Residual income is when you continue to get paid after the work is done. This includes royalties from books, movies, or songs and also income that comes from real estate or business investments where you don’t actually have to be present to earn it. For example, Bill Gates is still making a residual income from Microsoft even though he isn’t working there anymore.
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Question: You mention receiving $200k of passive income a year, but your chart shows half of that coming from real estate holdings, and reading between the lines it appears that you hold mortgages against those holdings. Then you conclude that $200k/yr of passive income should be enough to live comfortably anywhere in the world. So are you subtracting your real estate expenses (taxes, insurance, mortgage payments, maintenance, remote property management company fees, etc.) when you report your passive income from those properties? Really I think it’s the net (after taxes and everything) that tells us what is left over to “spend” on living, right? When I set up my spreadsheet to retire early at age 47, I calculated the after-tax income I would need to live. Then I compared that to my income streams (estimating tax on the taxable income streams) to measure the surplus/shortfall. Also some good advice from GoCurryCracker: If you can minimize your taxes so you’re in the 15% tax bracket, you can possibly receive tax-free long term capital gains. I agree with your philosophy that time is more important than money as we age. I am not sure I agree with a philosophy that is fixated on needing such a large income, and would rather minimize taxes if it’s all the same on the happiness meter. Furthermore, having 20 plus income sources in the name of diversification adds stress and requires more management (TIME!). I think this is fine for those of us while young, as we have the energy to work hard. But as time becomes more important, the extra headache of managing, planning, and buying/selling our assets becomes a resented hindrance on par with the resentment we felt when working for an employer and fighting traffic each day to go to a job we hated. Every thing we own in actuality owns us, by virtue of its demands on our time and affections, and that includes investments. It also includes our home, and is a good reason for downsizing. As long as we have food on our table, a roof over our heads, and clothes on our bodies, what more do we need? I think we need to consider freeing ourselves from the weight of the chains of managing too many ventures. Personally, I plan on investing in no more than 5 simultaneous ventures ever, with the exception of some IRAs that I just plan to let sit for the next 20 years (and therefore no thought or anxiety required).
When fully consistent assumptions are used to forecast earnings, cash flow, dividends, book value, and residual income through a full set of pro forma (projected) financial statements, and the same required rate of return on equity is used as the discount rate, the same estimate of value should result from a residual income, dividend discount, or free cash flow valuation. In practice, however, analysts may find one model easier to apply and possibly arrive at different valuations using the different models.
As interest rates have been going down over the past 30 years, bond prices have continued to go up. With the 10-year yield (risk free rate) at roughly 2.55%, and the Fed Funds rate at 1.5% (two more 0.25% hikes are expected in 2018), it’s hard to see interest rates declining much further. That said, long term interest rates can stay low for a long time. Just look at Japanese interest rates, which are negative (inflation is higher than nominal interest rate).
The challenge I’m facing and, I know it’s a good problem, is that the SF real estate has shot up about 35% in the last couple years. I’m sure you’re experiencing the same thing! So as the net worth is rising, the yield on the total portfolio is going down. Right now, it seems the only way to increase the passive income will be to raise the rent in December and to invest some of that cash in stocks, which I’m nervous to do in this market. Current allocation:
Owning property can earn you passive income for decades to come. Once you purchase a duplex, home, or apartment building as a rental property, you’ll earn a consistent monthly income with little work. Rent should cover your mortgage, taxes, repairs, and other expenses. You’ll continue to earn income by paying off your mortgage with the rent money and saving excess rental income.

Can you expound on the use of publicly-traded REITs as a passive income source? I’m 31 years old. No children. No wife. No dependents. (I am the closest thing to Ebenezer Scrooge you’ll ever see). My monthly expenses amount to less than $2,000 per month (most of which go to pay student loans) . I have a decent job making over $55K per year. I also have a $60K inheritance coming my way in a few weeks. I am absolutely crazy about achieving absolute financial independence, which for me would require a passive income of over $2000/month to cover my living expenses. I could achieve that in a mere couple of years if I were to save excessively and dump my savings (and inheritance) into a Mortgage REIT via the stock market, most of which are shelling out above 10% returns in dividend payments. Is this a good strategy for me? Or am I being too hasty and assuming too much risk?


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.
Active residual income is income that you would participate more directly in creating, like sales. Although the initial effort to create the income has already been exhausted, you would still be active in the creation of the funds, resolving customer issues, taking care of finances, making sure products are always in stock or available, and researching money saving methods. This is the type of thing that you have to actually participate in to make money. This does not necessarily mean that the number of hours you put in directly correlate to how much money is made, but it does mean that this type of residual income is not money that is going to be made while you sit at home and think about it.
That’s a nice read! I love your many tangible ways mentioned to make passive income unlike certain people trying to recruit others by mentioning network marketing and trying to get them to join up and sell products like Amway, Avon, Mary Kay, Cutco or 5Linx. People get sucked into wealth and profits and become influenced joiners from the use pressure tactics.
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The first application of residual income, the remaining money after debts are paid each month, is relevant when analyzing a person's financial status or ability to qualify for financing. The second application, the more widely recognized meaning of residual income, is money that is received on an on-going basis for work that is completed once. This form of income allows the recipient to generate revenue that is not based on time limits. Residual income is the foundation for wealth because it offers flexibility in earning and maximizing income. It also allows income to be generated long after the work has been done.
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.
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).
When looking at income in the future, shouldn’t we be looking at what is going to happen and determine if that is what we want life to look like? We need to work backward from that point until we reach today, viewing our decisions with money as the pre-cursor of tomorrow? The reason we even talk about residual income is that’s the goal of retirement or what we like to call time freedom.
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!
Question: You mention receiving $200k of passive income a year, but your chart shows half of that coming from real estate holdings, and reading between the lines it appears that you hold mortgages against those holdings. Then you conclude that $200k/yr of passive income should be enough to live comfortably anywhere in the world. So are you subtracting your real estate expenses (taxes, insurance, mortgage payments, maintenance, remote property management company fees, etc.) when you report your passive income from those properties? Really I think it’s the net (after taxes and everything) that tells us what is left over to “spend” on living, right? When I set up my spreadsheet to retire early at age 47, I calculated the after-tax income I would need to live. Then I compared that to my income streams (estimating tax on the taxable income streams) to measure the surplus/shortfall. Also some good advice from GoCurryCracker: If you can minimize your taxes so you’re in the 15% tax bracket, you can possibly receive tax-free long term capital gains. I agree with your philosophy that time is more important than money as we age. I am not sure I agree with a philosophy that is fixated on needing such a large income, and would rather minimize taxes if it’s all the same on the happiness meter. Furthermore, having 20 plus income sources in the name of diversification adds stress and requires more management (TIME!). I think this is fine for those of us while young, as we have the energy to work hard. But as time becomes more important, the extra headache of managing, planning, and buying/selling our assets becomes a resented hindrance on par with the resentment we felt when working for an employer and fighting traffic each day to go to a job we hated. Every thing we own in actuality owns us, by virtue of its demands on our time and affections, and that includes investments. It also includes our home, and is a good reason for downsizing. As long as we have food on our table, a roof over our heads, and clothes on our bodies, what more do we need? I think we need to consider freeing ourselves from the weight of the chains of managing too many ventures. Personally, I plan on investing in no more than 5 simultaneous ventures ever, with the exception of some IRAs that I just plan to let sit for the next 20 years (and therefore no thought or anxiety required).

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I want to develop a passive income stream in the next 4 years, nothing grand, maybe an extra 500-1000 dollars a month, but I’m not sure how to go about it so I was wondering if you had any tips. I’m so-so as a writer, and am currently finishing up my second book (just write as a hobby), and in the past made about 30-50 dollars an hour as a free lance writer but that was a couple of years back, it was only for about 10-20 hours a month, and the gig just dried up. I just got particularly lucky with that. I’ve tried online poker as a means in the past, and which I learned A) was not passive income but hard work and B) I have an addictive personality which resulted in me losing the 4g I earned in 6 weeks over the span of 72 hours so that’s out of the picture. I also partook in some illegal selling of things when I was younger, but being a little older and wiser the risk-reward ratio for possibly ending up in Jail just doesn’t match up. I tried making three businesses (dog walking, house cleaning, and personal assistant) and while those all were succesful to varying degrees and earned me about 15-25 dollars an hour, they weren’t mobile and quiet honestly I don’t have the time to be a full time dog walker or run a house cleaning operation seeing as I’ll be in school, work, and athletics.

Pardon for being a bit of a newbie to true investing outside of a 401k. What about those of us who have 1) Just been laid off, and unable to find work due to lack of a degree (apparently 17 years in the industry with 5 certifications is just simply not enough – which is okay. It gave me the kick in the arse to get back to school finally) 2)Have three children to support (age 11 and under), and 3) Oh yeah – cannot find work. What do you recommend when the only source of positive revenue has ceased to come in and you now have less time than ever – due to responsibilities (i.e. doing well in university = academic scholarships means investment in time, plus spending 20 min breaks with kiddos) – to create positive sources of income ? I truly am wondering from an investor’s point of view how you would handle the pivot point of life if ever you had been faced with it. I realize this may be only imaginary, but at this point, I welcome your “what ifs” scenario on this one. You’ve truly done amazing work and I thank you for being so transparent.
Money from dividends, for example, are taxed at a lower rate than money from a job. A business owner who works in the company she or he founded would have to pay more self-employment payroll taxes compared to someone who merely had a passive interest in the same limited liability company who would pay only income taxes. In other words, the same income earned actively would be taxed at a higher rate than if it were earned passively.

What I Do: I’ve set up multiple investment accounts outside my main operations bank that deals with working capital e.g checking, paying bills. By transferring my money to a couple brokerage accounts and two other banks as soon as it hits my main bank I no longer have temptation to spend on frivolous things. As a result, I can wake up 10 years later and reap the rewards of compounding. My 401(k) is the best example where constant contributions over 18 years has grown to over $500,000 without any savings pain given it just became a part of life. Real estate is also a fantastic asset class for the long term. It’s fantastic to enjoy your home, pay down your mortgage each month, and end up with a paid off asset that has likely appreciated during your time of ownership. 
5. Subscription Models: Subscription models/Customer Hubs/Member Areas – These are businesses like Netflix, Costco, Sam’s Club. The subscription model has become almost its own category. But it has considerable cost and you must continuously create and cultivate content and value. The income is residual and combines loyalty and education with community.
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.
However, with passive income, there is not a direct connection to time involved. Once the original work is completed, the income continues to come in as long as demand for the product or service exists. Each time a song is downloaded, the musician receives money as a passive income. They did not have to record the song again or do additional work for each download, yet they are paid for their original work.
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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