So many readers have asked me “How do you invest your money?”.  And so I’ve shared my thoughts on building a smartly diversified portfolio for long term returns.  Of course, this is great when you have a large capital base and 30-40 year time horizon.  For example if you are compounding at just 5-10% but doing it over 40 years and from a large starting base, plus you are topping it up monthly with new funds, you can enjoy ridiculous returns.
(Of course, you can also always get passive income by buying-and-holding US Treasuries, which are paying out around 4.2%. The BLS just reported inflation at 3.6%. No one's going to get rich with that level of passive income net of inflation. And according to Shadow Government Statistics, the real rate of inflation you and I are actually experiencing---including at the grocery store checkout line, at the gas pump, and at the doctor's office---not the massaged statistics the government puts out, is actually much higher, perhaps up to 11%. So government bonds could actually be not passive income---however meager---but passive losses.)
It was at that moment that I realized that I am not in control of my career or my financial well-being. In our group, shifts and hours equated directly to money. I was a highly-paid hourly worker, but the job was only as good as the hours I was given. To acquire additional hours, I would have to scramble, hustle, and pick up extra hours when other people were willing to give them up.
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.
Investing in bonds: Similarly, bonds are an attractive way to engage in passive income. Over a recent 45-year period, bonds funds, as measured by Vanguard Funds, returned 7.1%. Of course, there's no guarantee that investments in stocks or bonds will always work out well, investing in them is by far the surest way to generate money through passive income.
Amazon affiliate program is a great way to promote physical products through a reliable, trustworthy, and well-known online store. The fact that everyone knows Amazon is probably their biggest advantage. On the downside, commissions are fairly small - they start at 4% for most products and can go as high as 8% depending upon how many sales you make. However, when you send someone to Amazon, you earn a commission on whatever they buy within 24 hours of clicking your link, whether they end up buying the product you promoted or not. So, for example, if you promoted a book but the person you sent to Amazon ended up buying an expensive camera as well, you’ll get the commission for both the book and the camera. This can add up.
Investing in real estate: Investing in real estate offers more passive income cash potential - but more risk - than investing in stocks or bonds. You'll need substantial amounts of cash to invest in buying a home -- it usually takes 20% down to land a good home mortgage loan. But history shows that home prices usually rise over time, so buying home a for $200,000 and selling it for $250,000 over a five-year time period, for example, is a reasonable expectation when investing in real estate.
In June, he put ads on his site with Google Adsense, and within the first hour, earned $1.08 with three clicks. He earned $5 the first day, $7 the second, and then eventually began pulling in $15-$30 a day. In October, he created an ebook exam study guide priced at $19.99. By month’s end, he earned $7,906.55 — more than he had ever previously earned in a month.
Start-up costs can be prohibitive if you do not have the credit score for a loan or other financing options. Loan standards have loosened since the financial crisis and most can get some type of financing. The use of financing eats into cash flow during the early years but the strategy turns into a viable income stream after you start paying off properties.
The books are pleasantly organized, customers served, teams managed, etc. The problem (in my mind) is that this is hugely time intensive and easily capped. Income = Time x Value, where Time is a finite resource limited to 24 hours a day (or, more realistically, 12).The way most people address this is to change the second variable. They get a law degree, MBA, or PhD, making their time worth more money. This works swell… but it’s still limited. At some point, you’re that lawyer making $550/hr, but your income potential is capped, as willingness to pay more is at it’s highest, and no new time can be created. What to do?
That $200,000 a year might sound like a lot to you, but the median home price in San Francisco is roughly $1.6 million or almost eight times our annual passive income. For a family of three in 2018, the Department of Housing and Urban Development declared that income of $105,700 or below was "low income." Therefore, I consider us firmly in the middle class.
Which all goes back to my point – since companies change in a lot of unpredictable ways, it makes more sense for passive income to just ride the market by investing in a Total Domestic Stock Market, Total Bond Market, and Total International index funds, with allocations that depend on your goals and time horizon. For income, withdraw 4% or less, depending on what research you believe, and you’ve got a pretty low risk strategy.
If your research really does determine that there is some amazing market niche that until now has miraculously gone unnoticed and unserved---dog owners who wish to help their dogs lose weight naturally, for example---sooner or later, word is going to get out that there's money to be made there, and someone is going to create a better ebook or info course or product that serves that market's needs better than yours does, and who markets it better to them than you do. You can't manage this competition while sipping margaritas all day from your paradise restaurant on Fiji. You'll soon see your market share go down the drain---just like all those Açai cleanses. . .
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.
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Rentals, just like stocks, throw off cash. With rentals we call that cash “rent”, and with stocks we call it dividends. A significant difference however is that the S&P 500 has appreciated at ~6% per year (above inflation) for the last 100 years…..Real Estate has had almost 0 growth above inflation. So are rents higher than dividends? Maybe, maybe not. But unless you got one heck of a deal, the delta in rent over dividends will have a very tough time making up for the 6% per year difference in appreciation.

What if there was a way for you to effectively make money while you sleep? Sounds like a dream come true, right? Even for the biggest workaholics, there are only so many hours in a day. If only you could get paid multiple times for something you did once—that’s exactly how passive income works! Thanks to technology, the potential to create multiple income streams is even easier than ever before. We’re no longer held back by the limitations of a traditional 9-to-5 job, and financial freedom is at our fingertips. Even if you already work a full-time job you can still improve your financial health with passive income.


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.

Renting value is exactly what you do when you go to work every day. This is a great way to adhere to our rule against one-time consumption, although you can only rent something to one person at a time (drawback). By renting something, I can generally avoid degradation of the value, or at least lessen it. By renting you a house, I’m charging you for the value of the shelter and comfort, and in fact incur pretty minimal decrease in value as your usage of the house causes wear and tear. When you’re done renting the house, there’s still plenty of value left to rent out, and the fact that you’ve enjoyed a year or two of value doesn’t much matter to the next willing consumer.
“I don’t believe the overnight success exists. There’s a lot of hard work and time involved beforehand,” say Flynn. Angry Birds may have seemed like an overnight success but it was the 52nd game that Rovio created. Flynn says it took him a year or year and a half to build audiences for his most successful sites. (Read these time management expert's tips on the work habits of successful people.)
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.
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.
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.
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).

I have a total of three CDs left. There is no way in hell I’m selling them after holding them for 4+ years so far to take the penalty. The CDs are for 7 years. That would be completely counterproductive. As a result, I feel very stuck with ever getting my CD money back if I wanted to. If the CDs were for just 1 or 2 years, I agree, it doesn’t matter as much. But combine a 7 year term with 4%+ interest is too painful to give up.
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.
Vanguard: Vanguard has a minimum of $50,000 and a fee of 0.3%. Rebalancing is done automatically once every quarter and tax loss harvesting is done on a client-by-client basis. We included Vanguard because clients who invest between $50,000-$500,000 have access to a team of financial advisors. Those with accounts over $500,000 will have a dedicated advisor.

Add Leverage (Mortgage) and you greatly increase the ROI especially from the perspective of using Rents (other peoples money) to pay down the mortgage and increase your equity in the property over time. At this point then yes price appreciation is secondary bonus and we have an arguement of how and why Real Estate can be better than Growth Stocks in some scenarios and for some investors.


Everyone’s an expert in something. Whether you know how to knit infinity scarves or code software like a pro, earn money for your expertise by writing and self-publishing an ebook. Use a service like Amazon Kindle Direct Publish to help you reach a bigger audience, or market the product to your own audience and sell the book on your personal website.
That is a nice list of passive income sources. Actually, the most up-to-date list of dividend growth stocks is the list of dividend champions, maintained by Dave Fish. The list of dividend aristocrats is incomplete at best. For example, the dividend champions list has over 100 companies that have managed to increase dividends each year for at least 25 years in a row. The list of dividend aristocrats has no more than 50 – 60. 

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.

So, armed with my real estate license and this desire to help physicians (and create a business at the same time), I started a real estate company called Curbside Real Estate. My goal was to help physicians buy and sell homes by connecting them to trusted realtors and lenders. It started organically, largely through word of mouth. Next thing you know, I was helping doctors from coast to coast. The business was great and I felt I was making an impact helping physicians, but I still wanted to own my own real estate investment properties.


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. 
However, you should pick a niche and blog about that. If you're launching a money related blog, maybe it'll be about how to make money in real estate or simply how to make money online. Pick the niche and stick to it. If it's a diet and fitness related blog, maybe the niche is the Ketogenic diet, the Atkins diet or some other form of diet or fitness.
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).
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.
Tenants usually move out before the court date but you may have to pay for a removal by the sheriff. All these fees and time delays add up and you can see why it is important to check tenant applicants in the first place. Having a formal eviction procedure will help avoid procrastinating the process and missing out on several months’ worth of rent trying to get tenants evicted.
At age 55, I own high-end rental properties (near the beach) and commercial buildings servicing the medical industry. I was widely criticized during my career for not living up to my income; that is, buying big homes with many fancy cars. I married a great woman who understood that saving and investing today meant a better lifestyle and more freedom tomorrow. Our passive income is half of my active income from sales, but my net worth has increased substantially. We are both happier and healthier than we were in the high-stress pressure cooker of franchise sales. The naysayers have become converts to the concept of passive income, but they have locked themselves into a “big hat, no cattle” lifestyle. It has been a great ride!
I wish I had more time to put into real estate. Given the run up since 2012, I may even be interested in selling my condo that I currently rent out. I need to get it appraised to really see what it’s worth, but I think conservatively it’s gone up ~50%, although rent is probably only up ~10% or so. I am bullish on rents going up in the future… mostly in line with inflation, or perhaps even slightly faster due to constricted credit and personal income growth which should provide a solid supply of renters. At this point, I just don’t want to manage the property. I’ll probably look into a property manager as my time is likely worth turning it into a nearly passive investment.

This is such a fabulous piece. Thank you for your amazing efforts here. I was wondering -any initial thoughts on what one would charge an employer to post a job (for the idea about creating a site to help people with their resumes, etc)? I need to research for sure but was curious if anyone has any ideas on this. I have a background in the corporate world in management and recruiting and have been tossing this idea around for a while but am stuck. Thank you!
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).
Passive income is attractive because it frees up your time so you can focus on the things you actually enjoy. If a doctor wants to earn the same amount of money and enjoy the same lifestyle year after year, they must continue to work the same number of hours at the same pay rate—or more, to keep up with inflation. Although such a career can provide a very comfortable lifestyle, it requires far too much sacrifice unless you truly enjoy the daily grind of your chosen profession. Additionally, once you decide to retire, or find yourself unable to work any longer, your income will cease to exist unless you have some form of passive income.

Let’s continue the vintage BMW idea. Old cars obviously require quite a lot of maintenance. Many people will buy a “fixer upper” with the intention of spending their spare time repairing and restoring it. There’s a very obvious market here: a guide to restoring different BMW models. Depending on your knowledge, you could produce detailed guides for the three or four most popular models and sell them. Not everyone restoring a car will buy them, but some probably will.
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