Michael Ellsberg is the author of The Education of Millionaires: It’s Not What You Think, and It’s Not Too Late, which is launching from Penguin/Portfolio in September. It’s a bootstrapper’s guide to investing in your own human capital at any age. Michael sends manifestos, recommendations, tips, and other exclusive content to his private email list, which you can join at www.ellsberg.com. Connect with him on Twitter @MichaelEllsberg and on Facebook.

I knew I didn't want to work 70 hours a week in finance forever. My body was breaking down, and I was constantly stressed. As a result, I started saving every other paycheck and 100% of my bonus since my first year out of college in 1999. By the time 2012 rolled around, I was earning enough passive income (about $78,000) to negotiate a severance and be free.


At some point in every value chain, value has to be created by a real human. No argument there. However, who says that a human has to deliver that value? Some very smart humans put in the work to create Google, but for the most part, they don’t have to do any work to deliver value to you, whether it’s search results or GMail or Maps. Your landlord put in a lot of work to afford the apartment you live in, to remodel it, and even to find you as a tenant. But now, he doesn’t have to do any work to deliver value to you: you wake up every morning in the apartment whether or not he works.
You need to decide which machines you want to run, get the necessary licenses to operate them (you're selling items so you need to get sales licenses and whatnot from your state), buy the machines and a truck for the items in the machines, find a supplier of the products, and then finally you can secure locations. Finally, you need to service them periodically or hire someone to service them.

I read about early withdrawal penalties on IRAs/401Ks very often. Almost always with a statement of “locked up” or “can’t touch” until 59.5. I’m sure you and well informed readers as well know about SEPPs in regard to IRAs/401Ks. For those that don’t SEPPs aren’t perfect but they are a way to tap retirement funds penalty free and I will be using in the future as I have over half of my equity investments within retirement accounts. South of a mil, North of a half. Let me add that I think your blog is outstanding.
For someone my age, I have an extremely low risk portfolio of mutual funds, foreign currency, and bonds. It’s made a bit more risky by my recent exposure to cryptocurrency, but that’s the only “high risk” activity going on here. Nothing exciting, but it pays some nice dividends and beats the hell out of keeping money in a savings account. This is a way for me to hedge against the risk I incur by angel investing in startups.
The appeal of these passive income sources is that you can diversify across many small investments, rather than in a handful of large ones. When you invest directly in real estate, you have to commit a lot of capital to individual projects. When you invest in these crowdfunded investments, you can spread your money across many uncorrelated real estate ventures so individual investments don't cause significant issues.
In January 2018, I missed my chance of raising the rent on my new incoming tenants because it didn't come to mind until very late in the interview process. I didn't write about my previous tenant's sudden decision to move out in December 2017 after 1.5 years, because they provided a relatively seamless transition by introducing their longtime friends to replace them. I didn't miss a month of rent and didn't have to do any marketing, so I felt I'd just keep the rent the same.
Mike, I don’t consider the income from FS to be passive, as I’m spending time commenting to you right now. But since 75% of my traffic comes from search, the most traffic I would probably lose is 25% for probably a year. And then my search word rankings would probably slowly fade given frequency of posting new content is one of the search algo variables.

One of the things I'm surprised your article doesn't mention is the tax advantages of this type of investment. The depreciation and rehab costs (purchasing distressed properties) can be huge deductions to ones income taxes, which none of the others have. Then, along with the appreciation of real estate, this passive income investment outperforms the notion of maxing out my 401k as well.


Affiliate marketing. If you have a blog or website, you can earn a commission when visitors click on a link, or purchase something you advertise or recommend on your website, either on Amazon or another participating vendor. The cost to maintain your blog should be about $10 for the domain name, plus about $100 annually for hosting, says Michael Alexis, growth marketer and consultant in New York.
Quick question. I’m 21 years old and currently working full time (50 hours a week averaging about 12 dollars an hour. I was working 35 making enough to get by and save a little, but I read your post on the notion of working more than 40 to get ahead and decided a third job was best while I’m getting residency to get lower- instate tuition at OSU. So props, you had a direct influence on my life.)
At age 55, I own high-end rental properties (near the beach) and commercial buildings servicing the medical industry. I was widely criticized during my career for not living up to my income; that is, buying big homes with many fancy cars. I married a great woman who understood that saving and investing today meant a better lifestyle and more freedom tomorrow. Our passive income is half of my active income from sales, but my net worth has increased substantially. We are both happier and healthier than we were in the high-stress pressure cooker of franchise sales. The naysayers have become converts to the concept of passive income, but they have locked themselves into a “big hat, no cattle” lifestyle. It has been a great ride!
Nearly every “9 to 5” worker (nothing against them) is a service worker. The definition of a service is a commodity where the value is created and consumed at the same time — think massages, for example. They create value — inputting purchase orders, serving customers, managing employees, etc — for a company or employer. The employer then consumes these services simultaneously.
Add Leverage (Mortgage) and you greatly increase the ROI especially from the perspective of using Rents (other peoples money) to pay down the mortgage and increase your equity in the property over time. At this point then yes price appreciation is secondary bonus and we have an arguement of how and why Real Estate can be better than Growth Stocks in some scenarios and for some investors.
I’m a disabled Veteran, although looking at me you couldn’t tell, who is a stay at home husband. I help other veterans with their applications for benefits to the VA when I can but some of these vets and myself struggle at times with maintaining steady employment. I would be especially grateful if I could trade emails to coresond with you in hopes to learn a bit more about passive income. I would like to utilize this for myself and be able to mentor other vets on this process. I do understand this is NOT a get rich quick thing, but a slow and steady build up. Thank you for your time.

At age 55, I own high-end rental properties (near the beach) and commercial buildings servicing the medical industry. I was widely criticized during my career for not living up to my income; that is, buying big homes with many fancy cars. I married a great woman who understood that saving and investing today meant a better lifestyle and more freedom tomorrow. Our passive income is half of my active income from sales, but my net worth has increased substantially. We are both happier and healthier than we were in the high-stress pressure cooker of franchise sales. The naysayers have become converts to the concept of passive income, but they have locked themselves into a “big hat, no cattle” lifestyle. It has been a great ride!


We usually think of Craigslist as a place to buy and trade random stuff, but Craigslist can actually be a great opportunity to sell your services online to an active and engaged audience. Simply check the “jobs” section and “gigs” section for specific cities and see if anything matches your skills. The great thing about Craigslist is that it is one of the highest converting traffic sources on the internet (think active buyers) which can mean more opportunities at higher pay.
When you buy a turn-key rental property you are saving a lot of time and work, by letting the turn-key company complete the repairs, find the property and manage the property. You are giving up equity in the property over buying one yourself, because you aren’t doing any of the work. You have to decide if the time you save is worth the equity you give up. Typical returns I have seen on turn-key properties have been in the 10 percent range.
Creating passive income is the key to retiring, especially retiring early. If you want to retire early with the stock market you will have to save a huge amount of money, because that money has to last so long and retirement calculators depend on you using your investment to fund your life. With passive income you will have income coming in as long as you own the investment, without every eating away at the principle invested. Creating passive income may take more work than investing in the stock market, but I think it is well worth the extra effort!
We have 1 rental at the moment and we are renovating the second one. Last year we generated over $14,000 net passive income (after mortgage payments and taxes) from one apartment, and all I had to do was go in to inspect the property 3 times to make sure the tenants weren’t destroying it! It turned out they kept it in perfect condition and they were lovely people! Call me lucky.
Now that you’ve chosen your market, find a way to start sharing your message, whether it’s a blog or podcast or Youtube channel, or whatever platform makes the most sense for your target market. Flynn says this is where you’ll start to build a fan base — and collect subscriber emails. You don’t need to get the whole world to follow you to make this work out financially. Wired cofounder Kevin Kelly wrote an article about 1,000 True Fans, which basically says that if you have 1,000 people paying you $100 a year, that’s a $100,000 a year. “You don’t need to serve everybody,”  says Flynn.
Nah you misunderstood me. I’m working 50 hours a week now to get residency and only taking a couple of classes. I’ll be working 10-20 hours a week when I go back to schoool full time a year from now. I tried working 35 hours and school full time but got burned out last year so no more of that. My grades are so-so. I got a 3.7gpa in all my GE’s and really on a conservative basis planning to remain around there which would mean 1 B for every 2 A’s. To get residency realistically I got to earn 300 dollars in taxable income a week for a year, and in the meantime am allowed to go to school part time given the fact that I can pay for school with the money I have earned within the period I began to establish residency, so no outside cash because my bank accounts will be audited at the end of the year.
One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. If you sign up and link up an investment account with $1,000+ within 40 days, you get a $20 Amazon gift card. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.
However, when you lack the money, you need time. You'll need to invest the upfront time now in order to reap the benefits of automatic income later. It just doesn't happen overnight. So don't expect it to. However, you can do this without quitting your day job. All it takes is some sincere effort over a consistent period, and voila! But, to get there, you'll need to consistently burn the midnight oil or get up at the crack of dawn. Your choice.
The craziest part of this was I’d wake up in the morning and there would be more money in my bank account, from people who had bought my book overnight. When you think about it, an online store that sells something that’s digital is something that’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Using tools, software and systems, you can automate the delivery process so you literally don’t have to do anything to serve that audience. That’s super powerful.
There is a big misconception about rentals & people thinking that it’s passive.. rental income is far from passive. Many people flock to buy rentals as a way to “retire rich” but realize shortly thereafter that it really isn’t that easy or true.. Ask me how i know. I have bought a lot of houses from tired and burnout landlords. Luckily, there are better options out there.
The most liquid of the private investments are investing in equity or credit hedge funds, real estate funds, and private company funds. There will usually be 6 month – 3 year lockup periods. The least liquid of the private investments are when you invest directly into private companies yourself. You might not be able to get your money out for 5-10 years, depending on the success of the company and upcoming liquidity events.

2 You are talking podcasts and a lady who commented above made the point people love to LISTEN to information. The data I have contains some videos, but they’re not podcasts as such. (Hmmm, maybe I’d better find out exactly what a podcast IS.) Do you think it would be worth my time to conduct this exercise as the vast majority of data I have is written information. If I’m too bloody exhausted after reading info to enact it, maybe my target audience – Net marketing and SME absolute beginners – would be too exhausted also? I’d hate to waste any more time and money than I already have.
One of the best ways to build wealth is to get a handle on your finances by signing up with Personal Capital. They are a free online platform which aggregates all your financial accounts on their Dashboard so you can see where you can optimize. Before Personal Capital, I had to log into eight different systems to track 28 different accounts (brokerage, multiple banks, 401K, etc) to track my finances. Now, I can just log into Personal Capital to see how my stock accounts are doing, how my net worth is progressing, and where my spending is going.
We’ve discussed how to get started building passive income for financial freedom in a previous post. Now I’d like to rank the various passive income streams based on risk, return, and feasibility. The rankings are somewhat subjective, but they are born from my own real life experiences attempting to generate multiple types of passive income sources over the past 16 years.

Hi Logan, thanks for perfect article on passive income theme! I am a newbie in this passive income thing but everything I read here seems obvious to me. Why not create a passive income, right? So I started googling about making passive income via internet because I like things connected to the web and I think that this will be a huge thing (it already is) and I found this article which seems that is probably very new but in the ebook there are great informations about passive income, at least in my POV (newbie POV). Is this a legit website or can it actually work? I want to expand on that because my 9 – 5 s*cks… Here is the URL: https://cashwithoutjob.online


You are also free to choose a fund that is based on any index that you want. For example, there are index funds set up for just about every market sector there is — energy, precious metals, banking, emerging markets — you name it. All you have to do is decide that you want to participate, then contribute money and sit back and relax. Your stock portfolio will then be on automatic pilot.
A perfect example of the Active Problem Solving + Automation concept is in my online courses I’ve created over the years, or my free webinars I’ve created more recently Each of my online courses and webinars are targeted to help people with specific problems, whether that’s in the area of affiliate marketing, podcasting, building a brand, and so forth. I am always improving upon the courses, but they are also evergreen for my audience.
Real-estate crowdfunding ($9,600 a year): Once I sold my SF rental, it was natural to reinvest some of the proceeds into real-estate crowdfunding to keep sector exposure. I didn't invest a lot in some of my favorite real-estate investment trusts because I felt a rising interest-rate environment would be a stronger headwind for REITs. But if I could be more surgical with my real-estate investments by identifying specific investments in stronger employment-growth markets, I thought I could do better.
For Tim, that was learning and writing a series of books, which he’s truly passionate about. For me, that’s traveling, learning, and working on startups that are “high risk” or have a long road to generating revenue. For you, maybe it’s spending time with your kids and not having to take overtime when it’s offered to you. In any case, the goal is to spend as little time as possible to cover your basic needs; if you want to spend more time to make more money, that’s always an option — but you want it to be an option, not a necessity.

Amazon affiliate program is a great way to promote physical products through a reliable, trustworthy, and well-known online store. The fact that everyone knows Amazon is probably their biggest advantage. On the downside, commissions are fairly small - they start at 4% for most products and can go as high as 8% depending upon how many sales you make. However, when you send someone to Amazon, you earn a commission on whatever they buy within 24 hours of clicking your link, whether they end up buying the product you promoted or not. So, for example, if you promoted a book but the person you sent to Amazon ended up buying an expensive camera as well, you’ll get the commission for both the book and the camera. This can add up.
Whether you take a “distribution” (aka free-cash-flow) in the form of a dividend, interest payment, capital gain, maturing ladder of a CD, etc, you are still taking the same amount of cash out of your portfolio. Don’t fall for the trap of sub optimizing your overall portfolio’s performance because your chasing some unimportant trait called “income”.
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!
Of course, you can make honst money in Internet info-products, or affiliate marketing, or other such areas where people tend to get drawn to "passive income" fantasies. But, to make real money over the sustainable long-haul, you must treat these like any other business. In other words, you must provide real value to real customers with a real need.
If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I wish there was a product that did this,” then invent it! Create a product, medical or otherwise, and sell it as a company or get royalties for it. It’s not impossible to figure out, I have many friends who have taken a concept to market. Don’t overlook an invention as a fantastic means of attaining passive income.
Do you think it’s possible to build a blog from scratch, outsourcing the work from day one (assuming I have some cash that can cover the initial expenses until the blog generates enough income to at least break even)? In other words, do you think you could you have spent your $500 max per month for the writer, social media expert, etc to build your blog to the point it’s earning the same amount of money it does now?
Logan is a CPA with a Masters Degree in Taxation from the University of Southern California. He has been featured in publications such as Debt.com. He has nearly 10 years of public accounting experience, including 5 with professional services firm Ernst & Young where he consulted with multinational companies and high net worth individuals on their tax situations. He launched Money Done Right in 2017 to communicate modern ideas on earning, saving, and investing money.
Hi there. I am new here, I live in Norway, and I am working my way to FI. I am 43 years now and started way to late….. It just came to my mind for real 2,5years ago after having read Mr Moneymoustache`s blog. Fortunately I have been good with money before also so my starting point has been good. I was smart enough to buy a rental apartment 18years ago, with only 12000$ 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.
Amazon affiliate program is a great way to promote physical products through a reliable, trustworthy, and well-known online store. The fact that everyone knows Amazon is probably their biggest advantage. On the downside, commissions are fairly small - they start at 4% for most products and can go as high as 8% depending upon how many sales you make. However, when you send someone to Amazon, you earn a commission on whatever they buy within 24 hours of clicking your link, whether they end up buying the product you promoted or not. So, for example, if you promoted a book but the person you sent to Amazon ended up buying an expensive camera as well, you’ll get the commission for both the book and the camera. This can add up.
Your articles are so in-depth and helpful, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I am a 22-yr old finishing my last semester of college, studying Computer Science and Psychology. I’m in a really good place with my finances (2k savings, no student debt, only expenses essentially rent, groceries, and utilities) and I want to get ahead financially so I can pay my parents back and save up a lot.

So, armed with my real estate license and this desire to help physicians (and create a business at the same time), I started a real estate company called Curbside Real Estate. My goal was to help physicians buy and sell homes by connecting them to trusted realtors and lenders. It started organically, largely through word of mouth. Next thing you know, I was helping doctors from coast to coast. The business was great and I felt I was making an impact helping physicians, but I still wanted to own my own real estate investment properties.


Active income, on the other hand, involves earning money in exchange for a service. It could be a salary, an hourly wage, commissions, or tips. It’s essentially a trade of your time for a fixed dollar amount. Most people choose to live this way, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, as long as you understand that there will be a limit to how much money you can realistically earn.

When a taxpayer records a loss on a passive activity, only passive activity profits can have their deductions offset instead of the income as a whole. It would be considered prudent for a person to ensure all the passive activities were classified that way so they can make the most of the tax deduction. These deductions are allocated for the next tax year and are applied in a reasonable manner that takes into account the next year's earnings or losses.
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