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!
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.

It all comes down to your goals. There is nothing wrong with flipping, wholesaling or landlording, as long as you are understanding of the fact, and okay with the fact, that you are working for your money. I personally have no desire to work in those capacities, so I stick with passive income investments. I did, however, start a business in order to fund those investments. I started a business in lieu of using flipping or wholesaling to earn capital. You can do whatever you want, but at least be clear on what it is you are actually doing, i.e. working for your money versus investing your money.


Next, make sure to know the difference between “Top Grossing” and “Top Paid”. They are both very different rankings. “Top Grossing” is what you use to study what is making the most money. “Top Paid” is more so for trending. More downloads doesn’t necessarily mean more revenue. Personally, I study both. However, “Top Grossing” is better at giving you an idea of revenue potential.
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.
Let’s take a look at a smaller and more niche category for the sake of our discussion. We’ll look at “Food & Drink” on the iOS app store. Less big companies and less noise in these smaller categories. You can see the top grossing app is eMeals. A meal planning and grocery shopping list app. Number 5 is another meal planning app. Even has the same green icon. See a trend here? You’ll also see that 16 out of the top 24 grossing apps are “freemium” apps. Meaning, their business model is to give an app away for free and up-sell upgrades.
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.”
I use a property manager to handle my rental properties. Most months, my only involvement is checking my bank account to verify I received my checks, then making a payment to the mortgage company. If you don’t have enough money to buy a rental property, you can get started investing in real estate by buying a REIT stock or investing through platforms that let you buy a partial interest in a building.
It’s a (mostly) short term, higher risk, higher reward place to invest cash that has a low correlation with the stock market, but is far more passive than buying and managing properties, has more opportunity for diversification than private placements (minimums of 5-10K, rather than 100K), and most of the equity offerings (and all of the debt offerings) provide monthly or quarterly incomes. Unlike a REIT, you can choose exactly which projects you wish to invest in.
The reality of the situation is that this client doesn’t use a property management company on the rentals. I felt it was stretch to say she was a real estate professional, because she is a physician.  However, before she got her job with the clinic, she did some side work at a hospital for a few months, but never met the limits of material or active participation.  
It is very important to understand that contacting a “professional” to learn how to do this only results in them trying to sell me crap properties (whether high end or low end). I’ve tried contacting realtors out of state, and they attempt to sell me crap or someone else’s problem. No one has a vested interest in actually helping someone or teaching them about how to get an out of state rental. very frustrating. I could go out tomorrow and buy a rental in my city, but that is the last place I want to own one. Anyone? Are there an real people on here?

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.
I am a Certified Financial Planner®¹ and am the founder of Intrepid Wealth Partners. I work with entrepreneurs from startup through exit on financial planning to realize their hopes, dreams & goals. I am an avid world traveler, certified as a Dive Master in SCUBA, have been skydiving, and love meeting new people. Follow us on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn.
Great argument for passive income but want more meat on the bone on “passive income” information. We all feel screwed by the progressive tax system. Most of us probably think our dividends and cap gains are passive. True, but the real wealth, sans ceiling, resides within more risky ventures like entrepreneurship and real estate. While appealing, I’m too busy for all that at the level I need to be for success. It took me 2 years (starting with your blog) of reading financial books and blogs before I was ready to DIY invest. Several years, 2 kids and a slamming practice later, I just don’t have the time to read up on other passive avenues. Plus, I’m pretty content with my dividend and cap gains (while they last) and would rather see patients than take a call about a rental house. Maybe when the kids grow up a bit and I scale my practice back, your ideas will fall in more fertile soil. Until then, I look forward to future posts and comments.
MBJ is an LLC formed by a group of practicing physicians in 2004 for the purpose of operating a surgery center. For income tax purposes, it is treated as an LLC, and it hires its own employees. It bills patients directly for facility fees and then distributes each members' share to him or her based on his or her share of the earnings, which is the facility fees less expenses. It uses a third-party accounting firm to prepare the Schedule K-1, Partner's Share of Current Year Income, Deductions, Credits, and Other Items, and all other accounting matters for the members. MBJ does not pay members/managers for the procedures they perform.
The Tax Court had to decide whether the Hardy’s properly reported Dr. Hardy's income from MBJ as passive, and if so, whether they could deduct a passive activity loss carryover from previous years. It also had to determine whether the Hardy’s overpaid their self-employment tax. Finally, it had to decide if they were liable for the accuracy-related penalties.
The IRS defines depreciation losses as “allowances for exhaustion, wear and tear (including obsolescence) of property.” According to their website, “You begin to depreciate your rental property when you place it in service. You can recover some or all of your original acquisition cost and the cost of improvements by using Form 4562, Depreciation and Amortization, (to report depreciation) beginning in the year your rental property is first placed in service, and beginning in any year you make improvements or add furnishings.”
In the Tax Court Case of  Stephen P. Hardy, et ux. v. Commissioner, TC Memo 2017-16.  Dr. Stephen P. Hardy is a plastic surgeon who has specialized in pediatric reconstructive surgery since the early nineties. He conducted his medical practice through Northwest Plastic Surgery Associates, which is a single member PLLC. Mrs. Hardy is the chief operating officer. Previously, Dr. Hardy performed operations either at his office or at two local hospitals.
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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