The U.S. Internal Revenue Service categorizes income into three broad types, active income, passive income, and portfolio income.[1] It defines passive income as only coming from two sources: rental activity or "trade or business activities in which you do not materially participate."[2][3] Other financial and government institutions also recognize it as an income obtained as a result of capital growth or in relation to negative gearing. Passive income is usually taxable.


BankRate.com suggests that individuals need at least $250,000 in retirement savings in order to receive just $1,000 a month in passive income. Clearly, some will struggle to save that much, and few will be able to live on such little income – especially when you take inflation and currency devaluation into consideration. This calculation is based on a 5% withdrawal rate, which is also a similar rate of return mortgage lenders will use in crediting investment income when applying for a loan. While this might sound low to some, it may be incredibly generous given how much many have actually lost on other investments. The fact remains, passive income investments don’t require as much money as many think.
BankRate.com suggests that individuals need at least $250,000 in retirement savings in order to receive just $1,000 a month in passive income. Clearly, some will struggle to save that much, and few will be able to live on such little income – especially when you take inflation and currency devaluation into consideration. This calculation is based on a 5% withdrawal rate, which is also a similar rate of return mortgage lenders will use in crediting investment income when applying for a loan. While this might sound low to some, it may be incredibly generous given how much many have actually lost on other investments. The fact remains, passive income investments don’t require as much money as many think.
However, residual income typically has an expiration date, especially if it is being earned through a business. Effort must be continuously put into the business in order for someone to continue to receive residual income. Businesses must continue to market themselves in order to remain relevant. The best way to look at residual income in this sense is that it is a part-time job that earns full-time income.
Rates / Annual Percentage Yield terms above are current as of the date indicated. These quotes are from banks, credit unions and thrifts, some of which have paid for a link to their website. Bank, thrift and credit unions are member FDIC or NCUA. Contact the bank for the terms and conditions that may apply to you. Rates are subject to change without notice and may not be the same at all branches.
What I find most interesting is the fact that I had never considered options like LendingTree or realityshares for other income sources. Investing in property has been too much of bad luck for people that I know personally, so I am interesting in getting involved in a situation where I would have to be dealing with maintenance issues or tenants. There are services for you to do that, but I had not come across any that didn’t eat most if not all of the earnings. Then again, I live in the NY area. Investing in the midwest would not be reasonably possible for me, directly, but reading about realityshares is something I am going to look into further. That might be a real possibility.
However, this comes back to the old discussion of pain versus pleasure. We will always do more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure. When our backs are against the wall, we act. When they're not, we relax. The truth is that the pain-versus-pleasure paradigm only operates in the short term. We'll only avoid pain in the here and now. Often not in the long term.
2. Real Estate: Real estate is #2 for one simple reason, leverage – using smart debt and other people’s money. When looking at real estate rents and the potential for income real estate provides, it is the trifecta of residual income. First, a home or rental property can appreciate, so capital appreciation is the first long-term benefit of owning a home. Second, rent. Other people are paying the mortgage, insurance, property taxes and maintenance while you own that piece of real estate. Third, tax protection. Rental income is taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income and you can depreciate real estate by taking a paper deduction on your annual tax return not to mention expensing the cost of mileage, mortgage interest, and updates to the property. Rentals done right can generate almost double what the stock market can in dividends and interest. The fourth and maybe most hidden, but important benefit is that over time rent’s rise, protecting your cash-flow against inflation, while your mortgage interest can be at a fixed rate potentially.
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.
And while real estate is an excellent option, it does require a significant initial investment, so whether or not this passive income stream is right for you depends on your current financial situation. You might be better off starting with an investment strategy where you can build funds until you have a big enough sum to get involved in real estate.
What I’m doing: I use this site to write out goals like 1) Generating $200,000 a year working 4 hours a day or less, 2) Trying to make winning investments, and 3) Keeping track of my passive income streams with free financial tools. My site and the community helps keep me accountable for progress. It’s important I do what I say, otherwise, what the hell is the point? You should consider starting a site or at least a private journal. Write out your specific goals, tell several close friends and stick to the plan.
The much loved model for bloggers and content creators everywhere and for a good reason…it’s pretty easy to write a 60-80 page ebook, not hard to sell say $500 worth a month through online networking, guest posting and your own SEO optimized blog, and well you get to keep a large whack of the pie after paying affiliates.  Hells yeah!  Continue reading >
Individual customers and businesses can purchase your stock images for their websites and marketing materials. Simple stock photos, like businessmen shaking hands or a woman riding in a car, are sought after by many companies. To be most successful, you’ll want to upload photos monthly to consistently grow your portfolio. You’ll generate a commission each time one of your photos is downloaded.
The reason I consider dividends artificial and believe they don’t matter is because you can just as easily reinvest your dividends. If a stock is worth $100/share, I don’t care if it issues a $1/share dividend or if the share price instead increases to $101/share – either way, I have the same amount of money, because there’s no difference to my net worth whether I take the dividend or sell part of a stock.
To explain the concept of what is residual income, we look to a recording artist Joseph Cartagena, aka Fat Joe, to define this principles of wealth creation. You may have had dreams of becoming an entertainer or rock star as a child in hopes of creating residual income before you even heard of the term itself. However, as Fat Joe explains, there is another way to create true residual income. This one and a half minute video will reveal a powerful example of what residual income really is.
“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.”
4. Affiliate marketing: Getting paid to tell people what you like and showing them where to get it. As a Dad, I tried 3 high chairs before finding the “Bumbo.” Now if I blog about the Bumbo and link to it to my Amazon account, and someone buys it, I can earn a commission. This is also a great way to build money over time, but it requires new content, staying top of mind and driving lots of traffic.
Build an investment portfolio that pays out dividends (Stocks / Bonds / Mutual Funds). Dividends are payouts that companies give to their investors as a portion of their earnings. They’re often paid out quarterly. If you’ve already got an investment portfolio, it’s time to take a good look at which stocks, bonds, or mutual funds you own. You’ll see consistent returns from the ones that pay dividends. This is a fantastic way to earn passive income. Invest once and watch the returns pile up.
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.
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.

Fundrise – With a minimum investment of just $500, investors of all types can make crowd-funded real estate investments through Fundrise. This means you get the benefits of being a landlord without actually having to deal with owning or managing the properties yourself. Even though we own 2 rental properties, we recently began investing in Fundrise ourselves. We love it because there is no “accredited investor” requirement, making it far more accessible for the average person than the other two options below. Follow the link above to learn more, or read our full review here.

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