Earning passive income is the goal for many on the path to financial independence. Passive income allows us to make money while traveling, spend time with family, and fulfill our dreams.
According to Dave Ramsey, passive income is “money you earn in a way that requires little to no effort.” Yup! That sounds perfect.
Here are a handful of ideas that most people can do to start earning passive income.
A quick note: many of these ideas require some initial work, but they’ll eventually become passive sources of income.
Truly Passive Income Ideas
1. Open A High-Yield Savings Account
If you truly want to earn money passively, opening a high-yield savings account is your answer.
While you won’t make millions, you’ll make a lot more putting your money in a high-yield account than if you kept it in a traditional bank.
2. Invest In Anything
Next to opening a high-yield savings account, investing is your number one way to earn money passively.
If you’ve ever listened to the Choose FI podcast, you’ve heard a few different ways to get started investing.
Brad and Jonathan recommend index funds, but there are a number of other ways to start investing, including:
3. Buy Everything Through Cash Back Portals
Since many people do a lot of their shopping online, using a cashback portal is easy and can save you money on products you were going to buy anyway.
Ebates is one of the most popular cash back sites.
There’s also Ibotta—an app-based coupon and cash back service.
4. Make Your Car A Moving Ad
Wrapify lets you turn your car into a moving ad. According to Wrapify, you can make hundreds of dollars a month buy having a company put its name on the side of your car.
All you have to do to get started is download and start driving. Eventually, you’ll be notified of companies in your city that want to put their names on your car. The more you drive after your car has been “wrapped” (been fitted with a company logo), the more you can earn.
Requires A Little Work, But Will become Passive
5. Rent Out A Room In Your Home (Or Your Whole Home) Through Airbnb
Airbnb is incredibly popular these days, and for good reason— Airbnb charges significantly lower prices than hotels.
If you have a room, apartment, or house you’d consider renting out while you’re away, you could make a good chunk of change for little work.
Of course, you’ll need to make sure everything is clean and you’ll need to decide how much to charge, but many folks who rent Airbnb’s don’t expect (or don’t prefer) to have a host, so you won’t have to stick around.
6. Rent Out Your Car
If you don’t feel comfortable renting out your home, you may be happy to know that you can now rent out your car instead!
New services like Turo will do most of the work for you, and you’ll earn anywhere between 60% and 85% of the trip price. They even provide insurance coverage.
7. Rent Out Your Parking Spot
I live in a city where nearly all in-town parking for apartment buildings is on the street. The few people that do have parking spots often rent them out if they prefer to walk or don’t have a vehicle.
If you have a parking spot you’re not using, why not rent it out? Try Curbflip to list your spot and find renters. (It’s the Airbnb of parking spots.)
Of course, you’ll need to make sure you’re technically allowed to do this. Ask your landlord before you start collecting cash on a parking spot that technically belongs to them.
8. Seriously, Rent Out Anything
If you think your car and home are the only things worth renting out, you’re in for a surprise.
These days you can rent out nearly everything you own to make some extra cash. Some examples are:
- Poker tables/Air hockey tables/etc.
- Camera equipment
- Your bathroom (yes, really)
The best (but also the sketchiest) place to list your belongings for rent is Craigslist.
Be careful though, a lot of weird things happen through Craigslist, so be sure you really trust the person you’re renting to.
9. Use A Rewards Credit Card
In the FI community, we are all for using credit cards responsibly and for our own personal gain.
Using a rewards card is a great way to earn passive income since all you need to do is use the card to make purchases you were already going to make and you can earn money back.
Some of my personal favorites are the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Chase Freedom.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is best for travel rewards, while the Freedom is great for general cash back.
10. Spare Change Apps
There’s an app for everything, including a few that can help you earn passive income.
Spare change apps take your purchases and round them up to the nearest dollar. Then they invest it or put it in a savings account for you—depending on the app.
Acorns is a great example of a spare change app. The couple of cents you get from rounding up each purchase is invested. It won’t make you a ton of money, but it’s something and it’s easy.
This takes a little work on your part, but once you have a working budget, you can save a lot more than you may think.
If you put all of your money to work in your budget, no penny will go unaccounted for.
Add a savings section to your budget and put that money into a high-yield savings account (see above) and you’ll see your savings grow in no time!
We recommend using the app You Need A Budget (YNAB) to figure out a budget that works for you.
When you put your mind to passive income ideas you start to see opportunities everywhere. If you can build some of these into real income streams it will make the journey to FI that much easier.
Requires A Lot Of Work, But Will Become Passive
12. Sell Your Photos (Or Art Of Any Kind)
If you’re a photographer, an artist, a woodworker, or any sort of creative person, you can sell your work.
I mentioned starting an Etsy store, which is a great way to sell things, but photos are a special case.
As you can see from this article, stock photos are constantly being used all over the internet. The good news is, it’s pretty easy to sell photos to different stock photo companies. Here are just 12 sites you can sell your photos to.
13. Self-Publish A Book Or Course
We’re fortunate enough to live in a time where you can publish your own work and actually make money.
If you write a book and want it published, you can do it yourself for a small cost. That way you can control everything from the cover of your book to how many copies you sell.
James Altucher has a very helpful blog post about how he self-published his first book.
Or, if academic courses are more your style, you can design courses for sites like Udemy.
14. Start A Blog
If you’ve got an idea you’ve been dying to explore, start a blog to document your journey.
You’d be surprised how many people have made quite a bit of money just writing what they’re passionate about.
15. Open An Etsy Shop
While starting an Etsy shop may not sound passive, it can be. If you’re a creative person, then you probably already make things you could easily be selling.
That’s why Etsy is so great—you can easily sell (for a small cost) your work all over the world! And it doesn’t have to be physical products. Here’s Kevin’s story about how he sells digital downloads on Etsy. Make it one time and then just let the money roll in.
16. Start A Youtube Channel
Starting a Youtube channel sounds a lot more difficult than it is. All you need is an idea to talk about (and it doesn’t hurt to have an idea that can host affiliates late on). As long as you have a little bit of computer know-how, you can record yourself and start posting videos.
As you can tell, this obviously requires some work, but if your channel becomes popular enough, you can enable ads on your video and start making a decent revenue stream.
17. Open An Ice-Cream Shop
This one may sound a little odd, but I know at least three people that have opened ice cream stores and then leave their employees to run it.
Here in Maine (where I’m from), summer is a pretty big deal since it’s the only time of year it’s not freezing, so ice cream is a huge hit and the shop owners make out like bandits.
If ice cream isn’t your thing, consider opening a different seasonal (or not) business. If you can grow it enough, you can always hire a manager to take over.
While yes, this does require work, eventually you could be making money doing little to no work.
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