We’ve discussed how to get started building passive income for financial freedom in a previous post. Now I’d like to rank the various passive income streams based on risk, return, and feasibility. The rankings are somewhat subjective, but they are born from my own real life experiences attempting to generate multiple types of passive income sources over the past 16 years.
If you qualified as a real estate professional for 2017, report income or losses from rental real estate activities in which you materially participated as nonpassive income or losses, and complete line 43 of Schedule E (Form 1040). If you also have an unallowed loss from these activities from an earlier year when you didn’t qualify, see Treatment of former passive activities under Passive Activities, earlier.

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!


In addition, any prior year unallowed passive activity credits from a former passive activity offset the allocable part of your current year tax liability. The allocable part of your current year tax liability is that part of this year's tax liability that‘s allocable to the current year net income from the former passive activity. You figure this after you reduce your net income from the activity by any prior year unallowed loss from that activity (but not below zero).
We have 1 rental at the moment and we are renovating the second one. Last year we generated over $14,000 net passive income (after mortgage payments and taxes) from one apartment, and all I had to do was go in to inspect the property 3 times to make sure the tenants weren’t destroying it! It turned out they kept it in perfect condition and they were lovely people! Call me lucky.

Another great aspect of passive income is that it is often completely scalable. Consider my book. If I sell 10 copies of it, I might get $100. If I sell 100 copies of it, I might get $1000. How much additional work did it take for me to sell those extra 90 books? Zero. And there’s nothing keeping me from selling 1,000 or even 10,000 copies of the book. A website is the same way. No limit on the eyeballs that can view it (as long as I keep upgrading the hosting plan!) Shares of stock are the same way. Owning 100,000 shares is no more work than owning 10 shares. If you’re a real estate investor, once you get your “system” in place (agent, insurance guy, attorney, accountant, property manager, repairman etc) it may not take you much more work at all to own ten properties than to own one. Maybe you do speaking gigs and charge $50 a head. Is it any more work to speak to 500 instead of 50? Not really. Leveraging your money is great, but leveraging your time through scalability is even better.
Writing an e-book is very popular among bloggers, as many have noted that “it's just a bunch of blog posts put together!” You will not only have to make an investment of time and energy to create the e-book, but market it correctly. However, if marketed correctly (through blogging affiliates in your niche, for example), you could have residual sales that last a very long time.
What about getting hit with AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax) in cases your passive income / capital gains are too high? I’m not that familiar with the details of AMT, but I got hit with AMT one time due to an “exercise and hold” of ISOs (stock options). My CPA explained it’s another method of calculating my tax liability, and in cases I gain too much capital gains, the IRS may treat and tax them as ordinary income.
You’re at risk for amounts borrowed to use in the activity if you’re personally liable for repayment. You’re also at risk if the amounts borrowed are secured by property other than property used in the activity. In this case, the amount considered at risk is the net fair market value of your interest in the pledged property. The net fair market value of property is its fair market value (determined on the date the property is pledged) less any prior (or superior) claims to which it’s subject. However, no property will be taken into account as security if it’s directly or indirectly financed by debt that’s secured by property you contributed to the activity.

If you love design and you are an artistic person, selling digital products on Etsy could be a great way to earn passive income. Digital products require little maintenance, your customers will simply receive a link to download them (which means you don’t have to worry about shipping and returns handling). All you need to do is spend time upfront to create beautiful artwork! (Easy right?)

As you may have noticed, there is a common theme throughout all the ways the wealthy generate passive income.  All of them require you, in the beginning, to trade your time for money while building your passive income machine.  Eventually you will be able to leverage that time into exponential passive income while being able to work less and less.  The attitude being a willingness to take some risk, work hard, and create something of value.  If you put good in, you will get good out.  Wealthy people tend to choose this attitude more than others.


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.


You’re personally liable for a mortgage, but you separately obtain insurance to compensate you for any payments you must actually make because of your personal liability. You’re considered at risk only to the extent of the uninsured portion of the personal liability to which you’re exposed. You can include in the amount you have at risk the amount of any premium which you paid from your personal assets for the insurance. However, if you obtain casualty insurance or insurance protecting yourself against tort liability, it doesn’t affect the amount you are otherwise considered to have at risk.
Blogging is still going to take work starting out. That path to $5,000 a month didn’t happen overnight but just like real estate development, it build up an asset that now creates constant cash flow whether I work or not. I get over 30,000 visitors a month from Google search rankings, rankings that will continue to send traffic even if I take a little time off.
Unfortunately, I can’t answer that conclusively one way or the other. It all depends on you, what you like to do, your work ethic, personality, etc. If you are a good writer perhaps you could write a book and make money that way. Or, you could start your own website and do affiliate marketing. Just because you are young it doesn’t mean you can’t make money doing at least a few of these ideas. I wish you luck in your money making efforts!
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