But, wait: nothing is ever that easy; And, there's no such thing as 100 percent passive income. Building passive income actually requires hustle and an investment of time upfront to get your money off the ground and growing while you eat, sleep and play. Maintaining that growth means making sure that you're using the right tools and strategies to automate the work for you.

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:

There are basically three types of income: earned, portfolio, and passive. When it comes to filing your tax return, each of these types of income are taxed differently. Therefore, it is worth understanding the difference between the three to minimize your tax burden. Below are the three types of income, how they are categorized, and the tax implications for each.
REITs provide an easy way to get real estate exposure in your portfolio but it is crucial that you avoid asset class overlap.  Since many stock and index funds include REIT companies, having a separate allocation to REITs in a portfolio may create double counting.  Certain fund managers strip out REIT companies from their equity investments to avoid this issue.  One example is Dimensional Fund Advisors.  For those who want real estate exposure without the hassle of being a landlord, purchasing REITs may be the way to go.
It’s obvious that stocks outperform real estate in terms of capital gains, but I would like to see S&P compare to Real Estate in SF, Manhattan, LA. Our house in NC was $80,000 20 years ago. It’s only $150,000 now. Same house in Santa Monica went from $200,000 to $1.8 million. People who happen to bought real estate in major metropolitan would have a natural positive association with real estate investment.
Another benefit of investing in rental properties is the loan pay down. If you obtain a loan to buy the property, each month your tenants are paying off part of the loan. Once the mortgage on the property has been paid off, your cash flow will increase dramatically, allowing your mediocre investment to skyrocket into a full-fledged retirement program.

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.
Keep in mind, many questions can be answered on IRS.gov without visiting an IRS Tax Assistance Center (TAC). Go to IRS.gov/LetUsHelp for the topics people ask about most. If you still need help, IRS TACs provide tax help when a tax issue can’t be handled online or by phone. All TACs now provide service by appointment so you’ll know in advance that you can get the service you need without long wait times. Before you visit, go to IRS.gov/TACLocator to find the nearest TAC, check hours, available services, and appointment options. Or, on the IRS2Go app, under the Stay Connected tab, choose the Contact Us option and click on “Local Offices.”
For those of you who don’t want to come up with a $220,000 downpayment and a $900,000 mortgage to buy the median home in SF or NYC, who don’t want to deal with tenants or remodeling, and who wants to not do any work after the investment is made, check out Fundrise. They are my favorite real estate crowdsourcing company founded in 2012 and based in Washington DC. They are pioneers in the eREIT product offering and they’re raising an Opportunity Fund to take advantage of new tax favorable laws.

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stREITwise offers a hybrid investment between traditional REIT fund investing and the new crowdfunding. The fund is like a real estate investment trust in that it holds a collection of properties but more like crowdfunding in its management. The fund has paid a 10% annualized return since inception and is a great way to diversify your real estate exposure.
Most credit card companies offer sign-up bonuses to entice you to open a credit account with them. As long as you don’t spend money just to hit the minimum balance and always pay your balance on time, this can have a minimal impact on your credit score while earning you hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars a year. Some of the best travel credit cards offer 100,000 points to new accounts when you meet reasonable spending requirements.

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?)
You can offset deductions from passive activities of a PTP only against income or gain from passive activities of the same PTP. Likewise, you can offset credits from passive activities of a PTP only against the tax on the net passive income from the same PTP. This separate treatment rule also applies to a regulated investment company holding an interest in a PTP for the items attributable to that interest.
That said, from time to time I enjoy writing about some of the “other roads to Dublin.” Fancy investments are interesting and sometimes have different risks and rewards when compared with a basic index fund portfolio. Entrepreneurship has changed my life and that of many other physicians. Early financial independence opens all kinds of other doorways in your life. So in a blog about all things financial for high earners, from time to time I write about these other subjects. Today is one of those days.
You could also do this by charging for financial plans and managing people’s investments.  The fee’s you charged would be recurring as long as you managed the relationship to keep them happy.  This approach to passive income has a much higher barrier to entry due to needing qualifications, licenses, and building relationships over time.  If done correctly, it can be a very lucrative source of passive income.
However, while most are familiar with the concept of a passive income rental property, few are actually aware of just how good of an investment they can be. Of course the right property will attract tenants with monthly cash flow, but it is important to note that the benefits of a rental property extend far beyond that of the capital they bring in. In fact, you could argue that the cash flow is an added bonus, coming in a close second to tax benefits. For what it’s worth, the tax benefits associated with a passive income property can very well be the most attractive asset sought out by landlords.
Sharon, you missed my point completely. If you feel you need $8000/month to live the life you want, and you get that $8000/month through passive income, you may feel financially free for a few months. However, next year, you’re not going to be wanting $8000/month + 3% inflation; you’re going to be wanting $16,000/month. This is greed 101. It’s normal. It’s natural.
But when so many turn down leasing one and one-half acre for one Wind Turbine for each 80 acres, that lease certainly does not materially affect the rest of the Farm or Ranch grazing pasture and the lease pays much more than the farm crow or grazing pasture lease, just because some lawyer said the lease was too long: 30 years plus 30 year option = 60 years, and the wind turbine company has selling production/electricity contracts for the next 150 years – which is needed to obtain financing!

Now I’ve been using Swagbucks for a while and have found the money works out to just under $2 an hour so this isn’t something that’s going to make you rich. You’d have to work 2,500 hours to make $5,000 so that’s about three and a half months, non-stop. The thing with Swagbucks though is you can do it when you’re doing something else so I flip through surveys and other stuff while I’m cooking dinner or flipping channels.


To the uninformed, these varying tax rates initially look unfair. What many people don’t understand is the big difference between “ordinary income” (from wages, a salary, short-term capital gains and interest) and “passive income” (from stock dividends and long-term capital gains). The federal government taxes ordinary income at up to 35 percent and passive income at 15 percent.
Many entrepreneurs are asking if the new rules will result in them paying additional taxes if their corporations generate passive income in excess of $50,000. In most circumstances, the answer is that they will pay more corporate taxes, thereby reducing the size of their tax deferral advantage (from 40% down to 27% on their 2019 corporate income earned in Ontario).

Real estate crowdfunding presents a middle-ground solution. Investors have their choice of equity or debt investments in both commercial and residential properties. Unlike a REIT, the investor gets the tax advantages of direct ownership, including the depreciation deduction without any of the added responsibilities that go along with owning a property.


The reason I consider dividends artificial and believe they don’t matter is because you can just as easily reinvest your dividends. If a stock is worth $100/share, I don’t care if it issues a $1/share dividend or if the share price instead increases to $101/share – either way, I have the same amount of money, because there’s no difference to my net worth whether I take the dividend or sell part of a stock.
The age old argument of total return versus income has been, incorrectly imo, categorized as an either or proposition. We are going to do both. Right now I have a lot cash in an on line money market. I also have investments in 2 passive Index funds in a taxable account. We then have substantial 401ks/IRA’s which we won’t touch for at least 10 years. My wife will continue to max out her sep and we will continue to invest in the index funds although with a smaller amount. We have already factored that in. I looked at how to cut into the monthly deficit. Here is what I observed.
3. Start as soon as possible. Building a livable passive-income stream takes a tremendously long time, largely because of declining interest rates since the late 1980s. Gone are the days of making a 5%-plus return on a short-term CD or savings account. Today, the best 12-month CD is at 2.5%, and the best money-market rate is about 1.85%, which is not bad, considering such rates were below 0.5% just a couple of years ago. Know that every $100 you save can generate at least $2.5 in passive income.
And real estate does more than just track inflation – it throws off income (which is important to some people and useful to most). And while your underlying asset is appreciating, the income also grows as rents increase over time. And if you make smart and well-timed purchases, both rents and asset values can increase at well above the rate of inflation.
This is important to understand this because it is a difference of how you spend your time. No-joke big-time investors make money in their sleep without putting in any effort because they invest in passive income investments. If you are putting in effort, while you might be making bank and doing great at it, you are working. You are making a lot of income because you are rocking out a J-O-B. The no-joke big-time investors, if you’ll notice, also put in a lot of effort but their effort is not on what is currently making them income, it is on finding the next thing that will provide them more income!
This shouldn’t be a surprise. I mean, when I speak to groups and ask how many docs in the room would cut their hours/shifts/call etc if their finances allow it and they all raise their hand. So taking a group of docs who not only have their financial ducks in a row, but also have a side income and pursuit already, why would they be working full-time?
You must sacrifice the pleasures of today for the freedom you will earn tomorrow. In my 20s, I shared a studio with my best friend from high school and drove beater cars worth less than 10% of my annual gross income. I'd stay until after 7:30 p.m. at work in order to eat the free cafeteria food. International vacations were replaced with staycations since work already sent me overseas two to four times a year. Clothes were bought at thrift shops, of course.
In theory, and keeping it at the highest most basic level, financial freedom means you have to do no work in order to receive income. So once you are financially free, you no longer have to worry about money. What does that look like to you? Maybe you are like me and plan to do a lot of traveling, take up new hobbies, take random college courses to learn new things (for fun, not because I have to), spend epic amounts of time snowboarding and playing in the woods, and as always, sleeping in. Or maybe you are the polar opposite and plan to wake up early and hang out on your couch all day and watch TV.
Special rules regarding passive activity losses were enacted in 1986 to limit the amount you could reduce your tax liability from passive income. However, you can still reduce your non-passive income up to $25,000 if your income is below $150,000 and you actively participate in passive rental real estate activities. This amount is phased out between $100,000 and $150,000. Other than this exception, you may only claim losses up the amount of income from the activity. Losses that can not be claimed are carried forward until the property is disposed of or there is adequate income to offset the loss. Real property and other types of investments, if they qualify, may also be used in a 1031 exchange to avoid paying taxes on the income from the sell of the property. This only applies if the proceeds from the sell are used to purchase a similar investment.
The following post is a guest post from Anjali Jariwala, Founder of FIT Advisors. I began receiving a good number of questions about the tax implications of some of the different types of real estate investments I was making. Instead of fumbling with it myself, I invited an expert in the field of finances and tax to help me with it. Some of it is quite technical but I told her I’m a fan of numbers. Enjoy!)
To quote Pat Flynn, a very successful passive income expert (he’s made millions), “We don’t have to trade our time for money one to one. Instead, we invest our time upfront, creating valuable products and experiences for people, and we reap the benefits of that time invested later,” he says, adding, “It’s not easy. I just want to make sure that’s clear.”
Truebill is an app that helps you save money by identifying recurring subscriptions and other bills and helping you cut costs by negotiating better rates and fees. One of their partnerships is with Acradia Power, which has the potential to save you up to 30% on your electric bill. It searches for better power rates in areas where competition is allowed, and it locks in the better prices for you.
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