What if there was a way for you to effectively make money while you sleep? Sounds like a dream come true, right? Even for the biggest workaholics, there are only so many hours in a day. If only you could get paid multiple times for something you did once—that’s exactly how passive income works! Thanks to technology, the potential to create multiple income streams is even easier than ever before. We’re no longer held back by the limitations of a traditional 9-to-5 job, and financial freedom is at our fingertips. Even if you already work a full-time job you can still improve your financial health with passive income.
With sites like Wrapify and StickerRide, you can earn hundreds of dollars each month by simply driving around town. You’ll need to place an advertisement on your car and drive a certain number of miles every month. If you’re already on the road for work, travel, or school, advertising allows you to make extra cash without any extra time commitment.
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. Physical 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.
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. 

Maybe such a business is owning a McDonald’s franchise or something. If one has the capital (Feasibility Score 2), then the returns might be good (Return Score 6). But the Risk Score is probably under a 5, b/c how many times have we seen franchise chains come and go? Like, what happened to Quiznos and Jamba Juice? A McDonald’s franchise was $500,000… probably much more now?
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 truly believe generating $10,000 a year online can be done by anybody who is willing to dedicate at least two years to their online endeavors. Here is a snapshot of what a real blogger makes through his website and because of his website. Roughly $150,000 a year is semi-passive income followed by another $186,000 a year in active income found through his site. Check out my guide on how to start your own blog here.
Sam…just read this article and I want to say that this is the best posting on passive income I have ever read…in a blog, article, or book. Thanks for making a difference and being an inspiration as to how it can all be accomplished. One of the great benefits of the internet is that people are willing to share their stories and experiences with each other online. If we had this when I was working professionally (20-40 years ago), it would have saved me from making some rather poor financial decisions that affected my retirement income. In a way, the internet is making up for the loss of financial security in the loss of The Defined Benefit Plan for retirement. Bravo!
Which all goes back to my point – since companies change in a lot of unpredictable ways, it makes more sense for passive income to just ride the market by investing in a Total Domestic Stock Market, Total Bond Market, and Total International index funds, with allocations that depend on your goals and time horizon. For income, withdraw 4% or less, depending on what research you believe, and you’ve got a pretty low risk strategy.
Hi Sam! I loved your sentence, “There’s so much information in my head that I need to write it down or else I might explode.” That’s exactly how I feel! I never thought of myself as a writer, and especially not a blogger, but recently I’ve started dabbling in it and it feels so nice to get everything out! I’m dedicated to helping others succeed with personal finances, and there are plenty of “how-to” sites, but it’s important to get people thinking and motivated to prepare, plan, and save!

My dividend portfolio on Motif Investing holds three exchange-traded funds and 10 individual stocks. Just one of the stocks (Ford Motor) has a negative return and the entire fund is up 34% over the past year. Dividend stocks are by far the most passive income investment you can make if you invest in large companies that have stood the test of time.

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?

When you write a blog post on your website, that article immediately goes out to your followers. But the content also remains on the website for others to find via search engines or social media. Each time somebody reads your content, there’s the potential to serve them an ad, product for purchase, or affiliate link (many links in this post are affiliate links). Each set of eyeballs that read your content carry the potential for passive income.
* Freelance writing: Quality freelance writing takes tremendous effort. Ironically, the better the quality of your writing, the more you don’t want to freelance and just keep the articles for your own site. Freelancing is a great way to earn side income, however, it’s not really for me. I’ll probably take on one or two freelance jobs maximum per year and write no more than four articles a month elsewhere.

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.
I think the holy grail of financial freedom is having so many passive income. This way you will never worry about your financial needs because everything is taken care of your assets. You will have all the your time in the world and visit all places you dream about. You have your time and money. This is the dream of most people which only few ever achieved.
We’ve discussed how to get started building passive income for financial freedom in a previous post. Now I’d like to rank the various passive income streams based on risk, return, and feasibility. The rankings are somewhat subjective, but they are born from my own real life experiences attempting to generate multiple types of passive income sources over the past 16 years.

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?


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.
In order to generate $10,000 in Net Operating Profit After Tax (NOPAT) through a rental property, you must own a $50,000 property with an unheard of 20% net rental yield, a $100,000 property with a rare 10% net rental yield, or a more realistic $200,000 property with a 5% net rental yield. When I say net rental yield, I’m talking about rental income minus all expenses, including a mortgage, operating expenses, insurance, and property taxes.
Finally, we will be investing in stocks for dividend income. Dividend income is the distribution of earnings from companies’ stock that is paid out quarterly and sometimes monthly. We will be investing in around 10-15 stocks that have a high dividend yield. For more information on what stocks we are picking and how dividend income works, check out this (link).
It’s easy to think as passive income as money earned while sitting on a beach sipping mojitos, but there is lots of work involved, says financial coach and retired hedge fund manager Todd Tresidder. If you’re worried about being able to save enough of your earnings to meet your retirement goals, building wealth through passive income is a strategy that might appeal to you.

I prefer assets that make me a high return for the lowest amount of work possible (semi-passive involvement). And assets that pay me in several unique ways. Cash flow is only one way RE makes money for me. I also get principal reductions, appreciation, tax advantages (depreciation), and I control the rental increases on a yearly basis. Plus a majority of the capital is provided by the secondary market on 30 year fixed low interest rate debt.


Within six months of selling, however, I had reinvested the proceeds from the home sale and brought total passive income for 2018 back up to an estimated $203,724. I'm not sure I would have sold the house without a clear plan for reinvesting the proceeds, since I'm bullish on the SF housing market long term. However, because I did have a plan, and the challenges of raising a newborn and dealing with rowdy tenants left me feeling a bit stretched, I decided to simplify and sell.
While some have degraded the meaning of passive income with cheesy ,get-rich-quick type schemes, it doesn’t mean getting something for nothing. Whether it is investing hard earned capital, sweat, time, or providing a service such as housing, there is a lot given to create passive income. Each party provides something of high value, even if the end product means simply buying income property.
Active income, on the other hand, involves earning money in exchange for a service. It could be a salary, an hourly wage, commissions, or tips. It’s essentially a trade of your time for a fixed dollar amount. Most people choose to live this way, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, as long as you understand that there will be a limit to how much money you can realistically earn.
We pitched to an angel investor group. They were very excited about the idea but wanted to know who amongst us (doctor, accountant, salesman) was doing the coding. When they heard we were outsourcing it, the wind went out of their sails immediately. They did want to meet with us again once we brought a coder on board but that person proved elusive to find. Coders in our area are looking for the steady paycheck, not willing to gamble on a startup.

If you need cash flow, and the dividend doesn’t meet your needs, sell a little appreciated stock. (or keep a CD ladder rolling and leave your stock alone). At the risk of repeating myself, whether you take cash out of your portfolio in the form of “rent”, dividend, interest, cap gain, laddered CD…., etc. The arithmetic doesn’t change. You are still taking cash out of your portfolio. I’m just pointing out that we shouldn’t let the tail wag the dog. IOW, the primary goal is to grow the long term value of your portfolio, after tax. Period. All other goals are secondary.
To create residual income, you need to create something that people will continue to buy on a regular basis long after you’ve created it. A house is a prime example of this as people will continue to pay rent for the right to live in the house. A business needs to have products that are sold over and over again rather than trading the business owner’s time for money.
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