The more interests you have, the happier you will be. Imagine if one of your hobbies is analyzing clouds, or cumulonimbuses for the scientifically savvy. You could step outside any time during the day and entertain yourself for hours. There are so many things around us that our minds tend to filter things out so we can focus on more important tasks. If we stopped to admire everything, we’d probably never get anything done!
Income diversification is important during weak economic times since you never know when one stream might dry up. However, the funny thing is that I’ve never purposely thought about creating new income streams for the purpose of diversification until this year. Instead, my diverse interests have lead me to have a diverse amount of income! It never occurred to me to count up my non-job income and figure out what percent it is of total income. But, as I started adding things up, I was amazed to realize some months would regularly achieve 25% and up to 50% of my gross base salary!
VARIOUS EXAMPLES OF INTERESTS THAT CREATE INCOME
* Watches & Collecting. Ever since I was 8, I’ve been enamored with watches. I remember my first watch being a black Casio sports watch for $10 bucks and I was hooked! During the past five years, I’ve been able to collect and sell some of the more coveted watches on the market which can’t just be purchased at any store i.e. Stainless Steel Rolex Daytona, Panerai Ceramic, Patek Philippe Rose Gold Perpetual Calendar, IWC Big Pilot, and several vintage Omega Seamasters for example. These are the types of watches where you need to get on a waiting list, or get hooked up by your jeweler since you’ve bought so much already. For a couple years, I made about $10-$15,000 a year buying and selling watches. When I was a kid, I used to collect sports cards, comics, and ancient (1,000+ year old) coins as well. I wonder what those are worth now 25 years later.
* Teaching Tennis. I used to give private lessons for $40-50/hour for about 5-10 hours a month. Teaching is a great way to meet new people, keep in shape, and earn some spending money on the side. In fact, one of my dream jobs is to be a tennis instructor in Bora Bora a couple months a year. Who knows, one day I might meet a sugar mama! I no longer teach tennis, but find comfort knowing that if I needed some money, I could.
* Blogging. I love blogging, almost to the point of recognizing that I may have an addiction. I’ve never focused on blogging as a way to make income, but as the advertising inquiries started flowing in, I realize that one could make thousands of dollars a month from their site so why not. A lot of the money after the operating costs are donated away, however if I were to one day retire, blogging is definitely a great source of side income. Every member of the Yakezie should be able to generate $1,000 a month from their sites by the end of this year if they leverage the network and the brand.
* Property. I’ve been buying property for the past 10 years and I don’t think I’ll stop. I equate real wealth to real assets such as property. I like the idea of owning land, shelter, and structure instead of just having dollars and cents stashed away in a bank somewhere. Ever since the beginning of time, having property meant having wealth. It’s amazing to watch your returns tick up as rent increases, while your payments stay the same. Inflation works great that way for asset owners.
* Stocks and Bonds. The stock market is a fascinating animal. I’ve been trading stocks and bonds for about 15 years now and hit the big one in 2000 when some now defunct internet stock returned 52X on my investment in three months. I’ve never been that lucky again, and have also lost plenty of money too, but that was enough to wet my appetite forever. As a result, I’ve got a couple stock portfolios along with my 401K which I play around with. What you come to realize over a long enough period of time is that once you build a large enough portfolio, small returns still mean relatively large absolute dollar amounts.
* Interest Income. The only way to save is to save a lot. For the past 7 years I’ve been saving at least 50% of my after tax pay. In fact, I was doing some calculations on the plane ride home, and I’ve actually been saving 65-72% of my after tax pay for the past 3 years. It’s quite straight forward actually. All one has to do is save one bi-weekly paycheck a month and you’ve got saving 50% down. What I find more interesting is the sexy returns one can make just investing in long term CDs. 90% of my cash is locked in 5-7 year CDs yielding 4-4.35%. The only way to invest in CDs is to choose the maximum duration possible. That way, you ensure the greatest return on your money. Again, if you save long enough, you will come to appreciate what a risk free 4% return is worth every year. Imagine if you had $1 million in a 7 year CD. Isn’t $40,000 a year in risk-free interest income a nice sum? I think so. Especially if you have $2 million returning 4% guaranteed.
DIVERSIFY AND BE INTERESTING!
Each of the six items above is like a hobby or a game to me. Play the game long enough and one day, you’ll wake up as I’m waking up now to discover the income potential of them all. If the six hobbies can regularly generate over 50% of my day job income, I’m pretty sure that I will retire and move on to different things. Will I be able to achieve 50% of my day job income in 6-7 years? Possibly. However, in the meantime, I’m just having fun!
This week, I’ll be introducing an exciting new online product which will hopefully be a 7th income stream besides my day job. This product of building a profitable online store is incredibly thorough and I’m pumped to try it out. I think it will be a fun process and I hope many of you who are interested in building multiple income streams buy the product and join me on the journey!
Recommendations To Build Wealth:
Manage Your Money For Free: The best way to increase your wealth is to get a handle on your finances by signing up with Personal Capital. They are a free online platform which aggregates all your financial accounts in one place so you can see where you can optimize. Before Personal Capital, I had to log into eight different systems to track 28 different accounts (brokerage, multiple banks, 401K, etc) to track my finances. Now, I can just log into Personal Capital to see how my stock accounts are doing, how my net worth is progressing, and where my spending is going. The best feature is the 401K Fee Analyzer which has saved me over $1,700 in annual portfolio fees I had no idea I was paying! There is no better tool online that has helped me reach early retirement. It only takes a minute to sign up.
Take Advantage Of The Sharing Economy: In June 2015, I spent 30 hours testing to see what it was like to earn money driving for Uber. I never planned on driving for Uber, but when they offered me $100 in free gas cards at a gas station to sign-up, I figured why not. I uploaded all my docs, got the sticker at the driving center, and switched on the Uber partner app to give it a go.
After 30 hours, I’ve averaged ~$36/hour. Not bad! Anybody can easily drive for 20 hours a week whenever they want to make an extra $2,000+ a month in spending money. I did most of my driving between 5am – 8am and after 8pm given I hate traffic.
If I lost all passive income, online income, and assets, I would definitely drive for Uber for 40 hours a week (~$4,800/month) and try to teach another 10 hours a week of tennis ($2,000/month) to make ends meet. Finally, new drivers can earn up to $300 in bonus income after making their 20th ride! You can sign up to be a driver today. It’s a no brainer to at least sign up for the bonus money.
Mobilize Your Idle Cash Earning Nothing: Wealthfront is an excellent algorithmic advisory choice for those who want the lowest fees and can’t be bothered with actively managing their money themselves once they’ve gone through the discovery process. In the long run, it is very hard to outperform any index, therefore, the key is to pay the lowest fees possible while being invested in the market. Wealthfront charges $0 in fees for the first $10,000 and only 0.25% for any money over $10,000. Their minimum is only $500 to get started. Invest your idle money cheaply, instead of letting it lose purchasing power due to inflation.
About the Author: Sam began investing his own money ever since he opened a Charles Schwab brokerage account online in 1995. Sam loved investing so much that he decided to make a career out of investing by spending the next 13 years after college working at Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse Group. During this time, Sam received his MBA from UC Berkeley with a focus on finance and real estate. He also became Series 7 and Series 63 registered. In 2012, Sam was able to retire at the age of 34 largely due to his investments that now generate roughly $150,000 a year in passive income. He spends time playing tennis, hanging out with family, consulting for leading fintech companies, and writing online to help others achieve financial freedom.
Updated for 2016 and beyond.