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.
If you go this route, be prepared to put in quite a bit of work up front. All of these products need to be created, tested and perfected for sale. The good news is that your initial investment will pay off multiple times. Also, there aren’t any production costs as you aren’t making any physical products. But you will still need to devote some time to product development and subsequent marketing, meaning that your work schedule may need to be trimmed a bit.
1) Save Like Nobody Owes You Anything. Passive income starts with savings. Without a healthy amount of savings, nothing works. Your overall “Money Strength” will be an F- if you do not build a financial nut. In our current low interest rate environment, you must save even more than before. It’s important to also realize that the savings I am referring to is AFTER-tax savings. You need to save money after contributing to your 401k and IRAs since you can’t touch pre-tax retirement accounts without a penalty until 59.5. Ideally everyone should max out their pre-tax retirement funds first, but if you don’t have enough funds and want to retire earlier then a decision to have more accessible post tax money will still work.

That depends what you call a “good” lifestyle. Could I rent yachts and get bottle service every weekend living off my passive income? No way. Could I travel 10–15 weeks a year and live in central Tel Aviv with money to spare? Definitely. I was able to earn low 6 figures completely passively. But if you want to make boatloads of money, and step up to the 7-figure territory, then yes, you’re going to need a combination. If, however, you want time to pursue your passions and have a moderate amount of fun, you can definitely sustain yourself with passive income.
Inspired by you, I started a tax/personal finance a month ago. I figured if it works out, it will create a good side income for me. If not, at least I can use the blog to build my brand as a tax lawyer. Other than that, my current investment portfolio is heavily focused on index funds because of its historical performance and tax & cost efficiency. Right now my dividends income every year is about $14,000. I also have a good amount of unrealized capital gains every year from my investment, though I don’t count the capital gains as my passive income as they are paper gains, at least for now.
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.
One of the best ways to build wealth is to get a handle on your finances by signing up with Personal Capital. They are a free online platform which aggregates all your financial accounts on their Dashboard so you can see where you can optimize. Before Personal Capital, I had to log into eight different systems to track 28 different accounts (brokerage, multiple banks, 401K, etc) to track my finances. Now, I can just log into Personal Capital to see how my stock accounts are doing, how my net worth is progressing, and where my spending is going.
Real estate investing falls somewhere in the middle compared to the other strategies we’ve reviewed in the passive income series. The time commitment involved isn’t as strenuous as blogging but is much more continuous than income investing. Start up costs are much higher than blogging or online stores but the benefit of loans gives it more leverage than investing in stocks or bonds.
Many people choose not to take this route because they get intimidated by complex applications and technology. The truth, however, is that you don’t need a fancy platform or special software to create a powerful online course. Your lessons can be sent out as emails, followed by action plans and/or video tutorials. This approach can be even more effective as most people check their email on daily basis. In fact, that’s the exact approach I took with some of my freedom eCourses.

We have decided to invest in 2 ETFs, a multi asset allocation ETF (Fixed Inc, alts and div paying equities) and a preferred stock ETF. This will cover almost 45 percent of our deficit. We will be extremely diversified, can access the markets at a very low cost and the investments are liquid. On this pool of $, we have no plans to invade principal unless the investment grows by 20 percent, which we think is unlikely given the characteristics of the investments.


Crowdfunding is a newer way to invest, having emerged onto the scene just within the last few years. Most people have heard of sites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe, and a very similar concept exists for real estate. Developers are always looking to raise capital to fund their projects. Through the various online platforms, investors have access to these projects and can choose to invest in both residential and commercial properties. See the List of My Favorite Crowdfunding Sites.

Once your audience has grown and you have validation that you’re offering them value, there are many ways to create passive income. You could sell digital products like ebooks or courses, take up affiliate marketing in which you promote other company’s products and earn a commission when you sell that item to your audience, build a community and charge people to be a part of it, create software and sell that, among other avenues. Ask your audience directly what would serve them best, or look at what they’re saying on Twitter, Facebook or other websites, to find out what problems they have and how you could help solve them.
But then figure out your unique selling proposition, what advantage you can offer that the market currently lacks. “My advantage in the passive income marketing space is that I’m not afraid to share my failures or where my income comes from,” says Flynn, who details his impressive income every month. “Transparency is huge,” he says. Referring to the personal bio on his LEED exam site, he says, “You might think I’m not benefitting from putting my story on there, but it helps me establish a relationship with people there. I’m someone who went through the same experience people went through on the site.”
In Eric Reis’s The Lean Startup, a fantastic book about how today’s entrepreneurs and startup companies are approaching the way they create and innovate, Eric talks about how vital it is to use validated learning and scientific experimentation to be able to steer a company in the right direction. In other words, to use customer feedback and quantified data analysis (of real, non-vanity metrics) from a minimal viable product to make decisions and pivot a business one way or another.
Also, if you pursue an income stream like affiliate marketing, your blog can be a source of content that allows you to link to affiliate sites in a way that is seamless and natural. For example, if you are an affiliate marketer for a company that sells productivity tools, you can blog about your own struggles to stay on top of your to do list. Then, you can mention how much those tools have helped you.
Do you know of a successful business that needs capital for expansion? If so, you can become something of a small-time angel investor and provide that needed capital. But rather than offering a loan to a business owner, you instead take an equity position in the business. In this way, the business owner will handle the day-to-day operations, while you will act as a silent partner who also participates in the profits of the business.
I’ve built several businesses since 2008 using one or more of these models. I’ve been featured in magazines and articles across the globe, and since I started my journey I’ve generated over $5M in earnings from these businesses. All of my income and expenses for those businesses dating back to October 2008 have been tracked publicly on SPI.com. You can see 10 years of income reports here.
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 :)
As interest rates have been going down over the past 30 years, bond prices have continued to go up. With the 10-year yield (risk free rate) at roughly 2.55%, and the Fed Funds rate at 1.5% (two more 0.25% hikes are expected in 2018), it’s hard to see interest rates declining much further. That said, long term interest rates can stay low for a long time. Just look at Japanese interest rates, which are negative (inflation is higher than nominal interest rate).
Being able to generate passive income largely depends on your audience, and if they detect that you care more about making money than serving them, you won’t succeed. “Whenever I’ve seen people do something just for the money, they’ve failed because their intentions aren’t driving them in the right direction. It should always be about helping people and about the passion of making others feel better. The byproduct of doing that is generating money,” says Flynn.
Once your audience has grown and you have validation that you’re offering them value, there are many ways to create passive income. You could sell digital products like ebooks or courses, take up affiliate marketing in which you promote other company’s products and earn a commission when you sell that item to your audience, build a community and charge people to be a part of it, create software and sell that, among other avenues. Ask your audience directly what would serve them best, or look at what they’re saying on Twitter, Facebook or other websites, to find out what problems they have and how you could help solve them.
eBay is, of course, the biggest and most popular auction and shopping site out there. You pay a small insertion fee to list your product (starting from 10 cents) and a small portion of the selling price (10%) if your item sells. Currently, insertion fees for your first 50 listings per calendar month are free. Also, if you are planning to sell on regular basis, you may want to consider setting up an Ebay store. Among other things, this will allow you to list your products at reduced rates.
A REIT is a company that owns, operates or finances real estate and allows anyone to invest in portfolios of real estate assets, the same way as stocks: you can purchase individual stock or exchange-traded fund (ETF). You can then earn a share of the income produced through the real estate investment without having to own, manage or finance a property.
If you have a specific and in-depth expertise, like programming, coaching, or consulting, then having a well written sales page on your own website can be rewarding. I do this with my web design, SEO, Social media, and coaching services. If you want to become a highly-paid freelancer, I highly recommend you first build your own online platform so you can share your professional expertise, knowledge, and life story with the world. Here's how to start your first website in less than 24 Hours.
Question: You mention receiving $200k of passive income a year, but your chart shows half of that coming from real estate holdings, and reading between the lines it appears that you hold mortgages against those holdings. Then you conclude that $200k/yr of passive income should be enough to live comfortably anywhere in the world. So are you subtracting your real estate expenses (taxes, insurance, mortgage payments, maintenance, remote property management company fees, etc.) when you report your passive income from those properties? Really I think it’s the net (after taxes and everything) that tells us what is left over to “spend” on living, right? When I set up my spreadsheet to retire early at age 47, I calculated the after-tax income I would need to live. Then I compared that to my income streams (estimating tax on the taxable income streams) to measure the surplus/shortfall. Also some good advice from GoCurryCracker: If you can minimize your taxes so you’re in the 15% tax bracket, you can possibly receive tax-free long term capital gains. I agree with your philosophy that time is more important than money as we age. I am not sure I agree with a philosophy that is fixated on needing such a large income, and would rather minimize taxes if it’s all the same on the happiness meter. Furthermore, having 20 plus income sources in the name of diversification adds stress and requires more management (TIME!). I think this is fine for those of us while young, as we have the energy to work hard. But as time becomes more important, the extra headache of managing, planning, and buying/selling our assets becomes a resented hindrance on par with the resentment we felt when working for an employer and fighting traffic each day to go to a job we hated. Every thing we own in actuality owns us, by virtue of its demands on our time and affections, and that includes investments. It also includes our home, and is a good reason for downsizing. As long as we have food on our table, a roof over our heads, and clothes on our bodies, what more do we need? I think we need to consider freeing ourselves from the weight of the chains of managing too many ventures. Personally, I plan on investing in no more than 5 simultaneous ventures ever, with the exception of some IRAs that I just plan to let sit for the next 20 years (and therefore no thought or anxiety required).
Real Estate Crowdsourcing – After selling my SF rental house in mid-2017 for 30X annual gross rent, I  reinvested $550,000 of the proceeds ($810,000 total) in real estate crowdfunding, based in San Francisco. My goal is to take advantage of cheaper heartland real estate with much higher net rental yields (8% – 12% vs. 2% – 3.5% in SF) and diversify away from expensive coastal city real estate which is now under pressure due to new tax policy which limits SALT deduction to $10,000 and new mortgage interest deduction on mortgages of $750,000 from $1,000,000 for 2018 and beyond.
Peer-to-peer lending ($1,440 a year): I've lost interest in P2P lending since returns started coming down. You would think that returns would start going up with a rise in interest rates, but I'm not really seeing this yet. Prosper missed its window for an initial public offering in 2015-16, and LendingClub is just chugging along. I hate it when people default on their debt obligations, which is why I haven't invested large sums of money in P2P. That said, I'm still earning a respectable 7% a year in P2P, which is much better than the stock market is doing so far in 2018!
×