It's a relatively simple approach to generating passive income, and a pretty lucrative one at that: A recent survey found that nearly nine in 10 publishers consider affiliate programs to be a key part of their overall marketing strategy, contributing to about 20 percent of their annual revenue on average. However, many publishers can get tripped up when it comes to setting up an affiliate store from scratch. With a variety of programs and products to choose from, how do you know which one(s) will best reflect your site and your audience?
We’ve discussed how to get started building passive income for financial freedom in a previous post. Now I’d like to rank the various passive income streams based on risk, return, and feasibility. The rankings are somewhat subjective, but they are born from my own real life experiences attempting to generate multiple types of passive income sources over the past 16 years.
Residual income models of equity value have become widely recognized tools in both investment practice and research. Conceptually, residual income is net income less a charge (deduction) for common shareholders’ opportunity cost in generating net income. It is the residual or remaining income after considering the costs of all of a company’s capital. The appeal of residual income models stems from a shortcoming of traditional accounting. Specifically, although a company’s income statement includes a charge for the cost of debt capital in the form of interest expense, it does not include a charge for the cost of equity capital. A company can have positive net income but may still not be adding value for shareholders if it does not earn more than its cost of equity capital. Residual income models explicitly recognize the costs of all the capital used in generating income.

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Money from dividends, for example, are taxed at a lower rate than money from a job. A business owner who works in the company she or he founded would have to pay more self-employment payroll taxes compared to someone who merely had a passive interest in the same limited liability company who would pay only income taxes. In other words, the same income earned actively would be taxed at a higher rate than if it were earned passively.
The main advantage of the residual income metric is that it measures excess return earned by a department in absolute terms. A positive residual income means that the department has met the minimum return requirement while a negative residual income means that the department has failed to meet it. Return on investment (ROI) is another metric which measures return in relative terms.
This equation is pretty simple and incredible useful for management because it looks at one of a department’s key components of success: its required rate of return. This component helps management evaluate whether the department is making enough money to maintain, close, or expand its operation. It’s essentially an opportunity costmeasurement based on the trade off of investing in capital in one department over the other. For instance, if management can invest company revenues in department A and earn a 15% return, department B would have to make at least 15% in order for the management to consider the investment. If department B doesn’t meet minimum 15% return rate, it might be shut down or redirected.
Let’s use Jim from our personal finance example. Jim’s furniture manufacturer builds tables and has several large pieces of equipment in the sawmill used to re-saw logs and boards down to the finished dimensions. The sawmill has net operating revenues of $100,000 for year. The saws in the mill cost Jim a total of $500,000 and he is currently earning a return of 10% in his wholesale table business. Thus, he sets a minimum required return of 10 percent.
Many people talk about passive income and create the impression that you never have to do anything to keep that income going. The truth is that you will normally have to keep your eye on things if you want it to run smoothly. For example Richard Branson doesn’t run any of the 400+ companies he started but he goes over the numbers each day to make sure they’re performing well and calls the CEO if there are any problems.
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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