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.
Many people associate work with punching the clock, the 9-to-5 slog and saving for retirement. The trouble is, an hourly rate alone will never make you wealthy and drains your most precious resource: time. Fortunately, you have alternative strategies. Unfortunately, you’ve probably never heard about them, as they’re usually reserved for the super-rich.
​Udemy is an online platform that lets its user take video courses on a wide array of subjects. Instead of being a consumer on Udemy you can instead be a producer, create your own video course, and allow users to purchase it. This is a fantastic option if you are highly knowledgeable in a specific subject matter. This can also be a great way to turn traditional tutoring into a passive income stream!
One of the most well known ways of generating residual income is through ownership of stock in a publicly-traded company. Residual income streams can also include things like royalties from the sale of a book or song. Today, there are also several online platforms like Lending Club or Prosper that allow you to invest in personal or small business loans.
Passive income differs from active income which is defined as any earned income including all the taxable income and wages the earner get from working. Linear active income refers to one constantly needed to stay active to maintain the stream of income, and once an individual chooses to stop working the income will also stop, examples of active income include wages, self-employment income, material participation in an s corp, or a partnership.[4] portfolio income is derived from investments and includes capital gains, interest, dividends, and royalties.[5]
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.
A new venture was started under the wing of Pacific Life Insurance company last year called Swell Investing. They’ve created investment portfolios to cater to the values of certain people. These portfolios contain a number of stocks that fit the theme of the portfolio such as green tech or renewable energy. Dividends received are automatically reinvested to help compound your wealth for now.

If you’re familiar with the phrase “don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” you know that it applies to just about any area of your life including—and especially—your finances. In addition to retirement becoming an ever-elusive goal, no one has guaranteed job security so by diversifying your income you can feel more secure about saving for your future. You’ll be less likely to find yourself in credit card debt and happier as a result of being financially secure.

One of the most appealing options, particularly for millennials, would be #12 on your list (create a Blog/Youtube channel). The videos can be about anything that interests you, from your daily makeup routine (with affiliate links to the products you use), recipes (what you eat each day) or as you mention, instructional videos (again with affiliate links to the products you use). Once you gain a large following and viewership, you can earn via Adsense on YouTube.
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 appeal of these passive income sources is that you can diversify across many small investments, rather than in a handful of large ones. When you invest directly in real estate, you have to commit a lot of capital to individual projects. When you invest in these crowdfunded investments, you can spread your money across many uncorrelated real estate ventures so individual investments don't cause significant issues.
I've now only got an SF rental condo and a Lake Tahoe vacation rental in my real-estate-rental portfolio. Although I miss my old house, I certainly don't miss paying $23,000 a year in property taxes and another mortgage, and dealing with leaks and managing terrible tenants. I drove by the other day and couldn't believe how much noisier and busier the street was than where I currently live. I wouldn't be comfortable raising my son there.
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I knew I didn't want to work 70 hours a week in finance forever. My body was breaking down, and I was constantly stressed. As a result, I started saving every other paycheck and 100% of my bonus since my first year out of college in 1999. By the time 2012 rolled around, I was earning enough passive income (about $78,000) to negotiate a severance and be free.
One of the most well known ways of generating residual income is through ownership of stock in a publicly-traded company. Residual income streams can also include things like royalties from the sale of a book or song. Today, there are also several online platforms like Lending Club or Prosper that allow you to invest in personal or small business loans.
If you need cash flow, and the dividend doesn’t meet your needs, sell a little appreciated stock. (or keep a CD ladder rolling and leave your stock alone). At the risk of repeating myself, whether you take cash out of your portfolio in the form of “rent”, dividend, interest, cap gain, laddered CD…., etc. The arithmetic doesn’t change. You are still taking cash out of your portfolio. I’m just pointing out that we shouldn’t let the tail wag the dog. IOW, the primary goal is to grow the long term value of your portfolio, after tax. Period. All other goals are secondary.
Residual income is different from a salary, or linear income, which is paid out strictly based on the number of hours a person works. Someone who works on a salary is often said to work “paycheck to paycheck.” This is because he pays all of his bills with his first paycheck and then must wait until he gets paid again to have more money. Ideally, someone will work hard building up a business so that he can enjoy the residual income once his goals have been met. Then he can work on additional projects while still earning money from his business.
Wouldn’t it be nice to earn money while not working? That money is called residual, or recurring, income. It's what can happen after you put a lot of time, effort and sometimes money into a job to continue to get paid for the work months or years after it's done. (Salary jobs are part of linear income. This income is directly related to the number of hours you work. If you work 40 hours, you get paid for 40 hours of work.) Once you set up your business to earn residual income, you continue to make money while doing other things – maybe even starting a new business to generate more residual income!
If you're looking to get started in real estate, look at a crowd funding solution like RealtyMogul. It works similar to LendingClub - you commit as little as $5,000 towards a property. When the property is fully funded, you become an owner, and will receive your share of the earnings and appreciation in the property.  Check out RealtyMogul to learn more. 
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