If retirement is a goal of yours (and who doesn’t want to retire someday?!?), it’s important to learn how to start investing. In fact, funding your retirement accounts should be at the top of your list. While these accounts won’t help your immediate situation, by stashing cash now, the residual income they create should help propel you through your golden years.
Michael Ellsberg is the author of The Education of Millionaires: It’s Not What You Think, and It’s Not Too Late, which is launching from Penguin/Portfolio in September. It’s a bootstrapper’s guide to investing in your own human capital at any age. Michael sends manifestos, recommendations, tips, and other exclusive content to his private email list, which you can join at www.ellsberg.com. Connect with him on Twitter @MichaelEllsberg and on Facebook.

Investing in rental properties: Another form of real estate investment, rental investments (i.e. becoming a landlord) could steer you down the passive income path of steady monthly rent checks that you can use to pay off a mortgage loan on the rental property. After the mortgage is paid off, those monthly checks go right into your bank account -- potentially for years to come. 

Thanks for writing this Mr. Samurai. I just got over the student loan hump but I feel pretty good about it at 27 having a graduate degree and being 100% debt free. Now that I’m on the other side it is good for my brain to absorb some of your knowledge regarding passive income investments. I love gleaning wisdom from older folks who have been there and done that. Mentors rock!


Occupational therapist Sarah Stromsdorfer founded occupational therapy site MyOTSpot.com three years ago as an online educational resources for occupational therapy students and professionals. She worked on it every weekend, and her site now makes enough income for her to work as an occupational therapist part-time. She believes it will be another year before her site makes enough money for a full-time living of about $4,000 per month. In addition to the digital products she also makes money from ads and online book sales.
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.

Dividend investing is right up there for sure. You don’t have to charge $48. You can charge <$10 to boost sales. The internet has enabled so many creatives to publish their works at a low cost. People will surprise themselves if they try to create like when they were in school. The other reason why I have Creating Products edging out dividends is because of the much higher POTENTIAL to make a lot more money. For example, $20,000 a year in book sales requires $570,000 in dividend investments to replicate the same amount. Plus, there is capital risk. With book sales, there is a correlation with EFFORT, and you are not beholden to the whims of the markets.
When I started building my architecture-related business in 2008, I made my first dollar through advertising. I’d spent a lot of time and money building the site and getting traffic. Then one day I threw an ad on the site one day, and I made $1.18. Sure, I could find that much under my couch cushions—but that’s not the point! The point is that I was able to build something online, put an ad up, and make money without having to do anything. I learned it was possible, and it motivated me to move forward.
4) Treat Passive Income Like A Game. The only real way to begin your multiple passive income journey is when you are making active income. The initial funding has to come from somewhere. Hence, treat passive income as a game that has various levels. If you fail to achieve one level, it’s not the end of the world since you still have active income and can restart. Furthermore, a game is meant to be played with integrity. Using shortcuts (non passive income streams), someone else’s income as a supplement (spouse), or one-offs (capital gains) does not count. The primary purpose of any game is to bring enjoyment to the player and beat the boss.

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!


If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I wish there was a product that did this,” then invent it! Create a product, medical or otherwise, and sell it as a company or get royalties for it. It’s not impossible to figure out, I have many friends who have taken a concept to market. Don’t overlook an invention as a fantastic means of attaining passive income.
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