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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.
Stocks, bonds, 401(k)s, annuities, etc. are great ways to earn passive income. If you're not financially savvy, you'll want to hire a financial advisor who'll help you choose the right investments for you. You may want to take a couple of finance classes to understand what your advisor is speaking about when he/she recommends an investment strategy. Done right, investments can pay off for years.
Creating passive income is the key to retiring, especially retiring early. If you want to retire early with the stock market you will have to save a huge amount of money, because that money has to last so long and retirement calculators depend on you using your investment to fund your life. With passive income you will have income coming in as long as you own the investment, without every eating away at the principle invested. Creating passive income may take more work than investing in the stock market, but I think it is well worth the extra effort!