The ideas that follow are not truly “passive income,” in that they require a significant amount of effort. However, I’m defining the term loosely and considering anything where one hour of work does not equal one hour of pay as passive income. The idea is that you put the work in up-front and then reap the benefits down the road. Read on for my top 10 passive income ideas!
​Self Publishing is mainstream today. When you purchase an eBook off of Amazon there’s a pretty good chance you’re buying a self-published book. Self-publishing is also ridiculously easy. I tried this a few years ago and couldn’t believe how simple the process was. To self-publish a book you’ll first need to write and edit it, create a cover, and then upload to a program such as Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. Don’t expect instant success though. There will need to be a lot of upfront marketing before you can turn this into a passive income stream.

In this economy, it seems like more and more of us are looking for a way to earn passive income. Whether we need to pay off credit card debt or just need some extra cash, passive income could come in handy. But what is passive income exactly? Depending on who you ask, it may not be as “passive” as you think. Let’s take a look at what it is and the top ways to make it.
If you make the choice, it is binding for the tax year you make it and for any later year that you are a real estate professional. This is true even if you aren’t a real estate professional in any intervening year. (For that year, the exception for real estate professionals won’t apply in determining whether your activity is subject to the passive activity rules.)
I wanted to specifically call out one particular strategy within equity investing that bears mentioning – dividend growth investing is when you focus on stocks that not only pay a dividend but have a history of strong dividend growth. When I was first building my portfolio of individual stocks, I focused on buying companies with a history of dividends, a history of strong growth, and financials that supported a continuation of both.
The IRS gives more specific limitations as to what it means by “material” participation. For one, it includes if you worked at least 500 hours in a year on the project or more than 100 hours when no one else works more than you. Additionally, if you do at least almost all of the work in an activity, it’s considered material involvement. Even the combination of your work in multiple significant participation activities (SPAs), if it exceeds 500 hours, counts as material participation. There are a few more criteria that would qualify a project as material. You only need to meet one to qualify.
Income from an oil or gas property if you treated any loss from a working interest in the property for any tax year beginning after 1986 as a nonpassive loss, as discussed in item (2) under Activities That Aren’t Passive Activities , earlier. This also applies to income from other oil and gas property the basis of which is determined wholly or partly by the basis of the property in the preceding sentence.
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.
If you don’t care about lifestyle design, you can just stay at your current job, right? With financial freedom, you can do whatever you want. You can actually start forming lifestyle design before you are financially free too, just like I have. Even though I spend the majority of my time working on my company, I have positioned myself to be completely on my own schedule, I work whenever I want to for as much or as little time as I want, I sleep in most days, I live at the beach, I can stop working in the middle of the day to go have lunch with a friend, go to the gym, walk the dogs or, shoot, stop working completely for the day and do whatever I want instead! Hiking, snowboarding, surfing, margaritas, whatever.
Another form of passive income can come from investing in private equity opportunities in businesses that are growing.  There are certain limitations on who can invest, but can be a great way to generate passive income from profits in a business that you have very little if any active role in.  If you invest in and now own part of the business, and it is successful, you would then be entitled to regular profits from the business, and potentially even a great return on your original investment.  You can do this by either purchasing some of the business with your money, or lending your money at a certain interest rate to the business.
Generally, rental activities are passive activities even if you materially participated in them. However, if you qualified as a real estate professional, rental real estate activities in which you materially participated aren’t passive activities. For this purpose, each interest you have in a rental real estate activity is a separate activity, unless you choose to treat all interests in rental real estate activities as one activity. See the Instructions for Schedule E (Form 1040), Supplemental Income and Loss, for information about making this choice.
Despite some ups and downs in recent years, real estate continues to be a preferred choice for investors who want to generate long-term returns. Investing in a rental property, for example, is one way to produce a regular source of income. At the outset, an investor may be required to put up a 20% down payment to buy the property, but that may not be a barrier for someone who's already saving regularly. Once reliable tenants are installed, there's very little left to do except wait for the rent checks to begin rolling in.
Last, but certainly not least, you could get yourself a cash back credit card. This would enable you to make some extra cash by spending money that you were already going to spend. You even have a ton of options to choose from, depending on your spending style. So whether you spend a lot at restaurants, grocery stores or traveling, there will be a card that can earn you cash back. Usually you can earn 1% cash back, but some cards even offer 5% on special categories.
In terms of the returns, peer-to-peer lending can be profitable, particularly for investors who are willing to take on more risk. Loans pay a certain amount of interest to investors, with the highest rates associated with borrowers who are deemed the biggest credit risk. Returns typically range from 5% to 12%, and there's very little the investor has to do beyond funding the loan.
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In terms of the returns, peer-to-peer lending can be profitable, particularly for investors who are willing to take on more risk. Loans pay a certain amount of interest to investors, with the highest rates associated with borrowers who are deemed the biggest credit risk. Returns typically range from 5% to 12%, and there's very little the investor has to do beyond funding the loan.
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 are going to start with 1.5 years of all spending needs in cash. We will draw 1800 to 1900 per month. We will add to this from the index funds by taking a portion of the gains in good years to supplement. This is the total return portion of the equation. Obviously, if stocks decrease drastically over a 5 year period, then I would have to reload by selling some of the ETF holdings.

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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