Greg Johnson is a personal finance and frugal travel expert who leveraged his online business to quit his 9-5 job, spend more time with his family, and travel the world. With his wife Holly, Greg co-owns two websites – Club Thrifty and Travel Blue Book. The couple has also co-authored a book, Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You'll Love. Find him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @ClubThrifty.
Another great way to get started is to identify an area of interest you have. For instance, Robert Duff has been successful in building passive income by selling books on Amazon. Then, go out and start talking to people. Ask them, “What are you struggling with right now? What are your biggest pains? What’s something you wish existed that doesn’t?” That’ll give you some ideas about where to get started.
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.

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.


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I’ve never invested in real estate (except to live in), but am always intrigued by communities like FS who seem to have such a passion for it. My intrigue stems back to my earlier comments that the long term trends in appreciation in real estate are simply not very competitive versus equities, despite what Robert Kiyosaki had to say in his book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
What are your thoughts on an Immediate Annuity as a passive income vehicle? I suppose it’s not a great investment since you never get your principal back, but the risk is zero and the cash flow is fairly good, approaching 6% currently. And, since you are guaranteed payments for life, you may not care that you never see your principal again anyway since you’ll be dead!

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Speaking from our own experience, you can’t be a passive McDonald’s franchisee. Every McDonald’s potential franchisee will need to complete at least thousands of hours of training before he/she would be approved to acquire a franchise and only if he/she has the financial resources to acquire a franchise. It could take years before one would get a single store franchise. Until the franchisee eventually has acquired multiple stores and established his/her own management team, the franchisee would have to put his/her nose to the grindstone and work his/her ass off every day. I won’t call it a passive investment by any stretch of imagination.

Basically, an affiliate connects a customer with a desired or needed product. The affiliate is responsible for marketing to drive sales to the retailer. It is best to purchase a domain name and build a user-friendly website to draw customers and convert them to purchasing the chosen product. Build interest through pay-per-click advertising, content articles about the product, and through posting on forums with a relevant website link.

Investing in rental properties is an effective way to earn passive income. But it often requires more work than people expect. If you don’t take the time to learn how to make it a profitable venture, you could lose your investment and then some, says John H. Graves, an Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF) in the Los Angeles area and author of “The 7% Solution: You Can Afford a Comfortable Retirement.”

Anthony, nice setup! To your question about the rental mortgages, you haven’t said what interest rate you are paying. As a start, if you are paying more than the risk free rate (Treasury bills) which you probably are, then a true apples to apples comparison would be yes, pay off the mortgage. But, if you are comfortable taking more risk, you have other options to invest in which you *hope* will yield you more over the coming years. You also didn’t say whether the rentals generate net income and if so, how much? What is the implied rate of return on the equity you have invested in them? If you pay the mortgages off, you’ll have even more equity tied up, will the extra net income make that worthwhile? Maybe you should use the money to buy more rentals instead, if purchase opportunities still exist in your town. … this is less of an answer than a framework to analyze the decision, hope it is helpful.
I’ve never invested in real estate (except to live in), but am always intrigued by communities like FS who seem to have such a passion for it. My intrigue stems back to my earlier comments that the long term trends in appreciation in real estate are simply not very competitive versus equities, despite what Robert Kiyosaki had to say in his book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
I also noticed that in your passive income chart at the bottom that you don’t include your internet income other than sales from your book. Is there a reason for that? Do you not consider is passive because you are actively blogging all the time to create it? Or do you just not want readers to know how much money you generate from blogging activities?
The problem with MLM or network marketing is the “dream”. Recruiters sell you a dream, residual income without work, easy money, every thing that breaths will buy the product or service, you don’t have to sell anything: only change brands (instead of buying your traditional Colgate toothpaste buy the USANA toothpaste, even if it is $5.oo more expensive), Everybody is your prospect, lead. Cold selling, recruiting your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers.
It’s important to note that you do need to legally disclose your affiliate relationship with all affiliates. Make sure you have a standard disclosure on each page of your website that includes affiliate links, and that you have a full disclosure page somewhere where your potential clients can learn more. You don’t want to go through all the work of developing your packages only to find out they’re not compliant.

Coming from traditional employee positions, we are most familiar with linear income. If you work 40 hours per week, you get paid for 40 hours per week. And if you aren’t working, you aren’t getting paid. With residual income, you may put in a lot of unpaid hours upfront but then reap the rewards for months or years down the road. When done correctly, residual income can generate far more money than what it would if you were exchanging your time for an hourly wage.

Large corporations often use a higher rate than the risk-free interest rate when calculating the residual value of individual departments or an entire firm. They often called this rate the required rate of return or minimum acceptable rate of return. There are various ways of calculating such a rate, but the main reason it is almost always higher than the rates offered by certificates of deposit is the higher risk involved in a business. After all, investing money in even the safest corporation involves some risk of never again seeing part or all of your money again, whereas a bank deposit is government guaranteed and virtually fail-proof. Therefore, businesses consider themselves to be adding economic value only if they can surpass a higher benchmark than the risk-free interest rate offered by banks.
The biggest surprise is real estate being second to last on my Passive Income Ranking List because I’ve written that real estate is my favorite investment class to build wealth. Physical real estate doesn’t stack up well against the other passive income sources due to the lack of liquidity and constant maintenance of tenants and property. The returns can be huge due to rising rental income AND principal over time, much like dividend investing. If you are a “proactive passive income earner” like myself, then real estate is great.
If you’ve got a book you’re itching to write, you can still go with the traditional publishing route. (We published our first book using a traditional publisher.) Whether your book is fiction or non-fiction, a publisher can help get your book into print and onto shelves in both online and traditional book stores. This is still a good route, although it may take more work and be more expensive than some other options.

Investing in a business: Another good way to generate passive income is to invest in a business --even a small one -- in return for a percentage of the profits - just like Shark Tank, only smaller. Lending $10,000 to a local business that, for example, is working on a mobile app for Apple phones could lead to a passive income-generated share of the profits when that mobile app starts selling like hot cakes.
Whatever you do, there is someone who wants to know how to do it too. I think selling your knowledge is key in a world of growing entrepreneurs. We need to be able to do it all, and online education is growing and expanding every day with new students waiting to learn what you know… so teach them and earn money while doing it through an online course on a site like Udemy!
If you don’t have an IRA or 401K, then not only are missing out on a great opportunity to earn passive income, but you are likely paying way more in taxes than you should be as well. By opening an IRA with Betterment, you can save up to $5500 of income without having to pay income taxes on that money. Betterment will then automatically invest that money for you using their proven investment strategies.
If you’re worried about launching a new product, and think you might need some feedback to make it really good, Flynn recommends “pre-selling” an idea — for instance, offering a limited number of spots or seats into, say, a course you create and giving the test group specialized attention so you can see how to improve the content. Once it’s revised (or, if it’s software, once all the bugs are removed), you could open it up to your whole audience.
The craziest part of this was I’d wake up in the morning and there would be more money in my bank account, from people who had bought my book overnight. When you think about it, an online store that sells something that’s digital is something that’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Using tools, software and systems, you can automate the delivery process so you literally don’t have to do anything to serve that audience. That’s super powerful.
2. eBooks: As bloggers, we solve problems. Think about some of your most popular posts or the questions your readers are always asking you about. Could you expand on those posts to create a short eBook you could make available for sale? Could you do the same with answers to those FAQs? eBooks are inexpensive offerings and a great way to dip your toes into the world of product creation. You can not only offer them for sale on your own site, but also on Amazon Kindle.
It’s important to note that you do need to legally disclose your affiliate relationship with all affiliates. Make sure you have a standard disclosure on each page of your website that includes affiliate links, and that you have a full disclosure page somewhere where your potential clients can learn more. You don’t want to go through all the work of developing your packages only to find out they’re not compliant.
Mobile apps are made to help make lives and tasks easier, to develop skills, or to entertain. There are all kinds of apps catering to different user profiles. With almost every individual owning a smartphone or an android gadget, you can make a lot of money by developing and selling your own mobile app. As this article shares, “If you can come up with something unique, you can make quite a bit of money. Simple – yet unique – apps can be pretty passive.”
The idea of long term residual income is a powerful one.  Who does not want to do work once and reap the benefits for years to come. The sad reality is this idea is used to convince people to join a business opportunity that can’t provide long term residual income. Don’t waste 3-5 years of your life for something that you will not find in a MLM scam.
If you need cash flow, and the dividend doesn’t meet your needs, sell a little appreciated stock. (or keep a CD ladder rolling and leave your stock alone). At the risk of repeating myself, whether you take cash out of your portfolio in the form of “rent”, dividend, interest, cap gain, laddered CD…., etc. The arithmetic doesn’t change. You are still taking cash out of your portfolio. I’m just pointing out that we shouldn’t let the tail wag the dog. IOW, the primary goal is to grow the long term value of your portfolio, after tax. Period. All other goals are secondary.
​I’ve been into home décor lately and I had to turn to Etsy to find exactly what I wanted. I ended up purchasing digital files of the artwork I wanted printed out! The seller had made a bunch of wall art, digitized, and listed it on Etsy for instant download. There are other popular digital files on Etsy as well such as monthly planners. If you’re into graphic design this could be an amazing passive income idea for you.
I just wanted to say how nice it is to see such a positive exchange between strangers on the Internet. Seriously, not only was this article (list) motivating and well-drafted, the tiny little community of readers truly were a pleasant crescendo I found to be the cause of an inward smile. Thank you, everyone, and good luck to you all with your passive income efforts!! 🙂
Growing an email list can help business owners build a relationship and trust with their readers. Setting up the technical components of email marketing, along with developing content for consistent communication are both services people can offer. With your packages for these services, you can include affiliate links to the email service providers you enjoy working with.
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Let’s say a company earns $1 a share and pays out 75 cents in the form of a dividend. That’s a 75% dividend payout ratio. Let’s say the next year the company earns $2 a share and pays out $1 in the form of dividends. Although the dividend payout ratio declines to 50%, due the company wanting to spend more CAPEX on expansion, at least the absolute dividend amount increases.
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.
Another benefit of investing in rental properties is the loan pay down. If you obtain a loan to buy the property, each month your tenants are paying off part of the loan. Once the mortgage on the property has been paid off, your cash flow will increase dramatically, allowing your mediocre investment to skyrocket into a full-fledged retirement program.
Investing in rental properties is an effective way to earn passive income. But it often requires more work than people expect. If you don’t take the time to learn how to make it a profitable venture, you could lose your investment and then some, says John H. Graves, an Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF) in the Los Angeles area and author of “The 7% Solution: You Can Afford a Comfortable Retirement.”
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!
According to Uncle Sam, you need to be "materially involved" in an enterprise to earn active income. With passive income, it's just the opposite, as the IRS deems you to be earning passive income if you're not materially involved with a profit-making enterprise. By and large, expect income to be taxable if you are engaged in a passive income enterprise. You will need to report earnings to the IRS.
Making legitimate passive income isn’t as difficult as you might think. Some of the best passive income ideas might take a little time to set up but can start cash flowing within a couple of months and will provide a consistent monthly income for years or more. The most important point is just to get started. You make exactly $0 on the passive income sources you never start.
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.
Ayman , MLM has to be one of the most evil and Satanic ventures ever to exist, I have seen so called loving Christians turn into cornered rats when they get called out on the way they deceive people.The real God of the MLM industry is the worship of money and greed and materialistic crap. No one golfs all day or lays around the beach all day in MLM, they can’t afford to, or they would loose their so called residual income as fast as you can drink a $5 protein shake.

Investing in rental properties is an effective way to earn passive income. But it often requires more work than people expect. If you don’t take the time to learn how to make it a profitable venture, you could lose your investment and then some, says John H. Graves, an Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF) in the Los Angeles area and author of “The 7% Solution: You Can Afford a Comfortable Retirement.”
This is an important concept in personal finance because banks typically use this calculation to measure the affordability of a loan. In other words, does Jim make enough money to pay his existing bills and an additional loan payment? If Jim’s RI is high, his loan application will have a greater chance of being approved. If his RI is low, he will probably get rejected for the loan immediately.
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