Ranking The Best Passive Income Investments

If you're looking to achieve financial freedom before a traditional retirement age (60+), you must build passive income. This post will highlight the best passive income investments in our current economic environment.

Passive income is the holy grail of personal finance. If you have enough passive income to cover your desired lifestyle, then you are free at last! You can say and do whatever you want. Too many people fail to live their truth due to a lack of passive income.

However, the only way to generate useable passive income is by building a taxable investment portfolio, which includes investing in real estate, alternative investments, and more.

Maxing out your 401(k), IRA, and Roth IRA are great moves. Unfortunately, they can't generate passive income to live on until after you turn 59.5, in most cases. When it comes to achieving financial freedom, the hope is that we achieve it as soon as possible given our time is limited.

For reference, I've been building passive income since 1999, when I first got a job at Goldman Sachs.

Why I Focused On Building Passive Income

After about the 30th day in a row of working 12+ hour days and eating rubber chicken dinners at our company's free cafeteria, I decided I had enough. Working in investment banking was wearing me out. I needed to generate more passive income to break free.

There was no way I could last for more than five years working in a pressure cooker environment like Wall Street. Thus, I started focusing on generating passive income in 1999.

However, it wasn't until the 2008-2009 financial crisis where I became obsessed with building passive income. The previous financial crisis made working in finance no fun. I'm sure many people are feeling the same way about their occupations during the global pandemic as well.

It wasn't until 2012 when I generated enough passive income (~$80,000) to break free from work. And it wasn't until 2017 when I was able to generate enough passive income to take care of a family ($200,000).

Today, I estimate my wife and I will generate roughly $230,000 in passive income. We were on track to make $380,000 in passive income but blew it up after we bought a real forever home in 4Q2023. As a result, after 12 years of financial independence, we're technically no longer financially independent. We now need to build back up our passive income by $150,000 over the next five years.

We've discussed how to get started building passive income for financial freedom before. Now I'd like to rank the various passive income streams based on risk, return, feasibility, liquidity, activity, and taxes.

I'm updating my passive income rankings for 2024 given so much has changed since my original passive income rankings came out in 2015. A key difference to my best passive income investments ranking is the inclusion of taxes as new ranking variable. After all, tax treatment can significantly affect returns.

The best passive income rankings are born from my own real-life experiences. I've been working on building passive income since I got my first full-time job in 1999.

Best Passive Income Investments Starts With Saving

By far the most important reason to save is so you can have enough money to do what you want, when you want, without anybody telling you what to do. Financial freedom is the best!

Sounds nice right? If only there was a formula or a chart like the 401k by Age chart which gives people guidance on how much to save and for how long in order to reach financial freedom.

Unfortunately, saving money is only the first step in building passive income. Figuring out how to properly invest your savings is even more important.

If you can max out your 401k or max out your IRA and then save an additional 20%+ of your after-tax, after-retirement contribution, good things really start to happen. The ultimate goal I recommend is for everyone to shoot to save 50% of their after-tax income or more.

It is your taxable retirement portfolio that is going to allow you to retire early and do whatever you want. Because it is your taxable retirement portfolio that spits out passive retirement income.

You can't touch your 401(k) and IRA before the age of 59.5 without a 10% penalty, unless you enact Rule 72(t). But in general, you want to keep your tax-advantaged retirement portfolio invested for as long as possible.

The pandemic has shown us that if we WANT to save more, we can. Before the pandemic began, the U.S. personal saving rate hovered around 5%. Then in March 2020, the personal saving rate rocketed to 32%! Financial freedom is a choice. Make better choices.

Let's take a look at the best passive income investments for 2023 and beyond.

Ranking The Best Passive Income Investments

Below are the eight best passive income investments to consider. Each passive income stream is ranked based on Risk, Return, Feasibility, Liquidity, Activity, and Taxes. Each criterion has a score between 1-10. The higher the score, the better.

  • A Risk score of 10 means no risk. A Risk Score of 1 means there is extreme risk.
  • A Return score of 1 means the returns are horrible compared to the risk-free rate. A Return Score of 10 means you have the highest potential of getting the highest return relative to all other investments.
  • A Feasibility score of 10 means everybody can do it. A Feasibility score of 1 means that there are high requirements to be able to invest in such an asset.
  • A Liquidity score of 1 means the investment is very difficult to withdraw your money or sell without a penalty or a long period of time. A Liquidity score of 10 means you can access your funds instantly without penalty.
  • An Activity score of 10 means you can kick back and do nothing to earn income. An Activity score of 1 means you've got to manage your investment all day long like working a day job.
  • A Tax score of 1 means the investment is taxed at the highest possible rate and there's nothing you can do about it. A Tax score of 10 means the investment is generating the lowest tax liability possible or you can do things to lower the tax liability.

To make the ranking as realistic as possible, every score is relative to each other. Further, the return criteria are based on trying to generate $10,000 a year in passive income.

Best Passive Income Investment Chart

Let's look at my overall Best Passive Income Investments ranking chart. It has recently been updated to account for the ever-changing economic environment. Interest rates will likely stay low for a while, which makes generating meaningful passive income harder.

Compared to the previous best passive income investments chart, Fixed Income / Bonds moved down from 3rd best to 5th best. While Physical Real Estate moved up from 5th best to 3rd best partly due to higher net rental yields and lower prices. Inflation is elevated in 2023, but is finally coming down.

Dividend (stock) investing is still the ranked the best passive income investment. However, it may not be the best for you given its higher volatility and lower relative yields.

Private real estate funds, on the other hand, is much less volatile and provides even higher yields. During bear markets, private real estate funds like those from Fundrise tend to outperform.

We're past the bottom of the latest real estate downturn and I expect real estate prices to move higher in 2024 and beyond. Mortgage rates are declining and there is tremendous pent-up demand for real estate, which is in undersupply by 5+ million homes in America.

The best passive income streams ranked

Best Passive Investment Rank #8: Hard Money Lending / Peer-to-Peer Lending (P2P)

Lending money directly to friends, family, and strangers for passive is tough to do. Friendships and relationships are often ruined because of money. Therefore, I don’t recommend doing it unless the person you care about is desperate. In such a situation, it would be best to provide an interest-free loan or a gift.

The biggest problem with P2P lending is people not paying investors back e.g. borrowers default on their loans. There's something that just doesn't sit right when people break their contract obligations.

Over time, the P2P industry has seen its returns shrink due to higher competition and more regulation. As a result, I believe making money through P2P investing is one of the worst ways to generate passive income today.

Risk: 4, Return: 2, Feasibility: 8, Liquidity: 4, Activity: 7, Taxes: 5. Total Score: 30

Best Passive Investment Rank #7: Private Equity Or Debt Investing

Private equity and venture capital investing can be a tremendous source of capital appreciation with the right investments. If you find the next Google, the returns will blow every single other passive income investment out of the water. But of course, finding the next Google is a tough task since most private companies fail. Further, the best investment opportunities always go to the most connected investors.

The most liquid types of private equity investments are those investing in equity or credit hedge funds, real estate funds, and private company funds. Private debt investments include venture capital and real estate funds as well. There are usually 3-10-year lockup periods, so the Liquidity score is low. These funds should at least provide for some semi-regular passive income distributions.

The least liquid type of private investment is when you invest directly into a private company. You could be locked up forever and receive zero dividends or distributions. I don't recommend individual investors make angel investments. You'll get the worst deals and you'll have the least amount of edge.

Access to private investments are usually restricted to accredited investors ($250K income per individual or $1 million net worth excluding primary residence), which is why the Feasibility Score is only a 2.

But the Activity Score is a 10, because you can't do anything even if you wanted to. You're investing for the long term without the daily noise, which is why I enjoy investing in private funds, even though fees are higher. The Risk and Return score greatly depends on your investing acumen and access.

Investing In Artificial Intelligence

One of the most interesting funds I'm allocating new capital toward in 2024 and beyond is the Fundrise Innovation Fund. The Innovation fund invests in:

  • Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
  • Modern Data Infrastructure
  • Development Operations (DevOps)
  • Financial Technology (FinTech)
  • Real Estate & Property Technology (PropTech)

Roughly 35% of the Innovation Fund is invested in artificial intelligence, which I'm extremely bullish about. The investment minimum is also only $10, as Fundrise has democratized access to venture capital as well. Most venture capital funds have a $200,000+ minimum.

You can listen to my hour-long conversation with Ben Miller, founder of Fundrise about democratizing access to venture capital with their Innovation Fund.

The issue with venture capital investing is earning passive income. You likely won't earn any passive income or distributions for 5-10 years given the fund is investing in highly illiquid private companies.

Gaining $10,000 a year in private equity investing is difficult to quantify unless you are investing in a real estate or fixed income fund. Such funds generally target 8-15% annual returns, which equates to a need for $83,000 – $125,000 in capital.

Risk: 6, Return: 8, Feasibility: 3, Liquidity: 3, Activity: 10, Taxes: 6. Total Score: 36

Best Passive Investment Rank #6: Certificate of Deposit (CD) / Money Market Funds

Thanks to higher interest rates, CDs and money market funds are now paying higher rates. Anybody can go to their local bank and open up a CD of their desired duration. Furthermore, CD and money market accounts are FDIC insured for up to $250,000 per individual and $500,000 per joint account.

Today you can typically get a money market account paying ~5%. Another great option to take advantage of is CIT Bank's Platinum Savings account offering 5.05% for balances of $5k+. Pretty incredible thanks to so many Fed rate hikes. Take advantage!

It still takes a tremendous amount of capital to generate any meaningful amount of passive income with savings now. To generate $10,000 a year in passive income at 5% requires $200,000 in capital. But at least you know your money is safe, which is great during bear markets.

In a high interest rate environment, it's easier to generate more passive income. As a result, it's also easier to achieve financial independence too. With risk-free income at 5%+ and core CPI below 3.5%, we're currently in an excellent environment for savers.

Conversely, in a low interest rate environment, it's prudent to lower your safe withdrawal rate in retirement and/or build a bigger net worth before you retire. It takes a tremendous amount more in capital to generate the same amount of risk-adjusted income today.

Risk: 10 (no risk), Return: 1 (the worst return), Feasibility: 10 (anybody can open up a savings account). Liquidity: 6 (savings are easily accessible, but not CDs without a penalty). Activity: 10 (you don't have to do anything to earn passive income. Taxes: 5 (interest income is taxed as normal income). Total Score: 42

Best Passive Investment Rank #5: Fixed Income (Bonds)

Bond yields are attractive, for now. After 35+ years of inflation and interest rates going down, bonds had one of the worst years in history in 2022, but rebounded in 2023.

The 10-year yield was at only 0.51% in August 2020. But now, the 10-year bond yield is at ~4.1%. I would take advantage of this temporary spike in bond yields and buy Treasury bonds with 3-month, 6-month, 9-month, and 1-year durations. If and when inflation roles over, you'll be glad you own Treasury bonds with 5%+ rates.

Long term, I believe interest rates will stay low for a long time. Just look at Japanese interest rates, which are negative (inflation is higher than the nominal interest rate).

Bonds usually provide a good defensive allocation to an investment portfolio, especially during times of uncertainty. If you hold a government bond until maturity, you will get all your coupon payments and principal back.

But just like stocks, there are plenty of different types of bond investments to choose from. Further, the aggregate bond market was down about 14% in 2022, the worst year ever. Hence, even bonds are not always safe havens.

Anybody can buy a bond ETF such as IEF (7-10 Year Treasury), MUB (muni bond fund), or a fixed income fund like PTTRX (Pimco Total Return Fund). You can also buy individual corporate or municipal bonds. Just know that with bond funds, there is no maturity date. Hence, you will experience higher principal risk if you need to sell.

Municipal bonds are especially enticing for higher-income earners who face a high marginal tax rate. You can also directly buy Treasury bonds through your online brokerage platform.

Main Concern With Bonds and Bond Funds In Particular

The main concern for bond funds is that their values go down when the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates. That said, so long as you hold individual bonds to maturity, you should get your initial principal back along with all the coupon payments if you are buying a highly rated bond e.g. AA.

Bonds are usually investment to help decrease volatility in your portfolio. But if you own individual bonds and have to sell before maturity, you could lose a lot of money if interest rates rise during the holding period.

Risk: 6, Return: 2, Feasibility: 10, Liquidity: 7. Activity: 10. Taxes: 8. Total Score: 43

Best Passive Income Rank #4: Creating Your Own Products

If you’re a creative person, you might be able to produce a product that’s able to generate a steady flow of passive income for years to come. At the extreme, Michael Jackson makes more dead than alive. This is due to the royalties his estate makes from all the songs he produced in his career. Since Michael's death, his estate has made over $2.5 billion according to Forbes.

Of course, it’s unlikely any one of us will replicate the genius of Michael Jackson. But you could produce your own eBook, traditional book, e-course, award-winning photo, or song to create your own slice of passive income.

Example Of A Product

In 2012, I wrote a 120-page eBook about severance package negotiations. Today, the book is in its 6th edition for 2023 and is 240-pages long. It regularly sells about ~50 copies a month at $87 – $97 each without much ongoing maintenance.

Another way to think about how profitable creating a product can be is to look at the amount of capital it would take to generate the same about of earnings. For example, to replicate the ~$40,000 a year in passive income I can get from the book, I would need to invest $1,000,000 in an asset that generates a 4% yield. To earn $10,000 a year in passive income would therefore need roughly $250,000 in capital.

Who would have thought a book about engineering your layoff could regularly generate so much revenue? We’re so busy with our jobs that our childhood creativity sadly vanishes over time. Now that millions of jobs are at risk, the book has become a better seller.

Another Example: Royalty Payments

I published an instant Wall Street Journal bestseller, Buy This, Not That: Spend Your Way To Wealth And Freedom. The book took two years to write and has been reviewed and revised 15 times by three professional editors. I figured why not write a great personal finance book during the pandemic.

Once the book sells enough copies to cover my book advance, I will make a 13% royalty based off each hardcover sale. I believe the book will provide at least 100X more value than the cost of the book. You can pick up a copy on Amazon, where it currently has the best sale.

Buy This Not That Book Reviews

Leverage the internet to create, connect, and sell. The startup costs are low and it's easier than ever to launch your own site. The only main risks are lost time and a wounded ego.

Here's my step-by-step guide on how to start your own profitable site in under 30 minutes. You want to build an online business that can't get shut down.

Below is a real income statement of a personal finance blogger who started his website on the side while working.

Blogging For A Living Income Example: $300,000+ - Best passive income sources

If you are a constant daydreamer, creating your own product is one of the best ways to go. The margins can be extremely high once your product is produced. The only thing you need to do is regularly update the product over time. If you have a great product, the upside is enormous.

Risk: 8, Return: 8, Feasibility: 8, Liquidity: 6, Activity: 7, Taxes: 7. Total Score: 44

Best Passive Investment Rank #3: Physical Real Estate

Real estate is my favorite asset class to build wealth for the average person because it's easy to understand, provides shelter, is a tangible asset, doesn't lose instant value like stocks overnight, and generates income. When I was in my 20s and 30s, I thought owning rental properties was the best passive income investment.

The only bad thing about owning physical real estate is that it ranks poorly on the Activity variable due to tenants and maintenance issues. You can get lucky with great tenants who are self-sufficient and never bother you. Or you can be stuck with tenants who never pay on time and throw house-damaging parties.

Maintenance issues can be an ongoing headache without proper preventative maintenance. For example, your roof could leak during the next Bomb Cyclone. Or your water heater could burst and flood your basement. Both have happened to me before! As a result, the older and wealthier you get, the less you'll want to own too many physical rental properties.

Owning your primary residence means you are neutral the real estate market. Renting means you are short the real estate market. Only after buying two or more properties are you actually long real estate. This is why everybody should own their primary residence as soon as they know they want to stay put for 5-10 years. Inflation is too powerful a force to combat.

In order to generate $10,000 in Net Operating Profit After Tax (NOPAT) through a rental property, you must own a $50,000 property with an unheard of 20% net rental yield, a $100,000 property with a rare 10% net rental yield, or a more realistic $200,000 property with a 5% net rental yield.

Generating High Rental Income Is Tough On The Coasts

In expensive cities like San Francisco and New York City, net rental yields (cap rates) can fall as low as 2.5%. This is a sign that there is a lot of liquidity buying property mainly for appreciation. Income generation is second. This is a riskier proposition than buying property based on rental income.

In inexpensive cities, such as those in the Midwest and South, net rental yields can easily be in the range of 7%+, although appreciation may be slower.

I'm bullish on the heartland of America real estate and have been actively buying multifamily real estate there through real estate crowdfunding and specialty REITs, which we will discuss more below. Owning rental property in an elevated inflation environment is an optimal choice. Renting is not.


Real Estate Has Great Tax Benefits

The tax benefits of owning physical real estate are very attractive. The first $250,000 in gains is tax-free per individual. If you're married and own the property together, then you can receive $500,000 in tax-free gains upon sale.

Then there's the ability to exchange a property you own for another property via a 1031 Exchange so you don't have to pay any capital gains taxes.

If you own rental property, you can take non-cash amortization expenses to reduce any rental income taxes. Owning property over the long term is one of the most proven ways to build wealth and generate passive income for the average American.

The value of rental income goes up when interest rates fade. Therefore, I think buying rental properties over the next 12 months is good as interest rates and property prices decline.

Risk: 8, Return: 8, Feasibility: 7, Liquidity: 6, Activity: 6, Taxes: 10. Total Score: 45

Best Passive Investment Rank #2: Real Estate Crowdfunding, REITs, Real Estate ETFs

Owning physical real estate has been my key source for achieving financial freedom. My rental properties generate about $120,000 after expenses a year, or roughly a third of my overall passive income streams. However, now that I'm older and have two young children, I really want to minimize the time I deal with maintenance issues and tenants.

Therefore, I've been investing more of my capital in real estate crowdfunding, REITs, and real estate ETFs. Real estate crowdfunding enables individuals to buy a percentage of a commercial real estate project that was once only available to ultra-high net worth individuals or institutional investors.

Owning individual physical real estate is great, but it's like going all-in on one asset in a particular location with leverage. If the market goes down, your concentrated investment could lose big time if you are forced to sell. Many did during the last financial crisis.

My favorite real estate investing platform is Fundrise. Fundrise manages over $3.3 billion in assets and has 550,000+ clients. Fundrise mainly invests in single-family and multi-family investment properties in the Sunbelt, where valuations are lower and net rental yields are higher.

Work from home and migration to lower-cost areas of the country is here to stay. As a result, I believe Fundrise is investing in the real estate sweet spot for the next several decades.

Unlike other passive investments on the list, with real estate crowdfunding you at least have a physical asset as collateral. Further, the income and returns are 100% passive, unlike the semi-passive income generated from being a landlord.

The real estate bottom is in, time to buy real estate in 2024

100% Passive Real Estate Income Is So Nice

For those of you who dislike dealing with tenants and maintenance issues, investing in real estate crowdfunding is wonderful.

In mid-2017, I sold my San Francisco rental property for 30X annual gross rent. I reinvested $500,000 of the proceeds in a real estate crowdfunding portfolio. The goal was to take advantage of lower valuations across the country with much higher net rental yields. Not having to deal with maintenance issues and tenant problems has been wonderful.

Coastal city real estate has become too expensive. I expect people and capital to naturally flow towards lower-cost areas of the country, especially post-pandemic. The future of work is remote. Take advantage of a multi-decade demographic shift inland.

Further, the performance of Fundrise's funds has been relatively steady during stock market downturns. Therefore, if there is another crash, Fundrise funds should outperform. Real estate is defensive because it becomes more affordable as mortgage rates decline. Investors want real assets that provide shelter and income.

Below are the latest returns from Fundrise compared to public REITs and the S&P 500. Notice the significant outperformance in 2018 and 2022, when bear markets occur. I enjoy investing in private real estate given there is less volatility and potentially outperformance during tough times.

Fundrise Returns

To be able to invest in real estate, but 100% passively is a great combination. You can invest in publicly-traded REITs as well for real estate exposure. However, as we saw in the violent March 2020 stock market downturn, REITs performed even worse.

Risk: 7, Return: 7, Feasibility: 10, Liquidity: 6, Activity: 10, Taxes: 7. Total Score: 47

The Best Passive Investment Rank #1: Dividend Investing

The best passive income investment is dividend-paying stocks. Dividend and value stocks are making a comeback after underperforming growth stocks during the pandemic.

The “Dividend Aristocrats” are a list of blue-chip companies in the S&P 500 that have demonstrated a consistent increase in dividend payouts over the years. Names such as McDonald's, P&G, Sherwin-Williams, Caterpillar, Chevron, Coca-Cola, and Sysco Corpare considered some of the best blue-chip dividend stocks. But there are some dogs like AT&T.

Let’s say a company earns $1 a share and pays out 75 cents in the form of a dividend. That’s a 75% dividend payout ratio. Let’s say the next year the company earns $2 a share and pays out $1 in the form of dividends. Although the dividend payout ratio declines to 50%, due to the company wanting to spend more CAPEX on expansion, at least the absolute dividend amount increases.

Dividend stocks tend to be more mature companies that are past their high growth stage. As a result, they are relatively less volatile from a stock context. Utilities, telecoms, and financial sectors tend to make up the majority of dividend-paying companies. In 2022, the S&P 500 dividend yield is about 1.8%.

Tech, Internet, and biotech, on the other hand, tend not to pay any dividends. They are growth stocks that reinvest most of their retained earnings back into their company for further growth. But growth stocks can easily lose investors tremendous value over a short period of time.

Pay Attention To Dividend Yields

To achieve $10,000 in annual passive income with a ~1.8% S&P 500 dividend yield would require $555,000. Instead, you could invest only $154,000 into AT&T stock given its 8% estimated dividend yield. But the problem is that AT&T has been a terrible performer, which has caused shareholders a tremendous loss in principal value.

It all depends on your risk tolerance. I give dividend investing a 5 on Return because dividend interest rates are relatively low. Further, the volatility is now relatively high.

One of the easiest ways to get exposure to dividend stocks is to buy ETFs like DVY, VYM, and NOBL or index funds. Alternatively, you can DIY and use Empower's free financial tools to manage your wealth. The key is to invest consistently over time.

In the long run, it is very hard to outperform any index. Therefore, the key is to pay the lowest fees possible while being mostly invested in index funds. Dividend index investing is great because it is passive and liquid.

However, given dividend rates are low compared to real estate and volatility is high in stocks after a 12+-year bull market, the Return score is lower than in the past. You need a lot more capital to generate passive income with dividend-paying stocks and index funds.

Risk: 6, Return: 5, Feasibility: 10, Liquidity: 9, Activity: 10, Taxes: 8. Total Score: 48

Best Passive Income Investments Review

Based on my new six-factor model for ranking the best passive income investments, the top five passive income investments are:

  • Dividend Stocks (100% passive but need a lot more capital)
  • Real Estate Crowdfunding, REITs, and Real Estate ETFs (100% passive, higher yields, but less liquidity)
  • Creating Your Own Products (huge margins, low startup costs, takes a while to get going)
  • Owning Rental Properties (tangible asset that's more stable, but not as passive)

If you can stomach more volatility, investing in dividend stocks is truly one of the best passive income investments over the long run. The older you get, the more you will enjoy the 100% passivity of dividend stocks.

If you want less volatility with likely higher yields, invest in real estate crowdfunding, rental properties, and fixed income instead. As you get older, you may also want to experience more stability.

There was a time when I loved owning physical real estate the best. It was my favorite way to generate a steady stream of rental income. However, once I became a dad in 2017, I no longer had as much time or energy to manage properties.

Real estate crowdfunding through platforms like Fundrise and CrowdStreet are good solutions for my real estate investment capital. 100% passive income is wonderful. I really like the combination of owning a hard asset that generates income. It's a more stable way to grow wealth.

Note: if you decide to investing in individual deals, make sure to do extensive due diligence on each sponsor. Understanding each sponsor's track record and experience is vital. So is building a diversified portfolio.

For those who are the creative types, starting your own website like this one and creating products online feels extremely rewarding. Some say making $1,000 on your own is like making $5,000 or $10,000 at a job. It just takes a while to get going.

However, blogging would score a 1 in the Activity Score since these posts don't write themselves. Instead, you really want to create products like a book or a course to sell passively.

Best Passive Income Investments Table

Once again, here are the best passive income investments. All eight passive income investments are appropriate ways for generating income to fund your lifestyle. The right ones depend on your personal preference, understanding of the investments, creativity, and interests.

Best Passive Income Investments Ranked

Build More Passive Income Today

Enthusiasm for work is strongest when you are young and have very little money. After four years of high school, followed by another four years of college, work sounds like an exciting adventure! But after a while, your job can begin to beat you down.

Perhaps a coworker purposefully tries to make your life miserable because they resent your success. Maybe you get passed over for a promotion and a raise because you weren’t vocal enough about your abilities. Maybe you mistakenly thought you worked in a meritocracy. Whatever the case may be, you will eventually tire.

This is why it is important to take action while you still have the energy. With interest rates at rock bottom levels, building passive income will take a lot of effort and patience. Start now!

My Current Passive Income Investments

Below are my latest passive income streams that I've been building since 1999. Our passive income enables both my wife and I to be stay-at-home parents to two toung children.

Our goal is to consistently generate over $300,000 in passive income to raise a family in expensive San Francisco or Honolulu through the year 2040. The irony of a bear market is that all of us can actually more easily generate even more passive income!

Here's my latest estimated passive income for the year after buying a forever home in 4Q2023.

2024 Passive Income Investments from Financial Samurai

As you can see from our passive income chart, roughly half of our passive income comes from real estate. Real estate is my favorite asset class to build wealth because it is relatively stable, generates income, and provides utility.

My favorite real estate investing platform is Fundrise, with over $3.3 billion in assets under management and 550,000+ active investors. Fundrise predominantly invests in single-family and multi-family rental properties across the Sunbelt. The Sunbelt has lower valuations, higher cap rates, and strong demographic trends. I like owning a fund where I don't have to focus on each investment.

Saving early and often is no sacrifice at all. Instead, the biggest sacrifice is living a life on someone else's terms due to a lack of funds. Keep building the best passive income investments so you can one day be free.

Remember, if the amount of money you're saving and investing doesn't hurt, you're not saving and investing enough. At the end of the day, nobody cares more about your money than you.

Now that you know the best passive income investments, it's time to get cracking! Your future self will thank you.

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The Best Passive Income Investments is a FinancialSamurai.com original post. I have invested in all products mentioned for years. Financial Samurai has a partnership with Fundrise. We earn a commission from partner links on Financial Samurai.

496 thoughts on “Ranking The Best Passive Income Investments”

  1. Jim Fulghum

    I see your estimated income and your past income however I don’t see a summary of your expenses. Perhaps I missed something I do follow you for years now very good articles and I have purchased how to architect your layoff book thank you. Perhaps you have a loan on your new home forever even though I thought I read that you sold stocks to pay for it.. so me guessing that some of your income is going into investments which I would agree should be 15% of your income for investments minimum.. however that still leaves many numbers untold. Taxes would be in that I assume but why assume can you provide a link to a prior conversation of your expenses?

    I’m retired age 67 and my wife 65. I’ve been watching very detail since 2018 of the outgo before retiring. Wow what a disappointment of the rapid inflation we’ve had since then. Not all things have gone up 30% but many items have in a very short time. My models of inflation were based on 3% each year. For all expensive for the two of us not including any taxes with a $400 a month mortgage is $60,000 a year. Both cars are paid for. The top 5 expenses are health 22%, home 20%, food 18%, utilities 11%, vacation 8%. You should be able to compute the cost outlay based on those percentages for those five items. We rarely go out however we do pick up to go at a nearby restaurant once a week. In summary not knowing your expenses I could only guess that for a family of four with investments, 529 tuition and taxes and no mortgages and no car payment that $150,000 should be ample amount for your family.

  2. Sam, based on the recent changes in the market with CDs and Fixed Income, how would you reallocate the rankings or would you keep them the same based on historical numbers? It seems that in the short term you could net higher returns with lower risk on CD and Fixed Income investments versus dividends. Corporate earnings, while still positive, could take a hit if the looming recession ever takes hold and potentially cause corporations to pause or slash dividends. I’m curious what your thoughts are for the short and medium term.

    1. I’m a big fan of getting over a 5% yield on treasury bonds and CDs at this point in time. Longer-term, risk assets like real estate and dividend paying stocks have provided greater returns.

  3. Sorry, I am either confused, or missing something. Consider the following. You stopped being a wage-slave in 2012 and had a passive income of $80k. Now, 11 years later, that passive income has grown to $380k. You have also stated in other posts that you seek, based on your risk profile, returns of between 3% and 5%. Let’s use 4% to illustrate my point. That means in 2012 your net worth was around $80/.04=$3.2m. Now it is worth $380/.04=$9.5m. To grow $3.2m to 9.5m in 11 years requires an annual compounded return of 10.5% (and that is without any withdrawals by either the taxman or yourself to live). This 10.5% is more than double the top-end of the return-range you suggest to aim for. Probably triple if you allow for living expenses and the taxman.

    So what am I missing?

    I assume, but correct me if I am wrong, that you have made substantial amounts of money from things other than the 3% to 5% return on your portfolio. Other things such as this website. And those other things, such as this website, can hardly be described as passive, given the effort that goes into them, right?

    So, for some one today, who is giving up being a wage slave, and has a portfolio of around $3.2m and a passive income from that portfolio of around $80k, there is NO WAY they are going to grow that to $9.5m with an income of $380k in the next 11 years UNLESS they do additional things that are not passive, right? Or unless they invest that $3.2m in things that come with substantinally higher risk, so they can both live off the porfolio and grow it at over 10% a year (after tax).

    Am I right? Please correct me if I am wrong, as I would love to grow $3.2m to $9.5m in 11 years, without lots of additianal risk and without having to work hours developing a blog or some other income stream that takes a lot of effort and becomes like another job.



    1. Hi Mark,

      Thanks for your interest in my finances. Leaving work in 2012 was fortuitous due to the 10-year bull market that ensued. But leaving work in 2012 also was unlucky b/c compensation began to rebound for 10 years and I missed that period as well.

      The power of compounding is real, especially after 10+ years. Even compounding at 8% for 11 years would turn $3 million into $7 million. And taking a 4% withdrawal rate would lead to $280,000 in passive income. No brains or effort necessary for this to happen. Just investing.

      More than 100% of my net worth was exposed to risk assets because I took on mortgage debt to own multiple properties. So the returns from my real estate holdings, which account for about 50% of my net worth, have been greater than the 10.5% you used.

      Real estate is my favorite asset class to build wealth. But I’m at the max in terms of the number of physical rental properties I want to manage (4), hence why I’ve invested in private real estate like Fundrise. Fundrise focuses on Sunbelt/heartland real estate, where I want to diversify due to demographic trends and WFH.

      Since 2012, I’ve done some consulting at private companies, wrote a severance negotiation book, wrote a traditional book that become a bestseller with a big publisher, and run this site. These activities are enjoyable and have provided supplemental income, which I’ve mostly reinvested in assets that can generate more passive income.

      The ability to do what you want and follow your Ikigai is one of the best things about financial independence.

      Please tell me more about yourself, your age, current net worth, asset allocation, and goals. It’s always good to learn more about readers as everybody is different.



      1. Thanks for the reply Sam. My apologies if my post came across as intrusive about your finances. Was just trying to understand how you grew your passive income like you did, which your reply answers well.

        About me. Age 58. Retired at 54 after burnt out working in banking/technology for too long. Net worth ~$4.3m. Portfolio made up of 2 rentals (40%), equities (30%), and cash (30% – larger %age cash than most would hold). Portfolio average return ~3.8%/$163k. Annual living expenses ~$100k. Am now a “nomad”. Am In Thailand right now. 3 months in Europe/UK/Ireland coming up. Australia and New Zeland later in the year. Oh, and married (wife retired and travelling with me!) and 2 independent adult daughters with their own lives and careers.

        I have one other question from your reply. That is, after retiring, how did you manage to get mortgages? Banks ususally refuse to lend to those without a salaried income. I even got rejected for a credit card recently because I don’t have a salaried income!

        While you suggest aiming for a return of 3% to 5% it does seem you are somewhat of a risk taker – to take the plunge of leaving behind a salary AND then leveraging-up, was actually a risky move (although I guess a calculated one). It paid off for you. Congratulations.

        For me, at my age, with my net worth, I hear Buffet’s words-of-wisdom ringing in my ears often – “don’t risk what you have and need for what you don’t have and don’t need”. If my portfolio generates ~$160k, and my expenses are ~$100k, leverage to build wealth faster does seem like risking what I have and need for what I don’t have and don’t need.

        What “niggles” at me though, is my desire to create generational wealth, ultimately for the benefit of my 2 daughters. $4.3m is not enough to be considered generational wealth. It was because of this and how you grew your passive income prompted me to write the earlier post.


        1. Hi Mark, thanks for sharing. I would encourage you not to compare too much. We are different people with different cost structures and goals. If you’re living in Thailand, my living expenses have to be at least five times more expensive if not 10 times more expensive.

          And since you are already retired, you are happy with the money you have, otherwise, you wouldn’t have retired, no? Because if you still want money, you could still work or earn freelance income.

          I would just do things productive I bring you joy and the kid also generate some side income. I love to ride, regardless, if I get paid or not. My interest in writing as why I have published three times a week since July 2009. And due to the consistency, my site ended up generating bonus income.

          I’m not sure if you’ve read this post, but I think you’ll like it if not: Generational Wealth And The Angst Of The Not Rich Enough Class

          One of the main lessons is to stop comparing!

          1. 100% agree. Actually, I am not comparing. What I try to do is learn from others – especially others that may be more successful than me. With additional learning/knowledge from how others have done things, I can then choose to apply not apply those learnings to my situation.

            I suppose seeking information to learn from others could easily be seen as comparing though. I find one of the great things about retirement is and being totally out of the rat-race, is the temptation to compare, and “keep up with the Jones” is gone. We live our lives exacty where and how we want on our terms now.

            I will continue to read your articles. Really enjoy them. All the best.

            1. Sounds good. Hopefully you will be satisfied with your $4.3 million net worth and no longer feel that niggle at some point. $4.3 million is a lot.

              If you have two or more years of freelance income, you can get a mortgage. If you have a lot of assets, you can get an asset based mortgage as well.

  4. I also have a few hundred $K in Fundrise and I think we’re about the same age.
    Curious what your Fundrise allocation is?
    Mostly Supplemental Income?
    Or do you have some of the Core/Opportunistic offerings?
    Great site, I read it daily!


      The Fundrise returns in ’22

      Flagship Real Estate Fund 0.56%
      Income Real Estate Fund 2.13%
      Growth eREITs
      Growth eREIT 1.35%
      Growth eREIT II -0.46%
      Development eREIT -2.04%
      eFund 0.02%
      Growth eREIT III -2.37%
      Growth eREIT VII 1.35%
      Balanced eREITs
      East Coast eREIT 0.59%
      Heartland eREIT -0.71%
      West Coast eREIT -0.54%
      Balanced eREIT II -0.75%

      2022 Average -0.87%

      1. Thanks for highlighting the Fundrise returns. That’s some huge outperformance compared to the S&P 500 (-19.6%) and the FTSE All Equity REIT (-24.95%) in 2022. The Heartland eREIT was up 41% in 2021.

        I’m glad I diversified. But I wish I diversified more into private real estate. So much more stable than stocks in a bear market, especially.

  5. Hi Sam,

    love your articles, I am Going to retire this year It would be very helpful for me, and I agree that “Real estate is in best asset class to build wealth for the average person because it’s easy to understand, provides shelter, is a tangible asset, doesn’t lose instant value like stocks overnight, and generates income over ongoing period of time.”

    Nevertheless, how do you feel about real estate risks related to climate changes. To be more specific, I live in India in Delhi, and own two homes (one I live in, and second one rental).

    Please, have you any opinion to share about the risks associated with Rental Properties and

  6. Paul Dabuco

    I have invested in 4 passive investment vehicles: index funds, stocks, crypto and mutual funds since 2021. And so far, the most profitable is index funds by a whopping 43% profit. The lowest return has been in crypto with -85% loss. Such a shame but I learned my lessons :)

  7. I am winding down my experiment with Groundfloor. This is crowdfunded Real Estate loans for Real Estate investors needing capital to do property builds, property rehabs, flips and the like. Too many loans get extended past their maturity date and a few defaults.

    1. Good to know. I looked at groundfloor briefly before, but concluded very quickly that I didn’t want to give out loans for remodeling. Remodeling and construction is a royal pain in the butt, and with the amount of regulations and red tape and the pandemic now, it just takes longer and cost more to remodel and construct.

  8. This is an amazing article and I have it featured on my blog as top read for this week. I encourage everyone to have atleast 1-2 passive income streams running on the side.

  9. Love this post! I hope more people learn about this. I love how in depth you go into the topic, with examples and little tips.

    The only thing I do not agree on is this: “Best Passive Income Rank #4: Creating Your Own Products”.

    Creating your own product is all but passive. It requires an incredible amount of effort and skills. The only advantage is that you can do the effort upfront and then you can enjoy the revenues from a beach in Hawaii drinking your cocktail

  10. Sam, great article – I definitely agree that dividend investing is the way to go for most.

    Wanted to get your thoughts on generating passive income by selling shareholder voting rights. I found this company Shareholder Vote Exchange svegroup.com that allows investors to do so. What do you think?


      1. Here’s how I’d summarize the pros and cons of selling shareholder votes:

        – Ideal for passive investors who don’t exercise their votes
        – Generates additional income from stocks you already own
        – Increases your long-term rate of compounding

        – May be unable to capture significant value in the short-term
        – Takes some time to verify and sell your shareholder votes

        For more information, check out the Shareholder Vote Exchange website.

  11. Sam, new to real estate crowdfunding, and wanting to invest 100k in this, what would you recommend I invest in now.. is it worth waiting another 6 months before real estate cools off. awesome website.

    1. Hi there,

      Welcome to Financial Samurai. I would first read everything on real estate crowdfunding on this page and the links within the page first. It’s so important to understand everything you can before making an investment. Please pay special attention to the capital stack as well.

      Once you’re comfortable and have the desired asset allocation, I would invest in a fund first. For the vast majority of investors, investing in a diversified fund through ones like Fundrise is the most prudent move. Most don’t have enough time or interest to pick individual deals and assemble their own portfolio. You can leg into a fund and build a position over time.

      Whereas with individual deals, the minimums are often $10,000 – $25,000. With $100K to invest, you may only be able to invest in four individual deals, which may be enough or not enough for diversification. It depends on how big your overall investment portfolio is. If you’re looking for individual deals, check out CrowdStreet and RealtyMogul. I’ve met them many times before and they do good due diligence. But in the end, it’s up to you to decide what vetted deals are best for your portfolio.



  12. P2P Lending sounded incredible when it first came on the scene. However, poor underwriting standards by Lending Club basically decimated the industry.

    Not sure why they couldn’t apply the same underwriting standards as large banks….(notwithstanding 2000s mortgage underwriting).

    The same thing happened w YieldStreet, they put a really bad taste in everyone’s mouth when it came to alternatives…

  13. Hi Sam,

    love your articles, and agree with “Real estate is my favorite asset class to build wealth for the average person because it’s easy to understand, provides shelter, is a tangible asset, doesn’t lose instant value like stocks overnight, and generates income.”

    Nevertheless, how do you feel about real estate risks related to climate changes. To be more specific, I live on the Florida coast, and own two homes (one i live in, and second one rental).

    I am starting to get concerned about the possibility of a major hurricane wiping out both of them, or water rising, etc ect.

    Please, have you any opinion to shre about the risks associated with Rental Properties over climate changes?

      1. Thanks for your quick reply, and confirming i am on the right path to consider those risks. I will make sure to read your suggested articles. Ciao

  14. Hi Sam. Enjoy your work. Are you generally not a fan of bond funds preferring to buy actual bonds to avoid interest rate risk? It’s the impression I’m getting but wanted to confirm. thanks.

  15. Richard Stevens

    The passive income options you mentioned all seem legitimate, and I’ve tried a few of them successfully.

    With the world in the state that it seems to be now, with so much unpredictable and volatile stuff going on in politics, supply chains, economics, etc. I find it hard to commit my excess capital to something that I can’t directly control.

    Am I crazy?

  16. Hi there! What a great article and detailed advise! I have been investing in Fundrise for a 3 years now and my returns have been around $40,000 but IM not sure if my portfolio is well balanced or not. Can I ask you what is the allocation of your Fundrise portfolio? Thank you in advance.

    1. I am 100% invested in the new Flagship Interval fund
      . This fund presently has 60 projects, mostly single and multi-family, with a little industrial / warehouse, and. A couple of very high end retail properties. All in the sunbelt.

      1. Is it good to invest in fundrise now when real estate is in such a weird situation? The rising interest rates might impact the cash flow from the projects in the next few years; wont it?

  17. Hello was hoping for some advice or recommended articles if someone would be so kind.
    Entering a job position where its possible if i work and save hard to put 1000 pounds a week away for the next 5 years.
    I’m 35 now and i need it to be very low risk as the thought of slumming it until im 40 and then losing it all is too much too bear. I’m just looking at very low risk. Would you think AAPL would be a safe bet? My goal would be to get to 3000 a month in dividends or passive income a month. I can happily live in southeast asia on that money. That would be enough for me.

    Any advice appreciated.


  18. Vaughn McGuire

    Incredible article.
    I was wondering however if there is much concern about “platform risk” as it pertains to Crowd Fund investing, such as Fundrise. I realize that I own shares of a an actual REIT, but in the back of my mind I sometimes wonder what my risk is if Fundrise itself ever failed. Not sure how to quantify that risk…. Any perspective?

    1. Hi Vaughn, I write this article about the risks of investing in real estate crowdfunding. And platform is a risk.

      However, the investments a platform like Fundrise or CrowdStreet makes is separate from the real estate platforms themselves. There’s no co-mingling of funds.

      For example, let’s say someone passes away (platform bankruptcy), the investments that person holds still go on as usual. The added complexity would be in gaining access to those funds and unwinding them if desired. But that’s what listing contact info and survivor benefits are for.


      1. Vaughn McGuire

        Oh wow, I didn’t realize you had written that article until now. Thank you! I can’t wait for the book btw!!!!

  19. Hi Sam, I was wishing to FIREd in few years but the latest market drop is making me reconsider this and keep working for some more year.
    Given the recent rise in long term bonds do you advise to “lock in” what is basically annuities in the 3/3.5% range hoping that the inflation will subdue in few years?
    My liquid assets are 40% cash, 60% invested (70/30 and I’m down roughly 15% YTD). 2.2m total.

  20. Hi Sam –

    I finally did it! I opened an account with Fundrise and selected the Interval Flagship Fund. That fund invests in mostly single family homes and multi-family. There is a very small allocation to retail and warehouses.

    Combined with the Vanguard REIT fund, this is providing real estate investment and a growing and compounding passive income stream.


      1. Yes they offer IRA accounts. Not as liquid as Vanguard REIT (daily liquidity). You can request a liquidation quarterly.


  21. Very engaging article, thank you! I am currently debating paying off student debt in a lump sum which would save ~$5K in interest vs putting ~$25K to work somewhere else. Stumbled across P2P lending and a few clicks later ended up here. What do you suggest is a better/best use of the cash? Loan rate is 4.4%, and I have been paying extra monthly. Trying to gauge if there is opportunity to invest $25K somewhere with a steady and safe income/ROI, or if I need to think about it differently. My struggle is that I can guarantee interest savings through payoff, but savings are buried under a cash outflow. Flip side is take some risk and maybe beat the savings over time?

  22. Sam, I have a question –

    I read that the one of the criteria that the IRS considers as passive income is if you work on said project for less than 500 hours a year. So my question is; would you consider a W-2 job passive income if that job required you to work less than 500 hours a year? There are a few jobs like that. For example, a paid board member, some online projects, freelance, etc..,

    1. Interesting! But no, I don’t consider working 500 hours a year or less passive income.

      But getting paid to be on a board with only quarterly meetings ain’t too bad!

  23. I recently read an article about buying an established blog and then using that for passive income. Rather than writing articles himself, he hired a writer on UpWork and let it run from there… Thoughts?

    1. It’s a decent idea. But it’s not very passive unless you really don’t mind letting go. You would still have to edit, coordinate the editorial calendar, approve or deny comments (many are spam).

      It will probably be hard growing a blog if the content is generic and just for SEO reasons. You’ve got to really care about the writing for it to grow, which takes lots of time.

  24. Sam,

    Thanks for this great article! I have few question regarding to tax score on your table. I understand physical real estate has great tax benefits. Does CrowdStreet and FundRise has tax benefit too? Do they issue K-1? For CrowdStreet/FundRise, can I get my initial investments back anytime or only after certain terms? It seems Dividend Investing also has some tax benefit from your table, how so?

    1. Hi Jean,

      The answers to your questions are easily found via internet search — why would you expect Sam to do your homework for you?

      If you want to see how the IRS treats dividends, look it up! This was the very first link via Google: nerdwallet.com/article/taxes/dividend-tax-rate

      It’s great to ask questions of experienced investors, but only after you’ve done everything you can on your end.

  25. Hi Sam,

    I just wanted to share with you my story.

    I’m a female engineer from Australia and I’ve been reading your blog since 2013 when it all looked so out of reach for me. I’m 31 and I’m about $100K shy of being a millionaire. I’m also off to Oxford University this year to do my MBA. Things are looking up.

    Your podcast rocks, I binge listened to it all as I wasn’t aware it was out there. Keep the good work coming!

    Thanks for all of your guidance,


    1. Hi Mimi!

      Very lovely to hear from you. Reading since 2013 is awesome! Congrats for all your progress and success since then.

      Thanks for listening to my podcast as well. Every positive review is motivating to keep on going.

      Please enjoy Oxford! You’re going to have so much fun. Being able to attend business school with so much wealth is a great luxury.

      Oh, and I might as well share that I’ve got a new book coming out this summer called, Buy This, Not That: How To Spend Your Way To Wealth And Freedom. Hard copy preoders are open. I think you’ll love it. Thanks for the support!



  26. Sam, thank you for updating the post (read your previous version too). Great summary! I’m wondering how you achieve so much rental estate income in SF. Do you have all mortgage paid off and self manage? Would you advise selling and buying somewhere else else to diversify and increase cash flow? I own rental in the bay area too–even though rent is high, the income is not impressive after mortgage, tax, management fee and miscellaneous/repairs! And we bought in early 2010 when the market was low!

    1. Hi Karen,

      My SF first property I purchased in 2003. It was paid off in 2015. Another property I purchased in 2019 was purchased with cash and I haven’t done a cash out refinance. Another property purchased in 2014 only has about a 25% loan-to-value ratio as I’ve methodically paid down some extra principal while refinancing the loan several years ago. These properties generate very strong cash flow.

      Since 2016, I’ve been aggressively investing in the heartland of America through real estate investing platforms like CrowdStreet and Fundrise. They are the two best platforms with the best opportunities in my opinion. I own a fund and 18 different investments.

      I think the growth of 18-hour cities is going to continue for decades. Thanks to technology, the pandemic, and the work from home trend, I see population spread out more in America to take advantage of lower cost areas of the country.

      I’ve also hit my limit in terms of the number of rental properties I want to manage at my age. I noticed starting around age 40, the desire to own more physical rental properties really began to decline. It also coincided with the birth of our firstborn. I didn’t wanna spend any more minutes dealing with tenants or maintenance issues.

      To earn 100% passive income from real estate, my favorite asset class, is a dream come true. And to diversify away from expensive San Francisco or any expensive city is smart in my opinion.

      We’ve had such a long bull market that I think more money is going to go towards ordering real estate and other physical assets that don’t just lose its value overnight like stocks.

      Good luck!


  27. Sam,
    What do you think of Fundrise preparing for an iPO (not a real public offering but shares of Fundrise). How does one assess risk versus reward in this case?

    BTW – IMO your blogs are one of the best blogs I have seen and I am following your advise about real estate investment not just for passive income but for diversification reasons too.


    1. Hi Max


      I think the Fundrise IPO is OK. They let you invest on a pro-rated amount based on how much you’ve invested in their funds. Just don’t expect any liquidity for years. It’s the same way for all individual private equity investments.

      Fundrise has really done well, especially since 2020. I actually spoke with Ben Miller, the CEO and co-founder last Friday for an hour. They have over $2.4B AUM and 210,000 clients now. Due to vertical integration and scale, they are getting better deals and charge a lower fee.

      They hit the sweet spot by buying so many multi family and single-family rentals in 2020 and prior in the Sunbelt. Returns were very strong in 2021. I expect the returns to moderate in 2022, like I do for the housing market overall. But I think returns will still be positive (8-10%).

      I’d much rather invest in real estate than the stock market right now. Although with the south in stocks, there are a lot of opportunities.



      1. Looking at PHK. Nice yield, reasonable expense ratio and trading at a large discount to its historical discount to NAV. 5.85% premium isnt ideal but seems like it might be worth the risk given how the fund has preformed. Curious to get your thoughts?

  28. Brett Hudson

    What about royalty payments from oil, gas and other energy investments? I personally began my journey investing in oil and gas minerals and working interest in 2007 and currently have 1 employee besides myself and a company that generates over 100K in monthly revenue ( residual although for the tax code working interest is not a passive investment since you do make operating decisions and additional investment). This seems to be one thing always left off the passive income list. Maybe it’s due to geographic location or bloggers, but out in Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and east coast( PA, WV, Ohio) it’s not uncommon to have companies generating substantial passive income or residual income with a handful of people involved. Prices do fluctuate, but like an older timer told me “learn to to live on half your monthly income and save and invest the excess out side energy, maintain low to no debt and rising the ups and downs becomes easy”

    1. Brett,
      I know a couple people in Northeastern OH that own several oil wells. Who knew?

      They do hardly any work on them and they net 5-10K per month. Its a hit and miss venture but once you have a few successful ones up and running it is a good passive investment.

      I do not know anything about this type of business, only what I have been told.

      1. That is exactly right. It takes success early to get started, but once you are up and running its a fun business with passive income.

        1. @Brett, Can you direct us to information about how to get started in the business of “royalty payments from oil, gas and other energy investments?”

  29. Sam, good points on RE crowdfund and I see the appeal – however I am having a hard time understanding how leverage can be applied to real estate crowdfunded deal.

    For example, if I had 1M in traditional RE, I can expect disproportionate returns with a physical mortgage (of course this can go both ways). However, I am having a hard time trying to understand how the biggest RE investment benefit of using leverage applies to crowdfunded deals as a limited partner, to me this seems like a fundamentally different investment.

    Also, you can keep your physical RE as passive income generator for a lifetime, but crowdfunded deals mature after 3-5 years typically and you’d need to find another opportunity and enter your position. Is this correct?

    If anyone else has insights here please do share, I would love to learn something new

    1. Hi Ed,

      I have been on Fundrise for a few years, and made over $20,000 so far. (I cannot speak about CrowdStreet as I’m not on there.)

      Fundrise is well named: it’s actually a bunch of REIT funds, and you choose the funds that work for your objectives.

      One of their funds I’m in has over a hundred property projects. Some projects are just getting started (acquiring the land), some are well underway (building, or doing upgrades), and some are mature (collecting rent). Some are commercial properties like warehouses, and some are residential apartment buildings and single-family homes.

      To your question “crowdfunded deals mature after 3-5 years typically and you’d need to find another opportunity and enter your position. Is this correct?” it is not correct re: Fundrise. While a single project may be completed (i.e., the loan Fundrise made to the builder is repaid, or the property is sold) there are new projects coming into the fund all the time. Like a mutual fund, you can buy and hold a Fundrise fund forever, either reinvesting the interest and dividends, or having them deposited to your checking account quarterly.

      The “leverage” comes from having really big funds with money coming from thousands and thousands of investors, so they can go after really large deals on much more favorable terms than most investors could get in their own.

      My suggestion is to start small with Fundrise, as I did, see how it works for a few quarters, and then put in all the investment you’re comfortable with. The average return in 2021 was about 16%, which probably won’t be true every year, but I think they are in a really good position for many years to come. They make very savvy investments based on real discipline (not wild guesses) and they take a pass on the 98% of potential deals that don’t meet their criteria.

  30. I agree that real estate is a very good investment for creating wealth and a good stream of passive income- I have rental unit that has done very well for me over the years. But what about two other possible sources of passive income: pensions and Options trading- more specifically selling covered calls?

    I receive a pension take-home income greater than my working monthly take-home income despite not starting until I was age 35 and retiring early at age 59- an investment decision in my choice of job and employer due to the retirement plan offering a great stream of passive income. Jobs with pensions may not be as easy to come by as they used to but they are still out there – mostly in lower paying public sector jobs that may align with your values interests and skills and that nevertheless in the long run have a much greater return for your efforts. And as my example proves, you don’t have to start at a really young age or work until well into retirement age (though doing either or both can be very beneficial in growing your pension income!).

    As for options trading by selling covered calls, it might not be regarded by many as a “passsive” income and may be considered to be much too risky by many others, but I would respectfully disagree if approached with appropriate prudence. By that I mean selling covered calls in only one or two stocks that you already own and that you believe in their long term prospects and wish to hold onto. The time required on a monthly basis is minimal, especially with auto alerts on your phone, and it’s less risky than simply just owning the stock without this extra income/insurance.

    What are your thoughts?

    1. Having a pension is great! However, most employees do not have pensions anymore. What I wanna do is highlight passive income investments That most people can make. And most people cannot have a pension, just pre-tax retirement accounts.

      I would say writing covered calls is not a passive investment. But if you enjoy doing it, more power to you.

    2. Angela Shaferr

      While everyone is into real estate and stocks, i’d advise that we also look into crypto.
      I’d just like to add my story, I think others would like to hear it. I got involved in crypto a few years back. This was when bitcoin was only a few bucks. I ended up selling all my bitcoin when it was only $75. Easily the worst financial decision I’ve ever made in my life. Because of a few different reasons I didn’t get back into crypto until recently. I just started trading bitcoin with this beta testing group and i’m going to keep all my bitcoin this time. Crypto currency will be the biggest wealth transfer of our generation. Bitcoin is turning into our generations version of digital gold. and YES it has it’s ups and downs. But it’s trending upwards. I know it might be hard for some to believe, but in the near future bitcoin could be worth 100k to a million dollars easily. Don’t forget there is a capped supply of only 21 million, and as the world’s appetite for bitcoin grows, so will it’s price.

      1. I just don’t understand it enough. I know that each transaction adds another required computation, so the processing farms may need to get exponentially bigger over time to support an ever-increasing blockchain. Maybe there’s a technical fix for that? But if it starts to take days or weeks to process a transaction, it’s toast. And then there’s the regulation issue. Can it be regulated and remain completely anonymous, it’s only real feature? And to that point, though fully supportive of a free market, I also support a transparent market. Not sure if I want to be supporting money laundering, terrorist financing, human trafficking, and all the rest that crypto was designed for… imo…

        1. Richard Stevens

          I noticed that crypto isn’t on this list of best passive investments. It still seems way too volatile and unpredictable.

          Maybe it will make the list in the years to come.

          I hope so. My crypto investments are all down, but I’m planning to hold them long-term.

            1. Richard Stevens

              Mine don’t generate income. I know that there are some coins/tokens that are designed to create passive income, the most popular of which are proof of stake (PoS) tokens like Cardano and Solano.

              My reasoning for buying crypto currency and holding it is that it feels like they will soon replace the dollar, which cannot hold on much longer and has to go to zero value as all fiat currencies ultimately do.

    3. Selling puts and calls is awesome. Probably falls in the active category rather than passive though. I understand one can vary expiration dates and strike prices to make it less active.

      As for me, I’m selling my rental homes and plan to use proceeds for option selling. I find options more white collar and scalable.

    4. Completely agree re: Dividends, completely disagree re: index investing.

      Dividends that consistently increase over time, ‘Aristocrats’, provide a hedge against inflation, and it doesn’t matter what the markets or share price do, the cash payment remains the same or increases. Do I care if (T) shares are volatile? Pretty sure everone’s going to be paying their phone / internet bill for the next 50yrs+.

      I am admittedly biased, but could point out many actively managed Funds that crush market index’s. Index etf’s are a guarantee to average.

  31. Hi Sam –

    What are your thoughts regarding Fundrise changing the platform to have 4 investment “plans” to chose from rather than individual e-REITs initially? Tony

    1. I think it’s smart from a business POV as it streamlines operations. It enables Fundrise to better serve its customers by level of wealth/risk, and tailor service and products as clients grow wealthier.

      From the Investor’s side, more tailored plans should be better. Fundrise is thinking about the various stages of wealth for the investor, which enables the investor to invest more passively.

      After securing a $300 million credit line facility from Goldman Sachs recently, Fundrise really is entering the big leagues as it grows smartly.


  32. Would you clarify “The best mortgage value is refinancing or getting a 15-year fixed mortgage rate, followed by a 30-year fixed.”
    Are you getting two mortgages?

  33. As someone who has multiple streams of income……passive income is by far, the best. The only thing that is better is residual income(writing a book….one time…..and getting paid over and over!)……I love my real estate properties….have cut to a 1/3 of what I used to own….but then again….I am getting older……started when I was 30…..the only thing that I would have done sooner is……buy earlier…..retire earlier…….I retired when I was
    46……now….investing in stocks and spending most days analyzing stocks….love it!!! While my rental properties take care of any day to day spending and income write offs……that is the key…..not have much you MAKE…..but….how much you KEEP!!! I never forget a guy telling me how much money he was making….something like 153,000 a year…..but after taxes and such…..he was only making around 60,000….
    so my 83,000 a year was WAY over his income…..he never understood that/this…..LOL!!!!

    1. Makes a lot of sense. Passive income is the best. High Yield Dividend stocks, bonds, REITs, rental properties.

      What are your thoughts and do you have any experience with real estate crowdfunding such as Fundrise?


  34. How do you guys feel about the risks when comparing: REITs/Real Estate Crowdfunding vs. say a syndication where they’re focused on smaller projects?

    I haven’t had much experience with REITs and was also wondering if they normally supply a PPM with projected income, vacancies, expenses, forced appreciation plans? Was wondering how the due diligence works in REITs/crowdfunding.

    Have only had experience with syndications where they give you a lengthy PDF of market studies, and their 3-10 year plans for example.

    So, was wondering what the difference in the due diligence process was between syndications vs. REITs, and what everyone felt about the risk tradeoffs between the 2?

      1. I really enjoy your posts and insight. Can you please share more how you generate 80k passive income from 810k in crowdfunded real estate? Fundrise supplemental income (which I assume is a core holding for you for income and I am a fan of myself) pays 6-7% dividend. It seems to reach 10% you would have to hold for long periods and generate the rest on capital gains and not from passive income, but you mention this annual passive income figure and I assume it is not from long term capital gains. How do you achieve this from Fundrise? I am moving more from physical single family investment property (4-4.5% cash flow + 5-6% appreciation per year+ depreciation deductions) over to crowdfunding in order to bump up the passive income by 2-3% over LT gains and appreciate how you are achieving this, as income is more important to me now than LT appreciation. Keep up the great writing. It is inspiring and motivational.

  35. The Real Estate Captain

    Great article, this is one of my favorites that I come back to time-to-time as I think about possible allocation changes in my portfolio. Excluding my primary residence, 30% of my portfolio is in direct real estate. That’s intentional as I work in real estate professionally and wanted to get exposure in my own portfolio. I am becoming more interested in getting the real estate crowdfunding platforms, but I get hung up on the taxes. I can effectively pay no taxes on direct real estate cashflow due to things like depreciation. But I believe distributions from a crowdfunding platform or REIT are taxed at ordinary income levels. When I sell a property I own I can 1031 and defer capital gains – with a crowdsourcing/REIT I pay cap gains tax. That’s a big difference in after-tax cashflow and proceeds, to the point where I think the additional risk in direct real estate investing vs crowdsourcing/REITS is more than offset. Am I missing something?

    1. Sure, the key differences are the level of passivity, concentration risk, and diversification. Hence, the variables in my chart and post.

      It’s not easy doing a 1031 exchange given you’ve got to identify and buy a property within a certain amount of time. I tried and couldn’t find a like-for-like property.

      Further, I didn’t want to invest $2.75 million into another property. Instead, I wanted to diversify into stocks, bonds, and heartland real estate. See: Reinvestment Ideas After Selling A House For Big Bucks

      That’s the beauty of so many asset classes. You invest according to your situation in life. As someone with two young children, I’m at my capacity with four rental properties. The rest of my real estate capital is going into REITs, crowdfunding, and real estate stocks.

      You’ve got to invest based on your situation. Thankfully, we’ve got a lot of choice.

      1. Obviously you are an accredited investor, why crowdfunding versus private equity REIT. Treated as a partnership and given those same friendly tax breaks.

  36. Hi All,

    I’m at a cross road and wanted to get some opinions on what I should do with large amount in savings. All of this is relative to my portfolio, 50% real-estate (including rentals), 50% liquid (including 401k/IRA/Cash/Brokerage accts). I like to move part of the cash (about 10% of my liquid) into a fund that has the traditional 60/40 (VBIAX?), but not sure if I should consider other products like annuities, hybrid life insurance, etc…

    My situation, my wife left the workforce over 20 years ago, kids college funded, no debt, and I’m told from a retirement manager that I can retire comfortably now at 50. SS+SB will be at 62 with over 3k (today’s money) per month with no more further contribution needed according to SS.

    There will be other income / saving streams coming in the next 10-15 years, however I usually like to count on what I have now which already includes dividends, interest, and rent (my family live off the rents for past decade). I’m a IT Exec that makes good money and have been pouring my salary+bonus into the markets for years, I’m thankful that I enjoy my job, however aching to just do my own thing (IP I own).

    What I like to do is retain the value if I invest part of my liquid (cash from savings) and get some sort of passive income that is more secured, again VBIAX seems like a good product to start, but annuities or others?


    1. CJ…….I am over 60 and I am investing in Dividend Aristocrat stocks!!! Some have dividends of over 9.00%……not too bad!!! Most are in the 4-5% range……so the income….which I have not starting taking yet…..is between 5-7k a month…….I do not need it yet….hopefully….never…….and I am not receiving any ssa yet either……so….in the next couple of years…..my monthly should be around 10-18k a month…….so…..I would suggest some solid dividend stocks for monthly/quarterly income….stagger them….so you get monies every month…….much success!!!

  37. Sam and others –

    If building a portfolio for a little more income, would you consider Vanguard REITs (VNQ) or Vanguard US High Dividend and Vanguard International High Dividend?

    Or would you include all?

  38. Sam, what about DEFI? You might want to look into this. There are opportunities for 10%+ returns without risk with your BTC as collateral.

      1. James Hendrickson

        Emily, Sam, et al.

        This was my observation about this article – it was excellent in that it looked at most conventional assets, however at some point Cryptocurrency as an asset will become sufficiently mature to merit large amounts of investing capital (we may be there already, maybe not).

        In any event, the interest rates from crypt lending and crypto staking are already far greater than the interest rates offered by commercial banks, so – the article I think would be greatly enhanced by at least mentioning this asset.

      1. You won’t get that on BTC (more like 3-4%) but if you swap USD to USDC and make 8-9% on Voyager and BlockFi. Those are the 2 most credible companies that I have researched, yet I am still reluctant to put more than 5% of my portfolio in them. They have been performing just as they should the past year so maybe as they continue to mature I will probably increase my %

  39. Hi
    Great read on various possibilities to generate passive income. I’ve started dividend growth investing more than 10 years ago and added Peer to Peer lending a few years ago. Next step: buying a rental property. But we want to go further, having at least 5 passive income sources by next year.
    Again, thanks for that interesting article and all the best.

  40. Thinking out loud with passive income streams:
    * Total Stock Market
    * Total International Stock
    * US REIT
    * US High Dividend
    * International High Dividend
    * Total Bond

    * Possible Real Estate Crowdfunding

    All Vanguard funds.

    Just keep buying.

    What are thoughts?

    Sam would love your input too!

  41. ConfusedDividendInvestor

    I’m a little confused by dividend investing. It’s my understanding that dividends pay outs come directly out of the stock price. So on ex-dividend dates the price of the stock drops at a similar ratio the dividend payment was disbursed. Now, it’s also my understanding that good companies usually regain those losses quickly before the next dividend payment, due to market psychology and other factors.

    But many people’s understanding of the dividend being interest earned money, like you get from a savings account, without touching the principal seems wrong. It seems more similar to taking a home equity loan from your home to generate cash. (if the company was a simply physical asset, which i know it’s not).

    Anyway… dividends always confused me.

    1. You are correct in that it is not “interest” paid out (although I can see how investors may confuse the two if they do not have a solid understanding of business financial statements).

      When a company declares a dividend and then pays out the dividend to shareholders, the companies enterprise value decreases? How? The cash on the Balance Sheet declines by the amount of the dividend. The flip side of the Balance Sheet has Retained Earnings declining by the amount of the dividend.

      Investing is based on future expectations. A dividend paying company has a built in expectation that operations will continue and a dividend will be paid out again. The result is in increase in share price as cash starts to build up again on the Balance Sheet.

      Hope this helps!

      1. Excellent reply, Tony.

        I’ll add that stock price is driven by supply/demand so the dividend payout is not always reflected in the stock price.

        If you look at a mutual fund, a distribution of dividends and/or capital gains WILL result in a drop of NAV. However, the new NAV plus your distribution will equal the prior value.

  42. Being informed of passive investment options has only become more important, as bonds aren’t serving income investors as they once did. Real estate is my favorite investment, but it can be pretty active at times. Understanding what you are getting yourself into from an active versus passive commitment up-front is key.

    1. Is Spring 2021 a good time to start investing in an REIT or wait until housing market crashes as interest rates rise?

  43. Hey Sam,
    I’ve been a fan of your blog for years. Thanks for all the insights, a fantastic article as always. I’m curious about your thoughts on crowdfunding vs short-term rentals like Airbnb. Have been considering purchasing physical real estate for the sole purpose of STR income and using a management company to take a bit more of a passive approach. Have been investing with Fundrise since 2019 based upon your recommendations and am currently splitting extra cash between saving for the STR, Fundrise and low-fee ETFs.

  44. Crypto Currency Mining: Risk 1; Return 10; Feasibility 9;Liquidity 9;Active 9;Tax 5(depends on your jurisdiction);
    It is risky but it is a good diversification to the overall portfolio :)

  45. Great write up, Sam. I’m from the UK and it seems that buy-to-let landlords have taken a bit of a beating recently with a lot of the tax implications tightened. I’ll research into some UK-equivalent real estate crowdfunding though as that seems like an ideal solution.

  46. Nancy Chu-Meyers

    I really enjoyed this article. I was wondering if you would comment on the Rule of 55, where one could draw down from an employer 401(k) beginning at age 55 without 10% penalty, if one retires early from the employer. I’m hoping you would confirm my basic understanding of Rule 55. Thanks.

  47. This is one of my favorite posts that inspired me to make some changes to my overall strategy. I’ve owned and operated some rental properties in the past but have re-focused on some additional streams after realizing gains from core real estate. I think many like myself may have moved away from the market with past poor decisions in a mix of allocations that were not passively managed. I generated this post of my 3 ETF strategy which may help others that get started around these principles of passive income from basic broad based holdings including real estate.


    My next goal inspired by this article is to try to do P2P lending and it has been interesting to read other’s experience in this area.

  48. For the years you are growing your army of dollars do you stick to things like VTSAX and switch to these methods only when you want income?

  49. Thanks for the post Sam.
    I am planning to invest in Fundrise. But I am little confused about taxes about the eFunds.
    Do you have to file for each state where your eFunds are invested assuming K1 shows a profit and it is above the filing requirement for that particular state.?

    Also when do they generate K1s?

    1. Yes, that would be correct. I have seen that many times with clients. They receive an IRS Form K-1 (typically from Publicly traded Partnership – think America’s, enterprise Products Partners, Teekay, Kinder Morgan, etc.) and have income apportioned to states that is above the minimum filing requirement. This can be an expensive investment as a result.


      1. Any idea on what’s the minimum filing requirement? Are there any such requirements for 0 state income tax states like Florida, Texas etc?

  50. What a nice overview and fact based comparison of passive income streams! While I don’t agree on all of your assessments (I personally prioritize direct RE investments over crowdfunding), I like the scoring methodology you have applied! Thank you.

  51. Alessandro R

    Hello Sam,
    Do you have any feedback on a newer real estate crowdfunding platform called Roofstock?
    Most of their properties are in the heartland of America, where you can get a lot for your money.
    I’m curious if you spoke to them, they are based in the Bay Area, or at least looked into it.

    Thank you

    1. Yes, I had lunch with them and wrote a Roofstock review. Not a bad offering.

      I’m more focused on Fundrise and CrowdStreet because I already own a lot of single-family homes. Further, single family homes have done well in this pandemic. Commercial real estate has lagged, but I think we rebound a lot in 2021+.

      Overall, I’m very bullish on commercial and residential real estate for the next several years. Just make sure to diversify!

  52. Sam
    On your passive income chart, for the real estate (e.g. $3,050 for the rental condo), are those numbers net after all costs? Does it factor in debt service on a mortgage (assuming you have one)

  53. I’d like to get your take on “DeFi” platforms such as Celsius Network. Ignoring the risks of Crypto, it’s stable high yield alone is a great source of passive income on a model that is more stable than most banks.

    1. I second this, Nexio, Celcius or the big one BlockFi.

      You have
      3.13% yield on DVY
      2.03% on NOBL
      3.16% on VYM

      Blockfi has 9.3% APY on holding USD. US-Based and Regulated. $100 million in equity funding.

      Is this just a blind spot for traditional investors? What are your thoughts?

  54. Sam – great job on creating such diversify passive income streams. I’m a proponent of creating at least 3 revenue streams. It’s awesome to see that you have created more than 3 revenue streams – and passive to boot.

    How sticky is your passive income stream? Any stress from COVID-19?

    This pandemic does provide us with an opportunity for our revenue streams to be stress tested. If they can still continue to produce in today’s environment, they are pretty good during the next economic turmoil.

  55. With the book you made. What specific marketing & sales strategies do you use? Anyone can write a ebook yet only few ma age to sell them consistently like you been? What tactics are you using to generate sales month to month? Be detailed please.

  56. Dan Davidson

    Thanks for updating this post – great information. One question, do you use an LLC to invest in real estate crowdfunding (specifically accredited investments)? On Crowdsource, it asks for the account type and legal investing entity name – just curious if there’s a need for legal protection. Thanks for your excellent articles.

    1. Hi Dan –

      I would think not as you are probably a Limited Partner and not a General Partner. I would not think another layer or legal blanket would be necessary.

  57. Sam –

    In addition to Vanguard REIT (VNQ) do you also invest in the Vanguard International REIT (VNQI) as a complement to the US fund?

      1. Sam –

        Looking at Vanguard International High Yield and Vanguard International REIT/RE/REOC and wow, that fund sizes are small. $1 billion and $5 billion. I did not realize just how small. US REIT is $55 billion and US High Dividend is $35 billion.

        I am thinking US REIT and US High Dividend would be better passive income funds than US High Dividend and International High Dividend or International REIT/RE/REOC.

        What are your thoughts about small fund sizes where the risk is merged or closed funds?

  58. Wow you make $50k a year from your book sales? I’ve considered self publish a personal finance book (I am a writer for a living after all) but my blog doesn’t get the type of traffic yours does nor do I reach the same affluent audience. But — wow, if I could make 50k a year from an eBook I’d be in heaven! You are my idol!

    1. Hah, well, I don’t think it’s very impressive since I first published it in 2012 and it has gone through four revisions to be ready for 2021. What would be more impressive is if the sales growth grew with this site’s traffic growth since 2012. If so, the book would be generating more like $200,000+.

      But it’s all good. What I really should do is write more books, but it’s hard work and I’m trying to enjoy the moment do what I want to do.

  59. Chris in Amazement

    This article is getting me closer to trying things because I definitely want to build passive income and I want to start now, I just don’t know how to do or get started doing more than half of these things, and the terminology throws me in for a loop. I could definitely check out Fundrise, I don’t qualify for anything like CrowdStreet. Are there any other resources I should look into to actually physically put my money in these places related to the article?

    1. Hi Chris,

      Not sure exactly what you mean when you write “Are there any other resources I should look into to actually physically put my money in these places related to the article?”

      But you can invest in rental properties, but that requires probably leverage and more active management. You can also invest in a publicly-traded REIT ETF like VNQ.

      I like Fundrise because they have funds that are diversified. And their track record is pretty good and the returns are not very volatile, unlike the stock market. You can read my Real Estate Crowdfunding Learning Center and all the linked pages to learn more.

      1. Chris in Amazement

        Yes actually I was interested in real estate crowdfunding, and I am currently learning more. I will definitely check this out.

        To put my question in context I am always hesitant and reserved in investing because I know I could lose out. I always had this feeling that investing is something that can be very complicated as well and overwhelming. So when it comes to finances and growing them I always have this feeling of uncertainty. If I were to truly start investing my money like I have not been over the years, I always want to be sure and confident in what I am doing. Looking up other resources that can guide me (like baby steps for a non-finance person) how I can start putting my money in places that will allow it to passively grow is what I was trying to ask for in terms of recommendations.

      2. Hi Sam,
        I respect your story and what you’ve done with Financial Samurai. Having said that, I am curious why you are a proponent of allocating money into crowdfunding sites such as Fundrise? If I want the real estate allocation, I’d rather invest in REITs; there are some mortgage REIT’s with a dividend yield equal to if not greater than whatever the crowdfunding sites claim for cash on cash. Even if the yield is a bit less, at least I’d have liquidity and know that I’m invested with the likes of a Blackstone, Starwood, or another institutional investor/operator. Anyway, to each their own — cheers.

        1. Sure. Check this article out: https://www.financialsamurai.com/how-does-real-estate-get-impacted-by-a-decline-in-stock-prices/

          During the March 2020 correction, many of my REITs corrected even greater than stocks. So one of the reasons why I invest in private real estate is to reduce volatility and diversify away from my public REITs and real estate ETF holdings. I really dislike volatility.

          I like the diversification and focus on single family rental properties as well. In a recent quarterly report, some of the funds grew massively. As someone with over 10-figures of real estate exposure in SF and Tahoe, I am building up my heartland real estate position.

          Please share the real estate you own.


  60. Great article, I remember reading the original version a few years back and wanted to circle back and say thank you. It helped push me to continue to build passive income streams. I now have 3 rental properties a good investment portfolio and have started a blog as a way to create my own product.

    The one I really like is rental properties as it is a great tangible asset you can drive by and see. Of course, there are concerns with tenants but what has worked well for me is I call the prospective tenant’s second landlord as that person has no incentive to lie to either keep the tenant or get rid of them. They are able to tell the truth about the tenant. It has worked well for my wife and I for our three rental properties over the years.

    Great work both inspiring and helping many others, Sam!

    1. How do you contact their past landlords? Because I feel like if you ask for the landlords contact information from the prospective tenants they wouldn’t give it or they’d fake it.

  61. Elizabeth Blazina

    Great article! Regarding the sale of your rental, Did you 1031 the proceeds into the crowdfunding platform. Also if you don’t mind sharing, what has been your returns?

    Thanks again,

  62. June Shanahan

    This is the first time I’ve read one of your posts, but it won’t be my last. Great article! I was especially interested in your “create your own product” information, since that’s what I’ve been doing since retiring from teaching in 2018. You could say I was looking for validation, which I definitely found. The only thing I regret about starting my own passive income business is that I didn’t begin sooner.

    1. Welcome to Financial Samurai! Yes, I actually wish I started Financial Samurai sooner than 2009 as well b/c I had the idea back in 2005-2006. But I had just finished going through 3 years of business school part-time while working 60 hours a week and was exhausted.

      Better late than never! GL!

  63. Eric Hughes

    Great discussion here, Sam!

    In my opinion, physical rental properties are undersold here vs. other types of passive income. My strategy has been to invest in high cash flow markets (Memphis, primarily), buy & hold rent ready properties, and use a professional property manager. It’s still not as passive as equities or REITs, but it’s still very passive after I acquire the properties.

    And the returns are MUCH higher. It is remarkably easy to achieve 15%+ cash on cash returns, which doesn’t even count mortgage paydown or appreciation. I’ve done the math a hundred ways, and it just seems that there is NO faster way to build wealth or achieve FI than with rental properties.

  64. MacArthur ROTH IRA Wheeler

    It seems to me that the Walter Payton of
    Passive income is investing in Renaissance Tech’s Medallion Fund. 66% annualized returns from 1988-2018 borders on science fiction.

    It’s closed to only employees of Renaissance tech. But why hasn’t another company or group of mathematicians been able to replicate to some degree Medallion’s success?

    At 10 bill in assets the fund is poised to disrupt everything. The company has apprx 300 employees.

    I believe everyone is in a ROTH IRA in the company.

    So, if it has an annual expense of 26% your left with 40% annual Return. In 10 years they will have 280 bill AUM for 300 employees. In 20 years it would have 8 trillion AUM.

    This is fascinating yet scary. How does Medallion do it?

    1. I own several publicly-traded REITs. They are fine, but as we discovered during the March 2020 meltdown, they are often MORE volatile than stocks. See: How Does Real Estate Perform During A Stock Market Selloff

      Therefore, I like a combination of publicly traded REITs and private eREITs. I personally hate volatility, which is why my net worth is so diversified and conservative. Besides, my wife and I don’t have day jobs and have accumulated enough capital to live comfortably. I’m not interested in hitting home runs anymore.

  65. Excellent updates Sam! What do you think of Vanguard US High Dividend fund and also Vanguard International High Dividend fund as possible additions to a passive income stream?

    1. Those are definitely some of the top choices for dividend investing. The question is whether now is the right time to add positions in equities.

      For me, the answer is no. Not beyond my normal SEP IRA and Solo 401k maximum. I’m building cash and looking for real estate deals.

      1. Follow-on question: how long would you look before you leapt into something if you had cash sitting around and wanted to avoid your cash inflating away?

        PS I’m amazed by how much you make annually, passively. Awesome.

  66. Enjoyed this post.
    Back in the 80’s I started a high income JOB, rife with office politics & blatant nepotism within the ranks, so I started buying properties to get OUT!!!.
    After I watched my colleagues take a beating during black Monday ’87, I have NEVER lost any sleep over the stock market, nor have I ever invested in it.

    After a few year of buying ‘dumps’, busting knuckles rehabbing, then renting every room to pay down double digit interest rates I was burned out.
    By chance I met a very classy real estate agent & could not believe her std of living & after a few ‘meetings’ she confided her strategy: short term financing of investment properties &/or holding high interest notes on those she decided to sell.

    It changed my life & since the 90’s (I retired in ’98) it has been an exponential Rule of 72 ride.
    I have taken back a few deed-in-lieu-of, but have only ever had one foreclosure & that turned around quickly for no loss & another 12% note for double my original cost.

    1. Elizabeth Blazina

      Pat , I thought it was no longer possible to create a note with that double digit do to Dodd Frank?

  67. Thanks Financialsamurai for enlightening me on this topic, would look forward in these type of posts more often.
    I and my brother found the following in the comment very useful, specially during this pandemic.
    hope you find it useful as we find it to be!

    Great Thanks!

  68. Thanks. Enjoyed being exposed to some new ideas, having some existing ideas confirmed, and special thanks for the inspiration to continue the push to create my own products.

    Samurai are known for a focus on death. Dying well often meant everything. You could write a badass masterpiece on passing on wealth. Id love your ideas on setting up trusts. Im sure Id learn a lot. Thanks again

    1. The trust is the least of your concerns. Educating and providing a good financial foundation to your kids (and grandkids) is everything.

      My big concern is my grandkids squandering the nest egg or not having ambition.

  69. Financial Samurai,

    Have you looked into Constant? Stumbled upon it and looks promising in the P2P lending arena. All loans are backed with 150% collateral of the loan. Much less risk than Lending Club or Prosper from what I can tell.

    Appreciate your feedback!

  70. FS,

    What about commodities? Where would they rank and do you own physical gold/silver or another commodity investment?


  71. Hi. Great post as usual. Just couple of points. I managed to retire early at 43 on rental income. I write about it on my blog. There IS a bit of hassle with it and I believe index fund investing is top at least based on research.
    I would not focus only on dividend investing as top passive income. It is at the discretion of the company to pay dividends and many cancel them to preserve capital as happened now due to coronavirus. In Australia and NZ many banks significantly cut dividends after increasing them for last few decades. This caught short many retirees. Also some banks stock dropped partly due to decreased dividends.

    Thats my 2 cents.
    Mr Whyninetofive

  72. Excellent read as usual. I’m currently in a position where I’m not quite able to max out my or my wife’s 401k, but we are maxing out our IRAs. Should our next goal be to max out our 401k’s? Or just get the employer match, and then invest the rest in something like Fundrise? I was under the impression one should always max out their pre-tax investments before post-tax, but perhaps I’ve misunderstood.

  73. Hello, I have been following Financial Samurai for a while now and find your writing very informative and helpful in formulating my own thoughts, thanks for all your insights.

    I have only a simple question. For real estate, is your passive income as stated net of all maintenance, mortgage and holding costs (but before tax)? I find it difficult to generate high passive income from real estate on a net basis.

    1. Hi Lydia,

      The real estate income is income after all expenses but before taxes.

      One of the reasons why I diversified into the heartland of America is because the Cap Rates are so much higher than San Francisco. We’re talking 4-5X higher. Combined with the fact I can earn the income passively, it was a good solution for my real estate capital.


      1. Thanks Sam. Can I ask if there are mortgages on your investment properties? For me, the largest expense is the interest payments and I find that unless I pay down the loans, it is very hard to earn decent passive income on rentals.

        So I am thinking of using any spare cash I have to pay down loans, which seems a bit of a waste at times given the low interest rates. But then the stock market seems risky to me now given how fast/far it has recovered since March so I am hesitant putting my savings there.

        1. Some do, some don’t. It takes a while to expand the cash flow. But it’ll happen over time as inflation increases rents and your mortgage stays fixed. Real estate is one of my favorite asset classes to build wealth given it is simple to understand.

          That said, I’ve diversified as I’ve gotten older b/c I don’t want to manage real estate as much anymore.

  74. Good update of a popular post. Thanks. Would love to see you take a deeper dive into the #1 rank – dividend paying stocks. I believe there are considerable differences between investing in dividend paying stocks directly vs a dividend stock etf (DVY VYM). For me, a diversified portfolio of 30 – 50 companies with “secure” dividend payout fits my risk tolerance. The key is assessing the safety/security of the dividend per investment – PNG, PG, PSA, CSCO & T for example. Their NAV usually goes up more slowly in an up market and down more slowly in a down market. Less volatile. The dividends don’t change much. I dipped my toe into Real Estate Crowdsourcing and got bit. I know you love this area, but outside of my comfort zone. I have a couple old/good CDs but nothing available now. This is a tough time and environment for retirees seeking passive income. Even your favorite – real estate – is getting sketchy in many parts of the country.

  75. In my humble opinion wealth only papers over with racism with mostly half – hearted politeness. I am a minority and I have been both rich and poor. I have found that racism in the US changes it’s form depending upon the minority’s economic circumstances and environment. I have also found that there are wealthy and poor racists, educated and uneducated racists and democrat and republican racists. When I have been stopped (questioned ) by the police they don’t know that I have a masters degree in finance, that I have FINRA securities license designations (series 7, 63 and 79) , that I am also a licensed real estate broker or that I that I have been a volunteer for the Boys and Girls Club for over ten years they only see that I am black and what I have in terms of wealth, education or character is secondary to the image and expectations that they expressly and implicitly carry with them about what a black male 6 feet tall weighing approximately 180 pounds means to them . On a good day I live beyond that encounter but on a bad day I might not because they fear my blackness and if they have to make a split second judgment and they have all the power (in that dynamic)
    I (and many people who look like me) might not get the benefit of the doubt because I am a perceived as a threat and/or they feared
    for their life.


    A relatively well off black male sick and tired of the systemic racism, implicit bias and excuses for them. I will acknowledge that the slope for progress is positive in some areas but boy there is a lot of variance!


    I am old enough to have to attended legally segregated schools in my elementary school years in the south , then integrated middle and high schools and then college in the Northeast, guess what, there was varying degrees of racism at at every level. I have been married to the same woman for 29 years (an interracial couple) guess what racist did not like us very much back then and some don’t like it now. We had one daughter graduate from an Ivy League college and has been in Forbes magazine, guess what, she’s faced racism in school and even now as a CEO. All said money may make things more comfortably for an individual but it does not seem like it will eliminate the problem of racism or antisemitism towards a group. The Jewish story in Europe and then in America would seem to bear that out, every seems nice until the majority gets fearful over something and the old familiar antisemitic tropes come out …..again.

    1. NM, based on what you’ve written above, it sounds to me like you have a book (or ten) to write…..and I’d read every single one :) Your stories need to be told – please consider publishing a book.

      Best regards,

  76. Impressively detailed article as usual! This was a refresher for me as I read it awhile ago.

    The ability to participate in real estate and achieve high returns with low risk is highly dependent on where you reside. For example, for me personally, return is a 10 with rental portfolio over 17% for 2019, and risk is a 10 as non-leveraged Class C property purchased well under market value will never be worth less than purchase price.

    Real estate crowdfunding is definitely higher risk than managing our own rentals as we have no *control* with crowdfunding. (Disclosure: I have small investment in Fundrise.)

    We could also argue “liquidity” is irrelevant as the intention is passive income *forever*, so no need to sell a good income generator. Rental property investors are typically in for the long haul, and may hold for life or 27.5 when depreciation benefit is gone.

    So, for me, or anyone living in the midwest or South, rental property is easily #1.

    – Mike

  77. I wanted to wait till the dust settle on my job to post this.

    I’m 25 and despite the stock market drops and job market will be pulling in 280k this year working in NYC. My income at 24 was 220k and at 23 was ~180k. I work at Facebook as a machine learning expert so only around 20-30hrs per week and very stable relatively.

    I hate business/markets with a passion so I’m only buying index funds until I get close to my FIRE age – 35 – at which point I’ll put my new cash flows into Bonds. Online business is not an option since I can’t sell – unless it’s an algorithm – but obviously you can make infinite money if you’re smart – see Sergey Brin.

    Just wanted to point out that Tech is _even better_ now than anyone can even believe. If you’re good at mathematics, it’s by far the best place you maximize the dollar value of your talents, regardless of whether you’re an employee, small business owner etc.

    1. What would you say is your after tax, after living costs, net amount? Like how much of that $280k would you say ends up in your bank account for investments?

      1. There are state tax calculators, based on that it’s a little over 165k post tax. I spend 60-72k per year so up to 100k invested. I also get 50% 401k match so you can tack on another 5k in free money.

  78. Sam – great job on creating such diversify passive income streams. I’m a proponent of creating at least 3 revenue streams. It’s awesome to see that you have created more than 3 revenue streams – and passive to boot.

    How sticky is your passive income stream? Any stress from COVID-19?

    This pandemic does provide us with an opportunity for our revenue streams to be stress tested. If they can still continue to produce in today’s environment, they are pretty good during the next economic turmoil.

    1. So far it’s pretty sticky. However, I suspect a couple investments in hotels in my real estate crowdfunding fund are hurting right now. I’m doing an income analysis in a new post with a potential to have a 20% decline if things get really bad.

  79. Hey Sam, thanks for taking the time to update this post. I’ve always loved this post since you published it before, lots of great food for thought. Why haven’t you ever dabbled in commercial real estate investment? I know you do commercial crowdfunding but what’s the reason for never buying a small building to rent out to a business? Full disclosure, I’ve never owned a residential or commercial rental. That being said, I’m looking to purchase a small commercial building in the next year or so to see if I like it. Mainly I’m attracted to not having to deal with tenant repairs or anything like that. If something breaks down in a commercial property, the tenant has to handle and pay for it. Commercial properties basically seem like more work when it comes to finding tenants to rent the space but then less little headaches to deal with in terms of repairs. Plus I like that you can do legwork on commercial property to instantly increase the value. If you buy a building that is 70 percent occupied and you hustle and work hard and get it to 85 percent occupancy, then you just created additional sweat equity. I feel like it’s harder to do that with residential (unless you are a handy person and can do repairs and upgrades yourself on the property but I’m not handy at all). Anyway, thanks again for the post. I feel like you’ve been throwing down an abundance of great articles lately. Seems like you’ve upped your publishing cadence so kudos on that!

    Also if anyone on here has dabbled in commercial and residential, let me know which one you prefer and why. Thanks all!

    1. Hi Jon, let me know how your foray into investing in physical commercial real estate goes!

      The main reason why I sold my main SF rental property in 2017 was to simplify life. As a father of two young kids now, I don’t have the energy or the desire to manage as many properties any longer. I want to spend as much time with my children as possible. Real estate crowdfunding has been a great solution for my real estate investment capital.

      I wish you good luck and please keep us updated!

  80. Great post Sam, I used to always come back and refer to you’re 2015 report.
    At the moment I am pretty heavily into stocks and corporate bonds, but used to have holdings in crowdfunded real estate.

    The crowdfunded real estate was a pretty good investment in terms of returns, but I started to have growing concerns about platform risk and eventual liquidity.

    In the next few years I am going to start to diversify from the US total market and either add some international exposure, or start looking at REIT’s

    P2P lending does interest me, but I am slightly concerned with platform risk over here in the UK, but will reserve my judgement and see what happens.

    Keep the content up, love your stuff!


  81. I personally prefer investing in stocks but this post gave me some ideas on how to diversify my investments even more. I would like to invest in real estate, but I think that real estate in my country (Croatia) is overpriced at the moment. Do you think that real estate prices could decrease in the following months on a global scale?

  82. I tried the P2P lending site lendingclub.com and returns were abysmal. In fact for the first 2 years I was earning negative returns due to all the defaults. It finally climbed out the basement and is paying me a dismal 2% yield. I can do that well by just having savings account at Ally Bank.

    1. I had the same issue with Prosper. The defaults were much higher than I anticipated. Even at the higher credit ratings loans. You’re basically stuck too if you want to get out as there aren’t a lot of options. I wouldn’t do it again

  83. Yelena Russo

    This article proved wonders for me! Thanks a bunch! I am a noob when it comes to investments and financial terms. But after reading this, I understood that you can make money work for you.

    I like what you say about the defensiveness of real estate investing during times of uncertainty. I think you’re right that more people will buy real estate, especially with mortgage rates so low. People want a tangible asset that is less volatile and produces income.

    Amazing read! Keep sharing.

  84. Excellent article Sam on the stock market! I would love if you could take a deeper dive into the asset classes and funds/stocks that you are investing in if you could.

    S&P 500
    High Dividend Yield Funds
    Technology Stocks

    What asset classes you prefer and like and which ones you don’t and why.

    I think that would be a smash of an article and very helpful and informative to the readers of Financial Samurai.

  85. Love all these passive income ideas. I always advise everyone to start a little business on the side. Future is very uncertain and having a side income is essential these days.

  86. Sam – Related to Private Equity what are your thoughts on simply taking a position and investing in Blackstone common stock – BX? I believe Blackstone was previously a publicly traded partnership with complex Form K-1 tax reporting and is now simply a c corporation with no complexity.

  87. Great ranking system! Seems like blogging, index funds, RE crowdfunding are more or less the same in terms of overall benefits, but are all clearly better options than real estate. That would be especially helpful for the many readers who want to be location-independent as well

    1. If you have property managers for your rental properties (the smartest way to go and to free up your time and reduce your stress), you can live anywhere you want.

  88. Martize Smith

    Real estate is one of the best ways to build money and it offers huge pay offs such as cash flow and leverage. Once you started investing in real estate there are ways to leverage investments for higher cash flow. For example, you buy real estate with $10,000 for a $100,000 property use to $10,000 as the down payment but borrow or finance the $110,000. Normally, you would borrow $90,000 but borrow $100,000 so you have extra cash $10,000 to renovate and then in a few years sell at a higher price then you bought it. The profits can be placed on a 1031 exchange account so taxes are deferred and you can buy a higher valued property that has a larger cash flow then the previous investment.

  89. Financial Samurai – agreed on most points although I tend to think that the only real and pure passive income is long term investing (which requires little on-going ‘maintenance’)

    To that effect I was recently thinking on how to simulate an implementation strategy. Market seem to be disconnected from reality which makes the situation even more confusing.

    How can one implement a safe strategy and get passive income while focusing on health, family and more important issues (while not having to look at the markets everyday)? More importantly, can it be done so that I don’t have to predict which way the market will go this year? I wanted to spend some time to help investors on how to relatively conservatively deploy their savings for long term returns by limiting downside risk and ran a few basic simulations.

    The way I thought about the current investment situation is to assume three potential scenarios:

    -Base case – to stay on the conservative side I assume that the current rally is a bear trap that will ultimately reverse. It is likely that the S&P 500 will drop to 2,500 or may retest the lows of March 23rd. Ultimately, I assume that base case goes as low as 2000 points for the benchmark Index and recovers in the second half of the year. This is in line with a number of Wall Street strategists and shouldn’t come as too controversial.

    -Optimistic case – this is not a bear trap and market will consistently rally. While I assign a lower probability to this scenario than the Base case it remains a plausible path forward. It can’t be ruled out that one of the c. 700 studies currently performed on COVID-19 will result in (i) a cocktail of medications containing the disease (ii) or/and a successful vaccine on an accelerated timeline – note, that the market always discounts these events much earlier than the economy (e.g. Friday’s rally partially on the back of Gilead study (even if this proves too optimistic the point is that we may be getting much closer to something that works)

    -(Extreme) Stress case – this scenario assumes that the S&P drops to 1600 points and subsequently recovers. This broadly assumes medications are not successful in the short term, FED liquidity injection / bridge is not enough and reopening of the economy is a failure (aka multi round – ‘no single round’ which the FED is betting on as per game theory) resulting in massive bankruptcies and potential depression (I don’t even want to think about the ramifications of this scenario, hence I won’t elaborate here)

    For sake of simplicity I assume to have max. 130k USD to deploy for long term returns

    -This serves only as illustration to show that there are effective strategies for long term returns assuming one has a tolerance for short term losses

    -This strategy is based on S&P levels and NOT deployment of capital through regular time intervals. Time interval investing is another way of deploying capital that is not illustrated here
    -It has the disadvantage that capital is not fully deployed in Base and Optimistic scenarios – one would need to make additional assumptions here
    -However, it has an advantage of partially protecting you from tail risk should the S&P move sideways in the medium term and then plunge. This is essentially why I use this strategy as I always then to remain on the cautious side
    -I invest in ETFs to reduce idiosyncratic risks
    -Assumes one would have already deployed capital so that at current S&P levels (2850) 60k of the funds are invested in the S&P 500
    -For simplicity and to be extremely conservative I assume the S&P recovers to c. 3,400 points over 36 months
    -Balance is ‘replenished’ every 5-10% of fall in S&P 500. I also ‘top it up’ by 5k.

    While there is a few simplifications here and assumptions that one needs to make the overall result is that your portfolio can make gains over time (from +20% to +50%) with the S&P going back to its February levels no matter what will happen this year.

    As such I think the typical saver should focus on building a robust ‘all-weather’ strategy by deploying cash on the way down (or periodically) rather than try to predict the market.

    1. Andrew Xing

      I like Paul Merriman’s strategy, you should check it out if you haven’t heard about him

  90. Sam –

    Great article! Do you still invest in a High Dividend Fund with the S&P 500 for additional passive income?

  91. Hi Sam. I enjoy reading all your articles and am especially curious about your endorsement of the relatively new crowd-funded real-estate sites. I’ve been lurking around a couple of the sites and think what prevents me from putting some money to work is concern for the safety of the investment. What gives you the confidence that the site doesn’t just “disappear” one day along with your investment ? Something reassuring about brick and mortar banks and investment companies, FDIC, etc. Also, I read an article indicating roughly 30% of tenants in US chose to not pay rent over the last couple of months. Does that concern you or change the math on anticipated real-estate returns? Thanks and keep up the good work !

  92. Thanks for the link to the article Sam. It appears that you do not invest in international stocks and bonds. Is that correct?

    What do you think of a simple portfolio (think you have this portfolio) of S&P 500, Vanguard High Dividend Yield, and US REITs with Muni Bonds?

  93. PIMCO has some products with high dividend monthly income such as PHK, PDI.

    Do you think they are good investments?

  94. Do you recommend investing in International stocks and bonds or keep it simple with just the S&P 500?

  95. Sam –

    If I understand correctly are you essentially investing in the S&P 500 fund? Do you also invest in Vanguard High Dividend Fund? If so what percentage of equity is allocated to that fund?

    Do you also invest in an international fund?

  96. The death toll keeps increasing. I’m stuck here with little funds. Well, BTCINVESTLIFESTYLE. C O M has been able to keep my finances increased while I wait till outbound flights are available. Temporary neighbors in quarantine. Nobody really wants to get sick.

  97. Anthony J. Buss

    Sam –

    How important as part of the bond fund allocation are inflation bonds? Do you recommend these bonds?

  98. Sam –

    Amazing thread and website. Excellent post that I have learned much from. I have a question related to international bonds: what are your thoughts? Most of the world is close to zero or negative yield. Yet, Vanguard continues to recommend a 30% of fixed income allocation.

    Shouldn’t a one simple low cost and diversified taxable or tax exempt bond fund be enough?

    1. Bonds are so expensive now, and many of their charts like TLT’s looks like internet stock charts from 2000.

      But the goal of owning bonds isn’t to make a lot of money, even though that’s what bond investors are doing right now. The goal of owning bonds is to prevent yourself from LOSING a lot of money, as some stock investors are doing now with the coronavirus pandemic.

      I think CASH right now looks attractive. CIT Bank is currently offering a 1.75% interest rate with zero lock-up, while the 10-year bond yield is at only 0.7%. To guarantee you get that 0.7% and not lose principal, you have to hold the bond for 10 years!

      I’m also a big fan of real estate and real estate crowdfunding now as affordability rises and money flows out of stocks and into much more defensive real estate. Publicly traded REITs are acting just as volatile as stocks, so I would stay away if you want defense and diversification.

  99. The Aiki Trader

    I have started an investment in Groundfloor. It’s peer to peer investing like Lending Club, but instead of loans backed by nothing, these are loans backed up by Real Estate. YOU are the hard money lender. You can invest in loans with as little as $10 per loan. Loans interest rate go from about 7% to 14%. These are 1 year term loans, with payback option of interest quarterly and lump sum at the end, or like most of the loans which are interest and principal paid back at the end.

    1. Sam,

      I have read your blog for years and I enjoy your posts. I was also a corporate person for 20 years before achieving FI at age 43.

      I like the tools you use to discuss topics. I was with GE at the start of my career and learned all about these tools – I think they are great and I use them to analyze my own projects.

      I will continue to enjoy your posts now that I have achieve FI and I am even writing about my own experiences now. Hope to meet you down the road.

  100. How about Import/Export. I’ve been involved part-time for 5 years and would consider it a great return on investment.

    1. Not a very passive income generating activity. The goal of this post is to identify and rank the most passive type of income investments possible. But I’m glad import/export has helped generate you some side income.

      1. Any recent updates about the performance of Fundrise? I am invested but would like more insight before I put more money in.

        Best regards,
        Moustache Samurai

        1. The 2019 figures for Fundrise look like a ~9.47% return for the overall number of deals and funds, which is higher than the 9.11% in 2018. Pretty steady.

          I have a deal that finished with a 14.3% IRR over three years that I will write about soon.

          I do like how my real estate deals performed well in 2018 when the S&P 500 was down 6.2%. The diversification and steady income is nice. As a result, I’m also doing a lot of research on CrowdStreet because they are focused on 18-hour/secondary cities with lower valuations, higher cap rates, and potentially higher growth.

          1. Speaking of 2019 returns – I haven’t seen your year end update on your portfolio post – did I miss it?

          2. Crowdstreet and Fundrise seem to have good offerings with attractive IRR and yields. I would love to know what you look for when deciding to invest or not in a given offering. While Fundrise has eReits, Crowdstreet has more specific project offerings so would be helpful to have some general criteria for evaluating these since they are so different from traditional stocks and bonds.

  101. Great write up Sam. I’m working on building my passive income streams. I’m investing in the stock market and real estate currently, but may have to take a closer look at some of the other options you’ve brought up. In my area, you can get some cash flow, but a lot of the returns come from appreciation. I have one house that has appreciated $85k since I bought it, but cash flow wise has pretty steadily broken even as I’ve spent pretty much all the income on repairs. They’ve all been the major repairs though that I’ve expected to come so I kept all the income from that property sidelined strictly for the repairs. That one should be good for some years to come and start bringing in more cash flow now that all major repairs are completed.

  102. 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.

  103. I think that this is a great article and reminds me of Jeremy Siegel and his books “Stocks for the Long Run” and “The Future for Investors”

    To take it a step further though I think it would be prudent – given how highly you’ve ranked dividend investing – to suggest that investors start to ween themselves off the frothy S&P 500 Index and instead start to focus on Dividend Aristocrats and areas of the market that aren’t as highly valued.

    There’s a treatise to global dividend aristocrats investing.

  104. Interesting article. I do wonder though what influence regions play into this. Either way, it’s certainly something to think about. Thanks for sharing.

    I think real estate is the most attractive passive income opportunity in the new decade. Mortgage rates are down, and prices are down, but incomes are up and stock returns are up.

  105. Hey Sam, have you written any articles outlining how you went about creating your eBook? I’ve just written the text for my first, and am at the phase of exploring how to design layout, format, and ultimately sell (as Kindle compatible and / or as a PDF sold on a standalone site as you do). Would love your insight on how you navigated the process, what resources you found most helpful along the way, and potential pitfalls to avoid. Thanks!

  106. Passive income is one of those things more people should focus their attention on. My preference at my stage in life is real estate. However, I am always willing to look at other options.

    Reading this post reminded me to consider the inverse relationship between the degree of passivity of a given investment and return on investment. Certainly we all want the highest return we can get. Most of us also want the most passive investment. We can’t have it both ways, but we can use this knowledge to pick the best investments.

    Two other things to keep in mind are the impact of tax laws on any form of investment and the ability to leverage our capital (financing).

    Given these factors, real estate continues to be at the top of my list. Nevertheless I’ll dig in deeper into other options just to be sure.

  107. Samurai,
    Have you investigated alternative passive income investments:
    Life Settlements and viaticals
    Private loans to businesses
    Legal settlements

  108. Your assessment of the net return on rentals in the midwest is accurate. I live in Indiana and own several single family homes (no mortgages). They yield a 9.5-10% net return. The appreciation in Indiana historically on SFH is about 2%. The last few years it’s been an astounding 6-9%, which of course is not sustainable but a fun tidal wave to ride.

  109. Jason Luongo

    Hey Samurai!,

    I invest in physical real estate myself. I currently own one single-family home and a duplex as well. In 2020 I think I will be looking to diversify my portfolio with some more “passive” options. Have you had any direct experience with any of the crowdfunding or p2p platforms that you would recommend? Or even a syndicator that you have had a good investing experience with.

    -Jason L.

  110. There’s a firm Worthy Capital/Bonds that offers bond-like investments that are currently earning 5%, with minimum investment at $10 bond increments. But they’re not like government bonds but rather an unregistered security subject to limits like Fundrise.

    And on the Fundrise type investments, for non-accredited investors, there’s technically an investment limit (e.g. 10% of income if over 100k, else 5%, or equivalent net worth to income calculation). So for those unaccredited but want to invest more (say they have savings around just not enough legal net worth to qualify as accredited), what to do? What I’m curious about is it’s not clear if the investment limit is an annual limit or lifetime limit (stuck with limit until you move up the income or net worth ladder to raise the limit some more or become accredited eventually), and whether the limit is per institution (FundRise, and like companies), or across all such institutions. e.g. can you invest to the limit at each institution? Or across all of them have to be no more than the limit?

    1. Do what ever you want to do as long as you completely understand the risks of the investments. No one checks this you just self certify. The government is like a huge wall keeping you from accessing great investments and only allowing rich people to gain access. There should be absolutely no rules keeping you out of an investment if you can go gamble 50k and lose it at a casino or invest in highly speculative penny stocks or use leverage in a brokerage account. The government doesn’t keep you out of these risky activities. If it were me and say I was at my max limit according to the law but I fully was aware of the risk and made an educated decision I would just change the number so it allows me to invest. These rules do not protect investors they keep people from investing like the wealthy do. The accredited investor rule is not protecting you. My net worth is approx. 300,000 I understand various types of investments and yet I can go invest $5,000 into a real estate syndicate that could produce great returns and if I lost that it wouldn’t hurt me where I need protection from it. It’s all a way to keep middle class people in the middle class. If you understand something and all the risks and you are ok with it I wouldn’t let some arbitrary limit stand in my way, if you can just change a number to raise the limit just do it. I am heavily invested in various types of real estate syndications and I am aware I’m taking a risk and I understand the risks so I just update that number to allow me to invest. The only thing that should matter is your financial plan and weather or not that investment would fit into your plan and goals.

      1. Many similar Net-worth profile, $200K-$500K are looking for investment plan & strategy. Passive income can only happen taking individual tax situation and risk profiles in consideration as suggested above.

        Also you have to play your own game, someone with $100K vs $1M vs $10M is a very different level of difficulties to preserve The capital and somehow enhance it.

        I think there is a business opportunity for who will help define blueprints and pattern for those who seek.

  111. Sam,

    Can you tell me more about Fundrise.

    How and When can you get your principal back from the investments you make?

    What is the liquidity like?

    What are the scenarios where you can lose money from fundrise?

    In other words when real estate crashes some day how much would you expect the draw down to be in comparison to something like REZ?

    Than you so much

      1. I did take a look. Trying to understand this piece below. Is it secured or unsecured? Didn’t see/read anything on how/when you are allowed to unwind your position. Thank you again for any further input.

        2. Unsecured Investment

        Real estate crowdfunded investments are generally unsecured investments, meaning that if, say, the platform were to go under, investors could lose their capital. While most investors are aware of the risk, the nature of the security of investments may be changing, and lawyers say investors should keep an eye on that point.

        The solution to a real estate crowdfunding platform like Fundrise going under is the hiring of a third party bank who acts as the custodian of all assets. For example, Pershing has over a trillion in assets managed and is not going anywhere even if a REC platform does.

        At least with real estate crowdfunding, if there are troubled times, there is the underlying real estate asset that can be worked out, unlike lending money to people via P2P.

  112. Wow! This article is great! There are a lot of points in it that I can really relate to. Especially the part about annoying co-worker.

    There are so many great points in your post. Do you really collect $825 from online savings account? That must come from a large amount of cash. Would that cash be better utilized for investments?

    1. I always have 5% – 10% cash handy for investment opportunities and proceeds from various investment sales.

      Further, cash is paying 2.1% now from online banks such as CIT Bank. That’s not bad given cash was paying 0.1% before 2016.

      1. To get that kind of monthly return in your online saving account you have to have almost half a million dollars. This seems highly dubious.

        (825 * 12) / .021 = 472K

        And that’s 5-10% of your cash??

  113. MY personal preference with regards to my risk tolerance is whatever I can do with leverage. I love actively investing in the stock market with leverage, however this cannot be done passively with leverage.

    With regards to passive income, real estate is my favorite. It’s a cyclical industry so if you get in at a downturn = almost guaranteed money. You can use 2-4x leverage easily with real estate investing, and with good tenants it can be done easily with very few headaches + less risks of drawdowns compared to many other investments.

  114. RevenueLand

    I liked your starting points:

    How much money do I need to achieve what makes me happy?(dangerous question!)
    What makes me happy?

    It happened to me some years ago to have the chance to spend some years working on the understanding and achieving of some financial peace.
    I am still in the process, I am about to getting there and it feels great. It is a wonderful trip. No regrets.

  115. Andrew Kraemer

    I’m obviously a huge fan of dividend investing, but one of my other favorite passive income investments is off the wall, stock photography. You take the time to take some great photos, then upload them to a stock photography website and that’s it. If they’re good photos, that creates a nice passive income stream.

    Wahoo passive income!
    -Andrew Kraemer

  116. I have tried Lending Club, did ok. About a 6% return. All out now.
    I have recently investing in Fundrise in their “supplemental portfolio”. So far, happy.
    I like REITs, but I also like some Mortgage Reits, and some other dividend payers.

    I also something you have not mentioned.
    That would be preferred stocks and baby bonds. Specifically preferreds and baby bonds in Mortgage Reits and REITs and some other. Why Mortgage Reits….those funds are kinda like cockroaches, they will survive a financial disaster. They pay pretty handsomely too.

      1. Here are some I am invested in: Note – some are a bit pricey now.
        I would suggest following “Colorado Wealth Managemnt”, “Brad Thomas”, “Rida Morwa” on SeekingAlpha.com for some more information and research.

  117. Buyside Hustle

    Problem with investing in private equity is that it is hard to get access to the good funds that have consistently generated good returns over multiple cycles.

    Nowadays, there is so much dry powder and so many new large funds being raised that it makes me question whether private equity returns over the next decade will even come close to what they have been over the past decade.

    So while PE has generally outperformed other investment vehicles (ie. hedge funds), I question whether the out-performance will continue, especially if most investors do not have access to the proven established funds.

  118. Nordic Fire

    Fantastic article!

    I think that especially the P2P-lending is more profitable nowadays, at least in Europe. People are getting 10-15% profit from P2P-platforms annually, pretty easily. I have only invested in Mintos, but I will soon divide and invest more in P2P-lending, because it gives pretty decent passive income :) I will post my strategy in my blog soon.

    – Nordic Fire

  119. I am new to Financial Samurai and am very excited about about the content you are writing about. Regarding passive dividend investing, what are your thoughts on higher yield mortgage trusts like NYMT or capital investment finance companies like ARCC? They have intriguing dividend yields, but this must come at some risk?


    1. NYMT and other mortgage REITs generally use some leverage to boost the yield by playing the spread. Some mREITs are very safe as they only invest in mortgages backed by the government otherwise know as agency backed mortgages.
      Others mREITs are usually some blend of agency and private mortgages.

      So they are generally a pretty safe investment. It’s the spreads that wreak havoc on the mREIT profits and the pre-payment of the mortgages too that can cause problems as then they probably are having to invest in lower yielding mortgages.

      Hope that helps.

  120. Hello Sam, I am an avid reader of your blog. Absolutely love it.

    Can you please elucidate “Owning your primary residence means you are neutral the real estate market. Renting means you are short the real estate market, and only after buying two or more properties are you actually long real estate.” ?

    My best wishes for you !!


    1. start with the premise that we all have to live somewhere, and from that we all are short until we own, and dont have to keep paying for the right to make use of what we need to survive.

      neutral means that once you own, real estate markets up or down dont hurt you or help you in that the physical need you have is covered, your position isnt so much speculative as just covering your need, and if you sold it you would have to find a way to replace it again.

      if you rent, you dont actually own what you need, but are borrowing it and paying rent while you do so. and maybe later you might be betting the market goes down, or probably that your buying power goes up, at which point you can give back what you are borrowing ie your rented property, and instead buy the item you need. your mortgage looks a little like the rent you paid before, but its more accurate to see that as renting the capital you used to buy the home.

      going long, means that for a home you are not living in, you are invested in something that provides you something more than covering a basic need, it provides a dividend or yield, which in this case would be rent payments from your tenants. you are exposed to upside if the market goes up, and downside if the market goes down, gains you are free to lock in if you decide to sell, because you don’t need to live in it.

  121. Nice article and I am glad to see that I have 4 out of the 8 of these options already. Although I used to be very keen on owning physical property as I liked having actual bricks and mortal, these days taking a more active role in REITS. In particular S-REITS as they seem to trigger a healthy annual dividend. That said, the market is high in Singapore and who knows when there will be a correction.
    Have you ever looked into Singapore REITS as an option?

  122. Your Financial Toolkit

    Great Post, very useful. I agree with the part of Real Estate having a lot of benefits but also having the main downside of liquidity and that it isn’t as passive as the other investments. I would argue that being long on the housing market is actually a good move, sure the prices fell in the 2008 financial crisis, but they seem to provide some good diversification since stocks and bonds are sometimes very sensitive to the overall economy. I’d have a different ranking because I’d give more weight to returns and liquidity than risk and feasibility but I guess that comes down to whether you’re risk averse or risk tolerant, nonetheless great article and ranking system.

  123. David Michael

    Nearly all of my former colleagues (all are retired now), made their wealth by owning one extra house, duplex or triplex for 20-30 years. That was in the great growth era of the 1960-2005 period in California. And…paying off their home. Our house in Los Altos, CA went from $36,000 to 3.2 million over 40 years. We sold at $330,000 to get out of crowded California to live closer to the outdoors in Oregon. A great lifestyle decision for us.

    I am now collecting from P2P (Prosper) after six years or so. I have been happy with it returning 12% in the beginning. Now it is down to 4.5% return. My favorite investment, by far howver, is High Growth Dividend Paying Stocks. I do it myself to hold over the long term, from At&T to MO or IRM, as examples. They work for me, as I invest all of the dividends monthly while living on Social Security and Seasonal Work Income. It’s the first investment where I love it when the market goes down and I buy more stock to increase the dividends. Our backup is in I Bonds (Treasuries) bought when rates were 10% and Social Security.

    I only wish I had discovered Dividend Paying Stocks when I was in my 30’s rather than my 70’s. Hey…but that’s life. Now in my 80’s, it’s never too late to learn.

    1. Would you care to explain how you leverage your high Growth Dividend taxes if you are reinvesting them rather than spending/living off them? I too am deploying capital into High Growth DIV stocks and juggling their taxes vs the balance of my other income in early retirement.

    2. Kevin McElroy

      I was too busy building a professional building in 2012 to buy more than a couple of rentals. I have since sold one rental to my son. I am on track to retire in 6 to 12 months and am looking for new ways to build passive income. The crowd funding of real estate ventures seems to be cooling off. Real estate on the entire west coast has gotten out of reach for most; I don’t see that buying rentals in most markets will give a positive cash flow now. I am looking for ideas. I have been too conservative in investing over the last 20 years but will be able to retire easily with a good margin. We live below our means. I believe we will have another big correction in stocks and real estate within 3 years; I will buy more rentals once cash flows work. Overall, most vehicles are full valued so what to do now to capture more income? Is it better to build cash now or are you seeing some good opportunities at present values?

    3. Hey David,
      Similar experience here in Scotland, Paid off house 1st, bought property, ran a rental empire for 10 years. Discovered John Bogle and passive funds, we now split between Vanguard broad spectrum funds, high yield FTSE 100 shares in tax free accounts and are slowly dissolving the empire. risk/return? I like 7%. All the best in Oregon, I hear its beautiful.

  124. I would like to see how much you’re putting into these vehicles to get the return you are getting. I can do the math based on your rate and return, but too cumbersome. Thank you for the transparency. Does make me more excited knowing that it’s possible.

  125. Hey Sam,
    Great article. So when you say bullish on the heartland do you have any particular areas you think are emerging with nice returns in the next 2-3 years you want to share?

    I always have a great deal of difficulty in researching markets that have not already started to peak due to not being able to find any tools that will help me research enough data points. You can find a thousand articles about the “50 best cities to invest” etc, but cannot find any info for small town to mid size underdeveloped cities. I have played around with Mashvisor but feel like the methodology is flawed based on the small number of data points they are using.

    I have had the same theory that investing in smaller cities and towns will often have better potential for returns if purchased and researched correctly, but cannot find any source of data that would show me CoC or ROI numbers for a city of 20,000 for example instead of just the top 100-200 cities with their metros.

  126. Great Article. One thing I feel that would be useful is how long it took for you to get to this level of passive income. I am in my mid to late 30s. I am trying figure out how long it will take me to get to even 100K of passive income per year and how much savings I should have.

  127. Susan Canada

    CD’s may be no risk now but this hasn’t always been the case. My grandmother often showed me the CD’s she had purchased for a few relatives and myself in the 80’s & 90’s. Years later she passed away without stating where they were. A few of the banks were no longer in business but even those that were stated that during those years they didn’t keep records of them. I’ve tried lost property but no luck. If you have elderly relatives that purchased CD’s keep copies, etc.

    1. Equinimitous

      Try again. Each state now has a robust online search tool that will produce the records. Federal laws in the US would have required financial institutions to keep these records. You need only try each state.

  128. At the moment, Fundrise is offering another iPO to its current investors. What are the pros and cons of investing through the traditional Fundrise means vs through the iPO offering? Through your recommendations, I’m currently a Fundrise investor.

    1. In general, I stay away from investing directly in private companies. The most I will do is invest in a venture capital fund or venture debt fund, like I am now. I don’t have an edge to pick the winners and losers, as all company private equity investments are long shots.

      I like what Fundrise has been doing since its founding in 2012. They are innovators and leaders in the real estate crowdfunding space. I think it’s OK to invest in small percentage if you are a platform user, money that you are willing to lose and not see back for 5-10 years.

      As of now, I’d much rather invest in the eREITs and individual real estate deals themselves.

      Like everything, no risk, no reward.

      Related: Just Say No To Angel Investing

  129. Enjoyed the article. Wondering what your best pick on Fundrise is?
    Supplemental Income, Balanced or Long term appreciation? With or without Plus?


    Also, surprised you do not have FIA’s with uncapped strategies w & w/o and income rider.

  130. Hi Sam,
    I was just wondering if you would classify Real Estate apartment syndication under real estate crowdfunding or have it out on its own as a separate form of passive income?

  131. any ideas of how these strategy compares in terms of taxes?
    it’s great to earn some pasive investment income but it is also very important how much tax you pay for each

    thank you!!


    1. Great point. For tax efficiency, dividend investing and real estate are great.

      See Short-Term And Long-Term Capital Gains Tax Rates. Qualified dividends are taxed lower. Municipal bonds have no federal and state income tax.

      Real estate has a tax shield due to non-cash amortization expense and the ability to expense all operating expenses.

      I like real estate crowdfunding the best b/c I love real estate as an asset class the best, and now I can earn money passively as well. Public REITs are good too, just not as focused.

    2. Real estate passive income through tax has a sweet benefit called depreciation. REIT dividend now has a great qualified tax treatment in IRS.

      And a physical strategy for tax: get out of CA if you do online trading for living.

  132. Now, I know why this is one of your popular posts. It’s all very useful information for a newbie like myself!

  133. On real estate, I wonder what folks think about BuildingBITS. I recently came across that. Is FundRise still better than them?

  134. I just found your site from an article I read from Marketwatch.com. This article on passive income investing caught my eye. I saw the mention of bonds but what about Preferred Shares as an avenue for getting higher rates than CDs (Warren Buffet seems to love Preferred Shares and Warrants). Any reason why one should avoid Preferred shares?

    I own some Schwab Preferred C shares that yields about 6% annually.

    1. I was going to ask the same question about preferred shares. They seem to be a financial step-child that no planner seriously considers. I currently have BofA and Wells Fargo preferreds that have 7.5% yields. Set them up as drips and watch the pot grow.

  135. Leif Kristjansen

    I agree that physical real estate isn’t really for everyone but the biggest penalty in your chart it is the lack of liquidity. I figure that penalty isn’t so bad when you are going long on retirement.

    Lack of liquidity is only an issue if I can’t cover a surprise cost. Big transaction fees are bad if I was going to turn it over quickly. If you are retired for 50+ years and living off that rent lack of liquidity might even be better to encourage you not to get antcy and do something dumb.

    Like yourself I’m very into real estate but don’t think anyone should go 100% in on it :)

  136. All, curious what folks think about dividend growth investing through a basket of quality stocks versus buying one of the many ETFs (SCHD, SDY, NOBL, VIG) or Robo advisors like Wealthfront. I have most of my investments with Wealthfront already and am thrilled with their service. Seems like investors can avoid fees by direct stock ownership using a service like M1 Finance. But then you are back to picking stocks and hoping to beat an index. I see some possible advantages to buying individual stocks and holding over long time periods.

    Would love to know what others think. I am only interested in setting and forgetting this type of investment. Using M1 with high quality stocks seems to get there.

    1. I started by purchasing roughly equal $ amounts of the Dividend Aristocrat stocks yielding >3% (skipping some of the companies whose stock prices dropped due to issues).
      I also looked at the holdings of Vanguard Div Appreciation, franklin rising dividends fund, spdr s&p dividend etf, wisdomtree lgcap dividend, and others. I wanted to know what these funds were holding.
      Of the seven funds I reviewed (this was about 6-8 years ago), all 7 held PG. Six funds held: ABT, ADP, JNJ. MCD, PEP, and WMT.

      The portfolio can be low maintenance but you shouldn’t just set it and forget it. You need to be ready to bailout when issues hit, like GE and PG&E in the last few years.

      1. Thanks Jim. The biggest advantage I see to individual stock over ETFs is your ability to hold each stock for long periods and buying on individual dips.

  137. Hi Sam, on your bonds income, you show projected yearly passive income of $61,872 for both 2018-2019 and 2019-2020. On one of your articles, you mentioned having around $605K in mostly municipal bonds that generate this $61,872 annual income. This is a return of 10.2%. In this article, you mentioned “The tax-free yields range from 3.6% – 4.2% for a 20-year duration, equivalent to a gross yield of 5% – 5.5%.” How are you able to achieve 10.2% annual returns with municipal bonds when it is yielding in the range of 4%? What was your actual returns for 2018-2019 with municipal bonds? Are you banking also on capital appreciation of the bonds on the returns? This will be very helpful for me to understand. Thanks for clarifying!

      1. Hi Sam,

        Do you invest in Municipal Bond Funds or the bonds themselves. I’ve researched a bit about both and what I’m hearing is that with a fund you may see the prices fall during a financial stock because they are liquid, but individual funds would see inflows as they are seen as a safe haven. That isn’t exactly jiving with me to be honest. Funds also presumably have a slightly lower return due to management fees.

        Please advise – what do you invest in?

  138. I wonder what are folks thoughts on firms/services for the dividend investing. Is Wealthfront the best? There are others in the area I think like WiseBanyan, Bettermant, etc. How does one think they stack up against each other?

    1. Wealthfront is my favorite digital wealth advisor because they were the creator of the genre and are based in the SF Bay Area. They charge 0.25% of AUM after an initial promotional offering of the first $5K free.

      Digital wealth advising is in their DNA, built from the ground up. The key is to invest regularly over time.

  139. Just found your site, I love the ranking system and look forward to reading more of the articles.

  140. Hello,

    I just invested in my friend’s business, who does flipping. I dont want to invest in all of his projects but I will invest only in those projects where I feel comfortable. I believe this would be considered my passive income. Can anyone please guide me how would this be reported on Tax return for both of us? Since this would be passive income, there wont be 1099 and I am not a partner on his llc so there wont be any K1.


    1. I think you misunderstand when a 1099 is necessary. There are many different types of income reported via 1099 forms. Almost certainly your friend’s business will need to send you a 1099 to report any payments to you. Lots of passive income is reported on 1099s, including interest income on 1099-INT, dividend income on 1099-DIV, and many different types of income on 1099-MISC, some of which are passive, some active.

    2. I am an active Private Lender, exclusively to Real Estate investors and primarily to flippers/rehabbers, most of whom are operating as a LLC. I have a Note (typically 12%/3 points), first position Mortgage, and personal guarantee. Because my available funds are not 100% busy all of the time, annual ROI is typically 8 to 12%. Borrowers should always issue a 1099-INT to me, although many do not. I send a Form 1098 (Mortgage Interest I received) to them.
      I do it as much for the fun of the deals as for the income (I’m “retired”). I lend both with personal funds, and with funds from my Self-Directed Roth IRA which is TAX FREE INCOME!!!

    3. Mike, I’m not a tax advisor but either 1) you made him a loan in which case he needs to Give you a 1099-INT, or you made an equity investment as a partner, whether or not you put it in writing, in which case the partnership should give all partners a K-1. You need to ask your accountant.

  141. Ricardo Ribeiro

    Hi Sam, great post as usual. Loved your ranking system. Very useful and easy to understand.

  142. I personally focus on dividend investing, but I am also trying to build up my blog to a point where the passive income is reasonable. I find real estate crowdfunding interesting, but my only gripe is that it has not been around long enough to see how it handles during a recession. I enjoyed the article though! Keep on writing!

  143. Peer-to-Peer Lending (P2P) risk should be much higher than 7. More like a 2 or 3. The reason is:

    1. You are lending to people banks have rejected due to risk.
    2. Peer-to-Peer Lending (P2P) was born AFTER the 2008-2009 Financial Crisis. Therefore, NO ONE has any way of knowing how P2P market will react in a down stock market, recession, or great depression.
    3. If people are have trouble paying their bills in a “good” economy like today, think about what will they do in a “bad” economy like 2008-2009.

    1. Kevin Osborne

      Agreed; I diversified $50,000 in P2P with Prosper and had A borrowers defaulting just like the C’s. I spread my risk across those grades as well as the amounts that I would contribute, higher the credit the more money contributed. What should have been between a 15 – 20% return resulted in a $7,000 loss! Granted this was in 2008 – 2010, but there definitely is risk with individuals that the banks won’t loan to.

  144. Investing in life settlements (the secondary life insurance market in which life insurance policies are bought at a discount, premiums paid, and the insurance is paid out upon the death of the original policy holder) is beginning to enter the mainstream of passive investing.
    How to invest? Find a firm that buys life insurance policies that also offers an opportunity to invest. The firm will give investors a promissory note payable in a specific number of years at a specific interest rate. The notes I hold are 5 years at
    8.75% interest rate.

  145. Sam

    You mentioned most of your bond holdings are California munis with yield of 3.6-4.0%. Have you considered myc by Blackrock. It is 40% levered Cali muni investment grade bond fund. It yields 4.7% and you get all the tax benefits. I think it will be a good enhancer to your passive income in that category. Would love to hear your thoughts on it.

  146. #9 Military pension/VA disability. Obviously requires a lot of front end effort in your 20s and/or 30s depending on length of service however once out and receiving it is totally passive with cost of living adjustment included most years. It has changed somewhat with new “blended retirement” plan but even those not staying past first or second enlistments often will get some VA rating. My wife got it on both ends of her service as the Navy paid for med school and then she was rated by VA after seven years active duty.

  147. I bought a house. I chased my dreams and moved to a big city on the other side of the world where I rent. I am living my dream in what I could never describe as work—it’s a hobby— and am now mortgage free and the rental income from that property pays off my rent here. When you truly love what you do it’s not even work, you don’t even want to retire, you have more money to do more interesting projects. I will be using my equity to buy a house in central London in the next 18 months and will keep buying as much property as I can. I couldn’t give a $ht about stocks and shares. I have collegues, friends and family who have lost everything in stocks after being quite wealthy. The ones who succeed, so what if you have 50 million instead of 20? who cares? It’s just a trophy. I save but I spend a lot on things I like. I like nice cars, nice furniture, clothes etc. I really love nice experiences and I love sharing nice experiences with my loved ones. Screw being frugal. What I love most is being able to freely give and provide for family and friends and charities too. Being able to give is a great gift and I’ve watched instant karma happen in my life so many times. It’s truly like magic. The more you give the more you get. Everything we have is on lease from the universe! Life is truly amazing when you immerse yourself fully in your dreams, because—and it sounds cheesy—but DREAMS COME TRUE so you better make them bloody big ones!

    1. This ^^^ I couldn’t agree more with everything Dan said. I want to always have the means to take care of myself and never be a burden on others, and I definitely want to enjoy the finer things in life, but the first priority has to be to enjoy life. To be a positive person and share positive experiences with those you love as well as those who are trying to make this world a better place. I’m a little late getting started because of a career in the military, but I hope to one day make this dream my reality.

    2. I will take whatever cash you want to offer, I am sure it will all come back if you actually, really believe in what you’re saying. Maybe it’s easy to convince others but I believe it is impossible to convince yourself that what you are saying is actually true.

      I will take whatever you got because I could easily apply it to charity for my family and loved ones. Whatever secrets you have about however much wealth you have, go ahead and share that those step-oriented instructions with me now, why dont’ya ? Since you leased everything you have from The Universe, I bet The Universe won’t mind you sharing with me.

  148. a little late, but good post. I am curious about creating a product. I’ve often thought about writing an e-book, but it seems you get a lot of traffic/sales via your website. Do you have suggestions for getting it out there minus a website to advertise?

    Thanks again for the information, I’m currently an index fund investor, getting closer to the date where I can leave megacorp, and work on passion projects. So far that strategy has worked well, but always interested in other streams of income.

  149. sharif bhuiyan

    Thanks for posting this I am a real estate investor and quite frankly am thinking of quitting real estate all together due to the hassles of dealing with tenants. I rather put all that money into real estate crowdfunding. I also learned about Mortgage Investment Corporations. Would you recommend that as another form of alternative investment?

  150. It is nice list…

    Once said that, I think the most efficentet and cost/value is to make the products (infoproducts, ebooks). The ROI can be huge…

    As yo said, if you can get 2500/month per an ebook. Who is willing to spend countless hours trying to pick a few stocks. The only problem is not everybody can get close to this numbers. But even far away from this numbers the better ROI comes making our products.

    Anyway, great reading.


  151. Or you could do joint ventures/strategic alliances for your business or for other businesses and make residual cash flow for $0 investment.. that’s what I do lol. No money, no risk, little time, 20+ years working from home. Just connect companies and take a %, use the Internet to do it locally or globally, be the intermediary & connect companies…. ;-)

  152. I just found your site & so far I like what I see. I am 50 years old & will be retiring at the end of Jan 2019. I turn 51 the following month. I will have a pension income of $60,000 per year & an additional $5,400 from a survivors benefit. I was able to save $200,000 in a deferred comp program through my employer & wish to know what to do to generate a passive income? I can leave it in the plan which will generate about 3.5% or invest it. My concern is the tax liability of taking out a large sum from that fund & leaving me less to invest. I do have an opportunity to invest in a bar/restaurant with family (my main concern) that currently generates $120,000 annually for an absentee owner. It would be a 3 way partnership if I did that. I do like your idea of creating my own product such a blog with a goal of $12,000 to $18,000 passive income I feel that may be my best option. Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Best way to turn a large pile of money into a smaller one is the restaurant business: Capital AND labor intensive, continuous operating costs that rapidly expire, huge ongoing risks (see Chipotle), and limited growth potential, all for a reputational business with a no moat, and a continuous stream of potential reviewers with unlimited capacity to take a bad outing out on your business’ bottom line. Not what I would call passive income, unless you enjoying washing dishes or working the line or busing tables.

  153. Wow! what a great comparison of passive income sources. I was not expecting that physical real estate would rank second to the lowest. In an emerging market like my place, property flipping is much more preferable than rentals due to its fast value appreciation.

  154. Hello from the UK! Fundrise and Wealthfront are only available to US residents it seems :(. Any other readers from the UK here? The only thing I have managed to do from Sam’s list is getting a fixed rate bond (CBS is having a 5-year fixed rate at 2.01% – not great but the best I could find ). Don’t know if the FIRE movement will ever take off here but would love to trade tips/ideas on how to reach FI and have the freedom to consider alternative rythms to living.

    Thanks so much, Sam for keep posting and sharing!

  155. Justin Green

    Say a person leveraged his permanent or whole life policy, and had $500,000 to invest for a healthy monthly passive income. How would this newcomer proceed?

  156. This is a site that I wish I found when I was a lot younger. I have been fairly lucky and smart in that I have saved about what I should have saved by my age; using his chart on another page. (https://www.financialsamurai.com/how-much-should-one-have-in-their-401k-at-different-ages/) I find some comfort in that.

    What I find most interesting is the fact that I had never considered options like LendingTree or realityshares for other income sources. Investing in property has been too much of bad luck for people that I know personally, so I am interesting in getting involved in a situation where I would have to be dealing with maintenance issues or tenants. There are services for you to do that, but I had not come across any that didn’t eat most if not all of the earnings. Then again, I live in the NY area. Investing in the midwest would not be reasonably possible for me, directly, but reading about realityshares is something I am going to look into further. That might be a real possibility.

  157. Question: For anyone :)
    My current status:

    $450000 in a 401k
    $45000 in a ROTH
    5 rentals:
    House #1 Mortgage: $108,000 Value: $226,000 3.50% IR
    House #2 Mortgage: $196,000 Value: $340,000 4.00% IR
    House #3 Mortgage: $107,000 Value: $250,000 4.75% IR
    House #4 Mortgage: $103,000 Value: $230,000 4.75% IR
    House #5 Mortgage: $98,000 Value: $220,000 $.75% IR

    Liquid cash: $20,000
    Age: 48
    Net Yearly Income: $126,000
    Net-worth Approximately 1.1 million

    Question: I’m currently saving 25%. Should I use additional net cash to pay down the mortgages, or put extra money into more after-tax investment vehicles. Dave Ramsey says pay off the homes, but would like input from others. Thanks

    1. Christopher

      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.

  158. PassiveRealEstateInvestor

    I am 30 years old and am retired. Previously, I made a modest salary as an Army officer. I own three duplexes and a quadplex in central Texas (10 rental units in all), and each of the properties provide me with net rental yields in excess of 15%. The last deal is actually an infinite return as my partner paid the down payment in return for a 50/50 split on a property that would otherwise provide a net rental yield of 18%. The above net rental yields also factor in an excellent property management team who manages my properties while I pursue other investment opportunities. To date, I have never interacted with any of my tenants nor have I ever had to personally deal with any maintenance issues.

  159. Hey Sam,

    Some time ago you posted thoughts on REITs, and how the returns of 8+% were something you were interested in. I know this is an old post but REITs have a good potential for returns.

    Are you still in any of them or have you moved all that into RealtyShares? Im not an accredited investor and I have just reached a nw of 1m. Trying to find ways into real estate without having to deal with landlord type stuff.

    Love the blog and all the insights, have really helped my focus more over the past year Ive followed.


    1. Dennis Ludwig

      With the new tax law, 20% of REIT income is not taxed. This is a relatively new development.

  160. Any suggestions for crowdfunded real estate besides Realty Trac? They seem to have some high barriers to entry regarding income.

  161. I think I read this post two or three times per month. It’s always really inspiring and keeps me excited to work on my own creative efforts. There’s something very exciting about being guaranteed nothing but having the possibility of the unlimited return for something you create.

  162. I stumbled into your article just now through a Google search. I enjoyed the article and also found the comparative analysis to be enlightening. Very much thanks.

    I would be interested in knowing why you did not include county’s tax lien investments. While not feasible in most states, they can be great investments in a few states and the returns are more or less guaranteed by law. How would you rank county tax liens?

  163. Ultimate Passive Income: I can understand why the son is so upset inheriting the remainder of a $30K/Year 99 year lease on land where the leasehold improvements are now three new car dealerships … due to inflation and the current value of the lease!

    But when so many turn down leasing one and one-half acre for one Wind Turbine for each 80 acres, that lease certainly does not materially affect the rest of the Farm or Ranch grazing pasture and the lease pays much more than the farm crow or grazing pasture lease, just because some lawyer said the lease was too long: 30 years plus 30 year option = 60 years, and the wind turbine company has selling production/electricity contracts for the next 150 years – which is needed to obtain financing!

    No one should turn down wind farming’s ultimate passive income for the next 30 or more years … even 60 years when there is a positive cash flow on the sum total of all base payments when computing inflation for the next 60 years based on the previous 60 years, as long as the next era’s energy resource is not perfected (at which time they would not renew the option for the second 30 years).

    Yes, no one should turn down wind farming’s ultimate passive lease income when the lease income also includes rate increases, technology increases all along and a big one at 25 years when they change out the wind turbine, blades and head. (Pensacola dam changed out their turbine(s) and got a 17% technology increase.)

    Therefore, who cares how long any ultimate passive wind farming lease is when you do not have to do anything except sign the lease and have a bank or credit union account for the wind farming cash flows?

    Who cares, especially when very conservatively, the ultimate passive income includes a six digit or more base lease, plus an estimated additional six digits or more for rate increases and another six digits for more for various smaller and one bigger technology increase at 25 years. All four (base, rate, smaller and mega technology increases) combined, certainly could yield much more depending upon inflation, rate increases and technology increases?

    The base lease could be compared to a temporary long term quasi common stock dividend?
    And the rate and technology increases could increase the above to a temporary long term quasi preferred stock? Not just a lawyer’s opinion: the lease is too long?

    When you follow the absolutely essential vital empirical prima facie forensic evidence and related cold, hard facts to discern the truth for ourselves:

    The long term 30 year lease with an additional 30 year lease may be too short for your lifetime, and certainly may be too short for your and future generations lifetimes!

    So who cares how long the lease is, especially when Murphy’s Law and its corollaries are funded: to remove the Wind Turbines when they become obsolete due to the next era’s energy resource being perfected, damages during construction, etc.

    At this point in the industry, additional attorney’s and other professional opinions are also less valuable when there have been hundreds and thousands of attorneys and other professionals opinions from both sides that have crafted the lease contract!

    It never occurred to the lawyers or other professionals that they should suggest or insist on any improvements in the systems (that complete the plans). Franz Kafka, “The Trial.”

    This world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the good people that often act in irrational and/or criminally wrongdoing ways within the confines of their individual minds, core or enterprise groups, but because of the good people that don’t do anything about it (like reveal the truth through education like Financial Samauri is doing!). Albert Einstein and Art Kleiner’s “Who Really Matters.”

    Therefore, when considering Wind Farming, consult a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), CCIM and other Financial Consultants too, or you may not receive the best financial advice to build long term multi streams of ultimate and other passive income for your and future generation’s financial futures!

  164. Excellent, excellent, excellent article yet again.

    Many thanks Samurai, for inspiring so many of us on a daily basis. I truly appreciate the time that you give to pass on your wisdom, and I can only hope to emulate even 50% of your inspiration as time progresses.

    An enchanted reader and writer,
    Steven, Money Marathon.

  165. This is an amaaazing list! It’s so good to see just how many options there are for passive income generation these days. Where to start!

  166. The Vigilante

    I enjoyed your summary and found the comparative analysis to be enlightening. Thanks for this.

    But I do want to clarify some points relating to private equity.

    First: I understand why you would say that such investments are restricted to only accredited investors, because generally, that’s true. There are means, under federal securities regulations and Blue Sky laws in each state, to sell interests to non-accredited investors – but usually those means are so heavily regulated and involve disclosures so similar to cumbersome registration requirements that it is not worth it for the seller to offer to non-accredited investors.

    Secondly – and this is just quibbling – I’d change that risk score. The risk of private equity is incredibly high and should be considerably riskier than bonds! You are providing a typically very large amount of capital to one business that you agree to have no control over, and the success or failure of that business over a locked, predefined term determines your return. And in the few deals I’ve negotiated for clients, my experience has been that there are often management fees, performance fees, etc. that may cut into your potential gains, anyway. You’re putting a lot of eggs in one basket, and promising an omelet or two to the management no matter what. You really need to be confident that you found the next Uber before you take this giant risk!

  167. ryankrameretc@gmail.com

    Wait… in calculating the total score for each investment type, you’re _adding_ the risk metric. This means you rank riskier investments higher. Should you subtract the risk score? Or reverse the scale such that 1 is most risky and 10 is least risky?

  168. Thank you for the article. I will tell you that RealtyShares requires you to be an accredited investor. I wanted to look at the properties and they require you to sign up before you can. During the sign-up, they ask if you are accredited and if not, you can’t go further. So, I guess the feasibility on that needs to change to a 4.

    1. Hi Matthew,

      You can still click yes and look if you want. It’s not like the internet police is going to pop out and punish you for believing that you one day may become accredited. :)

      In all my years of investing, I’ve never heard of the government or a financial institution going after someone who wasn’t really an accredited investor. The key is to learn and get comfortable with each investment BEFORE making one.



  169. Midwestern Landlord

    Passive income through real estate to me is #1 by far because that is what allowed me to achieve early FI. Real estate allows one to get a much greater rate of return then CD’s, bonds, etc. And you can use leverage to great advantage.

    So we may to have to agree to disagree on this one.

    1. Have you tried creating a product or an online product yet though? I felt the same was as you for over 10 years until I started creating products and making online income for the past seven years.

      1. Midwestern Landlord


        I have not. While I am intrigued with the possibility of making online income, it seems to be less passive then how I want to spend my time. Regarding your blog / site, you have done quite well for yourself. However, you have to keep pumping out content or your site would eventually go out of business. That sounds like more of a commitment then I would want. Regarding your book sales, it is probably relatively passive now, but certainly was not when you were writing the book. Now if you love it, great. Just not for me.

        I prefer assets that make me a high return for the lowest amount of work possible (semi-passive involvement). And assets that pay me in several unique ways. Cash flow is only one way RE makes money for me. I also get principal reductions, appreciation, tax advantages (depreciation), and I control the rental increases on a yearly basis. Plus a majority of the capital is provided by the secondary market on 30 year fixed low interest rate debt.

        I manage my rentals so granted it is semi-passive. But a majority of days it is completely passive and typically the only thing I do is manage the process. In general, no maintenance work, etc.

        Nobody gets early FI investing in bonds, CD’s, or even stocks unless they make a huge income or are extremely frugal or a combination of both. Paper assets just don’t provide enough returns. Business income can be great but it is typically not as semi-passive as I would like and there is a relatively high failure rate. That is if you can monetize an ideal to begin with. RE investing needs to be higher ranked IMO as a way that the “average guy” can become FI.

        1. Got it. It’s definitely tough to understand how attractive online and online product income is compared to RE if you’ve never tried or experienced it before. You’ll just have to trust me on this one.

          If I do nothing, I will still do fine because 74% of my traffic is from search engines which is 100% passive/organic. A site with 740,000 organic pageviews a month will still generate a good income vs 1M.

          1. But you still have to nurture and feed the experience to remain relevant in search. Also, if Google changes their algorithm and bumps you, you’ve lost traction. I sell digital learning product online and while there are periods of reduced touch, the process to keep it relevant isn’t passive.

          2. Kevin Eugene Osborne

            I had created a website that taught people to maximize present value cashflow. I took them through the process of establishing credit and then investing that credit in an FDIC insured account, which at the time was paying 6%. I personally leveraged $85,000 doing this, but the links on the site had the potential of generating $600 per lead. Knowledge was my product. The problem I encountered was that none of the companies would credit the cookies, they even argued with me about my own cookies. Finding the appropriate audience for fiscal prowess and discipline was my greatest obstacle. I found your site through CNBC.

  170. Brian - Rental Mindset

    There are so many ways to do real estate, yet most people only view it through 1 lens. Most people think you have to be a direct landlord to have a rental property, which keeps them away. I buy turnkey and use property managers, which makes it much more passive.

    I’m also curious how you came up with the return score. You like real estate for building wealth, yet it has the same score as P2P lending?

  171. I agree with your CD post about how far the rates have dropped and how it has completely changed. I will say brick and mortars are still lacking in any sort of positive interest rates but the increase in online only banks with CD rates has been positive

    1. Yes, after mortgage payments, estimated maintenance, and property taxes. I do add back the principal portion of the mortgage payment as that acts towards building my net worth.

      1. Great, thanks for the fast reply!

        How were you able to find properties that generate 2k a month?? Would you like to chat personally for half hour? I would love to meet / learn from you!

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  174. What are your thoughts on an Immediate Annuity as a passive income vehicle? I suppose it’s not a great investment since you never get your principal back, but the risk is zero and the cash flow is fairly good, approaching 6% currently. And, since you are guaranteed payments for life, you may not care that you never see your principal again anyway since you’ll be dead!

      1. Yes, that’s the drawback. Once you die (not if), then your principal is gone. There are certain variations that will allow you to get some of the principal back to pass on to your heirs, but then the interest rate is significantly lower.

        Many financial planners will recommend putting some of your money into an immediate annuity to give you piece of mind with consistent cash flow and then keeping another chunk of your money in stocks/bonds for capital appreciation over time.

        1. Another risk with annuities is inflation. Even with a low 2-3% level, in 20 years your buying power from that annuity income will be roughly half of what it is today. Meaning that you wouldn’t want to count on that entire 6% from day 1. Might want to start using only 3% and then increase as needed due to inflation.

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  177. Hi Sam, I understand that this is your personal earning rankings of your passive income streams.

    My thoughts on this is that, the earnings of your investments is solely dependent on the market condition and geographic location, right? Because for example if you are in Asia, these earnings may not apply.

    It’s a good thing though that you show this for us. This is a good reference.

  178. Another great post! Have you ever thought of lowering the cost of your ebook but upselling with a bigger product?

    I actually spent a year and a half working as an affiliate marketer (mostly selling drumming related products – lessons, kits ect). 5 years on and one of my one page sites (which I’ve not touched) still nets me about $150 a month. I won’t be retiring off that but only really now appreciate the reverse pyramid approach to entrepreneurship (working for nothing initially but later being paid without effort!)


    1. I’m actually going to be updating my How To Engineer Your Layoff ebook and raising the price. Let’s see what happens.

      $150 a month is better than a poke in the eye mate!

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  184. Great article, Sam! Would you recommend one max out their 401K before building passive income? I currently only contribute about $5,400 a year to my 401k (I’m in graduate school+working) Thanks

    1. Hi RW – I would definitely max out your 401k before trying to build passive income. There is no guarantee you’ll have a 401k retirement tax vehicle for the rest of your life, so might as well max it out while you can.

      For example, I got to max out my 401k for 13 years and get company matching and profit sharing. But then I decided I had enough in 2012 and left the finance industry. Now I’m trying to catch up with a SEP IRA and Solo 401k through my business, with no matching.

      Take advantage while you can! Life changes quickly.


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  187. Firstsonofmogh

    I live in the Greater Toronto Area in Canada. Real estate up here has been appreciating at roughly 9-10% yearly for several years.

    Imagine I have 100k to play with. If I choose to invest in dividend paying stocks I can prob average 8% return per year.

    However, that 100k will get me a down payment on a property likely worth 500k. Any return on that investment is on 500k not on my original 100k

    Although I dont have rental property, I see colleagues reaping huge benefits from taking those kids of risks 4-5 years ago. In fact, some people are taking a loss on rental income, just to have a net gain when you factor in real estate appreciation.

    I have toyed with the idea of doing this. Any thoughts?

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  189. Matthew Allen

    Hey Sam! Just read this article after clicking through from your email newsletter. It only took you 10 hours to write this article and produce all of this data?! It would have taken me a lot longer than that!

    Other than just, “creating your own product,” I might add that there are several other ways to create passive income online. Affiliate marketing would be a big one – although the feasibility ranking would be pretty low.

    I also noticed that in your passive income chart at the bottom that you don’t include your internet income other than sales from your book. Is there a reason for that? Do you not consider is passive because you are actively blogging all the time to create it? Or do you just not want readers to know how much money you generate from blogging activities?

    1. Financial Samurai

      Hah! Funny how we all take different lengths of time to do things and think how different times are considered long or not.

      I don’t consider online income passive because one has to comment, write, market, design, and work many hours. I love it. But running FS is certainly not passive.

      So you think it is? If so, why?


  190. I just can’t seem to get my head around creating my own online product. When you talk about it, you make it sound like its mostly just about putting in the time and plugging away at it. Problem is I can never seem to come up with any ideas for a site or product that seem remotely unique or compelling or that I have any special knowledge about. The stuff I do know about is pretty commodity type knowledge that can mostly be found on thousands of sites on the internet already. Any tips on discovering what your “unique angle” is? I mean, you have a pretty compelling and somewhat unique personal story of working on wall street and then walking away at a young age.

    1. Without knowing your full background, it’s hard for me to say. But, when was the last time you sat in silence for 10 minutes, meditating or brainstorming something? Give that a go!

      Everybody is unique and has something to offer. The evidence lies in literally MILLIONS of products currently out there for sale!

  191. Really enjoyed this post and how you summarized all the passive income streams you know and their ranking.
    I currently do not have a strategy for passive income, I am mostly focused on building wealth and primarily through stock index funds. I was tempted by P2P lending but it is not available in my state (TX).
    Do you have an opinion as to when to focus on passive income and when to focus on building wealth? Would that be like the allocation stocks/bonds in a portfolio?

    1. Good question. First focus on building as much wealth as possible, and then once you’ve gget the formula down, start expanding to various passive income streams.

      You can obviously do both at the same time.

      Good luck!

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  193. Why did P2P lending get a liquidity ranking of 6? It is quite possibly the most illiquid investment option you listed. You said you rank liquidity by “difficulty level of withdrawing your money without a massive penalty”, and for Lending Club notes, it’s not only difficult and extremely time consuming to sell all of your notes in their super illiquid market, but you would have to sell your notes at large losses to hope to get others interested in buying your notes. On top of that, it is impossible to withdraw your money any other way other than just waiting for interest/principal to pay off every month until maturity in 3 to 5 years. You can’t just one day tell Lending Club “I want to quit, please give me my money back.” One can even argue that it is less difficult to sell a home (in order to “withdraw” the money invested) than to withdraw all of their money from a P2P loan portfolio because it is very possible to sell a home before 3 to 5 years.

    For a CD which you gave a score of 4, one just needs to pay a one time penalty to get ALL their money out. Your scores are clearly subjective, which is fine, but I’m just trying to understand your reasoning in ranking that higher than CD’s and real estate.

    Thanks! Btw, I love Lending Club, but only for retirement accounts.

    1. Perhaps my experience at Prosper is different from you. I have A and AA loans where I can sell them in the secondary market. Furthermore, I have multiple loans that are staggered much more than CDs.

      I have a total of three CDs left. There is no way in hell I’m selling them after holding them for 4+ years so far to take the penalty. The CDs are for 7 years. That would be completely counterproductive. As a result, I feel very stuck with ever getting my CD money back if I wanted to. If the CDs were for just 1 or 2 years, I agree, it doesn’t matter as much. But combine a 7 year term with 4%+ interest is too painful to give up.

      Have you ever had a long term duration CD? If so, how much did you invest in the CD vs your P2P account?


  194. Two Buck Chuck

    Awesome article. My goal is to build a $200,000 passive income too!

    Couple of arguments, and feel free to tear them apart.

    Real Estate vs Stocks

    It’s obvious that stocks outperform real estate in terms of capital gains, but I would like to see S&P compare to Real Estate in SF, Manhattan, LA. Our house in NC was $80,000 20 years ago. It’s only $150,000 now. Same house in Santa Monica went from $200,000 to $1.8 million. People who happen to bought real estate in major metropolitan would have a natural positive association with real estate investment.

    In term of labor involved in real estate, it’s not too bad. I only have 3 properties, and I get 1 phone call every 2 months about something not working. You just pass that onto the handy man or the plumber. No big deal.

    1. You make a good point about real estate capital appreciation depending on area. Hence, for non major city areas, then real estate is best purchased for income in mind.

      Equities have done better than RE 1:1. But, most people are leveraged to real estate, hence the bigger growth.

      1. Hi there. I am new here, I live in Norway, and I am working my way to FI. I am 43 years now and started way to late….. It just came to my mind for real 2,5years ago after having read Mr Moneymoustache`s blog. Fortunately I have been good with money before also so my starting point has been good. I was smart enough to buy a rental apartment 18years ago, with only 12000$ in my pocket to invest which was 1/10 of the price of the property. I actually just sold it as the ROI (I think its the right word for it) was coming down to nothing really. If I took the rent, subtracted the monthly costs and also subtracted what a loan would cost me, and after that subtracted tax the following numbers appeared: The sales value of the apartment after tax was around 300000$ and the sum I would have left every year on the rent was 3750$……..Ok it was payed down so the real numbers were higher, but that is incredibly low returns. It was located in Oslo the capital of Norway, so the price rise have been tremendous the late 18 years. I am all for stocks now. I know they also are priced high at the moment which my 53% return since December 2016 also shows……..The only reason this apartment was the right decision 18 years ago, was the big leverage and the tremendous price growth. It was right then, but it does not have to be right now to do the same. For the stocks I run a very easy in / out of the marked rule, which would give you better sleep, and also historically better rates of return, but more important lower volatility on you portfolio. Try out for yourself the following: Sell the S&P 500 when it is performing under its 365days average, and buy when it crosses over. I do not use the s&P 500 but the obx index in Norway. Even if you calculate in the cost of selling and buying including the spread of the product I am using the results are amazing. I have run through all the data thoroughly since 1983, and the result was that the index gave 44x the investment and the investment in the index gives 77x the investment in this timeframe. The most important findings though is what it means to you when you start withdrawing principal, as you will not experience all the big dips and therefore do not destroy your principal withdrawing through those dips. I hav all the graphs and statistics for it and it really works. The “drawbacks” is that during good times like from 2009 til today you will fall a little short of the index because of some “false” out indications, but who cares when your portfolio return in 2008 was 0% instead of -55%…….To give a little during good times costs so little in comparison to the return you get in the bad times. All is of course done from an account where you do not get taxed for selling and buying as long as you dont withdraw anything.

  195. Hi Sam,

    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:

    39.51% SF condo
    27.46% cash
    29.26% stock funds
    3.78% Bond funds

    1. Raising the rent is a logical conclusion to increase yields. It’s just business, and the markets and nothing personal.

      I like your net worth asset allocation. Perhaps P2P lending is in your cards?

  196. I like dividend investing the best because it’s easiest and it’s pretty liquid. You can keep adding to a good dividend paying stock and you’ll most likely come out well ahead in the long run.
    I like real estate investing, but it’s a bit of a headache and not very passive. It also takes a really long time to pay off and the tax bill is huge when you sell..

    Creating a product really is the best way to go if you can do it. I will work on this when I have time…

  197. $iddhartha