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One of the keys to building wealth is investing in income-producing assets. These assets make it possible to grow multiple streams of income, and they can also serve as sources of passive income that require little-to-no work on your part.
Regardless of whether you’re looking for a source of retirement income or just looking for ways to grow your wealth faster while you’re still working, income-generating assets should be a key part of your plan.
According to research done by Tom Corley, 65% of millionaires have at least 3 streams of income (source). If you want to join them in the ranks of millionaires, creating and developing multiple streams of income should be near the top of your list of priorities.
→ Related reading: Living Off Dividends: How to Use Passive Income to Cover Your Living Expenses
Table of Contents
Income Producing Assets
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular, practical, and realistic options for generating income from your assets.
1. Rental Properties
When you think about income-producing assets, real estate and specifically rental properties may be the first thing that comes to mind. Many millionaires have built their net worth by purchasing rental properties that consistently generate income month-after-month.
A rental property could be a condo or townhouse, or it could be a single-family home. Multi-unit properties, like duplexes and larger apartment buildings, can be especially lucrative for landlords.
Of course, owning rental properties can also come with a lot of work and effort on your part. If you don’t want the responsibilities of being a landlord, you can outsource the property management to make it a more passive source of income. You can maximize the cash flow and keep more of the money in your pocket if you’re willing to put in some work and manage the property on your own.
One of the nice things about owning rental properties is the fact that it can be done on a small scale or a large scale. You can buy a single rental property to get started, or just rent your own house when you move instead of selling.
A single rental property can produce some monthly cash flow, in the right scenario, or you could scale up and purchase many different rental properties to grow your empire.
Getting Started: Read How to Generate Income from Rental Property
Highlights of Rental Properties:
- Proven method for growing wealth used by many millionaires
- Can be done on a small scale or a large scale
- Requires a lot of work if you are managing the properties yourself
2. Short-Term Rentals
Instead of renting out a house or property to a tenant, you could focus on the short-term market for people who are traveling. This could involve turning your existing home into an income-generating asset by renting a single room or a unit, if the home has a separate unit.
Aside from renting out a room or a unit in your home, another option is to own a vacation home and rent it out. It’s possible that you could use the home for yourself and your family at times throughout the year, and then rent it out when you’re not using it to make some money from this valuable asset.
You can make very good money with short-term rentals, but typically, there will be more work involved because you’ll be cleaning the room/unit and turning it over frequently.
While it’s possible to make money by purchasing a property for short-term renatals, probably the best (and lowest-risk) way to get started is to rent out a room or unit in your existing home. You may be able to start making some money from your home with little-to-no upfront investment.
Getting Started: Read my interview with Riley on how to rent a room on Airbnb to read a great story about a couple that has turned their home into an income-generating asset.
Highlights of Short-Term Rentals:
- Rent a room or unit in your home or a vacation home
- Turn your unused space into income
- Requires work to clean the room/unit between tenants
3. Real Estate Crowdfunding
Investing in real estate appeals to many people, but the hands-on nature of owning property and being a landlord prevents many people from getting started. Fortunately, there are ways to invest in real estate with or without owning property.
One of the easiest ways to get started with real estate investing is through crowdsourcing. There are many different online platforms that allow you to invest in real estate without the need to own or manage properties, making it a great option for many people.
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Although a lot of different companies fall under the umbrella of real estate crowdfunding, there are a few different possibilities:
Investing in individual properties
Some platforms like Groundfloor, EquityMultiple, and PeerStreet allow you to invest in specific properties, but even within these options there can be a big difference in the projects.
Groundfloor is open to any investor and you can get started with as little as $10. As an investor, you’ll be providing money that will be used by flippers and real estate developers. Most of the projects are short-term (6-12 months) and on average you can earn about 10%, although the details vary depending on the specifics of the project.
EquityMultiple and PeerStreet are for accredited investors only. With EquityMultiple, you’ll be investing in commercial real estate with a minimum investment as low as $5,000. PeerStreet has a minimum investment of $1,000 and you can select from the available projects, with most of them being residential.
Investing in portfolios
There are some platforms that allow you to invest in a portfolio of properties, rather than investing in a specific property. The most popular platform for this type of investment is Fundrise. Fundrise offers a few different portfolios that you can choose from. The Starter portfolio allows investors to start with as little as $500. They also offer three different Core portfolios (supplemental, balanced, and long-term growth) that each has a minimum investment of $1,000. The Core portfolios allow you to choose something that fits your needs more specifically than the Starter portfolio.
Getting Started: The easiest way to get started with real estate crowdfunding is to invest with Fundrise. You can sign up in just a few minutes and you don’t need to choose the projects. You’ll be investing in a portfolio. You can also see this article for more options: Real Estate Crowdfunding for Non-Accredited Investors.
Highlights of Real Estate Crowdfunding:
- An easy way to invest in real estate without owning or managing properties
- Options are available for accredited and non-accredited investors
- Invest in individual properties or portfolios of properties
REITs (real estate investment trusts) are another popular way to invest in real estate without owning and managing property. The REIT owns income-generating properties and as an investor, you can get many of the benefits of owning real estate without the headaches.
There are many different types of REITs available. Some focus on residential properties, while others focus on commercial properties. Some are publically traded, while others are private. Private REITs tend to be very illiquid, so it’s not an investment that you should make if there’s a chance you could need the money at any time in the near future.
Getting Started: You can invest in REITs in many different ways. If you already have a Vanguard account, they have a few different REITs available. Alternatively, while it’s not a traditional REIT, Fundrise‘s eREIT investments offer basically the same thing.
Highlights of REITs:
- An easy way to invest in real estate without owning or managing properties
- There are many different types of REITs available
- Private REITs and non-traded REITs are illiquid and not ideal for short-term investors
5. Equity in Your Home
Through a reverse mortgage, it’s possible to turn the equity in your home into a source of income. Reverse mortgages will only be an option for a small percentage of people, and although there are a lot of drawbacks and things to be concerned about, a reverse mortgage can be a decent option in the right situation. However, those situations are rare.
Reverse mortgages are only available to homeowners who are 62 years of age or older. The homeowner can get money, in a lump sum or paid out monthly, and the loan is not paid until the home is sold or the homeowner dies.
While details can vary, you’ll typically need at least 50% equity in your home in order to qualify for a reverse mortgage.
Another way to leverage the equity in your home for income is a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit, which come with fewer restrictions and qualifications than a reverse mortgage.
Highlights of Using Equity in Your Home for Income:
- Only an option in certain situations
- Generally not advised, but can be a good solution in the right situation
- Can provide a lump sum of cash or an ongoing income
6. Dividend Stocks
The stock market is, of course, one of the most popular types of investments. Whether you prefer to purchase individual stocks or invest through mutual funds or ETFs, the stock market is a great way to build wealth.
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Some companies pay dividends to shareholders, which can be either reinvested to buy more shares, or paid out as cash. Many of the companies that consistently pay dividends to shareholders are huge, well-known brands that have been around for a very long time. These types of stocks tend to be less volatile than the stock market as a whole, and they are often viewed as a great long-term buy-and-hold investment.
Highlights of Dividend Stocks:
- Dividends can be reinvested or taken as cash
- Good long-term investment
7. Peer-to-Peer Lending
If you like alternative investments, Peer-to-peer lending platforms like Prosper and Lending Club allow investors and borrowers to match up and skip the bank. Borrowers typically get better deals than they could get through a bank (or maybe they couldn’t get approved by a traditional bank), and lenders are able to earn a nice interest rate by serving as the bank.
There is definitely some risk involved in peer-to-peer lending, but you’ll have the freedom to select the level of risk that you’re willing to accept. Of course, higher risk means higher interest rates and (potentially) higher rewards.
Getting started: Getting started with peer-to-peer lending is pretty easy. You’ll create an account at Prosper or Lending Club and you can choose the borrowers that you want to lend to. Both platforms also make it easy for you to enter your preferred criteria to let the platform find the appropriate investment opportunities without dedicated time to going through the details of each borrower. Prosper allows you to start investing with as little as $25, while Lending Club has an initial investment minimum of $1,000.
Highlights of Peer-to-Peer Lending:
- Choose the level of risk that you are willing to accept
- Get started with as little as $25
- Earn money as borrowers pay back the loan each month
8. Low-Maintenance Business
Owning a business can be a great way to generate income, and there are some types of businesses that tend to be low-maintenance. These businesses can be ideal for producing extra income without interfering too much with your existing life or job.
While there are a lot of different possibilities (see this list of low maintenance businesses for plenty of ideas), here are a few common choices:
- Vending machines
- Car washes
- Storage facilities
These types of businesses aren’t extremely dependent on the owner or employees to function. Of course, there will be some work involved, but they can be more passive than many other types of businesses.
Some types of franchises could also fall into this category, especially if you own the business and you’re hiring others to manage it.
Getting started: You could either buy an existing business or start your own. Options like laundromats, car washes, and storage facilities will require land or a storefront, so you would need to lease or buy the appropriate land or facility. A vending machine business is easier to get started because you can buy one machine, find a place to put it, and stock it.
Highlights of Low-Maintenance Businesses:
- The goal is to own a business that runs with very little human involvement
- Ideally, the business will generate income for you mostly on autopilot
- You could grow and expand as you have success with your first one
9. Online Business
Another type of business that has the potential for passive income is an online business. Although plenty of online businesses require a lot of work and effort to keep them moving forward, some other business models are better suited to generate income without turning into a full-time job.
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There are several different options and it won’t be possible to cover them all here, but these are a few that you could turn to an online business to produce income:
Buy Existing Websites and Blogs
A lot of work and effort goes into building a profitable and successful website, but you can skip that stage by purchasing an established online business that is already profitable. Of course, you’ll need some capital to invest, but in the right situation, it can be a great investment that outperforms more traditional investments. Once you purchase the website/business, you could outsource any work that you’re not willing or able to do on your own.
Start a Niche Website
While blogging gets a lot of attention as a great way to make money online, running a blog can be high maintenance. A much lower-maintenance alternative is to create a niche website instead.
A niche website is similar to a blog, but the content is highly focused on one particular topic. The main reason that niche websites can be lower maintenance than blogs is that the majority of your traffic is likely to come from Google searches and so you won’t have a lot of regular readers who visit your site frequently waiting for new content. If you’re busy and you have no time to publish anything new, it’s not a big deal with a niche website. Also, the types of content published on niche websites are easier to outsource, so you may not be doing a lot of the work yourself.
To learn more, see my guide to building niche websites here.
Sell a Digital Product
Digital products, like ebooks, can be perfect for generating ongoing income. If you have traffic to a website or blog and you have a digital product that appeals to those visitors, that’s a great formula for generating ongoing income. It will take some time and effort up front to create the product, or you can hire someone else to do it for you.
If you’re interested in learning more about ebooks, please see my article How to Write, Create, and Sell an Ebook.
Getting Started: While buying an existing website is one way to get started, I highly recommend that you get some experience by creating your own website before investing in another site. Once you have some experience, you can think about buying a site. Niche websites are great for beginners and you can see my article How to Make Money with Niche Websites.
Highlights of Online Business:
- Some, but not all, types of online businesses can produce income without too much involvement on your part
- You can outsource the work to other people if you want to make it passive
- Niche websites are a great starting point for beginners
10. Private Equity
While private equity investing can be a highly profitable option, it’s not available to most people and so I won’t cover too many details here. A private equity investment involves investing in privately-held companies that use the capital with the goal of rapid expansion and growth.
Private equity investments are available only to accredited investors and in many cases, they will come with very high minimum investments. It’s a high-risk, high-reward investment. If you invest in the right company you may see an incredible return. But you’re far more likely to lose your investment since such a high percentage of startups fail.
Getting Started: If you want to learn more, please see How to Invest in Private Equity.
Highlights of Private Equity:
- High risk, high reward
- Not a realistic option for most people
- Don’t invest money that you can’t afford to lose
Bonds can be a low-risk way to earn some income. When you purchase a bond you are loaning money to the government. The bond will have a maturity date and as long as you hold it until the maturity date, you’ll receive the amount you invested plus interest.
The return you’ll get from bonds will be lower than almost any other option covered in this article, but bonds are also lower in risk. Bonds are also illiquid (generally).
Getting Started: You can get government bonds at TreasuryDirect.
Highlights of Bonds:
- Government bonds are a low-risk investment
- The return on your investment with government bonds will be low, but it’s safe.
Royalties are most commonly associated with music, although there are other possibilities as well (like art). Artists and musicians can make loads of money from royalties, but you don’t have to be one in order to profit. Whoever owns royalty rights is the one who will be making the money, and that presents an investment opportunity.
Investing in royalties is nothing new. Royalty rights have been bought and sold for a long time, but what is new is the accessibility for the average person. Royalty Exchange is a website that allows musicians to raise money by selling royalty rights to their music.
If you’re looking for an alternative investment that is capable of producing on-going income, this could be a great option.
Getting Started: You can create an account at Royalty Exchange and start investing in royalties very quickly.
Highlights of Royalties:
- It’s possible to make a lot of ongoing income from royalties
- Royalty Exchange makes it easy to get started
- Like any other investment, it’s a good idea to understand the investment before investing
An annuity is an insurance product that requires you to make either a lump sum payment or a series of scheduled payments. In return, you’ll receive regular disbursements (such as monthly) in the future. The primary purpose of an annuity is to provide income after retirement.
Annuities can provide a fixed income or they can be variable. Fixed annuities are invested in bonds and will provide lower returns while variable annuities are likely to be invested in mutual funds, with the goal of a higher return.
To learn more about annuities, please read How Do I Know if Buying an Annuity is Right for Me?
Highlights of Annuities:
- There are a lot of varying opinions when it comes to annuities, but they can be a good choice in the right situation
- Be aware of fees involved
- Work with a trusted advisor (not a salesperson) before purchasing an annuity
A car is generally not an asset that will produce income for you. However, there are a few ways to change that.
The first option is to rent out your car when you are not using it. Websites like Turo and Getaround allow you to list your car for rent, and you have full control over when it is available. Depending on when and how often you need the car, you may be able to rent it out at times and still have use of it when you need it.
The second option is to place advertisements on your car. Companies like Wrapify and Carvertise allow you to make up to $400+ per month if you are willing to allow advertisers to put their ads on your car. The most lucrative ads are full wraps that will cover your entire car.
Getting Started: Complete forms at Wrapify and Carvertise to see if there are opportunities to put ads on your car. If you’re interested in renting your car, simply create a profile and list it at either Turo or Getaround.
Highlights of Using Your Car for Income:
- You can generate income from an asset that typically does not produce income
- Renting out your car can be lucrative, but it may or may not fit with your schedule and your needs
- Placing ads on your car is a great option if you live and work in a high-traffic area
15. RV or Camper
Do you own an RV or camper? If so, you probably only use it at limited times throughout the year (unless you live in it). Most RV and camper owners will use it only for a few weeks out of the year, and then it sits the rest of the time.
You can turn your RV or camper into an income-generating asset by renting it out. It may sound complicated, but it really doesn’t have to be. You might even be able to rent it to people you know a few times per year. Even a few rentals could bring in enough money to help offset some of the expenses of owning it.
There are also a number of websites that make it easy for you to list your RV or camper for rent, and you might be surprised at how much money you can make.
- RVshare – Earn $120 – $365 per day.
- Outdoorsy – Estimates $420 – $840 per rental.
- Campanda – Earn up to $45,000 per year.
- U Rent Me – List RVs, boats, ATVs, motorcycles, and more.
I’m not suggesting that you should go out and buy an RV for the purpose of making money by renting it out, but if you already have an RV or camper, you own an asset that is capable of producing some extra income for you. And if you are considering purchasing one for your family, maybe this is a way to make it more affordable.
Getting Started: Create a listing on any of the sites above so renters can find you and your RV or camper.
→ Related reading: 20 Things You Can Rent Out for Extra Money
Highlights of Renting Out an RV or Camper:
- Turn a stagnant asset into an income-producing asset
- RVs and campers can bring in a nice amount of money from rentals
- There are a lot of people looking to rent RVs and campers
If you own land, there are some ways that you can use it to make money. Of course, it depends on factors like the location, size of the land, and characteristics of the land. Here are a few options that may be possible.
Rent it Out to Pet Owners
Sniffspot is a website that allows you to list your yard or land and dog owners can pay to bring their dog. Of course, you’re more likely to have success with this closer to urban areas where land is harder to come by.
Rent it Out to Farmers
Shared Earth helps to match landowners with farmers. You can list your land to make it more visible for farmers who might want to rent it. You can also rent it privately if you’re able to find a renter.
If you have a yard, but not enough land for a farm, you may be able to rent it out to someone who wants a garden. You can list it at YardYum and others will be able to find it when they are looking for a place to start a garden.
→ Related reading: How to Invest in Farmland
Rent it Out for Storage
There are a few different ways that you could rent out your land for storage. Many people who own RVs, campers, boats, and other large vehicles will need to rent a place to park it. You can make decent money by offering up some of your available land for this purpose. You can list your space on Stow It or rent it out privately.
Do you have a barn, garage, or shed that you could rent out for storage? If so, you could rent it privately or list it at sites like Store At My House and Neighbor.
If you have a large wooded lot, you may be able to make some money by selling timber. Likewise, if you have the land, you can also plant and grow trees with the goal of selling timber in the future (you’ll need a lot of patience).
If you don’t have enough land to grow large amounts of timber, you may be able to grow smaller trees and plants on your land. This article talks about 10 profitable types of trees that you can grow.
- If you have land, there are a lot of different ways to make money from it
- Your options will be influenced by the amount of land and the location
- Even with smaller amounts of land, you may be able to make money by renting out space for a garden or growing trees
17. Safe Investments (Savings Accounts, Money Markets, CDs)
While not the glamorous investments, conservative options like savings accounts, money markets, and CDs are also a possibility.
The problem with these investments and savings vehicles is that the interest rate is low, so you may not even keep up with inflation. However, the liquidity and lack of risk make these safe investments appropriate for many situations.
Getting Started: Online banks like CIT Bank have the best rates for savings accounts, money markets, and CDs.
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Highlights of Safe Investments:
- You won’t get rich with these investments, but they have a place in your portfolio
- Inflation may exceed the interest that you earn
- Savings accounts and money markets are ideal for money that you may need to access quickly
Using your assets to produce income is an essential part of building wealth. Regardless of whether you are looking to use your assets to generate money for living expenses or simply to grow your wealth faster, there are a lot of different possibilities.
While this is not an all-inclusive list, this does cover many of the most common options. Once you’ve read through the article, pick a few options that seem like a good fit for you and get started.
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