While some have degraded the meaning of passive income with cheesy ,get-rich-quick type schemes, it doesn’t mean getting something for nothing. Whether it is investing hard earned capital, sweat, time, or providing a service such as housing, there is a lot given to create passive income. Each party provides something of high value, even if the end product means simply buying income property.
And real estate does more than just track inflation – it throws off income (which is important to some people and useful to most). And while your underlying asset is appreciating, the income also grows as rents increase over time. And if you make smart and well-timed purchases, both rents and asset values can increase at well above the rate of inflation.
There are three main categories of income: active income, passive income and portfolio income. Passive income has been a relatively loosely used term in recent years. Colloquially, it’s been used to define money being earned regularly with little or no effort on the part of the person receiving it. Popular types of passive income include real estate, peer-to-peer (P2P) lending and dividend stocks. Proponents of earning passive income tend to be boosters of a work-from-home and be-your-own-boss professional lifestyle. The type of earnings people usually associate with this are gains on stocks, interest, retirement pay, lottery winnings, online work and capital gains. 
Dividend or income investing has been gaining traction in recent years, particularly with the FIRE (i.e. Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement amongst the younger crowd to build up a passive income stream towards financial freedom. In this article, I highlight some of the main financial instruments you can deploy to build up a passive income stream for yourself.
As an economic concept, residual income has a long history, dating back to Alfred Marshall in the late 1800s.1 As far back as the 1920s, General Motors used the concept in evaluating business segments.2 More recently, residual income has received renewed attention and interest, sometimes under names such as economic profit, abnormal earnings, or economic value added. Although residual income concepts have been used in a variety of contexts, including the measurement of internal corporate performance, this reading will focus on the residual income model for estimating the intrinsic value of common stock. Among the questions we will study to help us apply residual income models are the following:
Airbnb is a concept that has only been around for a few years, but it has exploded around the globe. Airbnb allows people to travel all around the world and to stay in accommodations that are a lot less expensive than traditional hotels. They do this by staying with participating Airbnb members who rent out part of their homes to travelers. By participating in Airbnb, you can use your residence to accommodate guests and earn extra money just for renting out space in your home.
This is an important concept in personal finance because banks typically use this calculation to measure the affordability of a loan. In other words, does Jim make enough money to pay his existing bills and an additional loan payment? If Jim’s RI is high, his loan application will have a greater chance of being approved. If his RI is low, he will probably get rejected for the loan immediately.
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.
I’m a 45 year old business owner who also has focussed on diversifying my income streams. I have a short term vacation rental in Florida that I bought for $390k in 2012 and net rental income for the last three years has been growing steadily. 2015 I am at $70k gross right now but should end up at $80-85k with net around $45k plus we use the place about 35 nights a year.
Whether you take a “distribution” (aka free-cash-flow) in the form of a dividend, interest payment, capital gain, maturing ladder of a CD, etc, you are still taking the same amount of cash out of your portfolio. Don’t fall for the trap of sub optimizing your overall portfolio’s performance because your chasing some unimportant trait called “income”.
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!
Don’t do vending machines as passive income. I thought it was passive but it’s way more than that. You have to work all the time. If you get a good account, you’ll be there twice a week. Want another job as a stable income? Good luck. What do you tell your boss when you have to go fix your machine because a dollar got stuck and is only open during normal business hours?
1. The batting cage idea is very risky. I’ve seen many of them close over the years and it is not anything close to passive income if you want to keep the business going. You have to continually promote it and target youth leagues, coaches, schools etc to catch all of the new players who grow up and want to play. I’ve played at probably 8 batting cages over the years and 7 of them closed.
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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