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.
Residual income is different from a salary, or linear income, which is paid out strictly based on the number of hours a person works. Someone who works on a salary is often said to work “paycheck to paycheck.” This is because he pays all of his bills with his first paycheck and then must wait until he gets paid again to have more money. Ideally, someone will work hard building up a business so that he can enjoy the residual income once his goals have been met. Then he can work on additional projects while still earning money from his business.
Companies use the return on investment, or ROI, ratio as a method to measure the rate of return of a company's capital investments. ROI gives companies a means to compare the effectiveness and profitability of any number of investments. Residual income measures the net income an investment earns beyond the lowest return on its operational assets. Each of these measurements enables company management to determine the profit potential of investments in capital improvement, proposed projects or potential acquisitions.
Here's another example. If a person owns apartments that are rented out at a profit, they earn money each month without working a specific number of hours. If the owner earns $100/month net income from each apartment, the determining factor is how many apartments they own, not how many hours they work. Therefore, they may own 1 apartment and make $100 net income each month, or they could own 500 apartments and make $50,000 ($100 per apartment) each month.
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.

I rent out two single family homes. You need to learn about how to analyze your return on investment, get the places rented, and deal with repairs, problem tenants, among other things. If you don’t do your research, you could easily lose money. I have to spend a few days a year managing things, checking up on the properties, finding new tenants, but it is effectively passive. I buy in areas near big universities with stable real estate markets so there is always a fresh crop of new people moving into the neighborhood.

This is a touchy subject amongst some groups, but I want to share my take on it. I have been involved full time in the home business industry for 10+ years. Some of that time has been spent in MLM where the idea of working 3-5 years and creating a walk away residual income is promoted and sold. I have been very fortunate to have tremendous success in that arena, working in that type of compensation model for 7 of my 10 years. During that time frame I’ve had enough time to see trends and see that this promotion of walk away income doesn’t exist.

Residual income is the amount of net income generated in excess of the minimum rate of return. Residual income concepts have been used in a number of contexts, including as a measurement of internal corporate performance whereby a company's management team evaluates the return generated relative to the company's minimum required return. Alternatively, in personal finance, residual income is the level of income that an individual has after the deduction of all personal debts and expenses have been paid.
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