3) Start as soon as possible. Building a livable passive income stream takes a tremendously long time largely due to declining interest rates since the late 1980s. Gone are the days of making a 5%+ return on a short-term CD or savings account. Today, the best 12-month CD is at 2.5%, and the best money market rate is around 1.85%, which is not bad considering such rates were below 0.5% just a couple years ago. Know that every $100 you save can generate at least $2.5 in passive income.
Andrew Rafal, Founder and President of Bayntree Wealth Advisors in Arizona, recently told me about his push to get clients to diversify their income streams. The Great Recession feels like an eternity ago now that the economy is looking up, he says. The job market is strong and consumer confidence is through the roof. As a result, it’s possible people are getting a little too comfortable.

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.
If you happen to own a home, apartment, or office space, you have a great source for generating passive income at your fingertips. Peer-to-peer property rental site Airbnb has made it extremely easy for real estate owners to make extra money by renting out their homes to guests for short durations. If you're uncomfortable with such a model, you can also use sites like NestAway to find tenants for your property without having to deal with brokers.
Peer-to-Peer Lending: Earn up to 10% in returns by lending individuals, organizations and small companies who don't qualify for traditional financing through peer-to-peer lending platforms like Lending Club. You can lend $100, $1,000, or more to borrowers who meet lending platform financial standards. Like a bank, you'll earn interest on the loan - often at higher returns than banks usually get.
When withdrawing money to live on, I don’t care how many stock shares I own or what the dividends are – I care about how much MONEY I’m able to safely withdraw from my total portfolio without running out before I die. A lot of academics have analyzed total market returns based on indices and done Monte Carlo simulations of portfolios with various asset allocations, and have come up with percentages that you can have reasonable statistical confidence of being safe.
Airbnb is a concept that has only been around for a few years, but it has exploded around the globe. Airbnb allows people to travel all around the world and to stay in accommodations that are a lot less expensive than traditional hotels. They do this by staying with participating Airbnb members who rent out part of their homes to travelers. By participating in Airbnb, you can use your residence to accommodate guests and earn extra money just for renting out space in your home.
1. Spouse income - If the husband/wife is also earning, it acts as a buffer for both of them. In today’s economic environment, job security is a thing of the past. Having the spouse earn is a big positive. This second income can be used towards the burden of household expenses, towards investing for the future, and as a back-up to the first income etc. Even if the spouse wants to work from home, today there are options - freelance work, part-time work, flexi-hour work, tuitions, cooking/catering, designing, etc can all be done from home. And money is good too. 

If you know anything well, a place, how to fix something, how to make something, how to do something, you can write a guide for it. You can sell your guide as an e-book, offer it as a download for a fee on your site or reach out to bloggers with similar content and ask if they will offer it as a paid download on their website (for a price of course).

Real estate crowdsourcing allows you to surgically invest as little as $5,000 into a residential or commercial real estate project for potentially 8 – 15% annual returns based off historical data. Such returns are much better than the average private equity, CD, bond market, P2P lending, and dividend investing returns. With P2P lending, borrowers can sometimes default and leave you with nothing. At least with real estate crowdsource investing, there’s a physical asset that’s backing your investment.

For those willing to take on the task of managing a property, real estate can be a powerful semi-passive income stream due to the combination of rental and principal value appreciation. But to generate passive income from real estate, you either have to rent out a room in your house, rent out your entire house and rent elsewhere (seems counterproductive), or buy a rental property. It’s important to realize that owning your primary residence means you are neutral the real estate market. Renting means you are short the real estate market, and only after buying two or more properties are you actually long real estate.


Still, you can expect to make a few hundred dollars to a few thousands dollars per month with one ebook depending on how good it is. The more value that you can add through that ebook, the more likely it’s going to be successful. Focus on value here and not on how to do the least amount of work for the greatest return if you actually want to succeed with this.
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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.
Ebooks are one of my favorite sources of passive income. Now, you can do this the simple way and just publish it on Amazon's KDP. Or, you can go all out and build yourself a book funnel. Book funnels are powerful, but they won't be fully passive. For example, if you do a free-plus-shipping offer for your ebook (converting it into a physical book), you'll need to create some one-time offers (i.e. extra training) and up-sells (i.e. an audiobook). But, a book funnel can be very powerful.
Secondly – and this is just quibbling – I’d change that risk score. The risk of private equity is incredibly high and should be considerably riskier than bonds! You are providing a typically very large amount of capital to one business that you agree to have no control over, and the success or failure of that business over a locked, predefined term determines your return. And in the few deals I’ve negotiated for clients, my experience has been that there are often management fees, performance fees, etc. that may cut into your potential gains, anyway. You’re putting a lot of eggs in one basket, and promising an omelet or two to the management no matter what. You really need to be confident that you found the next Uber before you take this giant risk!
While using the residual income as the tool to add performance, the focus is to maximize the income from the project and not the increase in returns. It is also better to use residual income in the undertaking of the new project because the use of ROI will reject any potential projects. The reason for this is that ROI yields lower returns on the initial investment whereas the residual income will maximize the income and not the return on investment.

For example, you can design digital products, like animal clipart or a downloadable wedding poem that could be printed by the customer. Your design could be resold thousands of times without needing to create each item or ship it. Once you create your digital product and list it on a site like Etsy or Ebay, the revenue flows in with little oversight.

3) Start as soon as possible. Building a livable passive income stream takes a tremendously long time largely due to declining interest rates since the late 1980s. Gone are the days of making a 5%+ return on a short-term CD or savings account. Today, the best 12-month CD is at 2.5%, and the best money market rate is around 1.85%, which is not bad considering such rates were below 0.5% just a couple years ago. Know that every $100 you save can generate at least $2.5 in passive income.
Domain names cannot be replicated. If one is taken, the only recourse would be to approach the owner to discuss a sale. While there are other variations you could choose, sometimes owning a certain domain (especially if it is attached to your business) can be worth the premium. Often, people will scout out domain names that are still available, buy them, and then sit on them in order to sell them down the road. Depending on who may want the domain down the road, you could sell it for a large markup.
So as you can see from the above example, using the concept of residual income, although Company X is reporting a profit on its income statement, once its cost of equity is included in relation to its return to shareholders, it is actually economically unprofitable based on the given level of risk. This finding is the primary driver behind the use of the residual income method. A scenario where a company is profitable on an accounting basis, it may still not be a profitable venture from a shareholder's perspective if it cannot generate residual income.
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.
Freelance writer: If you have a knack for writing, you can earn great money writing for others. Not sure how to start? Contact bloggers, who are always looking for great writing. As blogs grow, they can afford to pay freelancers good money for quality articles. Websites looking to build links also hire freelancers to write guest posts to be published on blogs and websites.
Investing in rental properties is an effective way to earn passive income. But it often requires more work than people expect. If you don’t take the time to learn how to make it a profitable venture, you could lose your investment and then some, says John H. Graves, an Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF) in the Los Angeles area and author of “The 7% Solution: You Can Afford a Comfortable Retirement.”
I’ve now only got a SF rental condo and a Lake Tahoe vacation rental in my real estate rental portfolio. Although I miss my old house, I certainly don’t miss paying $23,000 a year in property taxes, another mortgage, dealing with leaks and managing terrible tenants. I drove by the other day and couldn’t believe how much noisier and busier the street was than where I currently live. I wouldn’t be comfortable raising my son there.
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I do agree that a few of these ideas are not bad, but for me the problem with some of these platforms has been that I’m not from the USA. So, I can’t operate there. It’s a really interesting possibility to get some extra bucks from doing what you would do either way, like shopping. One of the best projects so far that I have seen is FluzFluz. It’s simple and really easy to use for everyone who uses Uber, Amazo, or other apps. The best part of all is that you can get some passive income – not just from your own purchases, but from other people’s as well. I hope one day it will make it here to your list. I think it’s worth it to check out.

The best resource for publishing your ebook would be through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program. Clearly, Amazon is the leader when it comes to digital book sales. However, be sure that you do the proper research before trying to publish an ebook and ensure that your topic has a big audience, but that it’s not too big. You don’t want to get lost in the fray.
Secondly – and this is just quibbling – I’d change that risk score. The risk of private equity is incredibly high and should be considerably riskier than bonds! You are providing a typically very large amount of capital to one business that you agree to have no control over, and the success or failure of that business over a locked, predefined term determines your return. And in the few deals I’ve negotiated for clients, my experience has been that there are often management fees, performance fees, etc. that may cut into your potential gains, anyway. You’re putting a lot of eggs in one basket, and promising an omelet or two to the management no matter what. You really need to be confident that you found the next Uber before you take this giant risk!

The members and brokers that Brad recruited, as well as the members and brokers that those people recruited, were considered Brad’s “downline.” At the time of the divorce, Brad’s downline consisted of thousands of members and brokers, earning Brad a residual income of about $27,000 per month. The trial court was tasked with determining just how to divide the residual income, generated by Brad’s downline, between the two parties.

"That's certainly true for entrepreneurs, but even for people who work inside a company, cultivating a side income stream of some sort — whether it's having an Etsy store on the side, or doing a little bit of coaching or having a workshop now and then, whatever it is, doing a little bit of paid speaking — having that sideline gives you additional protection against uncertainty and also has a lot of other benefits.
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.
We can forecast per-share residual income as forecasted earnings per share minus the required rate of return on equity multiplied by beginning book value per share. Alternatively, per-share residual income can be forecasted as beginning book value per share multiplied by the difference between forecasted ROE and the required rate of return on equity.
Acorns: Acorns is a great way to start investing and building wealth. As it turns out, Acorns will pay you $5 to start investing with them for as little as $1. That’s a 500% return, plus it’s probably time you started investing for your future. They even have features like round-up and found money that allows you to get free money from places you already shop at.
stREITwise offers a hybrid investment between traditional REIT fund investing and the new crowdfunding. The fund is like a real estate investment trust in that it holds a collection of properties but more like crowdfunding in its management. The fund has paid a 10% annualized return since inception and is a great way to diversify your real estate exposure.
The best resource for publishing your ebook would be through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program. Clearly, Amazon is the leader when it comes to digital book sales. However, be sure that you do the proper research before trying to publish an ebook and ensure that your topic has a big audience, but that it’s not too big. You don’t want to get lost in the fray.
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.
The bottom line is, it’s smart to have multiple income streams no matter who you are. Why? Because the more ways you can earn money without compromising your integrity, the better off you’ll be. And if you’re self-employed, having multiple income streams is almost essential. Not only will you enjoy a higher income, but you won’t go broke if one stream ends out of the blue.

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.


Hi Sam – Started reading your posts last year when I stumbled upon your website. Great stuff! I’ve also started investing in RealtyShares based on your recommendations. Just curious why all equity, when there are several debt offerings in the 8-9%+ range that only tie up capital for 12 months or so? I haven’t yet gone the equity route for this reason. Appreciate your thoughts.

I love real estate investing, but it requires a lot of upfront capital plus you are going to have to learn to love your tenants (see point 6 below)! Crowdfunded real estate investing gives you a way to still invest in the real estate market, without having to necessarily put in a lot of money upfront. It’s definitely a much more passive investment than owning a flat or a house!


Peer-to-peer lending means loaning money to other people. Specifically, you lend money to people who don’t qualify for traditional financing. Companies like Lending Club and Prosper offer returns in the range of 4-10%, which are a lot higher than a typical saving account. You will be able to select the right investment for you, based on your risk assessment strategy.
If you need cash flow, and the dividend doesn’t meet your needs, sell a little appreciated stock. (or keep a CD ladder rolling and leave your stock alone). At the risk of repeating myself, whether you take cash out of your portfolio in the form of “rent”, dividend, interest, cap gain, laddered CD…., etc. The arithmetic doesn’t change. You are still taking cash out of your portfolio. I’m just pointing out that we shouldn’t let the tail wag the dog. IOW, the primary goal is to grow the long term value of your portfolio, after tax. Period. All other goals are secondary.
Passive income differs from active income which is defined as any earned income including all the taxable income and wages the earner get from working. Linear active income refers to one constantly needed to stay active to maintain the stream of income, and once an individual chooses to stop working the income will also stop, examples of active income include wages, self-employment income, martial participation in s corp, partnership.[4] portfolio income is derived from investments and includes capital gains, interest, dividends, and royalties.[5]
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.
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Recently, the residual income (RI) model has become very popular in valuation because it purports to measure "value added" by explicitly taking into account the cost for capital in the income statement. Some proponents of the residual income approach have even suggested that the RI model is superior to the discounted cash flow (DCF) method and consequently, the DCF model should be abandoned in favor of the RI model. The residual income model is seductive because it purports to provide assessments of performance at any given point in time. The claim that the RI model is superior to the DCF model in valuation is puzzling because the RI model is simply an interesting algebraic rearrangement of the DCF model. Since the same information is used in both models, it is not unexpected that both models should give the same valuation results.
Fundrise – With a minimum investment of just $500, investors of all types can make crowd-funded real estate investments through Fundrise. This means you get the benefits of being a landlord without actually having to deal with owning or managing the properties yourself. Even though we own 2 rental properties, we recently began investing in Fundrise ourselves. We love it because there is no “accredited investor” requirement, making it far more accessible for the average person than the other two options below. Follow the link above to learn more, or read our full review here.
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