Real Estate is the most widely known avenue to pursue for passive income. Most people think of investing in Real Estate by buying a house or apartment complex and renting it out. While we will be investing in actual property later, we will show you other ways to invest in real estate through REITs and a website called Fundrise. For more information on passive income through Real Estate check out this (link).
For example, you can design digital products, like animal clipart or a downloadable wedding poem that could be printed by the customer. Your design could be resold thousands of times without needing to create each item or ship it. Once you create your digital product and list it on a site like Etsy or Ebay, the revenue flows in with little oversight.
Residual income is money that is earned on a recurring basis, typically as the result of a single original action. Rather than earning an hourly wage, residual income is typically generated through an initial investment of time or money with the goal of earning continuous payments. Once the initial investment, product, or service is made, the ongoing income that is earned is generally passive in nature.
That $200,000 a year might sound like a lot to you, but the median home price in San Francisco is roughly $1.6 million or almost eight times our annual passive income. For a family of three in 2018, the Department of Housing and Urban Development declared that income of $105,700 or below was "low income." Therefore, I consider us firmly in the middle class.
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?
You are also free to choose a fund that is based on any index that you want. For example, there are index funds set up for just about every market sector there is — energy, precious metals, banking, emerging markets — you name it. All you have to do is decide that you want to participate, then contribute money and sit back and relax. Your stock portfolio will then be on automatic pilot.

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.

There are many people who get paid vast amounts of money to become the CEO of a company, play professional sports, or star in a movie. Earning a high active income is often a lot of hard work and requires a dedication beyond most of us. It’s also limited because no matter how much money you get paid you still need to show up to work to earn your money.
There is also an idea that we should work to build a passive income asset and then sit on the beach relaxing for the rest of our lives. The truth is that most people would get extremely bored with this scenario and will be eager to find something to do. That’s why the world’s billionaires continue to work… they love what they do and it stopped being about the money a long time ago.
They also launched an incredible Retirement Planning Calculator that pulls in real data from your linked accounts to run a Monte Carlo simulation model to output the most likely results of your financial future. I strongly suggest you run your own numbers, play around with the income and expense variables, and see how you stack up. It’s all free and easy to use.
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.

The doctor or lawyer, for instance, could use her or his income to invest in a medical start-up or buy shares of medical companies he understands such as Johnson & Johnson. Over time, the nature of compounding, dollar cost averaging, and reinvesting dividends can result in her or his portfolio generating substantial passive income. The downside is that it can take decades to achieve enough to truly improve your standard of living. However, it is still the surest path to wealth based on the historical performance of business ownership and stocks.
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.
If you have decent writing skills you can start a retainer writer business. Mastering your pitch will put you in a position where you can land awesome writing gigs. You can then complete the work yourself as you establish yourself in this space, and from there, the sky is the limit. Outsourcing is key to creating a passive income stream from this idea.
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.
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.
So, if the goal is to have residual income when we retire, which seems based on Social Security rules to only be possible in our 60’s, and the government has mandated penalties before taking our money before 59.5, wouldn’t it be prudent to start investing in sources of residual income now that maybe don’t have an age limit into our 60’s? What guarantee do we have that we will make it that long?

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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.

Secondly – and this is just quibbling – I’d change that risk score. The risk of private equity is incredibly high and should be considerably riskier than bonds! You are providing a typically very large amount of capital to one business that you agree to have no control over, and the success or failure of that business over a locked, predefined term determines your return. And in the few deals I’ve negotiated for clients, my experience has been that there are often management fees, performance fees, etc. that may cut into your potential gains, anyway. You’re putting a lot of eggs in one basket, and promising an omelet or two to the management no matter what. You really need to be confident that you found the next Uber before you take this giant risk!


Let’s say a company earns $1 a share and pays out 75 cents in the form of a dividend. That’s a 75% dividend payout ratio. Let’s say the next year the company earns $2 a share and pays out $1 in the form of dividends. Although the dividend payout ratio declines to 50%, due the company wanting to spend more CAPEX on expansion, at least the absolute dividend amount increases.


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.
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.
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.

What are your thoughts on an Immediate Annuity as a passive income vehicle? I suppose it’s not a great investment since you never get your principal back, but the risk is zero and the cash flow is fairly good, approaching 6% currently. And, since you are guaranteed payments for life, you may not care that you never see your principal again anyway since you’ll be dead!


For those of you who don’t want to come up with a $220,000 downpayment and a $900,000 mortgage to buy the median home in SF or NYC, who don’t want to deal with tenants or remodeling, and who wants to not do any work after the investment is made, check out Fundrise. They are my favorite real estate crowdsourcing company founded in 2012 and based in Washington DC. They are pioneers in the eREIT product offering and they’re raising an Opportunity Fund to take advantage of new tax favorable laws.
Hello from the UK! Fundrise and Wealthfront are only available to US residents it seems :(. Any other readers from the UK here? The only thing I have managed to do from Sam’s list is getting a fixed rate bond (CBS is having a 5-year fixed rate at 2.01% – not great but the best I could find ). Don’t know if the FIRE movement will ever take off here but would love to trade tips/ideas on how to reach FI and have the freedom to consider alternative rythms to living.
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.

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.


That is a nice list of passive income sources. Actually, the most up-to-date list of dividend growth stocks is the list of dividend champions, maintained by Dave Fish. The list of dividend aristocrats is incomplete at best. For example, the dividend champions list has over 100 companies that have managed to increase dividends each year for at least 25 years in a row. The list of dividend aristocrats has no more than 50 – 60.
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!
Book sales ($36,000 a year): Sales of How to Engineer Your Layoff" continue to be steady. I expect book sales to rise once the economy starts to soften and people get more nervous about their jobs. It's always best to be ahead of the curve when it comes to a layoff by negotiating first. Further, if you are planning to quit your job, then there is no downside in trying to engineer your layoff so you can get WARN Act pay for several months, a severance check, deferred compensation, and healthcare.
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!
#9 Military pension/VA disability. Obviously requires a lot of front end effort in your 20s and/or 30s depending on length of service however once out and receiving it is totally passive with cost of living adjustment included most years. It has changed somewhat with new “blended retirement” plan but even those not staying past first or second enlistments often will get some VA rating. My wife got it on both ends of her service as the Navy paid for med school and then she was rated by VA after seven years active duty.

Managerial accountants define residual income as the amount of operating revenues left over from a department or investment center after the cost of capital used to generate the revenues have been paid. In other words, it’s the net operating income of a department or investment center. You can also think of it as the amount that a department’s profits exceed its minimum required return.

In the residual income model, the intrinsic value of a share of common stock is the sum of book value per share and the present value of expected future pershare residual income. In the residual income model, the equivalent mathematical expressions for intrinsic value of a common stock are V0=B0+∑t=1∞RIt(1+r)t=B0+∑t=1∞Et−rBt−1(1+r)t=B0+∑t=1∞(ROEt−r)Bt−1(1+r)t 
It was easier recouping the lost $60,000 in rental-property income than I expected. For so long, my primary mindset for passive income was rental income. Having $815,000 less mortgage debt but still generating roughly the same amount of passive income with a much larger cash balance feels great. Further, my passive-income portfolio got even more passive, which is good as a stay-at-home dad to a newborn.
Wow! What an awesome list! My favorite is the stock photography because I love photography. I have had some success there, particularly with one photo I make some decent income from. I think the key with stock photography is finding a shot that is high demand. Then, find a new unique way to frame that shot. This is the reason my St. Louis Arch photo is a top 10 on both ShutterStock and iStockPhoto. Thanks for the awesome ideas above!
It is very important to understand that contacting a “professional” to learn how to do this only results in them trying to sell me crap properties (whether high end or low end). I’ve tried contacting realtors out of state, and they attempt to sell me crap or someone else’s problem. No one has a vested interest in actually helping someone or teaching them about how to get an out of state rental. very frustrating. I could go out tomorrow and buy a rental in my city, but that is the last place I want to own one. Anyone? Are there an real people on here?
Very enlightening. I like that you have a number of discreet passive income streams working for you. I”m not sure about such a large CD/ bank holding though, though it looks as though its giving you a fairly healthy income. How do you feel about a rising inflation rate on your effective real cash return? I’m looking to diversify beyond my current dividend passive income. Rental income is what I expect we’ll be harvesting next. P2P lending is a little too out of my comfort zone. I had a lot of exposure to consumer credit risk models at a prior role, and it scared me the heck away from consumer lending!
5) Determine What Income Level Will Make You Happy. Think back to when you made little to no income as a student. Now think back to the days when you just got started in your career. Were you happy then? Now go over every single year you got a raise or made more money doing something else. How did your happiness change at all, if any? Everybody has a different level of income that will bring maximum happiness due to different desires, needs, and living arrangements. It’s up to you to find out your optimum income level.
A different definition of residual income is that this is income derived from passive investments, rather than from a person's active income-generating activities. Examples are interest income, royalty income, rent, and increases in the value of investments held. Individuals typically work throughout their careers in order to build up a sufficient amount of this income to support them during their retirement.
It’s been almost 10 years since I started Financial Samurai and I’m actually earning a good income stream online now. Financial Samurai has given me a purpose in early retirement. And, I’m having a ton of fun running this site as well! Here’s a real snapshot of a personal finance blogger who makes $150,000+ a year from his site and another $180,000 from various consulting opportunities due to his site.
P.S. I also fail to understand your fascination with real estate. Granted we’ve had some impressive spikes along the way, especially with once in a life time bubble we just went through. But over the long term (see Case Shiller real estate chart for last 100 years ) real estate tends to just track inflation. Why would you sacrifice stock market returns for a vehicle that historically hasn’t shown a real return?
You must sacrifice the pleasures of today for the freedom you will earn tomorrow. In my 20s, I shared a studio with my best friend from high school and drove beater cars worth less than 10% of my annual gross income. I'd stay until after 7:30 p.m. at work in order to eat the free cafeteria food. International vacations were replaced with staycations since work already sent me overseas two to four times a year. Clothes were bought at thrift shops, of course.

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I've got a $185,000 CD generating 3% interest coming due. Although the return is low, it's guaranteed. The CD gave me the confidence to invest more aggressively in risk over the years. My online interest income has come down since I aggressively deployed some capital at the beginning of the year and again during the February market correction. You'll see these figures in my quarterly investment-income update.
Love your articles. I think everyone is very different as far as how much passive income they need to meet their goals. I’ve read a lot of your articles and really enjoy your thoughts. I have a masters in finance and understand the math of keeping the debt but my emotions are such that I need to try to finish off paying off my last debt (mortgage) in the next two years. At 34 and only worth 525k I’m doing better than a lot of folks my age but it will be difficult for me to catch up in the passive income game without leverage. That is the main reason I recently created a website to try to bring passive income opportunities in my area to me.
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.

2. Focus on income-producing assets. Internet growth stocks may be sexy, but they provide no income. To build a large enough passive-income stream to survive, you must invest in dividend-generating stocks, certificates of deposit, municipal bonds, government Treasury bonds, corporate bonds, and real estate. You're free to invest in non-income-producing assets for capital appreciation too. You just want to earn reliable income when the day comes to leave your job.
Developing passive income is different. With the exception of one of my passive income streams (cryptocurrency mining), all of the others require real, hard work. Truly, I understand the barriers for people getting into building alternative income streams. I would say that most people WANT passive income, but truly aren’t willing to put in the blood, sweat, and tears to make it happen.

Ebooks, which can be published through sites like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, are an increasingly popular option. Because these books are self-published, the process is quicker, allowing you to build residual income faster than the traditional publishing route. Whether it’s a romance novel or a how-to book on fly fishing, you can create a book and have it available for purchase in a matter of weeks.
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