2. Focus on income-producing assets. Internet growth stocks may be sexy, but they provide no income. To build a large enough passive-income stream to survive, you must invest in dividend-generating stocks, certificates of deposit, municipal bonds, government Treasury bonds, corporate bonds, and real estate. You're free to invest in non-income-producing assets for capital appreciation too. You just want to earn reliable income when the day comes to leave your job.
When fully consistent assumptions are used to forecast earnings, cash flow, dividends, book value, and residual income through a full set of pro forma (projected) financial statements, and the same required rate of return on equity is used as the discount rate, the same estimate of value should result from a residual income, dividend discount, or free cash flow valuation. In practice, however, analysts may find one model easier to apply and possibly arrive at different valuations using the different models.
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.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.
The challenge I’m facing and, I know it’s a good problem, is that the SF real estate has shot up about 35% in the last couple years. I’m sure you’re experiencing the same thing! So as the net worth is rising, the yield on the total portfolio is going down. Right now, it seems the only way to increase the passive income will be to raise the rent in December and to invest some of that cash in stocks, which I’m nervous to do in this market. Current allocation:
I've got a $185,000 CD generating 3% interest coming due. Although the return is low, it's guaranteed. The CD gave me the confidence to invest more aggressively in risk over the years. My online interest income has come down since I aggressively deployed some capital at the beginning of the year and again during the February market correction. You'll see these figures in my quarterly investment-income update.

Generating passive income is NOT impossible. Passive income was just a dream for me until 2008. That’s when I was let go from my job due to the crumbling economy. With no other options, I bet on myself by trying to make my dream a reality. And you know what? The dream came true, and it’s totally awesome! I get to stay at home with my family, work when I want, and make my own decisions. This lifestyle is possible, and I want you to experience it too.
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 wouldn't think of a high yield savings account as a source of passive income but your savings should be getting something (less like Seinfeld syndication residuals and more like a commercial jingle residuals!). It won't make you rich but it's nice if your baseline, risk-free rate of return on cash is 1% or more. The best high yield savings accounts (or money market accounts) offer higher interest rate and there is absolutely no risk. CIT Bank currently leads the pack with the highest interest rate.
Given the growth in the sharing economy, your junk can start to pay for itself. For example, if you have some awesome vintage furniture inherited from your grandmother sitting in a storage unit, you can rent this out to photographers for their “styled shoots” which are becoming all the rage. If your furniture is more modern but you still can’t bear to get rid of it – perhaps a home stager will be interested.
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.

When done correctly, investing can be a great way to generate residual income. There are many different types of investments you can choose from to earn income passively — whether you choose to purchase high dividend stocks, try peer to peer lending, or choose to invest in real estate. No matter what you choose to do, make sure you do your research first and talk to a tax advisor to ensure you understand your specific situation and what option is best for you.


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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.
However, until we get another reset in valuations (I’m calculating a 40% to 50% correction is justified ), I’ve moved largely to the sidelines. Beginning in July 2013, I began slowly reducing equity exposure and am now sitting firm at 40% with the balance in various forms of 5 yr cd’s and short duration bonds. This is down from over 60% when I ramped up to take advantage of the March 2009 lows.
Establishing residual income allows you to accumulate wealth faster, have a more flexible lifestyle and maintain a diverse financial portfolio. As with any successful investment, hard work is required. With residual income, however, that work tends to be upfront. Once your revenue stream is established, the work and time involved is significantly lower than active income sources. With residual income, you’ll secure funds for your future, have a better idea of where you stand financially and enjoy peace of mind knowing you’re maintaining lucrative, long-term investments.  
Greg Johnson is a personal finance and frugal travel expert who leveraged his online business to quit his 9-5 job, spend more time with his family, and travel the world. With his wife Holly, Greg co-owns two websites – Club Thrifty and Travel Blue Book. The couple has also co-authored a book, Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You'll Love. Find him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @ClubThrifty.
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