I guess I just don’t understand why the specific importance of focusing on “dividends” instead of focusing on the total return of your investment, including stock appreciation. I don’t really care if a company decides to issue a dividend or not; presumably, if they don’t issue a dividend, then they’re doing other things to increase the value of the company, which will be reflected in the stock price of the company. As an investor, I can make money by selling a percentage of my holdings or collecting dividends, and I don’t really care how that’s divided up – it’s an artificial distinction.

Well written piece, but I question the core premise. Why the fascination with maximizing “income” (passive or otherwise). Shouldn’t the goal simply be to maximize long-term after tax growth of your entire portfolio? If this takes the form of dividend paying stocks, so be it. But what if small caps are poised to outperform? What if you want to take Buffet’s or Bogle’s advice and just buy a broad market index like the S&P 500, (no matter what the dividend because you’ll just have it automatically reinvested to avoid the transaction fees).
In 2017, I ended up deploying roughly $611,000 into stocks and $604,327 into municipal bonds. The stock allocation should boost dividend income by about $12,500 a year, and the municipal-bond portion should boost income by about $18,000 a year after tax ($26,000 pre-tax). Therefore, total passive income gets an about $38,500 lift, which recovers over half of my $60,000 loss from selling the house.
Betterment – Betterment was the first robo-advisor to launch, almost ten years ago. They’ve automated the entire investing process, so all you have to do is watch your portfolio of assets grow (over the long run, of course). They do charge a .25% annual fee of your account total, so if you’ve got $100,000 that’s being managed by Betterment, you’ll pay just over $20 per month.
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.
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.
Active residual income is income that you would participate more directly in creating, like sales. Although the initial effort to create the income has already been exhausted, you would still be active in the creation of the funds, resolving customer issues, taking care of finances, making sure products are always in stock or available, and researching money saving methods. This is the type of thing that you have to actually participate in to make money. This does not necessarily mean that the number of hours you put in directly correlate to how much money is made, but it does mean that this type of residual income is not money that is going to be made while you sit at home and think about it.
Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.
One aspect you might want to add to your scoring is “inflation protection”. At one end, bonds and CDs generally pay a fixed nominal coupon that doesn’t rise with inflation. Stock dividends and Real estate rents (and underlying property value) tend to. Not reallly sure how P2P lending ranks- though I suppose the timeframes are fairly short (1 year or less?) and therefore the interest you receive takes into account the current risk free rate + a premium for your risk. Now that I think about it, P2P lending probably deserves a lower score in the activity column than bonds too (since you probably need to make new loans more often).

With sites like Wrapify and StickerRide, you can earn hundreds of dollars each month by simply driving around town. You’ll need to place an advertisement on your car and drive a certain number of miles every month. If you’re already on the road for work, travel, or school, advertising allows you to make extra cash without any extra time commitment.
Peer-to-peer lending ($1,440 a year): I've lost interest in P2P lending since returns started coming down. You would think that returns would start going up with a rise in interest rates, but I'm not really seeing this yet. Prosper missed its window for an initial public offering in 2015-16, and LendingClub is just chugging along. I hate it when people default on their debt obligations, which is why I haven't invested large sums of money in P2P. That said, I'm still earning a respectable 7% a year in P2P, which is much better than the stock market is doing so far in 2018!
Fundrise – With a minimum investment of just $500, investors of all types can make crowd-funded real estate investments through Fundrise. This means you get the benefits of being a landlord without actually having to deal with owning or managing the properties yourself. Even though we own 2 rental properties, we recently began investing in Fundrise ourselves. We love it because there is no “accredited investor” requirement, making it far more accessible for the average person than the other two options below. Follow the link above to learn more, or read our full review here.
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