Real Estate: I currently own one rental property in San Francisco which I bought in 2003 (2/2 condo), one vacation rental in Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe (2/2 condo), and my primary residence. Real estate is my favorite asset class to build wealth because it is easy to understand, tangible, provides utility, and rides the way of inflation. I recommend individuals try and get neutral inflation by buying their primary residence as young as possible. The power of inflation is just too hard to counteract.
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.

Hey Mike! Love this article. Recently, I paid off my student loans and am crazy focused on creating multiple passive income streams. Currently, all my passive income comes from real estate and because of your great articles on the subject I called to check out refinance options! I had no clue about CD laddering, dividend investing or P2P lending until two weeks ago when I started doing my research on where to put my hard earned money. I had been just saving it but when I looked at the terrible 0.01% return I said forget it! 2 % for me is a great way to start. It is better than what I have been getting outside of my real estate. Also, creating products is a must! I’m working on this type of royalty too. I find it so exciting to learn how to use your money to make money. Thanks and I will be sure to link to you when I start my blog!
Anthony, nice setup! To your question about the rental mortgages, you haven’t said what interest rate you are paying. As a start, if you are paying more than the risk free rate (Treasury bills) which you probably are, then a true apples to apples comparison would be yes, pay off the mortgage. But, if you are comfortable taking more risk, you have other options to invest in which you *hope* will yield you more over the coming years. You also didn’t say whether the rentals generate net income and if so, how much? What is the implied rate of return on the equity you have invested in them? If you pay the mortgages off, you’ll have even more equity tied up, will the extra net income make that worthwhile? Maybe you should use the money to buy more rentals instead, if purchase opportunities still exist in your town. … this is less of an answer than a framework to analyze the decision, hope it is helpful.
Investing in bonds: Similarly, bonds are an attractive way to engage in passive income. Over a recent 45-year period, bonds funds, as measured by Vanguard Funds, returned 7.1%. Of course, there's no guarantee that investments in stocks or bonds will always work out well, investing in them is by far the surest way to generate money through passive income.
The Mughal Empire had a thriving industrial manufacturing economy, with India producing about 25% of the world's industrial output up until 1750,[78] making it the most important manufacturing center in international trade.[79] Manufactured goods and cash crops from the Mughal Empire were sold throughout the world. Key industries included textiles, shipbuilding, and steel, and processed exports included cotton textiles, yarns, thread, silk, jute products, metalware, and foods such as sugar, oils and butter.[71] Cities and towns boomed under the Mughal Empire, which had a relatively high degree of urbanization for its time, with 15% of its population living in urban centres, higher than the percentage of the urban population in contemporary Europe at the time and higher than that of British India in the 19th century.[80]
I also like the distinctions you make about the illusion of influence. I have control over most of my investments (real estate related) and have 10% in passive index funds. But I think as I continue to diversify, I like putting it into the two buckets of (1) I control (2) no control (stock market). I like that clarity. The illusion of control does add stress and hassle that detract from enjoying your life. Not worth extra returns to me.

Portfolio income can come from multiple sources – interest/bond coupons, stock dividends, financial strategies including derivatives and capital growth.  Each offers some cash flow and some also offer potential capital gain with some risk from liquidity and volatile prices.  In this low-yield environment, many investors rely too heavily on cash flows and to pursue this are venturing further into riskier areas than they’d normally consider.
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