I read about early withdrawal penalties on IRAs/401Ks very often. Almost always with a statement of “locked up” or “can’t touch” until 59.5. I’m sure you and well informed readers as well know about SEPPs in regard to IRAs/401Ks. For those that don’t SEPPs aren’t perfect but they are a way to tap retirement funds penalty free and I will be using in the future as I have over half of my equity investments within retirement accounts. South of a mil, North of a half. Let me add that I think your blog is outstanding. 

Of course, you can make honst money in Internet info-products, or affiliate marketing, or other such areas where people tend to get drawn to "passive income" fantasies. But, to make real money over the sustainable long-haul, you must treat these like any other business. In other words, you must provide real value to real customers with a real need. 

Passive income is an incredible tool that everyone should include in their retirement plans. With traditional investing you have to rely on the stock market to increase your investments over time. The longer you have your money invested, the more your money will grow. The stock market does not produce passive income, except in the form of dividends. Most dividends are extremely small and produce small returns on investment. The bulk of stock market returns come from an increase in stock market prices. The only way to realize those increase in value is to sell stock. Retirement calculators that use the stock market as an investment plan on you running out of money when you die because you have to sell all your investments to keep bringing money in.
Non-fiction e-books that educate your potential audience on specific topics like finance, online marketing, and business are going to make you more money than fiction books. Of course, there are always exceptions and you could write the next Harry Potter book, but if you want to create some residual income opportunities quickly, I would suggest you go for what sells first!
Michael Ellsberg is the author of The Education of Millionaires: It’s Not What You Think, and It’s Not Too Late, which is launching from Penguin/Portfolio in September. It’s a bootstrapper’s guide to investing in your own human capital at any age. Michael sends manifestos, recommendations, tips, and other exclusive content to his private email list, which you can join at www.ellsberg.com. Connect with him on Twitter @MichaelEllsberg and on Facebook.

So, I sat down, wrote a few posts, and posted them on a simple website under the name Passive Income MD. I honestly didn’t expect anyone to read it. Well, that was two years ago and so much has happened since. Most notably, I’m now in a position where I am financially independent from medicine. In fact, I’ve started to cut back at work in order to find that happy work-family life balance. I don’t have any desire to quit medicine completely, but I do intend to retire gradually.
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!

This one may seem simple, but that’s only because it is. If you were to move your savings from a traditional, brick-and-mortar bank with a low-interest rate and into a high-yield savings account online, over time you can make a surprising amount of extra cash. Online banks are FDIC-insured just like the traditional brick-and-mortar institutions, so your money is just as safe.

It was easier recouping the lost $60,000 in rental-property income than I expected. For so long, my primary mindset for passive income was rental income. Having $815,000 less mortgage debt but still generating roughly the same amount of passive income with a much larger cash balance feels great. Further, my passive-income portfolio got even more passive, which is good as a stay-at-home dad to a newborn.
Haha, that is too funny. I wanted to make an app back in the day called “MyShares” (You can probably tell how I cam up with the name at the time). The idea was that I would loan out books and DVD’s and then would never get them back. Then I thought, how cool would it be if I could rent those items out and that would motivate people to bring them back. Obviously, books and DVD’s are cheap, so this isn’t the money maker. The idea that would probably make the most money would be things like tools, ATVs, etc.
Rental properties are defined as passive income with a couple of exceptions. If you’re a real estate professional, any rental income you’re making counts as active income. If you’re "self-renting," meaning that you own a space and are renting it out to a corporation or partnership where you conduct business, that does not constitute passive income unless that lease had been signed before 1988, in which case you’ve been grandfathered into having that income being defined as passive. According to the IRS, "it does not matter whether or not the use is under a lease, a service contract, or some other arrangement."
There is a big misconception about rentals & people thinking that it’s passive.. rental income is far from passive. Many people flock to buy rentals as a way to “retire rich” but realize shortly thereafter that it really isn’t that easy or true.. Ask me how i know. I have bought a lot of houses from tired and burnout landlords. Luckily, there are better options out there.
Although YouTube has been around for years, it is gaining in popularity as more people “cut the cord” on their cable TV service. There are plenty of people who are polished and have production quality that rivals many of the movies or TV shows that I watch. However, the vast majority are people just like you and me. Don’t be shy. Trust me, no matter what kind of content you publish, there are people way worse. And you will get better, just give it time.

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.
Perhaps a coworker purposefully tries to make your life miserable because they resent your success. Maybe you get passed over for a promotion and a raise because you weren’t vocal enough about your abilities, and mistakenly thought you worked in a meritocracy. Or maybe you have a new boss who decides to clean house and hire her own people. Whatever the case may be, you will eventually tire.
Maybe such a business is owning a McDonald’s franchise or something. If one has the capital (Feasibility Score 2), then the returns might be good (Return Score 6). But the Risk Score is probably under a 5, b/c how many times have we seen franchise chains come and go? Like, what happened to Quiznos and Jamba Juice? A McDonald’s franchise was $500,000… probably much more now?

6) Always Remember That Everything Is Relative. The best way to determine worthwhile passive income streams is by comparing the likely return (IRR) with the current risk-free rate of return. If I round up, the 10 year bond yield is at 3%. Any new venture should thoroughly beat 3% otherwise you are wasting your efforts since you can earn 3% doing nothing.


I own several rental properties in the mid west and I live in CA. I have never even seen them in person. With good property management in place (not easy to find but possible) it is definitely possible to own cash flowing properties across the country. Not for everyone and not without it’s drawbacks, but it seems to be working for me so far. I’m happy to answer any questions about my experience with this type of investing.
Index funds provide you with a way to invest in the stock market that is completely passive. For example, if you invest money in an index fund that is based on the S&P 500 Index, you will be invested in the general market, without having to concern yourself with choosing investments, rebalancing your portfolio, or knowing when to sell or buy individual companies. All that will be handled by the fund which will base the fund portfolio on the makeup of the underlying index.

We are going to start with 1.5 years of all spending needs in cash. We will draw 1800 to 1900 per month. We will add to this from the index funds by taking a portion of the gains in good years to supplement. This is the total return portion of the equation. Obviously, if stocks decrease drastically over a 5 year period, then I would have to reload by selling some of the ETF holdings.

I’m a 45 year old business owner who also has focussed on diversifying my income streams. I have a short term vacation rental in Florida that I bought for $390k in 2012 and net rental income for the last three years has been growing steadily. 2015 I am at $70k gross right now but should end up at $80-85k with net around $45k plus we use the place about 35 nights a year.

You can earn royalties from online books sold on the Kindle Publishing Platform, and even create comic books through Amazon-owned ComiXology. That's not to mention you can build Alexa skills, sell computer software, Android apps and more. These income sources are not likely to be used to fund the "base family budget," offering a great opportunity to save, Barnett says. That means directing those monies not into a personal account, but auto-drafting them into an investment account.

Whether you take a “distribution” (aka free-cash-flow) in the form of a dividend, interest payment, capital gain, maturing ladder of a CD, etc, you are still taking the same amount of cash out of your portfolio. Don’t fall for the trap of sub optimizing your overall portfolio’s performance because your chasing some unimportant trait called “income”.


First: I understand why you would say that such investments are restricted to only accredited investors, because generally, that’s true. There are means, under federal securities regulations and Blue Sky laws in each state, to sell interests to non-accredited investors – but usually those means are so heavily regulated and involve disclosures so similar to cumbersome registration requirements that it is not worth it for the seller to offer to non-accredited investors.
Few real estate investors pay all cash for their properties. One of the biggest benefits to the real estate business model is the ability to buy on borrowed money and writing off the interest as a business expense for taxes. Without the leverage of financing, my experience is that the return from real estate investing is not worth the risks or headaches.

So many great tips in this big post, thanks! I think it’s so true that people should focus on the things they do well at and are interested in. And yes save, save, save in the beginning and throughout. I have several interest and dividend earning investments and am looking to expand further. Diversification is a great goal for all of us so we can avoid having all our eggs in one basket.
I am 30 years old and am retired. Previously, I made a modest salary as an Army officer. I own three duplexes and a quadplex in central Texas (10 rental units in all), and each of the properties provide me with net rental yields in excess of 15%. The last deal is actually an infinite return as my partner paid the down payment in return for a 50/50 split on a property that would otherwise provide a net rental yield of 18%. The above net rental yields also factor in an excellent property management team who manages my properties while I pursue other investment opportunities. To date, I have never interacted with any of my tenants nor have I ever had to personally deal with any maintenance issues.
Crowdfunded real estate companies like Fundrise are similar to today’s peer-to-peer lending companies. Like Lending Club and Prosper, they offer a platform that matches real estate investors with investment choices. They help people looking to invest money in real estate in a passive manner. Also, investors can avoid bargaining with sellers. No need to get involved in the transfer of ownership and management of those properties either. https://i.ytimg.com/vi/RyiTG4pPbp4/maxresdefault.jpg
When you buy a turn-key rental property you are saving a lot of time and work, by letting the turn-key company complete the repairs, find the property and manage the property. You are giving up equity in the property over buying one yourself, because you aren’t doing any of the work. You have to decide if the time you save is worth the equity you give up. Typical returns I have seen on turn-key properties have been in the 10 percent range.
There are a couple of problems with direct investment in real estate though. It’s expensive to buy even a single property, a minimum of tens of thousands of dollars, and there’s no way most investors can build a portfolio of different property types and in different regions to protect from those risks when you have all your money in just one or two investments.

I've got a $185,000 CD generating 3% interest coming due. Although the return is low, it's guaranteed. The CD gave me the confidence to invest more aggressively in risk over the years. My online interest income has come down since I aggressively deployed some capital at the beginning of the year and again during the February market correction. You'll see these figures in my quarterly investment-income update.


Although it is passive income, I love helping people and find that I actually put in quite a few hours per day creating new products, talking to customers, or getting my name out there. I think you have to have this passion, and you need to keep working for your own sanity, plus to keep you ahead of the competition. Even though it is called passive income, if you lie still for too long, you could start to see your business declining.
So many great tips in this big post, thanks! I think it’s so true that people should focus on the things they do well at and are interested in. And yes save, save, save in the beginning and throughout. I have several interest and dividend earning investments and am looking to expand further. Diversification is a great goal for all of us so we can avoid having all our eggs in one basket.

Roofstock – Investing in rental properties is one of those passive income ideas that can be extremely intimidating, especially when it comes to finding tenants. Roofstock lets you buy properties with as little as 20% down that already have tenants living in them. That means you start getting paid from the first day of your investment. You don’t even have to physically visit the properties!

This one may seem simple, but that’s only because it is. If you were to move your savings from a traditional, brick-and-mortar bank with a low-interest rate and into a high-yield savings account online, over time you can make a surprising amount of extra cash. Online banks are FDIC-insured just like the traditional brick-and-mortar institutions, so your money is just as safe.


Well written piece, but I question the core premise. Why the fascination with maximizing “income” (passive or otherwise). Shouldn’t the goal simply be to maximize long-term after tax growth of your entire portfolio? If this takes the form of dividend paying stocks, so be it. But what if small caps are poised to outperform? What if you want to take Buffet’s or Bogle’s advice and just buy a broad market index like the S&P 500, (no matter what the dividend because you’ll just have it automatically reinvested to avoid the transaction fees).
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.
Of course, you can make honst money in Internet info-products, or affiliate marketing, or other such areas where people tend to get drawn to "passive income" fantasies. But, to make real money over the sustainable long-haul, you must treat these like any other business. In other words, you must provide real value to real customers with a real need.
There are dozens of ways to generate passive income. However, the option you select has to do with two metrics: time and money. Either you have a lot of time or a lot of money. Most people usually don't have both. But, if you have a lot of money, generating passive income almost instantly is easy. You can buy up some real estate and begin enjoying rental income. Or, you can invest in a dividend fund or some other investment vehicle that will begin generating a steady income for you.
Remember, a successful business solves people’s problems. At first, you’re going to have to do the legwork and put in the time. But it’s about building something now so you can reap the benefits later, with the help of software, tools, automation, and people you hire. In this way, you can then turn this business that solves people’s problems into something that generates passive income for you!

Bryan said, "People who have become very wealthy through business have gotten very good at leveraging their time in their pursuit of creating value. They've done that by first creating value, and then automating the process of creating value, so they can scale and provide even more value to more and more people. But it starts with the fact that they already understand how to create value. They understand it so well, that they're able to create that value and then automate and scale the process of creating more of it.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of websites offering users the ability to get paid for taking surveys online. Same as with Cashback sites, if you encounter a survey site where sign up if not free, simply avoid it. I have not checked it myself, but a few online entrepreneurs suggest trying toluna.com. Also, you might want to try Cash Crate - In addition to getting paid for taking surveys, they offer cachbacks and other quick online income perks.
I’ve been researching a path to financial independence, and the wealth of knowledge here is amazing, but at times overwhelming. I’m honestly not quite sure where to start. Whether it be paying off debt (which I’ve always heard is priority 1), or sinking money into realtyshares or CDs for growth. I’d love to generate a passive income (in a few years time) to supplement some of my day job to have time to spend with my little one during her golden childhood years, but not sure if there’s even a right order to go about it.
Bryan added: "If you make your choices based on, not 'how can I get money for free?' but on, 'What challenge can I put in front of my face that's going to have me step up to be the kind of person I'd rather be?' you're going to start to forget about wanting passive income, and you're going to start to focus on what purpose you truly want to create the world."
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