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.
5. Make sure you are properly diversified. Capital preservation is underrated. We saw a lost decade for tech stocks between 2000 and 2010 after the first dot-com bubble burst. It actually took 13 years for Nasdaq investors to get back to even. Investors in the Borsa Istanbul stock market index just gave up 10 years' worth of gains after they saw a plunge in their currency, partially due to increased tariffs by the US and a lack of confidence in the government. Your passive income needs to be properly diversified in order to take the hits.
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.
Venture debt ($12,240 a year): The first venture-debt fund has returned almost all my initial capital, so I decided to invest $200,000 in the second fund. I took a risk investing $150,000 in my friend's first fund, so I'm hoping there's less risk in the second fund, given he has four more years of experience on top of his 12-plus years of experience running a venture-debt portfolio for another company.
P2P lending started in San Francisco with Lending Club in mid-2000. The idea of peer-to-peer lending is to disintermediate banks and help denied borrowers get loans at potentially lower rates compared to the rates of larger financial institutions. What was once a very nascent industry has now grown into a multi-billion dollar business with full regulation.
Ever find yourself humming a tune, or laying down tracks for yourself or friends? Your next catchy phrase might fetch you a solid passive income stream. On sites like ProductionTrax and Audio Network, musicians can license their compositions for background music in apps, commercials, and websites to earn more money. Read more about this strategy at The Guardian.
There are a few advantages to taking this approach. First, you get close to 100% of your listed price (minus the transaction fee of your preferred payment gateway). Second, you are not competing with other authors and have the reader’s attention solely on your product. Third, selling your eBook on your own platform is a great opportunity to build a long term relationship with your readers via email. Fourth, you can bundle your eBook with other goodies in order to bump up the value and make it more unique. With so many advantages, it's worth putting up the time and start building your own platform.
However, when you lack the money, you need time. You'll need to invest the upfront time now in order to reap the benefits of automatic income later. It just doesn't happen overnight. So don't expect it to. However, you can do this without quitting your day job. All it takes is some sincere effort over a consistent period, and voila! But, to get there, you'll need to consistently burn the midnight oil or get up at the crack of dawn. Your choice.
In 2012, even I wrote a 150-page eBook about severance package negotiations that still regularly sells about ~35 copies a month at $85 each (2nd edition for 2017) without any effort. In order to generate $2,975 a month or $35,700 a year in passive income as I do now, I would need to invest $892,500 in something that generates a 4% yield! To earn $10,000 a year in passive income would therefore need roughly $250,000 in capital.
Before you buy any property, an inspection by a professional and independent home inspector is essential. Even if your potential purchase has just undergone a beautiful renovation, you must find out if the wiring and plumbing are all up to code. In most areas, it’s illegal to operate a rental property with any code violations. A top-quality inspector will be able to estimate the remaining life of the roof, HVAC system, and hot water supply, as well as find any defects in the structure, such as dry-rot in the attic.

Not really. I love my speed reading courses, I’m passionate about them. I loved working on apps to help small businesses kick more ass. Sure, it’s not as “sexy” as running a full time startup with dozens of employees, but that’s not the point. The point is to make enough money to be able to take risks and do what I want. Plus, if I’ve proven anything, it’s that you can turn these projects into full time if they become interesting enough to you.
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!
Brian had found a huge need for web design in the restaurant and food truck space. After getting tired of working with client after client, he decided to turn his service-based business into a product-based one. He made his services more standardized and productized. He eliminated all his client work and created templates and products to serve that market instead. And it’s been going great for him.

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.
I do remember you mentioning that & how it was your ticket to exit softly and give you time to build the passive income side. Most likely when I do exit it will either be through a sale of the business which would come along with a employment contract or if a worthy successor(s) can take it over, then the business is just another annuity throwing off income. Anyway, I’d enjoy writing a guest article after I survive the next few weeks of work and weddings.
2. You clearly have plenty of money already. Just more padding in your already cushy nest. This is not the story for a lot of people. Your title should be “How to become richer than you already are without working.” But, actually the investment one is the only one that would make money without actual WORK. Running rental properties is a lot of work, and so is running a business, or even a blog. Sooooo…..while there might be some truth to this, I think it’s mostly grass that looks greener because it’s on the other side of the fence.
A good portion of my stock allocation is in growth stocks and structured notes that pay no dividends. The dividend income that comes from stocks is primarily from S&P 500 index exchange-traded funds. Although this is a passive-income report, as I'm still relatively young I'm more interested in building a large financial nut through principal appreciation rather than through dividend investing. As an entrepreneur, I can't help but have a growth mindset.

Good suggestions. I have many of these. One word about the “app” idea. I had a great idea related to personal taxes that I tried to get off the ground with my accountant as a partner. I would say it’s difficult to do this unless you have a coder on your team. Hiring someone is not really viable financially unless the app is simple. When we finally got the quote for a coder to write what we wanted (and after doing lots of mock ups ourselves and getting a demo for investors) the estimate was about 750k just to really get started.
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.
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!
While building apps for Apple (or Android) mobile devices can be a lucrative way to generate passive income online, it's not as easy as many people make it seem. Beside the fact that it’s hard to get your app noticed among the millions being released every year, most people expect apps to be either free or very inexpensive. In fact, a recent study found that only 11% of apps are paid for. The number of paid apps will only decline over time as more players join the market. The key, like many of the business model mentioned here, is to be strategic and creative from the very start. There are a few ways to monetize your app and keep it free for users. Examples include advertising, premium services, and sponsors.

If you’d prefer to skip the startup phase, you might want to buy a blog that’s already built and earning revenue. This is actually pretty easy to do as a lot of people start blogs, and then get bored with them. Getting a blog going is a labor-intensive process, and it’s not uncommon for people to give up before they’ve reached their full potential.
Before you buy any property, an inspection by a professional and independent home inspector is essential. Even if your potential purchase has just undergone a beautiful renovation, you must find out if the wiring and plumbing are all up to code. In most areas, it’s illegal to operate a rental property with any code violations. A top-quality inspector will be able to estimate the remaining life of the roof, HVAC system, and hot water supply, as well as find any defects in the structure, such as dry-rot in the attic.
For someone my age, I have an extremely low risk portfolio of mutual funds, foreign currency, and bonds. It’s made a bit more risky by my recent exposure to cryptocurrency, but that’s the only “high risk” activity going on here. Nothing exciting, but it pays some nice dividends and beats the hell out of keeping money in a savings account. This is a way for me to hedge against the risk I incur by angel investing in startups.

Well, after that scheduling fiasco, I simply decided that someday would be today. With this new focused goal of being financially independent from medicine in mind, I decided to start devoting what extra time I had to real estate and businesses – in essence, ways to create passive income. It took some effort, but I found that time wherever I could – reading books during downtime while on call, listening to podcasts in the car, and watching YouTube videos while walking my dogs to name a few.


Control: With the stock market, you are at the mercy of the fund and management. With private lending, you control who you invest with, the rate of return, the length of time you want to invest and approval of the asset your money is secured by. With rental properties, you are in control of what you buy, the improvements that will increase rents and what costs are passed onto the tenants, such as landscaping and shared utility expenses.
Passive income is defined as income-generating activity that is independent or loosely dependent on time commitment. Just so we’re on the same page, here, there’s no such thing as making money without creating value (I wish), and creating value takes time and effort. So, you are technically transacting time for money, in a way. But passive income is where we separate or at least alienate the proportional relationship between time spent and money made. It’s where there is no longer a fixed ratio, and if there is, it’s not a 1:1 ratio, but more like a 10 or 20:1 ratio of man-hours-worth-of-time to actual time. As another side note, knowing how much your time is worth both to you and on the open market is a valuable piece of information for guaging how effective your passive income activities need to be.
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.
Based on my initial experience of passive income, I feel real that real estate is best vehicle to build long-term investment. I live in Los Angeles and was able to cash flow my first rental property. What are you thoughts about starting out to build a passive income portfolio? I have utilized Lendingclub, online savings, and a small dividend/bond portfolio.
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!

For Tim, that was learning and writing a series of books, which he’s truly passionate about. For me, that’s traveling, learning, and working on startups that are “high risk” or have a long road to generating revenue. For you, maybe it’s spending time with your kids and not having to take overtime when it’s offered to you. In any case, the goal is to spend as little time as possible to cover your basic needs; if you want to spend more time to make more money, that’s always an option — but you want it to be an option, not a necessity.
I had the same experience when my name’s frequency on the call schedule dropped for reasons that no one would discuss and were not easily discerned except by those in the know (who were staying mum). I went and found another job…. and I wish that I had found something with passive income – it’s been several years now that I’ve been working 2-3 part time jobs and I’m trying to figure out what my other thing is going to be… still working on that, but I am thankful that there are others out there discussing side gigs and alternatives to medicine.
It’s a (mostly) short term, higher risk, higher reward place to invest cash that has a low correlation with the stock market, but is far more passive than buying and managing properties, has more opportunity for diversification than private placements (minimums of 5-10K, rather than 100K), and most of the equity offerings (and all of the debt offerings) provide monthly or quarterly incomes. Unlike a REIT, you can choose exactly which projects you wish to invest in.
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.
​Affiliate marketing is the practice of partnering with a company (becoming their affiliate) to receive a commission on a product. This method of generating income works the best for those with blogs and websites. Even then, it takes a long time to build up before it becomes passive. If you want to get started with affiliate marketing check out this great list of affiliate marketing programs.

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Hi there. I am new here, I live in Norway, and I am working my way to FI. I am 43 years now and started way to late….. It just came to my mind for real 2,5years ago after having read Mr Moneymoustache`s blog. Fortunately I have been good with money before also so my starting point has been good. I was smart enough to buy a rental apartment 18years ago, with only 12000$ in my pocket to invest which was 1/10 of the price of the property. I actually just sold it as the ROI (I think its the right word for it) was coming down to nothing really. If I took the rent, subtracted the monthly costs and also subtracted what a loan would cost me, and after that subtracted tax the following numbers appeared: The sales value of the apartment after tax was around 300000$ and the sum I would have left every year on the rent was 3750$……..Ok it was payed down so the real numbers were higher, but that is incredibly low returns. It was located in Oslo the capital of Norway, so the price rise have been tremendous the late 18 years. I am all for stocks now. I know they also are priced high at the moment which my 53% return since December 2016 also shows……..The only reason this apartment was the right decision 18 years ago, was the big leverage and the tremendous price growth. It was right then, but it does not have to be right now to do the same. For the stocks I run a very easy in / out of the marked rule, which would give you better sleep, and also historically better rates of return, but more important lower volatility on you portfolio. Try out for yourself the following: Sell the S&P 500 when it is performing under its 365days average, and buy when it crosses over. I do not use the s&P 500 but the obx index in Norway. Even if you calculate in the cost of selling and buying including the spread of the product I am using the results are amazing. I have run through all the data thoroughly since 1983, and the result was that the index gave 44x the investment and the investment in the index gives 77x the investment in this timeframe. The most important findings though is what it means to you when you start withdrawing principal, as you will not experience all the big dips and therefore do not destroy your principal withdrawing through those dips. I hav all the graphs and statistics for it and it really works. The “drawbacks” is that during good times like from 2009 til today you will fall a little short of the index because of some “false” out indications, but who cares when your portfolio return in 2008 was 0% instead of -55%…….To give a little during good times costs so little in comparison to the return you get in the bad times. All is of course done from an account where you do not get taxed for selling and buying as long as you dont withdraw anything.
Passive income is a great tool for building retirement income faster, paying off debts, and, ultimately, retiring early and comfortably. If you have passive income during your retirement years, you potentially could live as well as you did during your peak earning years. Passive income is money you earn without doing actual labor. Often times, it comes from investments, such as in rental properties, stocks, bonds, annuities, and other investments.
Great job, note the home upsizing works only in appreciating housing markets (I’ve done a similar this in CA but it was 7 years same home to gain almost 500k profit which is around the govt cap for tax-free home profits. What a gift! Thanks booming economy and generous govt taxation on home profits). Those proceeds bought our next house cash and invested the remainder in domestic stock (which has been equally profitable).
I really enjoyed how you listed all of the reasons to build passive income streams as well as the framework. You also made an interesting point about freelance writing on how the more skilled writers want to keep posts for their own website. Good insight because freelance writing is something I’ve been looking into for income recently. Also, it’s amazing what you’ve been able to accomplish with your blog over the past 6 years. It’s so motivational to see the success of Financial Samurai. I’m not in a place to afford any consulting, but, I wish I could pick your brain or get mentored by a successful blogger such as yourself…Not trying to blow smoke lol. It would just be so great to have someone who’s done it provide guidance around the direction of the blog, ways to earn, and on the general concept. Always enjoy your posts. Thanks for sharing :)
That strategy seems waaaayyyy less risky than actively picking stocks of supposedly “reliable” stocks that issue dividends, which could be cut at any time due to shifting industry trends and company performance. Dividend investing feels like an overly complex old-school way of investing that doesn’t have a very strong intellectual basis compared to index investing.
Again, no leader worth her salt will be attracted to such an opportunity. And anyone you do hire to lead the value creation, if they have two brain cells, will see that she's the one adding all the value. Sooner or later she will simply find a way to cut you out of the value chain, either by requiring more and more compensation, or by going off and competing against you (and actively at that.) Why does she need you? You're not adding any value anyway!
Instead of working in the service framework, passive income necessitates that we build (or otherwise acquire) something that inherently contains value, which can then be easily and repeatedly transferred to others with little or no work. Plain and simple, we have to create or buy valuable assets, preferably ones that deliver their value automatically. There are a lot of ways to do this, but they all fall into the 3 categories above, and realistically, a lot of them look like different flavors of the same thing.
Remember, the skills you have are an asset, they are your “unfair advantage.” They are essential to your unique personal brand, and you can start making money online using those skills if you have the right strategy, tactics, and mindset in place. Another way to describe this is your “unfair advantage,” a term I was first introduced to by Lain Ehmann in SPI Podcast Session #37.
Thanks for the great article…although I have to point out many of the items listed are not passive but active, such as selling bodily fluids, writing blogs or resumes, and collecting bottles and cans. To be truly passive, the income source must require no effort on your part (after initial setup). Real estate, dividends, P2P lending…these are truly passive income sources.
I rent out a 3 bedroom townhouse I bought back in 2009. My tenants have ranged from students, to the most lovely, most responsible couple who themselves own a home in another state. They take great care of the house, automatically send checks from their bank, and have only had 1 or 2 problems in the last 2 years (the neighbor’s house caught on fire). They’re awesome, and I’m so thankful to have them.

Let’s say you just decided to sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card. Once you had the card in hand, you could begin using it for purchases and earning cash back for every swipe. For every dollar you spend on regular purchases, you’ll get 1 percent back in the form of rewards. For dining and travel purchases, on the other hand, you’ll score a smooth 2 percent back.
If you can max out your 401k or max out your IRA and then save an additional 20%+ of your after-tax, after-retirement contribution, good things really start to happen. If one is looking for earlier financial independence, such as retiring in their 40s or early 50s, it may be a good idea to skew towards more after-tax savings and investments given one has to wait until 59.5 to withdraw from their 401k or IRA penalty-free.
Another great way to get started is to identify an area of interest you have. For instance, Robert Duff has been successful in building passive income by selling books on Amazon. Then, go out and start talking to people. Ask them, “What are you struggling with right now? What are your biggest pains? What’s something you wish existed that doesn’t?” That’ll give you some ideas about where to get started.
Speaking from our own experience, you can’t be a passive McDonald’s franchisee. Every McDonald’s potential franchisee will need to complete at least thousands of hours of training before he/she would be approved to acquire a franchise and only if he/she has the financial resources to acquire a franchise. It could take years before one would get a single store franchise. Until the franchisee eventually has acquired multiple stores and established his/her own management team, the franchisee would have to put his/her nose to the grindstone and work his/her ass off every day. I won’t call it a passive investment by any stretch of imagination.
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