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. Learn how to start a blog with my step-by-step tutorial.
* 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. One of the best things you can do is start your own your website today, own your brand, and earn extra income on the side. Why should LinkedIn, FB, and Twitter pop up when someone Google’s your name? With your own website you can connect with potentially millions of people online, sell a product, sell some else’s product, make passive income and find a lot of new consulting and FT work opportunities.
Financial Samurai started as a personal journal to make sense of the financial crisis in 2009. By early 2012, it started making a livable income stream so I decided to negotiate a severance package. Years later, FS now makes more than I did as an Executive Director at a major bulge bracket firm with 90% less work and 100% more fun. Start your own WordPress website with Bluehost today. You never know where the journey will take you!
Updated for 2016 and beyond.