Hi, it’s probably been brought up before, but the statement “you can’t touch pre-tax retirement accounts without a penalty until 59.5” is incorrect. You can touch the traditional 401k accounts with a SEPP (substantially equal payment plan), and not pay the 10 percent penalty. You can also touch a Roth without the 10 penalty using the same strategy, although I understand you will pay taxes so you lose the Roth’s advantage. When I found this out, I stopped contributing to Roths because I wanted to retire early. Who knows if they will even live to age 59.5? So many people don’t!


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!
Those who choose to focus on passive income will need either family money, funds from investors, or the nerve to borrow large sums by taking on debt to fund the purchase of assets. Consider someone who takes out substantial bank loans to build an apartment building or buy rental houses. Although this can turn a very small amount of equity into a large cash flow stream, it is not without risk. When using borrowed money, the margin of safety is much smaller because you can’t absorb the same degree of setback before defaulting and finding your balance sheet obliterated.
Further, the clarified order awarded Karen sixty percent of the residual income that was earned from the income and commissions generated by the brokers within the first category, and after the date of divorce. However, the order also stated that Karen was not entitled to any of the residual income generated by the second or third category. Brad filed for a new trial, but the trial court denied it. He appealed, and the appeals court ultimately affirmed the trial court’s clarified order.
As an struggling young Engineer (back in the Carter era) I bought anything I could renovate then rent to justify paying the 18% interest. I never took vacations but worked on my properties all in the pursuit of passive income. I drove junk for many years & many months I just got by on credit cards. My friends & colleagues were amused by my ‘stupidity’ but most are still working to make enough for retirement.

Passive income is earnings derived from a rental property, limited partnership or other enterprise in which a person is not actively involved. As with active income, passive income is usually taxable. However, it is often treated differently by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Portfolio income is considered passive income by some analysts, so dividends and interest would therefore be considered passive.
Many individuals may be seriously overestimating how much money they need to start investing in passive income properties. It is true that it may require millions for some to retire. However, as Harvard Business has recently reported; if investors focus more acutely on income versus nest egg size, they may achieve more with less. This is specifically true for those that intelligently use leverage. In real estate, for example, you can quickly scale to controlling millions of dollars in property, and their cash flows.
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!
2. Treat Passive Income like a game, cheating is using your spouses income in this game. I understand some of the premise behind this, but I’m married, my wife has an income and we have a rental house that we consider ours. I’m not sure how I would count this since we also use another part of our own home(also rental income) to pay down the Rental house.
Whether you know how to flawlessly apply eye makeup or build a wooden shelving unit, you can create an online course or video for others to follow. Websites like Udemy and Teachable allow you to build a course, such as how to learn a new language or write a cover letter. Once you build your course and set the price, there’s little work to be done. You’ll receive residual income from each person who signs up to take your course.
It’s obvious that stocks outperform real estate in terms of capital gains, but I would like to see S&P compare to Real Estate in SF, Manhattan, LA. Our house in NC was $80,000 20 years ago. It’s only $150,000 now. Same house in Santa Monica went from $200,000 to $1.8 million. People who happen to bought real estate in major metropolitan would have a natural positive association with real estate investment.
The reading is organized as follows: Section 2 develops the concept of residual income, introduces the use of residual income in valuation, and briefly presents alternative measures used in practice. Section 3 presents the residual income model and illustrates its use in valuing common stock. This section also shows practical applications, including the single-stage (constant-growth) residual income model and a multistage residual income model. Section 4 describes the relative strengths and weaknesses of residual income valuation compared to other valuation methods. Section 5 addresses accounting issues in the use of residual income valuation. The final section summarizes the reading and practice problems conclude.
Accretion/dilution analysis Adjusted present value Associate company Business valuation Conglomerate discount Cost of capital Weighted average Discounted cash flow Economic value added Enterprise value Fairness opinion Financial modeling Free cash flow Free cash flow to equity Market value added Minority interest Modigliani–Miller theorem Net present value Pure play Real options Residual income Stock valuation Sum-of-the-parts analysis Tax shield Terminal value Valuation using multiples
Those who choose to focus on passive income will need either family money, funds from investors, or the nerve to borrow large sums by taking on debt to fund the purchase of assets. Consider someone who takes out substantial bank loans to build an apartment building or buy rental houses. Although this can turn a very small amount of equity into a large cash flow stream, it is not without risk. When using borrowed money, the margin of safety is much smaller because you can’t absorb the same degree of setback before defaulting and finding your balance sheet obliterated.
I live in NYC where I never thought buying rental property would be possible, but am looking into buying rental property in the Midwest where it cash flows and have someone manage it for me (turnkey real estate investing I guess some would call it). I agree with what Mike said about leverage and tax advantages, but I’m still a newbie to real estate investing so I can’t so how it will go. I have a very small amount in P2P…I’m at around 6.3% It’s okay but I don’t know how liquid it is and it still is relatively new…I’d prefer investing in the stock market.
Rentals, just like stocks, throw off cash. With rentals we call that cash “rent”, and with stocks we call it dividends. A significant difference however is that the S&P 500 has appreciated at ~6% per year (above inflation) for the last 100 years…..Real Estate has had almost 0 growth above inflation. So are rents higher than dividends? Maybe, maybe not. But unless you got one heck of a deal, the delta in rent over dividends will have a very tough time making up for the 6% per year difference in appreciation.
I don’t really know much about those…I should take a look from a diversification standpoint. If you don’t mind me asking, what do you target for your net effective tax rate on your passive income? Also, I’m sure you’ve probably covered this somewhere, but how do you deal with healthcare? One more dumb question…have you found that you spend more or less money than you anticipated once you retired?
We can forecast per-share residual income as forecasted earnings per share minus the required rate of return on equity multiplied by beginning book value per share. Alternatively, per-share residual income can be forecasted as beginning book value per share multiplied by the difference between forecasted ROE and the required rate of return on equity.

I bought a house. I chased my dreams and moved to a big city on the other side of the world where I rent. I am living my dream in what I could never describe as work—it’s a hobby— and am now mortgage free and the rental income from that property pays off my rent here. When you truly love what you do it’s not even work, you don’t even want to retire, you have more money to do more interesting projects. I will be using my equity to buy a house in central London in the next 18 months and will keep buying as much property as I can. I couldn’t give a $ht about stocks and shares. I have collegues, friends and family who have lost everything in stocks after being quite wealthy. The ones who succeed, so what if you have 50 million instead of 20? who cares? It’s just a trophy. I save but I spend a lot on things I like. I like nice cars, nice furniture, clothes etc. I really love nice experiences and I love sharing nice experiences with my loved ones. Screw being frugal. What I love most is being able to freely give and provide for family and friends and charities too. Being able to give is a great gift and I’ve watched instant karma happen in my life so many times. It’s truly like magic. The more you give the more you get. Everything we have is on lease from the universe! Life is truly amazing when you immerse yourself fully in your dreams, because—and it sounds cheesy—but DREAMS COME TRUE so you better make them bloody big ones!

The clarified order then divided Brad’s commissions into three separate categories. The first category represented the specific members and brokers that made up Brad and Karen’s downline as of their date of divorce. The second represented those new members and brokers that Brad had earned on his own after the date of divorce. The third consisted of new members and brokers that were earned by the brokers within the first category after the date of divorce.

There are three main categories of income: active income, passive income and portfolio income. Passive income has been a relatively loosely used term in recent years. Colloquially, it’s been used to define money being earned regularly with little or no effort on the part of the person receiving it. Popular types of passive income include real estate, peer-to-peer (P2P) lending and dividend stocks. Proponents of earning passive income tend to be boosters of a work-from-home and be-your-own-boss professional lifestyle. The type of earnings people usually associate with this are gains on stocks, interest, retirement pay, lottery winnings, online work and capital gains. 
Residual income can have two different definitions or applications. The first definition, a less common application of residual income, is the money that is left after monthly debts are paid. This calculation is particularly important when a person is seeking financing or a loan based on their income and available money to cover the additional debt. In this scenario, the residual income is calculated by this formula:

I do remember you mentioning that & how it was your ticket to exit softly and give you time to build the passive income side. Most likely when I do exit it will either be through a sale of the business which would come along with a employment contract or if a worthy successor(s) can take it over, then the business is just another annuity throwing off income. Anyway, I’d enjoy writing a guest article after I survive the next few weeks of work and weddings.

4. Calculate how much passive income you need. It's important to have a passive-income goal — otherwise, it's very easy to lose motivation. A good goal is to try to generate enough passive income to cover basic living expenses such as food, shelter, transportation, and clothing. If your annual expense number is $30,000, divide that figure by your expected rate of return to see how much capital you need to save. Unfortunately, you've got to then multiply the capital amount by 1.25 to 1.5 to account for taxes.
Working as a nurse or a computer engineer for a salary are two examples of active income. In contrast, residual income is income from an investment that earns over the minimum rate of return. You get paid for work you completed once or are periodically overseeing. With residual income, you don’t have to be present or intricately involved to get paid.
I have a total of three CDs left. There is no way in hell I’m selling them after holding them for 4+ years so far to take the penalty. The CDs are for 7 years. That would be completely counterproductive. As a result, I feel very stuck with ever getting my CD money back if I wanted to. If the CDs were for just 1 or 2 years, I agree, it doesn’t matter as much. But combine a 7 year term with 4%+ interest is too painful to give up.
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.
In an article in The Regional Economist, Research Officer and Economist George-Levi Gayle and former Technical Research Associate Andrés Hincapié examined which is more effective for promoting economic mobility: policies that help the poor escape poverty or that limit the advantages of the privileged. They noted that the intergenerational persistence of income and wealth may help shed light on the answer.
Thanks for asking. https://passiveincomemd.com/what-is-passive-income/ gives a good summary of the definition I use. But in brief, it’s income that isn’t proportional to the time you physically put into acquiring it. It doesn’t mean it’s not without work or effort. It’s just that most of the work is done up front and it continues to pay off long after that initial effort. Real estate fits into that box. There’s definitely a spectrum but compared to what we do as doctors, where our compensation is directly linked to our time, most of these things are quite passive.

Another way to generate passive income is to invest and be a silent partner in a business. This is very risky, but with risk comes the potential for high returns. For example, several years ago both Lyft and Uber were looking for private investors to invest in their companies. Today, they are worth billions - but you as an investor would only reap that benefit if they go public via an IPO, or get acquired. So, it's risky.


Great breakout of some common items that are (mostly) accessible to individuals. My biggest issue with p2p is the ordinary interest it generates and the ordinary tax that we have to pay. That really takes a bite out of the returns. Fortunately, I opened an IRA with one of the providers to juice the return with zero additional risk. 6-8% nominal returns over a long period of time will make me very happy. It should end up as 5-7% of the portfolio anyway, so nothing too significant.
Well written piece, but I question the core premise. Why the fascination with maximizing “income” (passive or otherwise). Shouldn’t the goal simply be to maximize long-term after tax growth of your entire portfolio? If this takes the form of dividend paying stocks, so be it. But what if small caps are poised to outperform? What if you want to take Buffet’s or Bogle’s advice and just buy a broad market index like the S&P 500, (no matter what the dividend because you’ll just have it automatically reinvested to avoid the transaction fees).

Let’s use Jim from our personal finance example. Jim’s furniture manufacturer builds tables and has several large pieces of equipment in the sawmill used to re-saw logs and boards down to the finished dimensions. The sawmill has net operating revenues of $100,000 for year. The saws in the mill cost Jim a total of $500,000 and he is currently earning a return of 10% in his wholesale table business. Thus, he sets a minimum required return of 10 percent.
When you create residual income, you are taking a step towards making extra money in a manner that does not require constant effort. The stream of income is actually generated from something specific; a specific effort that you put forth to create the stream of income opportunity in the first place. Residual income is not always a passive manner of making money.
Working as a nurse or a computer engineer for a salary are two examples of active income. In contrast, residual income is income from an investment that earns over the minimum rate of return. You get paid for work you completed once or are periodically overseeing. With residual income, you don’t have to be present or intricately involved to get paid.
When I purchase an existing online business, I look for cash flow over the past year and where the money comes from. I want the sources to be more passive so that it does not take a lot of my time. Also, typically I will make an offer that is 18 – 24 months of profit so that I know that I will get my money back within the next two years. I hope that helps!
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.
My returns are based on full cash purchase of the properties, as it is hard to compare the attractiveness of properties at different price ranges when only calculating down payment or properties that need very little rehab/updates. I did think about the scores assigned to each factor, but I believe tax deductions are a SIGNIFICANT factor when comparing passive income steams.
If you can max out your 401k or max out your IRA and then save an additional 20%+ of your after-tax, after-retirement contribution, good things really start to happen. If one is looking for earlier financial independence, such as retiring in their 40s or early 50s, it may be a good idea to skew towards more after-tax savings and investments given one has to wait until 59.5 to withdraw from their 401k or IRA penalty-free.
This was a very inspirational article! I too spent 20+ years in a high-stress career selling a high-end product under a 100 percent commission plan; that is, no salary! I realized, after racking up millions of frequent flyer miles, that there had to be a better and less-stressful way of making a living. My goal was to design my own lifestyle free of corporate shackles, which required a pre-determined amount of passive income.
Betterment – Betterment was the first robo-advisor to launch, almost ten years ago. They’ve automated the entire investing process, so all you have to do is watch your portfolio of assets grow (over the long run, of course). They do charge a .25% annual fee of your account total, so if you’ve got $100,000 that’s being managed by Betterment, you’ll pay just over $20 per month.
When money is lent to a partnership or S-corporation acting as a pass-through entity (essentially a business that is designed to reduce the effects of double taxation) by that entity’s owner, the interest income on that loan to the portfolio income can qualify as passive income. As the IRS language reads: "Certain self-charged interest income or deductions may be treated as passive activity gross income or passive activity deductions if the loan proceeds are used in a passive activity."

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If you can max out your 401k or max out your IRA and then save an additional 20%+ of your after-tax, after-retirement contribution, good things really start to happen. If one is looking for earlier financial independence, such as retiring in their 40s or early 50s, it may be a good idea to skew towards more after-tax savings and investments given one has to wait until 59.5 to withdraw from their 401k or IRA penalty-free.
Further, the clarified order awarded Karen sixty percent of the residual income that was earned from the income and commissions generated by the brokers within the first category, and after the date of divorce. However, the order also stated that Karen was not entitled to any of the residual income generated by the second or third category. Brad filed for a new trial, but the trial court denied it. He appealed, and the appeals court ultimately affirmed the trial court’s clarified order.
I don’t really know much about those…I should take a look from a diversification standpoint. If you don’t mind me asking, what do you target for your net effective tax rate on your passive income? Also, I’m sure you’ve probably covered this somewhere, but how do you deal with healthcare? One more dumb question…have you found that you spend more or less money than you anticipated once you retired?
One of the things I'm surprised your article doesn't mention is the tax advantages of this type of investment. The depreciation and rehab costs (purchasing distressed properties) can be huge deductions to ones income taxes, which none of the others have. Then, along with the appreciation of real estate, this passive income investment outperforms the notion of maxing out my 401k as well.
Acorns: Acorns is a great way to start investing and building wealth. As it turns out, Acorns will pay you $5 to start investing with them for as little as $1. That’s a 500% return, plus it’s probably time you started investing for your future. They even have features like round-up and found money that allows you to get free money from places you already shop at.
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