Ever heard the phrase it takes money to make money? Every month I strive to stash away 50%+ of my paycheck and hope that in a few years I’ll have a large enough nest egg to make my 9-to-5 a thing of the past. But it’s probably not enough on its own.
It’s strange and largely unfair, but the financial industry has made it easy for the wealthy few to make their money make money for them. Even without a successful IPO, the 1% is making money in their sleep through investments, and those jerks can live off dividends alone.
Everyone and their mother can benefit from multiple income streams (read: side hustles), but most of those take actual work. For those of us who want to be lazier in retirement, if just for a little while, here are my favorite forms of passive income:
I’ve mentioned my love of dividends before, and I’d be hard-pressed to find an easier form of income. If “dividend” sounds new and strange, it basically means companies will pay you a portion of their profits just for being a shareholder. The more shares of the company you have, the more dividends you get! If you want to keep things simple, find a few companies with solid track records, and hold onto their stocks.
Personally, I look for high-yield dividend stocks with frequent payouts, and try to balance those with less risky ETFs. My portfolio is heavy on both REITs and Bond ETFs, and by their powers combined, I’m able to rake in an extra $70/month. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s great for money I’m not doing a damn thing for.
Generally, if it has above a 3% dividend yield, I’m happy enough. If it’s above 10%, even better – but I’ll expect it to be more volatile.
I have a few dividend stocks in my Roth IRA (woo, tax-free growth!), but the bulk of these are in my Robinhood account because, as you know, I love free trading. Because they’re in multiple accounts, I got spreadsheet-happy and made this handy tracking tool.
And, as a pro-tip, I’ll always double check that my investments are savvy with Personal Capital’s Investment Checkup tool, and with FutureAdvisor. They’ll review my portfolio and offer suggestions for where I can reduce fees or risk, and increase potential growth. Worth it to get that second opinion before going all-in!
The internet is a beautiful thing. You can open a store on Amazon, eBay, or Etsy, and get a bit of extra cash, but you’ll have to deal with customers, shipping, acquiring or making and storing things… basically being a productive member of society.
Instead, consider drop-shipping. You can partner with a company, open a store online, and basically have that company handle all of the orders. You get a cut just for getting customers while doing minimal work. Sure, it takes some initial setup, and maybe a bit of customer support, but you can open an online shop without even seeing a single product.
3. Income Properties
This one has a steeper cost, but also better rewards. While I can’t endorse Clayton Morris’s business, I will say his podcast inspired me to get into rental real estate. This is also called “Buy-and-Hold Investing” because you never actually sell the properties. Instead, you aim to buy something rentable, hire a property management team, and let them do all the heavy lifting. Then boom – you have monthly rent coming your way, basically until the end of time.
Because you’ll actually own a property, I highly suggest doing your research before moving forward on this one. Bigger Pockets has been a huge help, but I also recommend local meet-ups so you can get to know like-minded investors in your area, and learn from their mistakes directly.
If your side hustle is more hustle than side, I commend you. For us lazy future retirees, it’s better to put the effort in once, and reap the benefits again and again. And while these tools will benefit me during retirement, there’s no reason to wait that long to get started. Every stream of passive income I set up now takes just a bit of the pressure off of my 9-to-5 and gets me closer to financial independence.
My favorite free financial tool I use is M1 Finance. I've previously written about M1's free trades, automatic rebalancing, and easy-to-use interface, but it really does make investing accessible and easy. If you're not already investing in some way, or if you're looking for a tool that makes it easy to manage, I recommend trying it out.
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