as high as possible until the day you actually need it. Your nut could be $5M right now if you had invested in asset classes other than CD’s for the last 14 years. Don’t get me wrong, you have done far better than me, but I guess I would take a little more risk if you don’t rely on that cash flow.
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.
Millennium Development Goals Report 2007 . The report importantly notes that As high as this number seems, surveys show that it underestimates the actual number of children who, though enrolled, are not attending school. Moreover, neither enrolment nor attendance figures reflect children who do not attend school regularly. To make matters worse, official data are not usually available from countries in conflict or post-conflict situations. If data from these countries were reflected in global estimates, the enrolment picture would be even less optimistic.
2007 Human Development Report (HDR), United Nations Development Program, November 27, 2007, p.25. (The report also notes that although India is rising economically, the bad news is that this has not been translated into accelerated progress in cutting under-nutrition. One-half of all rural children [in India] are underweight for their age—roughly the same proportion as in 1992.)
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.
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.

Thanks for writing this Mr. Samurai. I just got over the student loan hump but I feel pretty good about it at 27 having a graduate degree and being 100% debt free. Now that I’m on the other side it is good for my brain to absorb some of your knowledge regarding passive income investments. I love gleaning wisdom from older folks who have been there and done that. Mentors rock!

That strategy seems waaaayyyy less risky than actively picking stocks of supposedly “reliable” stocks that issue dividends, which could be cut at any time due to shifting industry trends and company performance. Dividend investing feels like an overly complex old-school way of investing that doesn’t have a very strong intellectual basis compared to index investing.
I have two major dilemmas: (1) Should I wait to start investing (at least until the end of the year where I’ll hopefully have $5k+ in savings) in things like CDs? I ask because a little over $2k doesn’t seem significant enough yet to start putting my money to work (or maybe it is? that’s why I’m coming to you for your advice haha) and (2) I want to invest in things like P2P and stocks but I’m honestly a bit ignorant of how it trully works. I know the basics (high risk, returns can be volatile, returns are taxable). Do you have any advice on how I can best educate myself to start putting my savings to work?
I've got a $185,000 CD generating 3% interest coming due. Although the return is low, it's guaranteed. The CD gave me the confidence to invest more aggressively in risk over the years. My online interest income has come down since I aggressively deployed some capital at the beginning of the year and again during the February market correction. You'll see these figures in my quarterly investment-income update.
Thanks for the info…I kind of figured it is really not that expensive to live if you are not an extravagant person. I could definitely figure out how to funnel expenses through a part time business…I think I keep thinking along the lines that I’m going to be paying the same tax rate after retirement, but reality is you could get pretty lean and mean if one focused on it. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being utter panic mode, how worried are you about your “pile” lasting through a 50 year retirement now that you are a couple years into it?
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.
Now, all that said, if capital (savings) grows faster than the growth of the economy, those with savings will see their wealth grow at a faster rate than those who rely on the growth of their income. While this is not an extension of Piketty's argument (you can't take an idea that applies to a population and a whole economy and boil it down to the individual like this), it's not an unreasonable conclusion to take and apply to your own life. (Piketty does talk about this on an individual level, but says it's more impactful for billionaires vs. millionaires – though we have limited data into individuals)

Index funds provide you with a way to invest in the stock market that is completely passive. For example, if you invest money in an index fund that is based on the S&P 500 Index, you will be invested in the general market, without having to concern yourself with choosing investments, rebalancing your portfolio, or knowing when to sell or buy individual companies. All that will be handled by the fund which will base the fund portfolio on the makeup of the underlying index.
"That's certainly true for entrepreneurs, but even for people who work inside a company, cultivating a side income stream of some sort — whether it's having an Etsy store on the side, or doing a little bit of coaching or having a workshop now and then, whatever it is, doing a little bit of paid speaking — having that sideline gives you additional protection against uncertainty and also has a lot of other benefits.

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.
The source of pension payments is determined by the portion of the distribution that constitutes the compensation element (employer contributions) and the portion that constitutes the earnings element (the investment income). The compensation element is sourced the same as compensation from the performance of personal services. The portion attributable to services performed in the United States is U.S. source income, and the portion attributable to services performed outside the United States is foreign source income.
“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.”
"Full income" refers to the accumulation of both the monetary and the non-monetary consumption-ability of any given entity, such as a person or a household. According to what the economist Nicholas Barr describes as the "classical definition of income" (the 1938 Haig-Simons definition): "income may be defined as the... sum of (1) the market value of rights exercised in consumption and (2) the change in the value of the store of property rights..." Since the consumption potential of non-monetary goods, such as leisure, cannot be measured, monetary income may be thought of as a proxy for full income.[3] As such, however, it is criticized[by whom?] for being unreliable, i.e. failing to accurately reflect affluence (and thus the consumption opportunities) of any given agent. It omits the utility a person may derive from non-monetary income and, on a macroeconomic level, fails to accurately chart social welfare. According to Barr, "in practice money income as a proportion of total income varies widely and unsystematically. Non-observability of full-income prevent a complete characterization of the individual opportunity set, forcing us to use the unreliable yardstick of money income.
Do you know of a successful business that needs capital for expansion? If so, you can become something of a small-time angel investor and provide that needed capital. But rather than offering a loan to a business owner, you instead take an equity position in the business. In this way, the business owner will handle the day-to-day operations, while you will act as a silent partner who also participates in the profits of the business.
​Udemy is an online platform that lets its user take video courses on a wide array of subjects. Instead of being a consumer on Udemy you can instead be a producer, create your own video course, and allow users to purchase it. This is a fantastic option if you are highly knowledgeable in a specific subject matter. This can also be a great way to turn traditional tutoring into a passive income stream!
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.

My esteemed marketing colleagues initially balked at the idea of creating products that generate royalties, so I can understand how creating something from nothing might be daunting for those who aren’t even in creative roles. However, realize there is this enormous world out there of photographers, bloggers, artists, and podcasters who are making a passive income thanks to the Internet.
Chris, however, is exposed to a large risk. If the company has a bad year, are downsizing, or just want to replace Chris with a younger cheaper college hire, Chris can go from a comfortable bi-weekly paycheck to $0 in a few hours. The worst part is that most of the time, there’s nothing Chris could have done to avoid this risk. He was lulled into a false sense of security.

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!


Developing passive income is different. With the exception of one of my passive income streams (cryptocurrency mining), all of the others require real, hard work. Truly, I understand the barriers for people getting into building alternative income streams. I would say that most people WANT passive income, but truly aren’t willing to put in the blood, sweat, and tears to make it happen.
I am 30 years old and am retired. Previously, I made a modest salary as an Army officer. I own three duplexes and a quadplex in central Texas (10 rental units in all), and each of the properties provide me with net rental yields in excess of 15%. The last deal is actually an infinite return as my partner paid the down payment in return for a 50/50 split on a property that would otherwise provide a net rental yield of 18%. The above net rental yields also factor in an excellent property management team who manages my properties while I pursue other investment opportunities. To date, I have never interacted with any of my tenants nor have I ever had to personally deal with any maintenance issues.

In expensive cities like San Francisco and New York City, net rental yields can fall as low as 2%. This is a sign that there is a lot of liquidity buying property for property appreciation, and not so much for income generation. This is a riskier proposition than buying property based on rental income. In inexpensive cities, such as those in the Midwest, net rental yields can easily be in the range of 8% – 12%, although appreciation may be slower.


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.
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Maybe you’re obsessed with homemade jewelry and want to sell your wares on Etsy. Or, perhaps you’re well-versed on the Amazon reselling game and want to earn extra cash finding unicorns (rare and valuable products) and reselling them for profit. Maybe you’re obsessed with a specific topic and want to start a blog that can one day bring in advertorial and affiliate income.
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