If you like to be involved in the financial markets but have no interest or time to pick or analyse stocks, a good proxy can be dividend investment funds in the form of exchange traded funds or unit trusts. This put your funds in the hands of fund managers to pick out dividend stocks with dividends being paid out to unitholders. Similarly, there are exchange traded funds invested in basket of income instruments such as REITs with the dividends being paid out. For such diversified instruments, your risks is broadly market risks and volatility resulting from market fluctuations and industry wide risks.
As interest rates have been going down over the past 30 years, bond prices have continued to go up. With the 10-year yield (risk free rate) at roughly 2.55%, and the Fed Funds rate at 1.5% (two more 0.25% hikes are expected in 2018), it’s hard to see interest rates declining much further. That said, long term interest rates can stay low for a long time. Just look at Japanese interest rates, which are negative (inflation is higher than nominal interest rate).

Generating passive income requires upfront work. Some say achieving passive income is actually quite an active pursuit. Some paths may be. But then they may not be truly passive income investments. Acquiring a passive income producing investment can be very simple, even if there are many others behind the scenes doing a lot of work to vet, package, and manage that investment.
BankRate.com suggests that individuals need at least $250,000 in retirement savings in order to receive just $1,000 a month in passive income. Clearly, some will struggle to save that much, and few will be able to live on such little income – especially when you take inflation and currency devaluation into consideration. This calculation is based on a 5% withdrawal rate, which is also a similar rate of return mortgage lenders will use in crediting investment income when applying for a loan. While this might sound low to some, it may be incredibly generous given how much many have actually lost on other investments. The fact remains, passive income investments don’t require as much money as many think.
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REITs have been gaining popularity in recent years due to relatively low bond yields following the sub-prime crisis of 2008. REITs are exchange listed instruments which give you exposure to underlying investment properties and their rental income. REITs are mandated to payout 90% of their income to unitholders in exchange for tax transparency. Resulting from this, most REITs function well as income instruments given the bulk of their profits is distributed to unitholders.
You’ve probably heard of affiliate marketing before – it’s when you earn a commission by promoting a product. The product you promote online should be something you’re knowledgeable about and that you believe is high quality. Common sense, right? You’d be surprised by how many affiliate marketers forget that principle, but that’s a whole other story.
Many people talk about passive income and create the impression that you never have to do anything to keep that income going. The truth is that you will normally have to keep your eye on things if you want it to run smoothly. For example Richard Branson doesn’t run any of the 400+ companies he started but he goes over the numbers each day to make sure they’re performing well and calls the CEO if there are any problems.
Which all goes back to my point – since companies change in a lot of unpredictable ways, it makes more sense for passive income to just ride the market by investing in a Total Domestic Stock Market, Total Bond Market, and Total International index funds, with allocations that depend on your goals and time horizon. For income, withdraw 4% or less, depending on what research you believe, and you’ve got a pretty low risk strategy.
Dividends made sense 40 years ago as a relatively simple rule of thumb, but after all the work done by John Bogle with index investing, and academics with Monte Carlo sims and the 4% rule, dividend investing just isn’t the simplest, cleanest way to invest or receive passive income anymore. It’s actually significantly more risky compared to index investing, because dividend companies are a much smaller share of the total global economy compared to the broader indices.
The above seems simple enough, but it’s pointless if it’s not put to work toward calculating the actual intrinsic value of the company. And since the residual income valuation formula is an absolute approach to company valuation, it discounts future earnings to get to the fair value of company stock. To calculate the value of the stock, one has to add the book value and the present value of expected future residual income, discounting the cost of equity (illustrated in the first formula below with the symbol . For the purposes of valuation calculation with formula 1, the company will presumably continue to evolve toward maturity, or constant growth. Formula 2 below is for calculating Terminal value. Constant growth () from year is presupposed, according to the PGM (Perpetuity Growth model).
Hey Mike! Love this article. Recently, I paid off my student loans and am crazy focused on creating multiple passive income streams. Currently, all my passive income comes from real estate and because of your great articles on the subject I called to check out refinance options! I had no clue about CD laddering, dividend investing or P2P lending until two weeks ago when I started doing my research on where to put my hard earned money. I had been just saving it but when I looked at the terrible 0.01% return I said forget it! 2 % for me is a great way to start. It is better than what I have been getting outside of my real estate. Also, creating products is a must! I’m working on this type of royalty too. I find it so exciting to learn how to use your money to make money. Thanks and I will be sure to link to you when I start my blog!
I guess I just don’t understand why the specific importance of focusing on “dividends” instead of focusing on the total return of your investment, including stock appreciation. I don’t really care if a company decides to issue a dividend or not; presumably, if they don’t issue a dividend, then they’re doing other things to increase the value of the company, which will be reflected in the stock price of the company. As an investor, I can make money by selling a percentage of my holdings or collecting dividends, and I don’t really care how that’s divided up – it’s an artificial distinction.
Passive income is attractive because it frees up your time so you can focus on the things you actually enjoy. If a doctor wants to earn the same amount of money and enjoy the same lifestyle year after year, they must continue to work the same number of hours at the same pay rate—or more, to keep up with inflation. Although such a career can provide a very comfortable lifestyle, it requires far too much sacrifice unless you truly enjoy the daily grind of your chosen profession. Additionally, once you decide to retire, or find yourself unable to work any longer, your income will cease to exist unless you have some form of passive income.

As doctors, we most likely fall into the first category. We may be rich in the sense that our salaries are in the higher economic range, however, because of our expenses (houses, cars, student loan debt, private school tuition, practice overhead, etc.) and sometimes poor decisions, we have a tough time accumulating any real wealth. We’re also handicapped by the fact that we start along this financial journey relatively later in life.
I guess I just don’t understand why the specific importance of focusing on “dividends” instead of focusing on the total return of your investment, including stock appreciation. I don’t really care if a company decides to issue a dividend or not; presumably, if they don’t issue a dividend, then they’re doing other things to increase the value of the company, which will be reflected in the stock price of the company. As an investor, I can make money by selling a percentage of my holdings or collecting dividends, and I don’t really care how that’s divided up – it’s an artificial distinction.
As a private lender, you can lend to anyone in your social circle. For example, many home rehabbers need access to a source of capital they can tap into very quickly in order to fund the initial purchase of their properties. You can partner with a rehabber who uses your capital for a short-term in exchange for an interest rate that is mutually agreed upon.
One word of advice, and something I intend to do once I have the money saved up, is to build or buy out property that can support apartments or townhomes. One tough mistake some people make is buying a pair of homes to rent out and they get a nice $2,000-$3,000 a month but that’s it. Buying a house is expensive and the rental prices keep lower income families from potentially coming to you with their money to rent. If you have an acre to work with (more or less is OK too) you should be talking to a contractor to build apartments or townhomes. You will make a little less per unit BUT your audience grows significantly because now you can have college students, single parents, older folks, etc. all able to afford your rental units AND instead of capturing one $1,000-$1,500 a month payments, you can probably charge $700 a month per unit (or more, depending on the market) and build maybe 3, 4, 5, 10 units for the price of a home or two and now you’re making something like $2,100-$10,000 a month. It all depends on what you have to invest but if you’ve got $250,000+ I’d highly suggest you talk to a bank/investor that can get you in touch with a good contractor to build on a property and get permits and take out a matching $250,000 loan (I’ve read that $500,000 is plenty to build a good amount of apartments to start) and you can fill up your apartments and make a killing every month. You’ll have more tenants to deal with but if you’re competitive with your pricing you won’t have a hard time keeping tenants or replacing them.
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