Personal residual income, often called discretionary income, is the amount of income or salary left over after debt payments, like car loans and mortgages, have been paid each month. For example, Jim’s take-home pay is $3,000 a month. His mortgage payment, home equity loan, and car loan are the following respective: $1,000, $250, and $200. Using a residual income calculator, Jim would calculate his RI to be $1,550 a month. This is the amount of money he has left over after his monthly debt payments are make that he can put into savings or use to purchase new assets.
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.

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.
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.
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.
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.
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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!
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.
There are dozens of ways to generate passive income. However, the option you select has to do with two metrics: time and money. Either you have a lot of time or a lot of money. Most people usually don't have both. But, if you have a lot of money, generating passive income almost instantly is easy. You can buy up some real estate and begin enjoying rental income. Or, you can invest in a dividend fund or some other investment vehicle that will begin generating a steady income for you.
This one may seem simple, but that’s only because it is. If you were to move your savings from a traditional, brick-and-mortar bank with a low-interest rate and into a high-yield savings account online, over time you can make a surprising amount of extra cash. Online banks are FDIC-insured just like the traditional brick-and-mortar institutions, so your money is just as safe.
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’m hoping to have about 10g saved by this time next year, which I know is nothing huge but seeing as I’m at 2.5g right now and owned 3 dollars to my name on Aug.9 I’m pretty happy with my progress :). But at my age, without a stable career, while working part time and having to go to school full time, what is a realistic path I could pursue to create passive income online, or even income that requires effort such as writing, but one that is more flexible than working in a stationary low-paid position for 10 dollars an hour? I need to work for now to show taxable income for the government to get my residency, but after that I know my time could be better served than earning 8 dollars an hour, I’m just not sure where to go from here. I considered flipping domain names, or penny stocks, or sports gambling, but again that’s not passive income and in reality they are more or less just forms of me gambling.
How to Monetize: Affiliate marketing works well when you discuss products on your blog. For our fish tank blog, we would link to all the things you need to buy for an aquarium and then when people click on that link and buy that item (and other items they purchase with it with some exceptions) you get a percentage of the purchase. Amazon Associates is the best-known affiliate marketing program, but there are others like Impact Radius, ShareASale, Commission Junction, ClickBank and Rakuten too.
If you want to add a little excitement to your passive income investing, meet Lending Club, the web-based peer-to-peer lending platform where investors looking for high-interest opportunities provide the funds for loans. You can earn interest rates in excess of 10 percent a year – about 10 times what you will earn on more conventional interest-bearing investments.
But nowadays, there is so much opportunity if you search for brand-suitable domains and also keyword-rich or otherwise popular names on the myriad of new domain name extensions like .io, .at etc.  And I should know, because I’ve paid several domain squatters a king’s ransom to purchase these sorts of domain names in the last few years!  Continue reading >
While it sounds like an ideal income stream, there are more specific benefits of residual income. For instance, unlike a salary, someone does not need to remain tied to the same location in order to earn income. He can move halfway around the world and still make the same residual income as he would if he stayed in the same location as his business.
Diversify safely but DIVERSITY. You do not need to get the best and highest return all the time. If so, you are not earning passive income you are earning active income which is taxed differently (see IRS.GOV passive -vs- active income definitions). As an investor you do not need to be chasing ‘the almighty dollar’. This is a losing proposition. Make the dollar come to you.
Why did P2P lending get a liquidity ranking of 6? It is quite possibly the most illiquid investment option you listed. You said you rank liquidity by “difficulty level of withdrawing your money without a massive penalty”, and for Lending Club notes, it’s not only difficult and extremely time consuming to sell all of your notes in their super illiquid market, but you would have to sell your notes at large losses to hope to get others interested in buying your notes. On top of that, it is impossible to withdraw your money any other way other than just waiting for interest/principal to pay off every month until maturity in 3 to 5 years. You can’t just one day tell Lending Club “I want to quit, please give me my money back.” One can even argue that it is less difficult to sell a home (in order to “withdraw” the money invested) than to withdraw all of their money from a P2P loan portfolio because it is very possible to sell a home before 3 to 5 years.

Amazing that you saved between 50% to 75% living in NYC…I think that is one thing holding me back…the cost of living here. I’d like to invest in real estate, but I can barely afford to buy a place to live. I don’t need a large income to be happy, but I probably do need an income to support living in NYC as we don’t plan on leaving. The only thing I’m doing at the moment is saving in my 401K, IRA and a I dabble in stocks and P2P lending.

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

The second form of residual income, passive income, is often a vital part of wealth creation. There are only so many hours in each day, and when a person trades hours for dollars, there is a maximum amount of income that person can earn. For instance, if a person earns a specific amount each hour, there is a limit to how many hours are available to work. Once they reach that maximum amount of time, they cannot earn more money.


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.
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. 
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.
Residual income is different from a salary, or linear income, which is paid out strictly based on the number of hours a person works. Someone who works on a salary is often said to work “paycheck to paycheck.” This is because he pays all of his bills with his first paycheck and then must wait until he gets paid again to have more money. Ideally, someone will work hard building up a business so that he can enjoy the residual income once his goals have been met. Then he can work on additional projects while still earning money from his business.

Hey Mike! Love this article. Recently, I paid off my student loans and am crazy focused on creating multiple passive income streams. Currently, all my passive income comes from real estate and because of your great articles on the subject I called to check out refinance options! I had no clue about CD laddering, dividend investing or P2P lending until two weeks ago when I started doing my research on where to put my hard earned money. I had been just saving it but when I looked at the terrible 0.01% return I said forget it! 2 % for me is a great way to start. It is better than what I have been getting outside of my real estate. Also, creating products is a must! I’m working on this type of royalty too. I find it so exciting to learn how to use your money to make money. Thanks and I will be sure to link to you when I start my blog!

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).
Awesome article…if this does not give somebody a clear roadmap, they probably were never going to get there in the first place! I’m kind of like you trying to figure out where to place “new” money and maturing CD’s in this low interest environment. Rates have to go up eventually…I dream of the days again where you can build a laddered bond portfolio paying 8%. I plan for a 5.5% blended rate of return, with big downside protection.

Passive residual income is generated as a result of little or no direct involvement in the actual creation or production of the money. In essence, passive residual income is income that you may have stirred up, but it is still coming in whether you work or not. With income such as this, you are your own boss, or buying of stocks that pays dividends. You set your own hours and the hours that you do put in are not directly involved in the amount of revenue that you create.

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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


The main advantage of the residual income metric is that it measures excess return earned by a department in absolute terms. A positive residual income means that the department has met the minimum return requirement while a negative residual income means that the department has failed to meet it. Return on investment (ROI) is another metric which measures return in relative terms.
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.
One aspect you might want to add to your scoring is “inflation protection”. At one end, bonds and CDs generally pay a fixed nominal coupon that doesn’t rise with inflation. Stock dividends and Real estate rents (and underlying property value) tend to. Not reallly sure how P2P lending ranks- though I suppose the timeframes are fairly short (1 year or less?) and therefore the interest you receive takes into account the current risk free rate + a premium for your risk. Now that I think about it, P2P lending probably deserves a lower score in the activity column than bonds too (since you probably need to make new loans more often).

I’m feeling inspired! I’ve been a PT for 19 years and I feel I have so much experience to offer but have been so intimated by starting a blog. I also subscribed to Michelle’s website but wasn’t sure it was for real. Is it for real? After reading this I feel like it’s time to take the plunge, I need to start a blog, I have so many ideas and even course ideas. I want to get away from the paperwork that plagues our healthcare system but not leave the field so the blog just might be the answer. I’ve been a landlord for 15 years now, great investment for sure, renters paid for the down payment of our house and should hopefully help pay for our kids college. I’d love to have one more! Thank you for the inspiration, wish me luck with my blogging!
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