I knew I didn't want to work 70 hours a week in finance forever. My body was breaking down, and I was constantly stressed. As a result, I started saving every other paycheck and 100% of my bonus since my first year out of college in 1999. By the time 2012 rolled around, I was earning enough passive income (about $78,000) to negotiate a severance and be free.
What is passive income? It is income that is not generated from your day job. Any net gain at the end of the year is taxed at ordinary income tax rates. The additional downside: if the rental property generates a loss, you are not able to offset passive losses with ordinary income i.e., wages. The passive losses can only be used to offset passive income.
It was easier recouping the lost $60,000 in rental-property income than I expected. For so long, my primary mindset for passive income was rental income. Having $815,000 less mortgage debt but still generating roughly the same amount of passive income with a much larger cash balance feels great. Further, my passive-income portfolio got even more passive, which is good as a stay-at-home dad to a newborn.
We have decided to invest in 2 ETFs, a multi asset allocation ETF (Fixed Inc, alts and div paying equities) and a preferred stock ETF. This will cover almost 45 percent of our deficit. We will be extremely diversified, can access the markets at a very low cost and the investments are liquid. On this pool of $, we have no plans to invade principal unless the investment grows by 20 percent, which we think is unlikely given the characteristics of the investments.
Passive income is also not subjected to self-employment taxes. But similar to portfolio income, it might be subject to the Net Investment Income tax. So, if you own a rental house, the income generated from the rental house is considered passive income. As a side note, taxpayers used to label themselves as Real Estate Professionals under IRS definition to allow passive losses to be deducted; now we are seeing the same label to avoid Net Investment Income tax on rental income.
Another common way to earn passive income is to invest in real estate. This does involve some hefty investment on your part to get started, though, since real estate doesn’t come cheap. The goal is to earn enough back by renting out the property to not only cover your original investment, but to also turn a profit. Keep in mind that similar to letting your room through Airbnb, this venture may require some time and money to maintain. Plus, you will have to rely on others and tenants to keep the property in good shape.
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.
Real-estate crowdfunding ($9,600 a year): Once I sold my SF rental, it was natural to reinvest some of the proceeds into real-estate crowdfunding to keep sector exposure. I didn't invest a lot in some of my favorite real-estate investment trusts because I felt a rising interest-rate environment would be a stronger headwind for REITs. But if I could be more surgical with my real-estate investments by identifying specific investments in stronger employment-growth markets, I thought I could do better.
Active income means you are doing something in order to receive that income. Some kind of work. Some kind of effort. You are not hands-off. You have to exert some kind of energy and time towards earning that income. Passive income means you are earning regular income with little to no effort required to keep it coming. You are for the most part hands-off.
Payroll taxes are primarily Social Security and Medicare taxes. All earned income is subject to Medicare tax. That’s 2.9% (including the employer portion), plus the extra PPACA tax of 0.9% for a high earner. That’s 3.8%. What do you get for that 3.8% (which may be $20K a year or more for a high earner)? Exactly the same benefits as the guy who paid $1000 in Medicare taxes that year. And the guy who only paid Medicare taxes for 10 years and retired at 28. Doesn’t seem too fair, does it, but that’s the way it works. Social Security tax is a little better in that it goes away after $127,200 per year of earned income, but it is also a much higher tax- 12.4% including the employer portion. Social Security also gives you a little more of a benefit when you pay more into it, but the return on that “investment” is pretty poor beyond the second bend point.
Having an extra house, condo or apartment is potentially quite lucrative, especially if what the tenant pays covers your mortgage, taxes, insurance, etc. Someone else is basically building your pool of wealth because in 10 or 20 years, you’ll have this $100,000+ asset that is paid off. You can sell it for a large chunk of cash, or keep renting it out and have a nice, steady stream of income. The major problem is that managing this isn’t exactly passive, unless you hire a rental management company who generally take one month’s rent out of the year in exchange for doing this.
This article is great, defining the differences and emphasizing the advantages of passive income. I believe it might be helpful to list some of the tax advantages of passive income vs active income as well. These include and are not limited to: cash-flow, being able to claim depreciation, deductable loan interest, tax free refinancing and deferred taxes on sale of property via 1031 exchanges. It’s the difference between 50% taxed income and potential tax free income.
I love real estate investing, but it requires a lot of upfront capital plus you are going to have to learn to love your tenants (see point 6 below)! Crowdfunded real estate investing gives you a way to still invest in the real estate market, without having to necessarily put in a lot of money upfront. It’s definitely a much more passive investment than owning a flat or a house!
It may also be possible to stagger dispositions of investments between calendar years. For example, if there will already be more than $150,000 of AAII in one year, consider triggering additional capital gains in that year, rather than the next, if that might reduce AAII below the threshold in the next year. Conversely, you may wish to trigger capital gains or losses in a specific year because capital losses cannot be carried forward to a future year for purposes of reducing AAII. As a result, you may wish to realize capital losses and gains in the same taxation year.
If you or your spouse actively participated in a passive rental real estate activity, you may be able to deduct up to $25,000 of loss from the activity from your nonpassive income. This special allowance is an exception to the general rule disallowing losses in excess of income from passive activities. Similarly, you may be able to offset credits from the activity against the tax on up to $25,000 of nonpassive income after taking into account any losses allowed under this exception.
Acorns: Acorns is a great way to start investing and building wealth. As it turns out, Acorns will pay you $5 to start investing with them for as little as $1. That’s a 500% return, plus it’s probably time you started investing for your future. They even have features like round-up and found money that allows you to get free money from places you already shop at.