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.


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.

Thank you for sharing your article! You did a great job saving and putting your money to work for you. Like you, I share the same financial dream of having 150-200k in passive income and traveling the world stress-free! :) Right now I’m saving about 80-90% of my active income and put it toward ETF funds and value growth stocks because I’m seeking capital appreciation. And I can tolerate a lot of risks because I’m still in my early 20’s. By the time I reach 30 something I’ll start looking into blue chips stocks that pay dividends and REIT. So I want to be where you are by that time lol. Anyways, that the plan and I’m sticking to it. Good luck on achieving your financial dream!

I decided to develop some passive income streams late in 2009 and started with writing an ebook… It took me 10 days to setup, writing the book, creating the pdf, wrote the sales page, created the website, registration on Clickbank, etc. It sold so well, on complete autopilot, that I used the ebook content to create a membership site and over 1,100 people have been through the membership site.
Truebill is an app that helps you save money by identifying recurring subscriptions and other bills and helping you cut costs by negotiating better rates and fees. One of their partnerships is with Acradia Power, which has the potential to save you up to 30% on your electric bill. It searches for better power rates in areas where competition is allowed, and it locks in the better prices for you.
Affiliate marketing means you sign up with a company and/or entrepreneur and sell their products. For example, if you start a tech website, you could become an affiliate of a web hosting or anti-virus software company. You can earn hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month if your website receives a decent amount of web traffic and you have thousands of email subscribers. Being an affiliate marketer takes dedication and time. You need to build traffic via your website, email marketing and social media. Is this for you? You be the judge.
Thanks for asking. https://passiveincomemd.com/what-is-passive-income/ gives a good summary of the definition I use. But in brief, it’s income that isn’t proportional to the time you physically put into acquiring it. It doesn’t mean it’s not without work or effort. It’s just that most of the work is done up front and it continues to pay off long after that initial effort. Real estate fits into that box. There’s definitely a spectrum but compared to what we do as doctors, where our compensation is directly linked to our time, most of these things are quite passive.
Not all properties are equal when it comes to cash flow. When you run the numbers on your expenses, expected income, and profits for a property in a less well-kept neighborhood, your return looks good. However, as with any investment, your high return comes with increased risk. On the other hand, a property in a superior area with good public schools is less risky and will offer higher appreciation over time even if your monthly profits are smaller.

This may all seem like a lot of work but it’s how professional real estate investors do it. If you are buying rental properties on a hunch and just paying what you feel like the property is worth, you’re going to end up over-paying. Understanding exactly how much a property is worth will put you ahead in the negotiations and get you the best price possible.
Seeing the residential real estate boom coming, I started buying single-family rentals in 2002. I learned a lot about real estate investing and passive income properties over the next five years. As someone that has flipped houses as well as managed a group of rental properties, the best advice I can offer is to know yourself and how much time you are willing to spend on the business.
But first, let’s about talk passive income! What is passive income? There are many different definitions out there, but mine goes something like this: Passive income is all about building online businesses that can work for you, that allow you to generate income, and grow and scale, without a real-time presence. In other words, you don’t trade time for money. You build something up front that can continue to work for you over time.
If you are not able to get a mortgage on the property, there are still a few options available though rates can be fairly high. You might try approaching the seller for owner financing where they sell the property to you on monthly installments. This might not be possible if there’s a mortgage on the property since many carry a “due on sale” clause. If you do go this route, make absolutely sure you get a notarized contract with all the details.
One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. If you sign up and link up an investment account with $1,000+ within 40 days, you get a $20 Amazon gift card. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. If you sign up and link up an investment account with $1,000+ within 40 days, you get a $20 Amazon gift card. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.
​If you pay your bills with a credit card make sure it offers cash back rewards. You can let your rewards accrue for a while and possibly put the easy money you earned toward another passive income venture! (Be sure that the card you select doesn’t have an annual fee or you might be cancelling out your rewards). Check out this list of the best Cashback Rewards Cards.

And real estate does more than just track inflation – it throws off income (which is important to some people and useful to most). And while your underlying asset is appreciating, the income also grows as rents increase over time. And if you make smart and well-timed purchases, both rents and asset values can increase at well above the rate of inflation.
Your best deals, but the most work, will come from properties not formerly listed as for sale. Contacting the owners of abandoned or run-down properties might uncover a deal without the hassle of competition from other investors. Once you have the address of a property, find your county assessor’s page on the internet for ownership information. The assessor’s page will have other useful information like previous sales and house characteristics.
Invest in dividend securities. Some stocks provide shareholders with regular payouts called dividends. For very large, old companies, these dividend payouts are made for consistent amounts and can amount to a substantial income if you own a large number of shares. Look for companies that are very established and have been paying dividends for a long period of time (more than 10 years). You should be able to find this information with a quick online search.[5]
For me, this has worked out brilliantly. Because I had passive income streams set up, I didn’t have to worry about generating sales immediately, raising funds from investors so that I can eat, etc. I could take my time, try out 100 different opportunities, and ultimately settle on a business that suited my needs (the one that I’m running now), which allows me to live and work wherever I want and whenever I want, and is, for the most part, fully autonomous. But I didn’t always have passive income — in fact, it took a lot of trial and error and a lot of learning (do yourself a favor and read Rich Dad Poor Dad — iBooks Link Here) before I had anything worth mentioning.
But what about everyone else with lower capital bases, less time and the desire for potential higher returns?  Well, that’s where one of my specific investing strategies may be of interest.  It’s an approach favored by some of the world’s best investors – even Warren loves it – and I explain it in plain English here #1 Way I Invest My Money To Target High Returns.  I think you’ll love it!

There was a time when CDs would produce a respectable 4%+ yield. Nowadays, you’ll be lucky to find a 5-7 year CD that provides anything above 2.5% The great thing about CDs is that there are no income or net worth minimums to invest, unlike many alternative investments, which require investors to be accredited. Anybody can go to their local bank and open up a CD of their desired duration. Furthermore, a CD is FDIC insured for up to $250,000 per individual, and $500,000 per joint account.
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:
If someone stole my hard work and passed it off as their own, I’d be livid and would pursue them to the ends of the Earth for full restitution. A man I hired to work with me registered my preferred domain name of my business and has re-registered it in subsequent years. That’s bad enough; I’m mad as hell. The worst aspect of his behaviour is that I don’t know WHY he has done that; I paid him the fee we had agreed on and thanked him for his input. We also got along perfectly well during the project so far as I know, so I don’t see what his problem is.

Finally, I imagine the biggest debate with my ranking is Creating Your Own Product as the #1 passive income source. If most people have never created their own product, then it’s easy to give it a thumbs down. There won’t be much complaint about Private Equity Investing being in last place because most people are not accredited investors. But given I believe that plenty of people can create their own product if they try, pushback is inevitable because a lot of people simply don’t try!


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!
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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).

Great breakout of some common items that are (mostly) accessible to individuals. My biggest issue with p2p is the ordinary interest it generates and the ordinary tax that we have to pay. That really takes a bite out of the returns. Fortunately, I opened an IRA with one of the providers to juice the return with zero additional risk. 6-8% nominal returns over a long period of time will make me very happy. It should end up as 5-7% of the portfolio anyway, so nothing too significant.


Your articles are so in-depth and helpful, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I am a 22-yr old finishing my last semester of college, studying Computer Science and Psychology. I’m in a really good place with my finances (2k savings, no student debt, only expenses essentially rent, groceries, and utilities) and I want to get ahead financially so I can pay my parents back and save up a lot.


As an struggling young Engineer (back in the Carter era) I bought anything I could renovate then rent to justify paying the 18% interest. I never took vacations but worked on my properties all in the pursuit of passive income. I drove junk for many years & many months I just got by on credit cards. My friends & colleagues were amused by my ‘stupidity’ but most are still working to make enough for retirement.

If you are unable to search actual sales through the assessor, you can use properties currently listed for sale in the MLS. The problem here is that the asking price may not be a true reflection of what the property is really worth. You’ll want to be even more skeptical of high- and low-values in this list and I would discount all prices by at least 5% to find market value.

If it is one thing I would like to say is that I sold my first item on Ebay in 3/14 after being unemployed for 2 months. Since then I have discovered the bottom line secret of making money online… The secret is this – *There is no secret. Any legit idea/stream/online business can be made a steady stream of income. IF you are willing to put in the effort.
In February 2007, Pat Flynn was working at an architecture firm making $38,000 a year. He mulled boosting his earning power by getting an architecture license, but the process would likely take six to eight years. When he heard about getting a credential in sustainable design and environmentally friendly building called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), he decided to go for that, as no one in his department had it. The one problem? The exam was so challenging, just one-third of test-takers passed.
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