There are three main categories of income: active income, passive income and portfolio income. Passive income has been a relatively loosely used term in recent years. Colloquially, it’s been used to define money being earned regularly with little or no effort on the part of the person receiving it. Popular types of passive income include real estate, peer-to-peer (P2P) lending and dividend stocks. Proponents of earning passive income tend to be boosters of a work-from-home and be-your-own-boss professional lifestyle. The type of earnings people usually associate with this are gains on stocks, interest, retirement pay, lottery winnings, online work and capital gains. 


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The biggest surprise is real estate being second to last on my Passive Income Ranking List because I’ve written that real estate is my favorite investment class to build wealth. Physical real estate doesn’t stack up well against the other passive income sources due to the lack of liquidity and constant maintenance of tenants and property. The returns can be huge due to rising rental income AND principal over time, much like dividend investing. If you are a “proactive passive income earner” like myself, then real estate is great.
The second category of passive income is drawing on sources that do not require capital to start, maintain, and grow. These are far better choices for those who want to start out on their own and build a fortune from nothing. They include assets you can create, such as a book, song, patent, trademark, Internet site, recurring commissions, or businesses that earn nearly infinite returns on equity such as a drop-ship e-commerce retailer that has little or no money tied up in operations but still turns a profit.
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.
When a taxpayer records a loss on a passive activity, only passive activity profits can have their deductions offset instead of the income as a whole. It would be considered prudent for a person to ensure all the passive activities were classified that way so they can make the most of the tax deduction. These deductions are allocated for the next tax year and are applied in a reasonable manner that takes into account the next year's earnings or losses.
When you create residual income, you are taking a step towards making extra money in a manner that does not require constant effort. The stream of income is actually generated from something specific; a specific effort that you put forth to create the stream of income opportunity in the first place. Residual income is not always a passive manner of making money.
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As an extreme adventurer, he’s also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, HALO-skydived above Mount Everest’s summit, broken the sound barrier in a MIG-25 jet and deep-sea dived to the shipwrecked Titanic to have lunch. He even became a certified Russian-trained cosmonaut, rocketed to the edge of space and served as a backup for the “Soyuz TMA-13” NASA flight to the International Space Station.

There is a specific tax definition of passive income, known as “passive activity” to the Internal Revenue Service. Passive income is any income you make without actively working or are materially involved. The IRS defines it as any rental activity or any business in which the taxpayer does not “materially participate.” Nonpassive activities, or active activities, are businesses in which the taxpayer works on a regular, continuous, and substantial basis.


While some have degraded the meaning of passive income with cheesy ,get-rich-quick type schemes, it doesn’t mean getting something for nothing. Whether it is investing hard earned capital, sweat, time, or providing a service such as housing, there is a lot given to create passive income. Each party provides something of high value, even if the end product means simply buying income property.
To create residual income, you need to create something that people will continue to buy on a regular basis long after you’ve created it. A house is a prime example of this as people will continue to pay rent for the right to live in the house. A business needs to have products that are sold over and over again rather than trading the business owner’s time for money.
Owning an investment property can result in both potential appreciation value over the long-term and direct tax benefits of depreciation. However, acquiring an investment property often requires large upfront capital ($100K to several million dollars depending on the type of asset), and lots of hands-on work. Furthermore, as with any investment, investment properties carry the risk of large, unexpected, and costly liabilities, which many investors do not have the experience or time to effectively handle. An investment property also is relatively illiquid—meaning you can sell at any time, but the sale process can often take months and may be unsuccessful.
The Lake Tahoe property continues to be 100% managed by a property-management company. It feels amazing not to have to do anything. I can't wait to bring up my boy this coming winter to play in the snow! I could go up this winter, but I want him to be able to walk and run comfortably before he goes. I've been dreaming of this moment for over 10 years now. The income from the property is highly dependent on how much it snows. Summer income is always very strong.
If retirement is a goal of yours (and who doesn’t want to retire someday?!?), it’s important to learn how to start investing. In fact, funding your retirement accounts should be at the top of your list. While these accounts won’t help your immediate situation, by stashing cash now, the residual income they create should help propel you through your golden years.
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