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- Popular passive income ideas include online courses, as well as renting out property, tools, and equipment to others.
- Payout amounts for passive income streams like royalties can vary depending on the medium.
- Even though the goal is passive income, there may be a bit of active work required at the start.
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Passive income isn't exactly money for nothing. But it can be a great way to increase your earnings outside of a regular job.
The idea behind passive income streams is that you can collect money from something you own — be it a rental property, dividend-paying stock, or even your automobile — without a lot of sustained effort. However, many passive income ideas may require a significant upfront investment of time and labor to generate profits later.
"All passive income projects involve some form of time, energy, or financial commitment on the onset," says Tiffany Grant, a financial literacy evangelist and host of the Money Talk With Tiff podcast. "Sometimes people will give up before it has a chance to truly take root and grow."
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With the hundreds of possible passive income streams available, which ones are the best for 2023? Here are 10 of the best ideas:
10 of the best passive income ideas for 2023
1. Dividend stocks
Dividend stocks pay out a portion of a company's earnings to shareholders on a regular basis, usually quarterly. Generally, companies that pay dividends have been around for a while and moved from the growth phase of their business and into maturity. For example, companies like Coca-Cola, IBM, and McDonald's have paid increasing dividends for more than 20 consecutive years.
Generating income from dividend stocks is fairly easy, as dividend payment amounts can be found on most brokerage apps as well as the company's investor relations pages. The catch is the amount of money required to generate a substantial income.
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For example, in 2022 Coca-Cola (KO) paid a quarterly dividend of $0.44 per share, providing $1.76 for each share investors owned throughout the year. Let's say shares of Coca-Cola were selling for $60, you would need to buy nearly $410,000 worth to make $12,000 in dividends for the year.
2. Bonds and bond funds
Investing with bonds or bond funds can be another way of generating passive income. Bonds are loan obligations issued by companies and governments to raise money from investors. When you purchase a bond, you are essentially lending money to the issuer for a set period of time, usually one year or longer. In exchange for the loan, the issuer promises to make interest payments throughout the life of the bond and return your initial investment. A bond fund is a pool of bonds managed by an investment professional.
Here is an example of how a bond would work: You purchase a five-year $1,000 bond from Company X with a 2% interest rate. Each year, Company X will pay you $20 and at the end of year five, you will receive your principle of $1,000.
There are different types of bonds and bond funds with different levels of risk and interest rates. Government bonds issued by the US Treasury are recognized as one of the safest investments available but generally pay much less than comparatively riskier options like corporate bonds. Also note that the face value of a bond can fluctuate based on market conditions, if you hold the bond to maturity you will receive the principle, but if you sell the bond before the maturity date the value could be higher or lower.
3. Peer-to-peer lending
Peer-to-peer lending, also known as P2P lending, is a financial transaction in which individuals borrow and lend money to one another without the use of a traditional bank. Peer-to-peer lending allows individuals to act as a bank, providing money (generally between $1,000 and $25,000) to borrowers and receiving interest in return. This is accomplished typically online through a digital platform or marketplace that connects lenders with borrowers.
4. Rent out your property or portions of it
Renting out a property or a portion of a property can be an excellent way to generate passive income or offset the cost of owning the property. Airbnb and Vrbo are some of the most common platforms used to list your property's availability to potential guests. Before you rent, whether through an online market or on your own, you may want to familiarize yourself with any rules and regulations in your area.
There can be parts of the rental process however that may not be passive. This is the case if there is a maintenance issue on the property and could require you to hire someone to attend to the issue or fix on your own. These potential costs should be factored in as you approach this idea.
Royalties are payments made to individuals or businesses for the ongoing use of their intellectual property, such as music, books, patents, and trademarks. These payments are typically a percentage of total sales generated by using the copyrighted material.
The amount that can be made through royalties will depend on the type of product you produce as well as the frequency in which it is used. If you self publish a book, you have the ability to change the price and have greater control on your income potential. But royalties on music can be different. For example, on some music streaming platforms it could take 250 plays for you just to make a single dollar. Keep in mind that notoriety and marketing can play a major factor in how much money can be made.
6. Renting out your car
Similar to renting out a home or a room, you can also rent your car as well. Platforms such as Turo enable people to list their cars for rental. Rental payments may depend on the type of car, its condition, availability, and mileage.
There may be some upfront costs in terms of cleaning and maintaining the car, but once listed you can begin generating an income. Keep in mind that some rental markets are better than others and that the type of car you list could be more attractive to certain buyers than others.
7. High-yield savings and CDs
In most years, putting money into a savings account or certificate of deposit (CD) doesn't yield enough returns to be considered a passive income stream. But things have changed with the Federal Reserve raising interest rates. Both high-yield savings and CDs were paying between 3-5% in early 2023. Both come with the added benefit of FDIC protection and without the worry of market volatility. This means that a depositor can earn a predictable return on the money added to the account.
It is important to note that CDs have a maturity date and if withdrawn before maturity, you could incur an early withdrawal penalty depending on the bank. Additionally, most high-yield savings accounts have a limit on the amount of transfers and withdrawals each month.
8. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is an online business model that allows an individual to earn a commission from sales through referrals. Through this method, affiliates use their website or social media accounts to promote products or services for other companies. When a visitor clicks on a link and makes a purchase, the affiliate earns a commission.
"I love that I can get paid for promoting products and services that I know and love," Grant says. Keep in mind that if you're using affiliate referral programs, you should disclose this to those you're marketing to.
The potential income through affiliate marketing can vary by industry as well as the brand. For example, some companies may pay between $5-25 for every person that signs up through your link, while others may pay $75 or more.
9. Online Course and Products
According to a McKinsey & Co. study, demand for online courses increased from 300,000 online learners to 220 million between 2011 and 2021. If you have a skill worth teaching to others, there is likely a market of participants.
"Although it takes some time, money, and energy upfront, once it is created, it's done and can make money in perpetuity," Grant says. That upfront energy could include synthesizing the information, recording, and editing videos and course materials.
Course platforms like Thinkific and Teachable allow course creators to offer payment plans to prospective buyers, which can provide a more stable cash flow over time. You could also opt for an affiliate model in which others can market your course and receive a share of the revenue.
If you're unsure about what topics to teach, consider using your professional background as inspiration. "Since I already knew how to create guides, infographics and templates for my students in the classroom, I implemented the same strategy to monetize my ebooks, newsletters, and other forms of digital assets," says Melissa Jean-Baptiste, a former educator and founder of the Millennial In Debt financial literacy blog. "I didn't have to go learn all new skills or take an expensive certification. Instead I leaned, yet again, into my education skills and used that to make money passively with zero to very little overhead," she adds.
Additionally, it's important to remember that course creators will need to continue to promote and update the course materials in order to keep up with industry changes and ensure relevance.
10. Rent Your Tools and Equipment
If you have tools at home, you can rent them out to generate passive income. Similar to peer-to-peer lending or renting out your car, you can rent out repair tools like saws, drills, and ladders for an hourly rate. Online marketplaces like ShareGrid is a marketplace for renting camera equipment and marketplaces like Sparetoolz and FriendWithA allow users to list their tools. For a much broader range of items to rent out, Rentle may be a good place to begin your search as items from baby strollers to bikes are regularly listed.
You may want to take into account any maintenance cost for the equipment and have insurance when appropriate. With the right rental market and demand, there may be opportunities to scale and expand your earning potential.
Kevin L. Matthews II is a No. 1 bestselling author and former financial advisor. He has helped hundreds of individuals plan for their retirement in addition to managing more than $140 million in assets during his advisory career. In 2017, he was named one of the Top 100 Most Influential Financial Advisors by Investopedia. Kevin holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from Hampton University and a certificate in financial planning from Northwestern University. In 2020, he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Master's in Technology Commercialization (MSTC).