As I’ve thought more deeply about how to answer this question over the years, I’ve come to a realization that the problem is not the answer, but the question itself. For those who’ve asked it, I don’t think it’s always coming from a place of “quick money.” If we reframe the question, I think there’s room to empower and actually help those who’ve asked it—to give them a foundational understanding of what it really means to generate an income online.
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.
Do you want to buy fixer-uppers and remodel the property or do you want to buy homes ready to rent? Many investors immediately think that buying a home that needs a complete remodel, at a steep price discount, will yield the biggest profit. This might be true if you’re willing and able to do the work yourself or hire it out cheaply.For most, heavy real estate remodeling isn’t their strong suit and the home turns into a money trap. I would recommend that new investors start out with homes in need of just cosmetic repairs like painting and carpet. If you manage the rental property yourself, you’ll eventually learn some of the deeper remodeling tasks and can look to buy worse condition properties.

Starting a blog is one of the most popular side hustles to earn online income. This is because whether you have 10 people or 10 million reading your content, the amount of your effort to write an article is the same. Websites have low start-up costs and you can literally buy your domain, launch your site and have a few pages created in less than an hour. You won’t start making money right away, but you will be building towards that first $1 of income.


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.
We pitched to an angel investor group. They were very excited about the idea but wanted to know who amongst us (doctor, accountant, salesman) was doing the coding. When they heard we were outsourcing it, the wind went out of their sails immediately. They did want to meet with us again once we brought a coder on board but that person proved elusive to find. Coders in our area are looking for the steady paycheck, not willing to gamble on a startup.
I guess I just don’t understand why the specific importance of focusing on “dividends” instead of focusing on the total return of your investment, including stock appreciation. I don’t really care if a company decides to issue a dividend or not; presumably, if they don’t issue a dividend, then they’re doing other things to increase the value of the company, which will be reflected in the stock price of the company. As an investor, I can make money by selling a percentage of my holdings or collecting dividends, and I don’t really care how that’s divided up – it’s an artificial distinction.
Hey Mike! Love this article. Recently, I paid off my student loans and am crazy focused on creating multiple passive income streams. Currently, all my passive income comes from real estate and because of your great articles on the subject I called to check out refinance options! I had no clue about CD laddering, dividend investing or P2P lending until two weeks ago when I started doing my research on where to put my hard earned money. I had been just saving it but when I looked at the terrible 0.01% return I said forget it! 2 % for me is a great way to start. It is better than what I have been getting outside of my real estate. Also, creating products is a must! I’m working on this type of royalty too. I find it so exciting to learn how to use your money to make money. Thanks and I will be sure to link to you when I start my blog!
3) Create A Plan. Mark Spitz once said, “If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail.” You must create a system where you are saving X amount of money every month, investing Y amount every month, and working on Z project until completion. Things will be slow going at first, but once you save a little bit of money you will start to build momentum. Eventually you will find synergies between your work, your hobbies, and your skills which will translate into viable income streams.
Track Your Wealth For Free: If you do nothing else, at the very least, sign up for Personal Capital’s free financial tools so you can track your net worth, analyze your investment portfolios for excessive fees, and run your financials through their fantastic Retirement Planning Calculator. Those who are on top of their finances build much greater wealth longer term than those who don’t. I’ve used Personal Capital since 2012. It’s the best free financial app out there to manage your money.

There are really two ways to invest in real estate, direct purchase of property and investment indirectly where you don’t have full control of the property. Direct purchase involves a larger up-front cost but generally higher potential returns. Indirect investment can be made through real estate investment trusts (REITs) or tax liens but does not involve the immediate or direct ownership of the property.
Most people who set up passive income don’t do it so they can lay on a beach all day, or even so they can spend their time learning a third or fourth language (ok, maybe I’m doing that), or living on private islands. No, the point of passive income is to liberate your time for more fruitful endeavors — whatever those may be. If you have the ambition and gall to get out of the “9 to 5 game” and set up passive income, chances are you won’t be happy with sitting on your butt or traveling year round. You’ll want to do something with meaning and purpose.

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).
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! 

The time commitment for real estate investing isn’t as continuous as with blogging but it can be a part-time job if you have enough properties and the wrong tenants. Sacrifice a little return for quality tenants and repair problems right the first time. These two simple ideas will save you a ton of time and turn out to be the more profitable solution over the long-run.
There was a time when CDs would produce a respectable 4%+ yield. Nowadays, you’ll be lucky to find a 5-7 year CD that provides anything above 2.5% The great thing about CDs is that there are no income or net worth minimums to invest, unlike many alternative investments, which require investors to be accredited. Anybody can go to their local bank and open up a CD of their desired duration. Furthermore, a CD is FDIC insured for up to $250,000 per individual, and $500,000 per joint account.

Leverage: With the stock market, you invest your retirement savings or cash on hand. The same is true for private lending. You can leverage rental properties four-to-one, sometimes five-to-one, meaning your $50,000 investment can buy you $200,000-250,000 in real estate. In a rising market, this is a good thing and will maximize your cash on cash return.
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.

In February 2007, Pat Flynn was working at an architecture firm making $38,000 a year. He mulled boosting his earning power by getting an architecture license, but the process would likely take six to eight years. When he heard about getting a credential in sustainable design and environmentally friendly building called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), he decided to go for that, as no one in his department had it. The one problem? The exam was so challenging, just one-third of test-takers passed.
Of course, there’s nothing to say you can’t do both. You can manage your own commercial real estate rentals and flip houses while you have someone else help manage residential rentals. You can invest in REITs and real estate crowdfunding. You’ll get the higher returns of active management while benefiting from the diversification and ease of passive income through other sources.

This company mainly focuses online business and internet marketing products, but there are also other products ranging from health and fitness to travel. One of the great things about DigiResults is that both vendors and affiliates get paid at the point of sale, and not a month or two later like most affiliate marketplaces. I’ve been using their system and so far it’s one of my favorites.

Thanks for writing this Mr. Samurai. I just got over the student loan hump but I feel pretty good about it at 27 having a graduate degree and being 100% debt free. Now that I’m on the other side it is good for my brain to absorb some of your knowledge regarding passive income investments. I love gleaning wisdom from older folks who have been there and done that. Mentors rock!
We usually think of Craigslist as a place to buy and trade random stuff, but Craigslist can actually be a great opportunity to sell your services online to an active and engaged audience. Simply check the “jobs” section and “gigs” section for specific cities and see if anything matches your skills. The great thing about Craigslist is that it is one of the highest converting traffic sources on the internet (think active buyers) which can mean more opportunities at higher pay.
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