The vast majority of my investing is in retirement accounts and won't be tapped for income until I reach at least 59.5 years old. However, I have a very small taxable investing portfolio (less than $5k) with Ally Invest where I invest in a handful of stocks that I value. I do not use the earnings as income – I simply hold these stocks. But I have an unrealized gain of $340 from this year so far.
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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!
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.
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.
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Generating passive income requires upfront work. Some say achieving passive income is actually quite an active pursuit. Some paths may be. But then they may not be truly passive income investments. Acquiring a passive income producing investment can be very simple, even if there are many others behind the scenes doing a lot of work to vet, package, and manage that investment.

However, until we get another reset in valuations (I’m calculating a 40% to 50% correction is justified ), I’ve moved largely to the sidelines. Beginning in July 2013, I began slowly reducing equity exposure and am now sitting firm at 40% with the balance in various forms of 5 yr cd’s and short duration bonds. This is down from over 60% when I ramped up to take advantage of the March 2009 lows.
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.
Crowdfunding is a newer way to invest, having emerged onto the scene just within the last few years. Most people have heard of sites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe, and a very similar concept exists for real estate. Developers are always looking to raise capital to fund their projects. Through the various online platforms, investors have access to these projects and can choose to invest in both residential and commercial properties. See the List of My Favorite Crowdfunding Sites.
Venture Debt – I invested $120,000 in my business school friend’s venture debt fund. He started his own after spending 8 years at one of the largest venture debt funds as a Managing Partner. I’m very focused on income generating assets in this low interest rate environment. The true returns are yet to be seen, as the fund has a 5-7 year life before it returns all its capital.
I guess I just don’t understand why the specific importance of focusing on “dividends” instead of focusing on the total return of your investment, including stock appreciation. I don’t really care if a company decides to issue a dividend or not; presumably, if they don’t issue a dividend, then they’re doing other things to increase the value of the company, which will be reflected in the stock price of the company. As an investor, I can make money by selling a percentage of my holdings or collecting dividends, and I don’t really care how that’s divided up – it’s an artificial distinction.
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.
As an economic concept, residual income has a long history, dating back to Alfred Marshall in the late 1800s.1 As far back as the 1920s, General Motors used the concept in evaluating business segments.2 More recently, residual income has received renewed attention and interest, sometimes under names such as economic profit, abnormal earnings, or economic value added. Although residual income concepts have been used in a variety of contexts, including the measurement of internal corporate performance, this reading will focus on the residual income model for estimating the intrinsic value of common stock. Among the questions we will study to help us apply residual income models are the following:
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."
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 favorite type of semi-passive income was rental property because it was a tangible asset that provided reliable income. As I grew older, my interest in rental property waned because I no longer had the patience and time to deal with maintenance issues and tenants. Online real estate became more attractive, along with tax-free municipal-bond income once rates started to rise.
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Don’t do vending machines as passive income. I thought it was passive but it’s way more than that. You have to work all the time. If you get a good account, you’ll be there twice a week. Want another job as a stable income? Good luck. What do you tell your boss when you have to go fix your machine because a dollar got stuck and is only open during normal business hours?
I came across your site and I love it! My husband and I work in corporate America and I own a consulting/coaching business. I have a goal to gross 1 MIL within the next 10 years I’ll be 40 then. How can I begin now? How do I find a millionaire mentor? We live in Philadelphia, PA all of our friends and family are mostly employed some with small businesses however i have huge goals I am working so hard to become a full time entrepreneur. Seems like everyone we know are all on the same level and I fear we’ll stay here of we don’t meet someone willing to show us how to level up. Any suggestions?
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.
For those who prefer a more do-it-yourself style but still want their investments to be managed automatically, a robo-advisor like Betterment may be better suited. After completing an initial questionnaire, this program will automatically invest your money based on things like your risk tolerance and time horizon. They’ll even rebalance your portfolio when necessary – all automatically, of course!
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