I will share what we did, because it’s an incredible success story. We used an existing tax loophole where if you sell your primary residence (after having lived there at least two years) you get to keep your profit tax-free. So, we stair-stepped. We bought house after house, at least two years apart, used the profit money to pay down on the next house (so on and so forth, yadda yadda) building up equity as we went along… and now, we own a $600,000 house debt-free. And now we are using our paid-off home as leverage to borrow money to buy commercial buildings to rent out. I like commercial because it’s a BUSINESS transaction… kids, pets, other wear and tear that you see with residential rentals is nonexistent. People take care of their business space much better than residential. You have to be in a good area for renting out commercial – a thriving business community – to make this work. But that’s how we “made it”, and though it took 15 years, we will have residual income to take care of us when we’re old enough to retire. People made fun of us for moving so much, but who’s laughing now? 😉 Oh, and our child only had to change schools once (and we wanted to anyway) because we stayed in the same general area as we moved around. We were careful not to disrupt his life too much.
While these activities fit the popular definition of passive income, they don’t fit the technical definition as outlined by the IRS’s Passive Activity Losses—Real Estate Tax Tips. Passive income, when used as a technical term, is defined as either “net rental income” or “income from a business in which the taxpayer does not materially participate,” and in some cases can include self-charged interest. It goes on to say that passive income “does not include salaries, portfolio, or investment income.”
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In order to collect rental income, you will need to purchase real estate or own real estate. This would involve putting a down payment and then borrowing a home loan or mortgage (or if you have it all in cash, by all means!). If real estate prices go down and you sell, you will lose money. If real estate prices go up and you sell after collecting rent for a year, you will do well. Just like the stock market, the real estate market is cyclical and there is inherent risk in investing in real estate.
How can I make passive income easy?
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Passive income is earnings derived from a rental property, limited partnership, or other enterprise in which a person is not actively involved. As with active income, passive income is usually taxable. However, it is often treated differently by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Portfolio income is considered passive income by some analysts, so dividends and interest would therefore be considered passive. However, the IRS does not always agree that portfolio income is passive, so it’s wise to check with a tax professional on that subject.
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.
How can I live tax free?
You don’t have to invest individually to take advantage of dividend paying stocks (i.e. investing in an ETF like DVY, which currently has a 3.16% dividend yield – almost 4%). And while your math is indeed correct, there is more to dividend paying stocks that just the math. The reason the companies pay dividends is typically because of their underlying strength, steady growth, etc. These companies can be good investments for the long run. As such, it might not make sense to sell.
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If you put $500,000 into a candy store with the agreement that the owners would pay you a percentage of earnings, that would be considered passive income as long as you do not participate in the operation of the business in any meaningful way other than placing the investment. The IRS states, however, that if you did help manage the company with the owners, your income could be seen as active, because you provided “material participation."
Some people define passive income as money you earn while sitting on a beach sipping a good drink. But don't let the word "passive" mislead you, because there is usually a lot of upfront work involved. Passive or residual income is money you earn while not being actively involved after an initial investment of time and/or money. Some methods require you to have some cash to spend initially, while other ideas don't require any spending at all. Here are some suggestions on how you too can generate passive income.
Reinvest your earnings. You can grow your portfolio even more by reinvesting your dividends. This means that when you receive a dividend payment, instead of keeping the money, you use it to purchase more shares in the company. Consider doing this every time you receive a dividend until you need to live on the passive returns (perhaps at retirement). Your equity and in turn your dividend payments will continue to build during this time.
Understand what a silent partner does. In short, the silent partner is an investor in a business partnership who does nothing except provide their capital. This type of investor, also known as a "limited partner," has no hand in the daily operations of the business. They are limited in liability to the amount of their investment, meaning that they could lose their investment, but not more. This type of investment provides passive income with the potential to be quite large if the company grows. However, there is no guarantee that the other partners will follow through on the promised growth.
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Earning passive income is great but it can be tough in the beginning to see how amazing passive income is. Usually your contributions dwarf your passive income at first. This can make it seem like earning passive income isn’t worth while. But if you stick with it then all of a sudden it starts to snowball. After about 3-5 years your passive income will start to equal 1-2 months of regular contributions. This is where things really start to pick up speed!