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.


One of the biggest advantages of passive income is that it works when you aren’t working. The more passive the income, the less work that is involved at all. This appeals to my inherent laziness. But consider a high-powered surgeon. Sure, her hourly rate, while she is operating, is astronomical.  But as soon as she walks out of the OR, that income stream stops until she scrubs in again. Vacation? Not only is there no income stream, but there is likely a negative one due to overhead. When a passive earner is on vacation, that income stream, small as it may be in comparison to the surgeon, keeps right on working. Interest works both ways and as my kids know, interest should be something you get not something you pay. As J. Reuben Clark said nearly a century ago:

In most cases, any loss from an activity subject to the at-risk rules is allowed only to the extent of the total amount you have at risk in the activity at the end of the tax year. You are considered at risk in an activity to the extent of cash and the adjusted basis of other property you contributed to the activity and certain amounts borrowed for use in the activity. Any loss that is disallowed because of the at-risk limits is treated as a deduction from the same activity in the next tax year. See Pub. 925 for a discussion of the at-risk rules.
The Hardy’s used a partner and tax director at an accounting firm with more than 40 years of experience to prepare and file their tax returns. In 2006 and 2007, the Hardy’s reported their income from MBJ as non-passive based on the CPA's professional judgment. They claimed a total disallowed loss and he determined that the income was non-passive based on MBJ's Schedule K-1 that it distributed to Hardy.
A planning opportunity may be available by converting a primary residence into rental real estate.  For example, Mary purchases a condo in 2010 and in 2013 decides to upgrade into a single family home.  She rents out the condo to earn some money.  Due to recent developments in the area, the condo is now worth much more and she sells it for a gain of $100,000.  Since Mary lived in the home for 2 out of the past 5 years, the entire gain is excluded from income.  The 2 year rule can occur anytime during the 5 year period and does not have to be consecutive.  Keep in mind though that if you do the opposite and convert rental property to a primary residence, the rules are more complex and the gain exclusion tends to be limited.
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!

Obviously, these are much higher than you’re going to get with most other investments. What’s more is that you can choose a plan that matches your investment strategy, whether your goal is Supplemental Income, Balanced Investing, or Long-term Growth. You can also look at different real estate projects and choose for yourself which ones to invest in.
One of the things I'm surprised your article doesn't mention is the tax advantages of this type of investment. The depreciation and rehab costs (purchasing distressed properties) can be huge deductions to ones income taxes, which none of the others have. Then, along with the appreciation of real estate, this passive income investment outperforms the notion of maxing out my 401k as well.
My favorite type of semi-passive income was rental property because it was a tangible asset that provided reliable income. As I grew older, my interest in rental property waned because I no longer had the patience and time to deal with maintenance issues and tenants. Online real estate became more attractive, along with tax-free municipal-bond income once rates started to rise.

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!


First: I understand why you would say that such investments are restricted to only accredited investors, because generally, that’s true. There are means, under federal securities regulations and Blue Sky laws in each state, to sell interests to non-accredited investors – but usually those means are so heavily regulated and involve disclosures so similar to cumbersome registration requirements that it is not worth it for the seller to offer to non-accredited investors.
The Digital Reflection Panel is a rewards program that tracks characteristics about your internet usage. You can quickly earn $50 your first month and a minimum of $170 your first year. Since you receive the installation bonus only once, you will earn $120 each subsequent year. Not only that, but every 3 consecutive months you’re enrolled in the program you get a bonus.
The key here is that income from equipment leasing or rental real estate is generally treated as passive income, with only limited exceptions. Other businesses, including sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies, and S corporations, produce passive income if the individual taxpayer in question doesn't meet the standard for material participation.

Say you’re always super busy, but you still need some ways to make passive income. You’re in luck! Starting with a fun option, you can buy a gumball machine! Once you buy one, set it up somewhere and wait for the coins to roll in. The same goes for a vending machine. You can up your earnings with a vending machine, too, by simply stocking whatever’s in high demand at its location. The key to earning a solid amount of passive income here is to choose the right location.

One of the most important assets you have is your credit score. By taking care of it and pursuing the steps to improve your credit score, a world of opportunity can open up for you. If you need a loan to buy that rental property or some quick funding through a business credit card, a good credit score will help you get approved so you can build passive income.


The U.S. Internal Revenue Service categorizes income into three broad types, active income, passive income, and portfolio income.[1] It defines passive income as only coming from two sources: rental activity or "trade or business activities in which you do not materially participate."[2][3] Other financial and government institutions also recognize it as an income obtained as a result of capital growth or in relation to negative gearing. Passive income is usually taxable.
You must file a written statement with your original income tax return for the first tax year in which two or more activities are originally grouped into a single activity. The statement must provide the names, addresses, and employer identification numbers (EINs), if applicable, for the activities being grouped as a single activity. In addition, the statement must contain a declaration that the grouped activities make up an appropriate economic unit for the measurement of gain or loss under the passive activity rules.

Real estate investors don’t get to enjoy that lower qualified dividends rate on their passive income, but they get something almost as good- depreciation. Now I’m of the school of thought that you get to take depreciation mostly because buildings and appliances really do depreciate, but even so, it gets pretty favorable tax treatment, particularly for a high earner. Depreciating your property allows you to defer taxes on them until you sell the property and the depreciation is recaptured. That deferral by itself is very useful, particularly if it allows you to defer it until such a time as you are in a lower bracket. You can also avoid that recapture completely by doing 1031 exchanges from one property to another until the owner dies and gets that step-up in basis at death. But wait, there’s more. That recapture tax rate maxes out at 25%, even if you’re in the 39.6% tax bracket.
There is a way to find undervalued dividend growth stocks. Of course, any additional passive income I receive I will invest into the best dividend growth companies to ensure I’m participating in compound interest. In addition, if you love investing in impact sectors. I like Wunder Capital to invest in solar projects across the U.S. Check out our review on the Wunder Capital platform.
Investing in rental properties: Another form of real estate investment, rental investments (i.e. becoming a landlord) could steer you down the passive income path of steady monthly rent checks that you can use to pay off a mortgage loan on the rental property. After the mortgage is paid off, those monthly checks go right into your bank account -- potentially for years to come. 

No one should turn down wind farming’s ultimate passive income for the next 30 or more years … even 60 years when there is a positive cash flow on the sum total of all base payments when computing inflation for the next 60 years based on the previous 60 years, as long as the next era’s energy resource is not perfected (at which time they would not renew the option for the second 30 years).


The more I deal with ungrateful patients and have to be away from my family due to work, the more I become a huge fan of passive income. Every 6 months when I get a check for my UpToDate sections I worked on 4-5 years ago that only require periodic minor updates, I’m always reminded how nice passive income is. Rental properties are great too, but I completely agree that you must do your homework. There are a lot of bad rental properties that will not only fail to provide passive income, but can cost a great deal out of your own pocket.

Active participation isn’t the same as material participation (defined later). Active participation is a less stringent standard than material participation. For example, you may be treated as actively participating if you make management decisions in a significant and bona fide sense. Management decisions that count as active participation include approving new tenants, deciding on rental terms, approving expenditures, and similar decisions.
​Udemy is an online platform that lets its user take video courses on a wide array of subjects. Instead of being a consumer on Udemy you can instead be a producer, create your own video course, and allow users to purchase it. This is a fantastic option if you are highly knowledgeable in a specific subject matter. This can also be a great way to turn traditional tutoring into a passive income stream!
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.
Passive income is the concept of developing an income stream that can last into perpetuity with limited ongoing work. Passive income does not come without hard work. Do not let the word ‘passive’ fool you because it takes significant work. However, if you do it right upfront you will reap significant benefits over the long-term. Track your passive income with Personal Capital.
According to NOLO, “the home office deduction is available only if you are running a bona fide business.” That means any work dedicated to your passive income property from the confines of your own home can’t be a hobby. “If the IRS decides that you are indulging a hobby rather than trying to earn a profit, it won’t let you take the home office deduction.”
Good suggestions. I have many of these. One word about the “app” idea. I had a great idea related to personal taxes that I tried to get off the ground with my accountant as a partner. I would say it’s difficult to do this unless you have a coder on your team. Hiring someone is not really viable financially unless the app is simple. When we finally got the quote for a coder to write what we wanted (and after doing lots of mock ups ourselves and getting a demo for investors) the estimate was about 750k just to really get started.
Dividends made sense 40 years ago as a relatively simple rule of thumb, but after all the work done by John Bogle with index investing, and academics with Monte Carlo sims and the 4% rule, dividend investing just isn’t the simplest, cleanest way to invest or receive passive income anymore. It’s actually significantly more risky compared to index investing, because dividend companies are a much smaller share of the total global economy compared to the broader indices.
The great thing about this program is that you can run their browser on as many devices as you want. With just one device, you can earn $65 per year assuming you leave it running constantly. The only condition is that you must have each device running on a unique IP address. You can either get multiple IPs or request a family member or friend run the same link for you.
Vanguard: Vanguard has a minimum of $50,000 and a fee of 0.3%. Rebalancing is done automatically once every quarter and tax loss harvesting is done on a client-by-client basis. We included Vanguard because clients who invest between $50,000-$500,000 have access to a team of financial advisors. Those with accounts over $500,000 will have a dedicated advisor.
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