Let’s be honest, if you want passive income for life, you have to get to the point where your assets are earning for you (even while you’re sleeping). But first, you’ll have to put in one of three things: time, money, work, or all three.
If you’re willing to commit your resources to the ideas below, like earning interest with High Yield Savings Accounts via CIT Bank or Peer-to-Peer lending with Lending Club, you could be earning effortlessly for years to come.
You just need to know where to start and decide what resources you’re willing to expend for your passive income ideas to take flight.
Passive income is money earned with minimal activity through a variety of ventures which require little daily effort or upkeep on the individual’s part.
The initial downtime you put into passive income can be as involved as starting a blog or as simple as logging into a robo-advisor platform and investing $100. You can earn passive income whether you’re an entrepreneur with a brilliant business plan, a talented artist, or just happen to have extra cash to invest.
There’s no magic trick that turns your time directly into money. Instead, you plant seeds so your money will grow, even when you’re sleeping or at the park walking your dog.
Savings accounts might be the most boring investment ever invented, but they are also the safest. At 0.15 percent interest or lower, you’d need to exceed the FDIC-insured $250,000 account limit to see any real action.
Online banks provide savings account rates as good as a CD without locking in your money for several years.
For example, right now BBVA (formerly BBVA Compass) is offering a 2.40% interest rate on their ClearChoice Money Marker account, which is close to 25 times what you’d get at the bricks and mortar bank around the corner. Sure, it won’t make you rich, but it’s safe and easy.
Our reviews of online banks that offer high-yield savings accounts include:
- CIT Bank, which boasts some of the highest CD rates around.
- Barclays, which offers only savings and CDs in the U.S.
- BBVA, whose Money Market and short-term CDS are competitive.
- Synchrony, which also has limited account options.
- Ally, where you can also get a checking account.
By building a portfolio of high dividend stocks, you can create regular passive income at an annual rate that is much higher than what you get on bank investments.
Just as important, since high dividend stocks are stocks, there is always the potential for capital appreciation. In that way, you can earn passive income from two sources – dividends and capital gains.
You can make this process very easy and affordable by opening an account with Ally Invest. They have one of the lowest fees for each trade and are a long time top brokerage. If you are interested in other brokerage accounts we have provided a good write up of all the different options.
If you want to add a little excitement to your passive income investing, meet Lending Club, the web-based peer-to-peer lending platform where investors looking for high-interest opportunities provide the funds for loans. You can earn interest rates in excess of 10 percent a year – about 10 times what you will earn on more conventional interest-bearing investments.
My advice: start out with $2,500. Since you can invest as little as $25 in a single loan, you could buy into 100 different loans. That way, you don’t have to worry about a single loan going bad and ruining your investment.
I have averaged just under 9% during the eight years I have been investing with them.
Invest With a Robo-advisor like Betterment
Letting an algorithm manage your investments is about as passive as you can get. Robo-advisors like Betterment allow you to set your willingness for risk, then sit back and let the income flow. And the fees are much lower than what you’d pay a human account manager. Below is a rundown of a few of the leading robo-advisor platforms.
I have been a long-time supporter of Betterment and even did an interview with their CEO in my Betterment investing review. Betterment is great at reducing any taxes you have to pay on your investments, and they work with you to give you the best financial advice through their algorithms.
Unlike other robo-advisors, with Betterment, you can actually talk to a human being if you want to. Betterment charges the same fees as Wealthfront but does not waive the fee on the first $10,000 you invest.
I don’t think you can go wrong with either service, but if I am investing a large sum to create a passive income investment, then I would go with Betterment, as their overall fees are lower.
Start Investing with Betterment
- Helps employer-sponsored accounts (401k, 403b, 401a, and 457 accounts)
- $10 per month no matter how large your 401k grows.
M1 Finance (our review):
- No fees, not even trading fees
- Can borrow against your account with low interest rates.
CDs are simple, straightforward, and if I’m being honest, far from the most exciting investment strategy out there. But if your goal is to make money while you sleep, there isn’t anything more passive than CDs. Investing in a certificate of deposit is a great-low risk strategy to accrue interest risk-free.
CDs are like savings accounts with a catch. You can’t touch your funds before they reach maturity, which is based on the time frame you set when you open the account. That time period can range from months to years.
Exception: CIT Bank 11mo No-Penalty CD – 2.05%
CD rates are on the rise, putting them in the top of our list of the best low-risk investments. As you might guess, the longer the CD length, the higher the interest rate typically is.
CDs are an awesome source of passive income because your interest rate is locked in, regardless of how interest rates fluctuate during the length of your CD.
CIT Bank, like savings accounts, is one of your best bets for opening a CD, with highly competitive interest rates.
Open a CIT Bank CD
Index funds give you a passive way to invest in the stock market. For example, if you invest money in an index fund based on the S&P 500 Index, you will be invested in the general market.
This means you won’t have to worry about details like choosing specific investments, re-balancing your portfolio, or knowing when to sell or buy individual companies.
E*Trade is our recommended online broker for buying index funds. They make the research and process of investing in different funds very easy. On top of that, getting your account going is super cheap, and the cost per trade very affordable.
All you have to do is decide that you want to participate, contribute money, then sit back and relax. Your stock portfolio will be on autopilot.
Pro Tip: I would look at opening a Roth IRA. It will shield your savings from any future taxes and you can withdraw all earning tax-free once you hit 59 1/2. It is one of the best ways to save money for retirement.
Corporate bonds are an interesting alternative for earning passive income via the investment route. Corporate bonds are exactly what they sound like: bonds issued by corporations. Companies then use those investments to fund their business.
You can buy corporate bonds from major corporations and earn higher interest than you would on, say, a U.S. Treasury. That’s because a corporate bond involves a higher risk than a government backed investment.
But if you approach corporate bonds wisely and do your research, the risk is relatively low. By looking into a corporation’s rating from the three major credit rating agencies, you can assess the company’s likelihood of defaulting. If they receive a high score, you can invest with confidence.
You can buy into bonds individually or set your sights on ETFs and mutual funds that include bonds. When it comes to purchasing corporate bonds, I recommend Ally Invest. With a robust offering of bonds and stellar rates, Ally is hard to beat.
With a REIT, all of the money is invested in real estate. Because the REIT owns the property, you don’t have to worry about handling the landlord duties.
REITs typically pay higher dividends than stocks, bonds, or bank investments. You can also sell your interest in a REIT anytime you like, which makes it more liquid than owning real estate outright.
If you don’t have the time, skill, or upfront money to flip a house, or if you’d rather not be a landlord, Fundrise is your go-to. With Fundrise, you buy shares in the trust, and it uses your money to develop a variety of real estate projects. If the project turns a profit, so do you.
With other real estate investments, you’ll have to have a lot of money saved up to start, but Fundrise lets you get into the real estate business with your Christmas bonus money, as little as $500.
In 2017, the company posted returns of 11.44%.
Obviously, these are much higher than you’re going to get with most other investments. What’s more is that you can choose a plan that matches your investment strategy, whether your goal is Supplemental Income, Balanced Investing, or Long-term Growth. You can also look at different real estate projects and choose for yourself which ones to invest in.
If the concept behind Fundrise appeals to you but you’re looking to invest in real estate with a little less risk, you need to check out Realty Mogul. This crowdfunded private REIT is targeted towards accredited investors and posts an average return around 8%.
One standout feature of Realty Mogul is its 1031 exchange platform. Based on IRS code section 1031, investors can sell their current real estate, invest the funds gained into a new property, and avoid taxes in the process if they make the exchange within 180 days.
With Realty Mogul, a 1031 exchange is easier than ever. The platform has successfully invested millions in 1031 exchanges. And as Realty Mogul puts it, you get instant passive investing with “No Agents, No Escrow, No Closing Costs.
If you’re interested in making money in real estate but want more of a hands-on approach, renting out your vacation home, house, apartment, or even a single room can be a stellar way to earn passively.
Airbnb allows people to travel all around the world and to stay in accommodations that are a lot less expensive than traditional hotels. Their site breaks rentals into three categories: private room, shared room, and entire home.
Airbnb charges you 3% on every booking for their services, and you receive payment 24 hours after your guests check in. Wherever you are, you can make money on space in your home that might just be sitting empty otherwise.
With over 2 million rental properties, most of which are entire home rentals, VRBO has established itself as a legitimate service for renters and owners alike.
According to their user-friendly website, there are three simple steps to listing: you simple et up your property, get the perfect match, and start earning. If you rent year round, you can pay an annual fee, currently $400, to VRBO.
If you really want to get passive, you can outsource the management of your rental for a slightly higher fee. It’s effortless earning at its finest.
Pro tip: The key to your rental success is reviews. The more 4 and 5-stars you get, the more people will rent your space (and the more money you’ll make).
Take it from someone who’s reaping the benefits as we speak — blogs are an unbelievable source of passive income. But there’s more to making bank with a blog than just posting good content.
If you’re looking for an extremely cheap, yet highly scalable way to create a passive income for yourself, you might want to take a moment and consider starting a blog.
Did you know: you can start a blog for as little as a penny for your first month, and just a couple dollars per month thereafter?
Here’s the idea: If you can consistently use your blog and create a lot of value for a lot of people, you can generate an extraordinary amount of passive income. As you post to your blog, more and more, your site will start bringing in traffic whether you put in any additional time or not.
A blog is the most cost-effective method to creating a truly passive income stream I know of. Hour after hour, day after day, your blog is out there doing work for you;
What’s the catch? It takes time to get it rolling. That’s it. The sooner you start, the sooner an income stream can begin to grow.
You’ll also want to access our Make 1k Challenge, which is a free email course that walks through the steps to start your first blog and make your first $1,000.
Thousands of blogs are abandoned by their owners every year. If you can buy blogs with a reasonable amount of web traffic and demonstrated cash flow, it could be a perfect passive income source.
Most blogs employ Google AdSense, which provides a monthly revenue stream based on ads that Google places on the site. There may also be affiliate programs generating additional revenue.
From a financial perspective, blogs usually sell for 24 times their monthly income. So if the site generates $250 a month in income, you can likely buy it for no more than $6,000. Translation: a $6,000 investment will buy you $3,000 per year in cash flow.
Some sites have good “evergreen content that will continue generating revenue even years after the site has gone silent, so a simple $5,000 investment can net you ongoing passive income.
Bonus tip: If you buy such a site then reinvigorate it with fresh content, you may be able to increase the monthly revenue and sell the site at a later date for substantially more than what you paid for it.
I recommend buying a blog on Flippa. Here are some quick facts on this awesome marketplace:
- Includes everything from small sites to ones that garner millions
- Currently has more than 2,000 web-based businesses for sale
- Based on a bidding system and fulfilled by Flippa Escrow program to ensure your money and business are safely secured.
Whether you start your own blog or buy a pre-existing one, choosing to affiliatize it is a passive income technique that will serve you well. You can sign up to promote certain products or services on your site, for which you will be paid a flat fee or a percentage of the amount of the sale.
If you think affiliate marketing is too complicated for you, you’re selling yourself short. This strategy isn’t as hard to do as you might think.
You can find affiliate offers by contacting vendors directly or on dedicated websites such as ShopHerMedia.com. It’s always best if the product or service is one that you are either very interested in or one which is highly relevant to your website.
Create an Online Course or Guide
Why not create an online course based on your passion? My buddy Ramit Sethi at IWillTeachYoutobeRich.com is an expert at creating online courses. He has made an insane amount of money selling his lessons. look up Wahclass. Wahclass helps you discover a niche to create an online course.
One very simple way is to produce and share your course is Teachable.com. Teachable has over three million students and is a great way to get your content in front of others.
What do you put in your online course? Good question. You can add:
- video lessons
- checklists for completing steps you recommend in your video lessons
- small ebooks to supplement the lessons
- audio files for people listening while traveling
- informative interviews with like-minded experts
- and a whole bunch more!
Pro Tip: Create several packages at different price points. Some people want everything, so you can include ‘the works’ for the highest price point and have two lower price points so you can receive the largest possible volume of orders.
If writing articles or creating videos isn’t your thing and you want to make money online, try creating an online guide. A good example of this income source comes from Pat Flynn’s website, SecurityGuardTrainingHQ.com. On the website, his map allows someone to click on any state to see the security guard requirements for that state.
By providing specific information in a guide-like format, you can make money through some of the means already addressed: Google AdSense, affiliates, and even memberships to your online guide.
It’s a fantastic idea!
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