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.
Let’s say you just decided to sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card. Once you had the card in hand, you could begin using it for purchases and earning cash back for every swipe. For every dollar you spend on regular purchases, you’ll get 1 percent back in the form of rewards. For dining and travel purchases, on the other hand, you’ll score a smooth 2 percent back.
When I purchase an existing online business, I look for cash flow over the past year and where the money comes from. I want the sources to be more passive so that it does not take a lot of my time. Also, typically I will make an offer that is 18 – 24 months of profit so that I know that I will get my money back within the next two years. I hope that helps!
Which all goes back to my point – since companies change in a lot of unpredictable ways, it makes more sense for passive income to just ride the market by investing in a Total Domestic Stock Market, Total Bond Market, and Total International index funds, with allocations that depend on your goals and time horizon. For income, withdraw 4% or less, depending on what research you believe, and you’ve got a pretty low risk strategy.
BankRate.com suggests that individuals need at least $250,000 in retirement savings in order to receive just $1,000 a month in passive income. Clearly, some will struggle to save that much, and few will be able to live on such little income – especially when you take inflation and currency devaluation into consideration. This calculation is based on a 5% withdrawal rate, which is also a similar rate of return mortgage lenders will use in crediting investment income when applying for a loan. While this might sound low to some, it may be incredibly generous given how much many have actually lost on other investments. The fact remains, passive income investments don’t require as much money as many think.
In order to generate $10,000 in Net Operating Profit After Tax (NOPAT) through a rental property, you must own a $50,000 property with an unheard of 20% net rental yield, a $100,000 property with a rare 10% net rental yield, or a more realistic $200,000 property with a 5% net rental yield. When I say net rental yield, I’m talking about rental income minus all expenses, including a mortgage, operating expenses, insurance, and property taxes.

Rates / Annual Percentage Yield terms above are current as of the date indicated. These quotes are from banks, credit unions and thrifts, some of which have paid for a link to their website. Bank, thrift and credit unions are member FDIC or NCUA. Contact the bank for the terms and conditions that may apply to you. Rates are subject to change without notice and may not be the same at all branches.


The authors found that those born to parents in the bottom 20 percent of earners (measured by permanent income, or the average labor market earnings over people’s working lives) had a 39 percent chance of remaining in the bottom 20 percent. Those born in the bottom 20 percent of the wealth distribution had a 27 percent chance of staying there. On the other end of the spectrum, those born in the top 20 percent of permanent income and wealth distributions had a 41 and 47 percent chance of staying there, respectively. (Figures showing these transitions are available in The Regional Economist article “Which Persists More from Generation to Generation—Income or Wealth?”)
Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.
A good portion of my stock allocation is in growth stocks and structured notes that pay no dividends. The dividend income that comes from stocks is primarily from S&P 500 index exchange-traded funds. Although this is a passive-income report, as I'm still relatively young I'm more interested in building a large financial nut through principal appreciation rather than through dividend investing. As an entrepreneur, I can't help but have a growth mindset.
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).

Dividend stocks tend to be more mature companies that are past their high growth stage. Utilities, telecoms, and financial sectors tend to make up the majority of dividend paying companies. Tech, Internet, and biotech, on the other hand, tend not to pay any dividends because they are reinvesting most of their retained earnings back into their company for growth.
The doctor or lawyer, for instance, could use her or his income to invest in a medical start-up or buy shares of medical companies he understands such as Johnson & Johnson. Over time, the nature of compounding, dollar cost averaging, and reinvesting dividends can result in her or his portfolio generating substantial passive income. The downside is that it can take decades to achieve enough to truly improve your standard of living. However, it is still the surest path to wealth based on the historical performance of business ownership and stocks.

Anthony, nice setup! To your question about the rental mortgages, you haven’t said what interest rate you are paying. As a start, if you are paying more than the risk free rate (Treasury bills) which you probably are, then a true apples to apples comparison would be yes, pay off the mortgage. But, if you are comfortable taking more risk, you have other options to invest in which you *hope* will yield you more over the coming years. You also didn’t say whether the rentals generate net income and if so, how much? What is the implied rate of return on the equity you have invested in them? If you pay the mortgages off, you’ll have even more equity tied up, will the extra net income make that worthwhile? Maybe you should use the money to buy more rentals instead, if purchase opportunities still exist in your town. … this is less of an answer than a framework to analyze the decision, hope it is helpful.
I bought a house. I chased my dreams and moved to a big city on the other side of the world where I rent. I am living my dream in what I could never describe as work—it’s a hobby— and am now mortgage free and the rental income from that property pays off my rent here. When you truly love what you do it’s not even work, you don’t even want to retire, you have more money to do more interesting projects. I will be using my equity to buy a house in central London in the next 18 months and will keep buying as much property as I can. I couldn’t give a $ht about stocks and shares. I have collegues, friends and family who have lost everything in stocks after being quite wealthy. The ones who succeed, so what if you have 50 million instead of 20? who cares? It’s just a trophy. I save but I spend a lot on things I like. I like nice cars, nice furniture, clothes etc. I really love nice experiences and I love sharing nice experiences with my loved ones. Screw being frugal. What I love most is being able to freely give and provide for family and friends and charities too. Being able to give is a great gift and I’ve watched instant karma happen in my life so many times. It’s truly like magic. The more you give the more you get. Everything we have is on lease from the universe! Life is truly amazing when you immerse yourself fully in your dreams, because—and it sounds cheesy—but DREAMS COME TRUE so you better make them bloody big ones!
For those who prefer a more do-it-yourself style but still want their investments to be managed automatically, a robo-advisor like Betterment may be better suited. After completing an initial questionnaire, this program will automatically invest your money based on things like your risk tolerance and time horizon. They’ll even rebalance your portfolio when necessary – all automatically, of course!
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