15 passive income ideas using upfront money: make money work for you

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This article will list passive income ideas using upfront money to build wealth. The more money you invest, the more you will get in passive income. 

It is the result of 1 week research online coupled to years of experience that let me be financially secure.

The Internal Revenue System has done a study on passive income [1]. The whole goal in passive income is to not be actively involved to generate the income. It means ideally to set it and forget it. This does not include active time consuming activities like stock picking, active real estate management or online courses.

The Gist (“Too Long Didn’t Read” version of the article)

Most online platforms listed in this article show average returns. That is the percentage of the amount invested that can be earned in a year if money is deposited there. The financial upfront investment can be in cash you have or things you can rent.

Here below the 15 ideas analyzed:

  1. Advertising in your car, home or building
  2. CD or Bond Ladder/Annuities
  3. Dividend stocks/ETFs/index Funds
  4. Flip websites/domain names/Build website
  5. High yield CD/saving account/money market
  6. Invest automatically in stocks with robo advisors
  7. P2P lending
  8. REITs/Crowdfunding Real Estate
  9. Rental Income/storage space/property value appreciation
  10. Rent car/car sharing/parking space
  11. Rent home (AirBnB), unused space
  12. Rent household items (sell your stuff)
  13. Saving apps/cashback sites
  14. Buy a Passive Business
  15. Cryptos and alternative investments

1 Advertising in your car, home or building

If you are a long-time commuter, you can get into an advertising campaign. Avoid untrustworthy ad campaigns. For that, use reliable tools like Carvertise. This site claims that their users can earn from $350 to $1,500 per ad campaign. Wrapify on the other hand pays progressively as its users drive more and more. It offers different payment amounts (from $170 to $450 per month) based on how much advertising covers the car. One third site is Vugo and pays up to $300 per month.

2 CD or Bond Ladder/Annuities

“Ladder” refers to the different duration. For instance, for bonds, they can be composed of periods of 1, 3, 5, 7 and 10 years. In that case, when the first bond matures (that of 1 year), the “ladder” still contains bonds that will mature in 2, 4, 6 and 9 years. This is useful because it reduces  the risk of reinvesting money when bonds offer too low interest payments. These principles can be applied to CD ladder, bond ladder or annuities ladder.

The 3 options (bonds, CDs and annuities) offer low returns but also low risks involved. As they are penalties for withdrawing the money before the agreed duration, use only money you know you will not need in the short term. Any alternative could include fees. To avoid them, pay attention to the related fees and withdrawal conditions. As examples, Cit Bank and Ally Bank have no penalty for CD withdrawal after 6 days of deposit.

Bonds

Bonds are created by governments and enterprises as a means of getting the financing they need. Two of their key factors are the interest rate and the bond duration. The interest rate states how much money will be paid to the investor who bought the bond. The duration states when the bond reaches maturity and expires. Bonds are considered fixed income and a good way to limit the volatility of other asset classes like stocks. The New York University states the bond returns range between 1% to 4% [2].

Municipal bonds can be tax free if you live in the city issuing the bond. For instance you can live in New York and acquire BlackRock’s New York Municipal Opportunities Fund. This is a good example of bonds grouped in funds. Not only individual bonds. In general, funds are useful for people not having the time to analyze individual bonds. Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) can also group bonds and can have lower fees than mutual funds. Examples of bond mutual funds include Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund (VBMFX) and Vanguard Short-Term Investment Grade Fund (VFSTX). Bond ETFs examples are Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (BND) and Fidelity Corporate Bond ETF (FCOR).

One risk with bonds is the one linked to interest rate risk. In the context of rising interest rates, the bonds’ value will decrease because investors will acquire mostly newer and newer bonds.

Consider that treasury bonds are backed by the federal government. On the contrary, corporate bonds rely on a company. So, bonds’ buyers could lose their money if the company defaults.

Certificates of Deposit (CDs) and Annuities

They are similar to savings with a peculiarity. The certificates’ owners are not allowed to use the funds on the certificates before their planned duration (maturity) ends. The planned duration is defined at account opening needed to hold the certificates of deposit. The possible duration can be from a few months to a few years. Typically in multiples of 6 months.

Their return has been below 2% since 2011 [3].

To avoid the risk of losing money deposited, check whether the financial institution is insured by the FDIC. It covers up to $250,000.

  1. Dividend stocks/ETFs/index Funds

All of them rely on stocks, those are financial instruments that enterprises decide to offer in a stock market to let investors buy and sell them. 

3 Dividends stocks

To incentivize investors, many stocks offer dividends. That is a payment (typically quarterly) that is offered to investors who own those stocks.

Choosing the right dividend stocks is a time consuming activity. For instance, you should pay attention to payout over earnings ratio. If a company offers a ratio over 100%, it means that they are paying more in dividends than they have earnings. Most probably, the company will not be able to sustain those amounts for many years. Also, check the long term trend for a stock. Is it growing or decreasing recently? One example of dividend stock paying high dividend is Annaly Capital Management, paying 10.21% during 2021 NLY.

Keep in mind that holding the stocks for an extended period of time can make you qualify for long-term capital gains when you sell. That tax bracket is lower than income tax. So, do your due research on the IRS web page to ensure you comply with taxes.

In general, stock markets are impacted by economic context. They can be good and enhance progress but also impacted by economic downturns like recessions and corrections. Tony Robbins states that a correction happens once per year on average and a recession once in 10 years on average [4]. You could prepare yourself to expect those downturns without impulsively selling your assets that are worthy in the long term.

ETFs

To avoid the time needed for picking the right dividend stocks, it is possible to choose from ETFs. They group many dividend stocks and provide an easy way for investors to get diversification. One example of dividend focused mutual funds is Vanguard Dividend Growth Investors Fund (VDIGX). And for ETFs, Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (VIG) and Fidelity NASDAQ Composite Index (ONEQ)

Index Fund

Low-cost index funds like VTI or VTSAX have almost zero probability of losing everything thanks to diversification as Investopedia affirms [5]. Investing for 20 years in a passive index fund can beat most actively managed funds [6].

You can check the list of Dividend Aristocrats. This is the list of 65 companies (as of 2021 [7]) that have increased their dividends every year for 25 years. If one company stopped dividends during 1 year it will be out of the list. As of 2021, the company on the list with the highest dividend is AT&T [8] with 7.38% [9]. There is also a list called dividend king, for stocks increasing dividends for 50 years that you might want to consider. To simplify selection, there exist ETFs such as FT CBOE Vest S&P 500® Dividend Aristocrats Target Income ETF® (KNG) and ProShares S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats (NOBL).

Many tools exist to hold those ETFs in online brokerages like TD Ameritrade, E-Trade, DeGiro for Europe, M1 Finance and WeBull (offering 1 free stock).

4 Flip websites/domain names/Build website

Flipping websites is buying an existing website and selling it later for a higher price. If you love improving websites, this is a perfect choice. As you can improve it and then sell it higher. It is possible to provide services such as operational or social media consulting in exchange for a share of business’ cash-flows. Or you can directly buy a part of the business in a private deal.

Keep in mind that sites generally are sold for 24 times their monthly income. If a site generates $500 per month, you could buy it for no more than $12,000. It means that a $12,000 investment will give you $6000 cash-flow per year.

Be careful of not getting overwhelmed improving the site as it can become highly time consuming.

Concerning the tools, you can sell your website in Shopify’s Exchange Marketplace. And Flippa  lets you buy and sell over 6,000 sites as of June 2021.

5 High yield CD/saving account/money market

For those options, online banks offer typically the lowest fees. You can check whether bonuses are available on account opening using Bank Bonus. It is possible to earn up to 1.78%, but check whether those accounts are insured by FDIC [10]. Banks backed by FDIC are covered up to $250,000, money market not always [11].

You could consider tools like Chime, providing 0.5% return and Credit Union Netspend for 5%.

6 Invest automatically in stocks with robo advisors

When joining an enterprise as an employee, consider asking for company stocks as part of your hiring package. The company stocks could increase in value in the future. Another option is robo advisors. Based on criteria you define, it offers an investment strategy that can be consistently applied.

In the last 10, 20 and 50 years, the S&P has averaged 10% return [12]. So, to earn $100 per month you could invest $7.5k for 5 years with compounding or $5k for 10 years with compounding [13] .

This method avoids stock picking. Warren Buffett does it but he reads 500 pages a day of financial statements to know how to properly invest. That is considered active investing. 

Betterment offers robo advisors charging fees from 0.25% to 0.4%. They are lower than those charged by actively managed funds but higher than those charged by ETFs. Betterment offers no fee on the first $10,000 invested. Another alternative is Bloom, convenient for 401k as it identifies hidden fees in your 401k. They have fixed fees starting at $45 per year [14].

7 P2P lending

Peer to Peer (P2P) lending means lending money to people and businesses. Many people use these platforms as they do not qualify for a usual bank loan, so those can be risky. Also, crises like Covid make them even more risky as people might have a lack of income.

Prosper, offering an average 5.5% return starting at $25 per loan. It lets you analyze historical data of prospective borrowers. That lets you avoid high indebted individuals having high debt-to-income ratios or low incomes.

Worthy bonds, offering an average 5% return (Not FDIC insured).

PeerStreet, claiming a median 8.2% return [15].

MyConstant offers loans backed with a collateral (cryptos are guarantees of payment). Nevertheless, it is not FDIC insured. It claims return can be up to 7% and 4% for  depositing USD [16, 17]. You can use a pool of loans, as opposed to Prosper, where you invest in 1 loan at a time for a given amount.

8 REITs/Crowdfunding Real Estate

REITs stands for Real Estate Investment Trust. This means that a company acquires and manages real estate on behalf of investors. From the income they get, REITs are obliged to give at least 90% to shareholders. That must be done to avoid being taxed as a partnership (no corporate tax needed) [18]. REITs investors are then able to diversify their investments in real estate instead of buying one single property. Owning and managing one property is expensive, lacks diversification and is time consuming to  manage it directly. REITs let investors avoid all that.

It is also possible to use ETFs that contain REITs. This allows bigger diversification. One mutual fund is Vanguard Real Estate Index Fund (VGSLX).

Fundrise is open to non accredited investors from $500. They claim to have returns of 9.4%. [19].

PeerStreet is open for investors from $1k to lend money and finance property buying. 

Diversyfund is open for investors from $500. They invest in multi-family units such as apartment buildings. They improve properties in around 5 years while yielding cash returns and then sell the properties for capital gains. 

GroundFloor claims 10 % annual returns on average and is open to investors from $10. They repair properties during 12 months and provide cash returns to investors during that time. Their circulars and other documents reported to SEC are properly listed in their site.

Streitwise requires $5,000 minimum investment. It offers REITs and claims in its site have provided dividends over 8.4% in 2021Q2, despite Covid’s effect. They avoid complicated fees and state them clearly: 3% upfront and 2% on going [20].

For more advanced individual picking options for passive income, you could consider mortgage notes (also called real estate lien notes and borrower’s notes). This is a promissory note backed by a mortgage loan. Beware of tax liens and do your due diligence in research before acquiring them.

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9 Rental Income/storage space/property value appreciation

Rental income

It is possible to outsource property management and maintenance tasks to get a passive investment. If not, you might end up taking a lot of effort in managing property and tenants. The pandemic has added more challenges to tenants. Many might end up not able to pay rent. And due to legal protections and eviction moratoriums you could be forbidden to vacate the property.

Clearly identify your investment returns goal and the costs (mortgage, taxes and related expenses). For instance, you might want to get $12,000 in rental cash-flow. In this example we assume the monthly mortgage is $3,000 plus $500 to taxes and related real estate expenses. This means that you need to charge $4,500 monthly rent to reach your goal.

There are many online platforms like Roofstock for single family homes. Also, RealtyMogul is available for crowdfunding and has recently lowered the entry requirements to $1,000 for an average return of 5.4% [21].

US Farmland: Farmland, Farm Together, AcreTrader

For accredited Investors (yearly income of more than $200k): EquityMultiple

Storage space

1 in 11 Americans pay for storage space [22]. One tool to invest in it is Neighbor.com.

10 Rent car/car sharing/parking space

They are all related to cars. Keep in mind that a car’s value decreases faster as it is used. So, the income made from renting it should be higher than depreciation [23]. Check your insurance terms to be sure you are not losing coverage if something occurs when the car is rented. Insurers might ask for a special insurance policy for ride-sharing or car renting to honor insurance claims. That might add to the current vehicle costs like washing, insurance, repairs and maintenance, etc.

Renting comes with the risk of renters damaging the car. But to cover you from that risk, Turo is insured up to $1M if the car rented is bought after 2005 and has less than 130k miles used. Other companies for car renting are Getaround and HyreCar, which rents cars for services such as Uber, DoorDash and Instacart.

Parking space

Avoids the risk of renting a car that could be damaged. You could offer the space in public offering sites like Craigslist, LeBonCoin in France, PetitesAnnonces and Anibis in Switzerland, MercadoLibre in  Latin America, etc.

Stow It specializes in vehicle storage. The listing of your space is free and it charges a 10% fee on rentals. Other alternatives are Parqex, Curbflip, SpotHero (acquired Roverparking) and Pavemint that can vet users, insure and collect payments.

11 Rent home or unused space

Useful when you go on vacation as rental income can pay for your trip if you leave or just increase your income if you stay there but have unused space to rent. If your unused space can hold an event, you can use ShareMySpace. It lets you offer your available square footage to anyone. Keep in mind that if a renter wants to sub-rent to someone else, the owner’s authorization is required.

Renters could damage the property. But services like SpareRoom and Cozy help you advertise your space and identify bad tenants.

AirBnB is one of the most well known platforms to rent. It is available in more than 220 countries and has enabled 4 million hosts to welcome 900 million arrivals since its creation in 2007 [24]. The company has created “AirBnB Experiences” to allow users to host events, meetups, and tours in a city. AirBnB’s fees are 3% on every booking done through their services [25]. One alternative is VRBO, charges 5% per booking, and 3% additional if the guest pays with a credit card [26]. Another is Vacasa, which is  focused on vacation home rental .

12 Rent household items

You can rent items like lawnmowers, power tools, mechanic tools, tents, coolers, etc. Many platforms exist to rent those items. You can use them directly to rent or use them as a means to reach your customers and establish the renting separately. But know that there is a risk of property damaged or stolen and a liability for risky tools like power tools.

In any case, websites can be specialized on specific types of items like baby gear in babyequip.com. It includes insurance on items rented [27]. Others are Frindswitha and PeerRenters for all types of equipment and Spinlister for sport items such as surfboards , stand-up paddle boards, snowboards or skis. The company charges 17.5% on rental but claims its users can rent a bike for $500 per month.

Specifically for clothes, StyleLend put people in contact to rent designer dresses, and accessories. Also, RentNotBuy focuses on design brands that rent much more easily (Oliva, Alice, Eliza J, Chanel) than fast fashion (Forever21,H&M).

13 Saving apps/cashback sites

We all spend money. So why not get something back thanks to cash back apps, sites or credit cards rewards. For the latter, it is useful only if you pay off your cards every month. You could choose the one with a reward program related to your spending. For instance, if you travel a lot, a credit card that gives more rewards for frequent travelers could be better.

Avoid getting too many cards to not drop your credit score. And beware of apps that are not seriously concerned about privacy. Also, do not buy more only to get the cashback. The financial benefit exists only for items you were to buy anywhere.

14 Buy a Passive Business

Common examples are car-washes, vending machines, laundromats, food trucks, billboards, etc. 

Sites like Gumball.com let you buy vending machines. Then you are responsible for keeping it stocked to let hungry and thirsty people buy its items.

Companies like ATM Money Machine let people buy ATMs starting at $1,399 that can then be offered to the public and let their owners earn fees. They require an agreement with a financial institution and permits acquisition.

For billboards, FitSmallBusiness lists detailed estimates for physical billboards rented from $500 per month to digital ones going from $750 to more than $14,000 depending on location.

15 Cryptos and alternative investments

Cryptocurrencies can be stored to earn interest on them using platforms like BlockFi Interest Account that are not FDIC insured. On the contrary, Nexo has its deposits insured by Lloyd’s bank up to $100 millions [28].

Alternative investments include high-end art with MasterWorks that is opened to investors from $1,000 and fine wine investing with Vinovest starting at $1,000.

What is the next step?

Avoid trying all ideas at once to not feel overwhelmed. You might end up doing nothing. Conversely, pick one and establish a passive income source. Then build on it or pick another once the first is set and ready to go on without your active involvement. 

In the US, the IRS provides retirement plans for self-employed people. Retirement accounts typically have tax advantages like Individual Retirement Account (IRA), Roth IRA and Simplified Employee Pension IRA (SEP IRA) that let you contribute the lesser between $58,000 and 25% of your business income in a given year.

If you want to invest more time than money check our article on how to make passive income and ideas to make passive income.

Sources

[1] Internal Revenue System, Over the Top: How Tax Returns Show that the Very

Rich Are Different from You and Me; at https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/14rpoverthetopbournerosenmerkel.pdf (visited July 31, 2021).

[2] New York University, Historical Returns on Stocks, Bonds and Bills: 1928-2020; at http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~adamodar/New_Home_Page/datafile/histretSP.html (visited July 31, 2021).

[3] Business Insider, CD rate forecast for 2021: Rates will probably stay low, but they might increase later in the year; at https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/cd-rate-forecast?IR=T (visited July 31, 2021).

[4] Market Watch, 7 reasons why you shouldn’t fear a market crash, according to Tony Robbins; at  https://www.marketwatch.com/story/7-reasons-why-you-shouldnt-fear-a-market-crash-according-to-tony-robbins-2018-09-18 (visited July 31, 2021).

[5] Investopedia, Can an Index Fund Investor Lose Everything?; at https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/06/canindexfundsgounder.asp (visited July 31, 2021).

[6] Investopedia, Put $10,000 in the S&P 500 ETF and Wait 20 Years; at https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/022216/put-10000-sp-500-etf-and-wait-20-years.asp (visited July 31, 2021).

[7] Yahoo News, 2021’s Dividend Aristocrats List: All 65 Stocks; at https://news.yahoo.com/2021s-dividend-aristocrats-list-65-192002570.html (visited July 31, 2021).

[8] NASDAQ, T Dividend History; at https://www.nasdaq.com/market-activity/stocks/t/dividend-history (visited July 31, 2021).

[9] Investopedia, Put $10,000 in the S&P 500 ETF and Wait 20 Years; at https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/022216/put-10000-sp-500-etf-and-wait-20-years.asp (visited July 31, 2021).

[10] Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation FDIC, National Rates and Rate Caps – Monthly Update; at https://www.fdic.gov/regulations/resources/rates/ (visited July 31, 2021).

[11] Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation FDIC, Deposit Insurance Home; at https://www.fdic.gov/resources/deposit-insurance/ (visited July 31, 2021).

[12] Investopedia, What Is the Average Annual Return for the S&P 500?; at https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/042415/what-average-annual-return-sp-500.asp  (visited July 31, 2021).

[13] US. Securities and Exchange Commission, Compound Interest Calculator; at https://www.investor.gov/financial-tools-calculators/calculators/compound-interest-calculator (visited July 31, 2021).

[14] Bloom, Robo Advisor Fees; at https://www.blooom.com/robo-advisor-fees/ (visited July 31, 2021).

[15] Peer Street, Insight into Peer Street’s Loan Performance Q4 2020; at https://www.peerstreet.com/blog/q4-2020-performance-data  (visited July 31, 2021).

[16] My Constant, Lend money online to earn up to 20x better interest than a Certificate of deposit (CD); at  https://www.myconstant.com/lend-money-online-to-earn-interest (visited July 31, 2021).

[17] My Constant, Deposit money online to earn interest, compounded and paid every second; at   https://www.myconstant.com/deposit-money-online (visited July 31, 2021).

[18] Internal Revenue System, Instructions for Form 1120-REIT; at  https://www.irs.gov/instructions/i1120rei (visited July 31, 2021).

[19] Fundrise, Understanding Fundrise historical returns ; at https://fundrise.com/education/understanding-fundrise-historical-returns (visited July 31, 2021).

[20] Streitwise, Beware: Hidden Fees with RE Investment Platforms

How to Avoid Them; at  https://streitwise.com/hidden-fees-with-real-estate-investing-platforms/ (visited July 31, 2021).

[21] Realty Mogul, RealtyMogul.com Mogul REIT Lowers Minimum Investment to $1000; at  https://www.realtymogul.com/knowledge-center/article/realtymogulcom-mogulreit-lowers-minimum-investment-1000 (visited July 31, 2021).

[22] Curbed, Self-storage: How warehouses for personal junk became a $38 billion industry; at https://archive.curbed.com/2018/3/27/17168088/cheap-storage-warehouse-self-storage-real-estate 

[23] Car Edge, Car Depreciation Calculator; at https://caredge.com/depreciation (visited July 31, 2021).

[24] AirBnB, About Us; at https://news.airbnb.com/about-us/ (visited July 31, 2021).

[25] AirBnB, What are AirBnB service fees?; at https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/1857/what-are-airbnb-service-fees  (visited July 31, 2021).

[26] Vrbo, How is the pay-per-booking fee calculated?; at https://help.vrbo.com/articles/How-is-the-booking-fee-calculated (visited July 31, 2021).

[27] Babyquip, Explore: Baby Carrying Solutions, Clean. Safe. Insured.; at https://www.babyquip.com/carriers (visited July 31, 2021).

[28] Nexo Help Center, Security and Insurance; at https://support.nexo.io/hc/en-us/articles/360017628093-Security-and-Insurance (visited July 31, 2021).

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2 thoughts on “15 passive income ideas using upfront money: make money work for you”

  1. Ԍreetings! Very useful adviсe in thiѕ particular article!
    It’s the little changes which will make the
    mоst significant changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

    Reply

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