If you want to stop trading time for money, there’s only one way to do that – acquiring income-producing assets. These assets work for you to make money 24/7! When you get enough assets that you no longer need a job, you get to retire and enjoy the fruit of your labor.
This post will guide you through some of the best income-producing assets, their pros and cons, and how much each can make.
- Savings Account, High Yield Account, or Money Market Account
- Rental Properties
- Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT)
- Own a Small Business
- Peer-to-Peer Lending
- Your Own Products
- And more
Savings Account, High Yield Account, or Money Market Account
All three of these income-producing assets are incredibly safe. Banks offer them to encourage you to save and keep money with them.
A savings account will pay you interest for holding money in the bank. Right now, this interest is incredibly low, averaging 0.07% across the U.S.
A high yield savings account is similar but with higher rates. They will pay anywhere from 0.25% to 0.61% for keeping your money in the bank. These rates are nearly always variable, meaning they change based on the market.
A money market account has a higher interest rate than your savings account. Money market accounts invest your money in low-risk assets like bonds and treasury bills. This strategy allows them to pay higher interest than a savings account. Historically, you’ll make 0-6.5% in this account. Presently, a money market account can yield anywhere from 0.35-0.6% annually. Money market accounts also require you to keep a minimum balance in them.
To put those percentages into perspective;
- $5,000 in a regular savings account = $3.50 per year.
- $5,000 in a high yield savings account = $12.52 to $30.59 per year.
- $5,000 in a money market asset = $50 to 100 per year.
Savings Account Summary
A savings account is a safe vehicle for you to use with your finances. It guarantees a small return, and your money will grow. However, it doesn’t do much to grow your assets. For perspective, you’re getting a free meal or two each year. Even at its best, maybe one trip to the grocery store. It’s safe dollars, but you’re not getting rich with money in a savings account.
|Yield||0.07% – 2% currently|
|Pros||Your money is safe. It’s in an FDIC-insured institution.|
|Cons||It doesn’t make a ton of money Required minimum balances|
A stock represents ownership in a corporation; you own a piece of that company and its profits. Stocks (also called equities) are traditionally bought and sold on the stock market.
Corporations will sell stock to raise funds to operate their business. Ownership is determined by the percentage someone owns of the company’s shares. For example, if a company has issued 100 shares, and one person owns 10, they own 10% of its assets and earnings. Owning stock gives you the right to vote in shareholder meetings, receive dividends (which are payments of profits), and you can sell your shares to somebody else anytime for a profit (or loss).
Stocks also separate ownership and operation. Stockholders do not own corporations; they own shares issued by corporations – this is a big distinction! If you have bought 10% of a company’s stock, you are not running 10% of the business.
Stocks are an income-producing asset because when the company does well, you do well. You profit by doing nothing! When the company finishes a year, they pay you some of their profits, called a dividend. But, it also means the reverse; if the company does poorly, the stock will decrease. This risk is the double-edged sword of investing.
Over the last century, the stock market has returned an average of about 10% a year. You should know a couple of things about this number.
- 10% is an average. This means the real returns over 5 years might be very different.
- You lose 2-3% for inflation each year. Inflation is the increase in price of anything you buy.
- Just because it’s been 10% in the past, that doesn’t guarantee it for the future.
How Do Stocks Have Value?
Think of buying a stock as purchasing a portion of the company’s profits. The stock market is trying to determine “how much will this be worth tomorrow, next year, and five years from now?” As that question gets answered, buyers and sellers agree on a price.
For example, if a company looks like it’ll continue to grow for five years, the price goes up. It costs more to buy the current and future profits of the company. When a company looks like it’ll do poorly, people want to sell because they don’t believe it will be worth owning the profits five years from now.
What Kinds of Stocks Are There?
There are a few different types of stocks you can invest in: individual stocks, index funds, and exchange traded funds.
The first is an individual stock – you’re buying one company (Google, Walmart, Amazon, Apple, etc.). If that company performs well, you do too, but if it doesn’t you’ll go down with it. Some people like going this route, but it generally isn’t the best strategy for those looking for passive income since you have to actively keep tabs on your stock picks.
The second form you can buy is called index funds – these track an index of stocks or bonds. It spreads the money out between companies, so you have less risk. If a sector (like banking or technology) goes up or down, the index shows that.
This spreading of risk helps protect you from one company that goes bankrupt or performs poorly. Index funds require a minimum investment and can only be bought and sold at the end of the trading day.
Exchange Traded Funds (EFT)
The third is called an exchange traded fund (ETF). ETFs are a group of stocks bundled together that trades like a stock. They are easy and affordable to buy. There are a few key differences between EFTs and index funds:
- You can buy and sell EFTs anytime
- EFTs have low to no minimums
- You won’t pay taxes on EFTs unless you sell and make money
How Do You Buy Them?
Stocks are typically bought publicly on the stock market exchange. You can buy and sell these on your own through several companies and apps.
Acorns helps you grow your money, one penny at a time. They round up each purchase that you make to the nearest dollar and invest the difference. If you buy a bag of chips for $1.25, they charge you $2 and invest the 75 cents for you which can be great for those looking for a passive investing strategy. It is easy, innovative, and trusted by leading investors.
Betterment wants to make investing easy. Sign up, select your risk profile, and Betterment starts investing for you. Betterment buys Vanguard funds for you so that investing is as easy as possible. Besides, they have built a way to minimize your taxes while maximizing your growing investments.
Charles Schwab offers anything and everything you need to retire. They charge $0 when you buy stocks, ETFs, options, or mutual funds online. Plus, there are no trade or account minimums. They have automated robo-investors that help you build and automatically invest for you based on your goals.
Robin Hood is a free investing app where you can buy individual stocks and ETF’s. You can fund your account, trade in real-time, get access to data, and build your portfolio. Swipe to make a trade during a break at work, or sit down and figure out how to make money with your investments – short or long-term.
Vanguard allows for all sorts of retirement accounts and ways to invest. You'll pay $0 when you buy or sell any Vanguard mutual fund or ETF in your Vanguard account. And your online trades for non-Vanguard ETFs are also commission-free. You can buy individual stocks and other ETF’s to your portfolio to grow your assets. Vanguard helped originate the index fund and attempts to have the lowest fees of any investing company.
Wealthfront believes that banking and investing should be effortless. To make that possible for you, they organize your paycheck into an automated system to take care of your life – bills, rent, safety deposit transfers, and investing. In addition, they work so that every dollar in your savings account is earning you money, more money than keeping it in a traditional savings account.
Stocks have been a great wealth builder for almost a century. Making money depends on your strategy as much as consistency. The stock market is highly volatile, subject to wide swings of highs and lows over years and decades, though, over time, it has consistently gone up.
That means the best thing you can do is invest consistently, over a long period of time. Keep in mind, making money is no guarantee. Only risk what you’re willing to lose!
|Yield||The stock market averages 8-10% growth per year|
|Pros||High historical returns. Easy to buy, sell, and trade. Low maintenance because you’re buying a share of the business, not running it|
|Cons||You can lose money. The value of your stocks can change quickly!|
You can think of a bond as an I.O.U. It’s a loan given with the expectation that they pay back more dollars in the future. For the most part, corporations or governments issue bonds. Each bond includes all the details like purchase cost (loan amount), due date, and yield.
Bonds are generally offered when a government or company wants to fund a special project. Cities often issue them for new buildings, maintenance projects, or school construction.
The big win of bonds is how low-risk they are. From 1926-2019, you’d average 5.33% returns and lose money in just 14 of those 94 years.
The cons are the lower yeild compared to the stock market. Additionally, bond yields don’t always keep up with inflation. This means your money is worth less than when you invested it so your yield can in some cases go negative. Finally, companies will occasionally go bankrupt meaning you likely won’t get your investment back.
How to Buy Bonds
You can buy bonds individually (like stocks) or in bond funds. Using any investing app or advisor will get the job done for you.
It’s said that “you buy stocks to eat well, but bonds to sleep well.” They are used to protect against stocks falling and provide regular income long-term.
|Yield||5.33% per year|
|Pros||Store of value – it protects your money against inflation and depreciation. Safer investment|
|Cons||Companies can go bankrupt. Bonds have low yields. Inflation can outpace gains.|
Real estate is a consistent income-producing asset. The basic framework is buying a property to re-sell or rent out for income.
There are multiple types of properties you can rent out. How to buy them, and strategies to get the cash to purchase them depend on the type. These can include commercial property, single-family homes, multi-family units, or apartment complexes.
When done well, these assets can pay off handsomely in regular income and generate returns when you sell.
Rental properties are a double-edged sword, though. When done poorly or during a crisis, rentals can quickly drain your finances, and you can wind up bankrupt.
Owning rentals of any kind is not easy. As the owner, you’re responsible for all repairs, billing, and maintenance. If you rent to bad tenants, you could have to go to court to force them to leave or be stuck with a destroyed property.
While these cons are real, with planning and work, it can be a massively rewarding business.
Types of Rentals
Since this is such a wide range of options, we’ve listed a few to consider.
|Commercial Property||Lease out to medical, restaurants, businesses, or buy warehouses|
|Single Family Home||As the name suggests, a home for a single family|
|Multi-Family Unit||Duplexes, triplexes, or quads|
|Apartment Complex||Five or more units that you are renting for profit. Maximizes scale.|
|Strip Mall||Find tenants and create a place a customer wants to be|
|Trailer Park||Buy an existing park or buy land and rezone for trailers|
|Storage Unit||Standalone units to rent out monthly|
|Short-Term Rental||Use a company like Airbnb to rent out a house or apartment short term|
How to Buy
Just like there are multiple types of rental properties, there are tons of ways to buy property. Traditionally it’s with a loan from the bank or private loan. Double-check the rules in your city for a down payment and work with a lender on the loan terms.
One of the best places to learn about real estate investments and how to get loans is BiggerPockets!
Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT)
If you want to invest in real estate, but lack the down payment, consider a REIT. They operate similarly to a mutual fund where a company owns multiple properties, and you buy a share of their work. This agreement gives the REIT money to purchase new properties and buy their income-producing stream with less risk. The management company does all the work!
These REITS vary just like mutual funds and can focus on one geographical region, property type, or property size. They lower your risk and money needed, plus pay you a regular dividend (share of the profits).
For the last 5 years, REIT’s have returned an average of 15.76%!
How to Buy
Some REITS are listed on stock exchanges. Any REIT on the stock exchange you can purchase through a stockbroker or one of the apps from our “stock” section. There is another company that specializes in this type of purchasing.
Rental properties are no walk in the park. You own them, you are responsible for them, and you need to maintain them. It’s active involvement before it pays off. It can cost a lot of money upfront to get that first property, but it can pay off long-term and pay for your life well into retirement.
|Yield||About 3% growth on the investment property and cash from renting Five year average of 15%+ for REIT’s|
|Pros||Can grow fast Tax advantages Monthly money into your pockets|
|Cons||Regular maintenance Work with tenants Can cause bankruptcy Expensive upfront cost|
Farmland is an underappreciated income-generating asset. There are two great revenue streams from farmland – crop yields (or rental payments) and land appreciation. Farmland doesn’t increase or decrease fast, so it’s an excellent buffer for your investments. In addition, it doesn’t exchange hands quickly, meaning you can buy and hold for a long time! According to the Motley Fool, since 1991, farmland has had a positive return every year, averaging 11.5% a year.
High-quality farmland can sell for as much as $10,000 an acre and leased to another farmer to use for crops. Less prime can be purchased for $1,500 to $3,000 an acre and often rents for $50 to $150 per year.
According to the USDA, average land prices for cropland were $4,130 an acre in 2018, while pastures cost about $1,390 an acre. Investors typically rented out cropland for $138 an acre and pastureland for $12.50 per acre. This gives cash yields of 3.3% and 0.9%, respectively.
How to Buy
There are a couple of ways to get into farmland. I hope you have some cash lying around!
Buy Land Directly
This method of investing has a high startup cost as you have to buy large amounts of land. Anything of value sells in large acres. For 50 acres, just for dirt, you’d pay $200k-500k depending on the land’s quality and farmability. Larger land units sell in the millions.
There are a handful of apps that bring together lots of investors to crowdfund buying land. Crowdfunding lets you use smaller amounts of your money instead of needing a massive down payment.
FarmTogether requires minimums of $10,000 to join. They buy and hold the land for a minimum of five years, and you get payouts from the property’s sale. If you have an investment advisor, they help purchase land for you as you must be an accredited investor to join.
FarmFundr has a similar crowdfunding model to purchase land. The minimum depends on the property but is typically between $10k-$100k. Just like FarmTogether, you must be an accredited investor to join.
Some specialty REITs focus solely on farmland. They buy the land and rent it to farmers. They do the work, and you get a cut of the profits!
- Farmland Partners
- Gladstone Land Corporation
As both are traded on the market, they are more volatile but require little to no work.
Farmland is a unique asset but, if understood, is an excellent hedge against risk. You can get land in multiple ways, so choose the best option for you to get this asset!
|Yield||Approximately 11.5% a year|
|Pros||Can rent the land for income Great buffer Does not swing high or low quickly|
|Cons||High startup costs Difficult to purchase as there isn’t a lot of farmland is for sale|
Own a Small Business
Small Businesses are often called the backbone of the economy. They are contributing to their communities by creating jobs, employing people, and investing in charities.
Small businesses can produce steady income for those who survive long enough to see the profits. Because this category is so large, small companies can be as little as a few thousand dollars to start, all the way up to hundreds of thousands to begin. Similarly, the reward can be a few thousand dollars to millions. Because the category is so large, here are a few ways to break it down.
Owning a franchise is a ready-made formula that you follow to get income. You get the benefits of tested products, supply chains, a recognized brand, and a track record that will help you be successful. Things like store layout, designs, or products to sell are complete, and you execute that plan. Success isn’t guaranteed, but you have a clear path to profits.
The disadvantage of owning a franchise is the limited authority. Also, there are startup costs. Those can be as low as $10,000 (Chick-Fil-A) to over a million dollars in loans or assets, just to begin. Then there are the ongoing royalty fees that you will pay to use the franchise brand.
There is also the time element to get it profitable. Some franchises require that you own and operate the business – i.e., you can’t buy it and let someone else run it.
Most people think of restaurants, but franchises aren’t limited to the food industry. They can also be automotive, retail, pop-up stands, and more. All have the potential to be income-producing assets.
Multi-level marketing (MLM) is an income-producing asset to pay your bills. It is a sales job where you recruit new people to buy products from you who also can sell them to other individuals. You get a percentage of any sales that you make plus a portion of your recruits’ sales.
Multi-level marketing is a legitimate business strategy, but not all companies are equivalent in their ethics, products, or returns to you. Some are complete scams, so do your homework.
If you’re wary of a scam, check review sites and testimonials online.
The positive is MLM can be incredibly lucrative, but it is work to make big bucks. Anyone who says it’s easy is a con artist. The biggest challenge finding companies that help and sell products in a way that doesn’t alienate friends and family. It is possible to do well, but it takes practice!
Buy and Own
You can simply buy a business, change nothing, and hire a manager to run it. When you do this, you’re purchasing an income-producing asset. This business doesn’t have to be an industry you even understand if you trust a manager to run it well.
As an owner, you’re responsible for the business even if you aren’t there day-to-day. It also means you assume 100% of the risk should something fail or your manager leaves.
The truth is, there are unlimited ways you can start a small business. It doesn’t have to be something that makes gobs of money either! The world is vast, and you can create a slice of the pie in ways others haven’t even dreamt of. Next time you think “there isn’t room for one more (fill in the blank),” think of how many restaurants, grocery stores, and drug stores exist.
Small businesses carry varying degrees of risk and can be excellent sources of passive income. If you know something that can generate passive income, create it or buy the existing business and take a portion of the profits.
The way to make money passively is to create a business to the point that you can step away from it. The other way to make money is from a payout when you sell the company or brand. Keep in mind that brands can be worth just as much as the business itself!
|Yield||Zero to unlimited|
|Pros||Lots of variety. Choose a business that works well for you You can be your boss Work on things that you already enjoy|
|Cons||You are your own boss. All failure falls back on your shoulders Startup costs can be high Lots of time|
Peer-to-peer lending isn’t a well-known income-producing asset. You lend money to individuals who (hopefully) pay you back over time. Sometimes this can be called “hard money.”
You may wonder – “why would anyone use peer-to-peer lending when there are banks?”
One reason? the bank has already rejected a client for various reasons – too much debt or not enough collateral. Maybe you have poor credit, and the banks won’t risk a loan to you. Another reason is the speed needed to get the loan. This peer-to-peer lending can be ideal for real estate deals where you buy a property and refinance after renovating. Finally, some people simply don’t trust banks and want to avoid them.
Peer-to-peer loans often have higher interest rates and shorter loan timelines. The interest rates can be 5-12% and timelines of 6 to 24 months. The high-interest rates are attractive but keep in mind, the investment is riskier, and you might not get your money back.
Peer-to-peer lending is a unique income-producing asset. It isn’t a poor strategy, just uncommon. Do your homework before using this strategy.
|Pros||Can help people in need Contracts mean you know what you should earn from the beginning|
|Cons||Not insured. Anyone who can’t repay is a loss for you|
Create Your Own Product(s) Online
One of the most incredible ways to get income-producing assets is to put your name on your work. It carries greater risk, but why wouldn’t you fully back the work you’re doing?
Coming up with your product isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. The product can be anything that you feel like you know well. If you already have a system for the way you work, teach other people how to do it. The internet makes endless niches! Your products can include but aren’t limited to the following:
Write an Ebook to sell. Amazon makes this incredibly easy to self-publish because no printing happens. You can list it on their website for a small portion of any sales you make.
Do you know your industry well? Every day people search for “how-to” guides – from work issues to “how do I fix a toilet that’s leaking?” Remember, if you’ve searched on the internet for anything, someone created the answer. You can make these guides in written form (blog or niche site) or video (YouTube) and monetize that content.
Courses are a step beyond Ebooks and guides but still a great product. These generally take a video camera, editing skills, and a site where others can’t pirate your content. A video course or class of some sort offers a great way to make passive income. Conversely, you can teach in person if you want more relationships with your customers! Check out a few examples of course sites as well as a few independent courses below:
- Teachable – You can build your course and sell it here!
- Maven – Learn from instructors in online, cohort-based classes.
- MasterClass – Over 100 classes in 9 categories to look at as examples to follow!
- Build a Second Brain – Learn how to take notes so that you never forget anything again
- Write of Passage – Accelerate your career by learning to write online. Build an audience.
You are the greatest asset that you have – what service can you provide that others want? This route is starting your own small business. It takes work on the front end and usually a long-term choice.
It’s disctinct because no one can replicate you if you are the product. An influencer of any type is this way. People like Tim Ferriss, Joe Rogan, or the Kardashians are all examples of this phenomenon.
There’s a great chance you won’t be at the level of a Kardashian, yet you can still build a following online. Start posting and get after it today!
Do you want to make a product that lives on the most extensive network in human history? If so, create something on the internet.
|Yield||$0 to unlimited.|
|Pros||You produce something valuable for the world It can sell forever online with little effort|
|Cons||It costs time on the front end You could sell nothing|
Cryptocurrency is new to income-producing assets and one that is impossible to predict. Some go so far as not even to call cryptocurrency an asset class. Even crypto enthusiasts admit – it will either be worth a ton or pennies, and there isn’t a lot of room in between that.
The biggest hurdle in cryptocurrency is the learning curve. If you want to use this as an asset that you understand, it’s a lot to learn. It takes learning how to trade, store your private keys, what each crypto is for, terminology, and lots more. Beyond that, there have been several public instances of Ponzi schemes and outright theft in crypto. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s an easy way to lose lots of money by accident. You don’t want to be like this guy who lost $220 million because he forgot his password.
The biggest positive of crypto – massive gains. For those that are lucky or understand it, you can make a ton of money in a short amount of time.
Crypto is so new that it’s hard to list it as an “income-producing asset” since crypto itself isn’t even old enough to get a driver’s license yet.
How to Buy
If you want to go the easiest route, use a crypto app that lets you buy and sell crypto without needing a deep education.
- Coinbase – Buy and sell crypto in as little as 5 minutes.
- BlockFi – Open a trading account, earn interest, or open a credit card with crypto.
- Gemini – Gemini is the most straightforward app to buy and sell crypto, with tools for beginners and active traders.
- PayPal – You can now use your PayPal balance to buy and sell select cryptocurrencies.
- Robinhood – You can purchase and sell select crypto through Robinhood.
|Pros||When you’re correct or lucky, you can make money fast|
|Cons||High technical learning curve Easy to lose money Incredibly unpredictable|
Some income-producing assets don’t fit nicely into categories. Here are a handful of other things that can make you money.
For centuries precious metals have been assets. They show off who has money and who does not. In the 21st century, this has continued as the price of gold, silver, and other metals continue to rise. You can purchase these metals yourself or buy ETFs in that domain.
Certificate of Deposit
A certificate of deposit (CD) leaves a sum of money untouched at a bank or credit union for a determined amount of time. CDs are safer and more conservative than bonds, but if there’s an emergency, you can’t withdraw them without penalty. Because you park your money until the terms are complete, CDs typically pay higher interest rates than money market or savings accounts.
The two factors for alcohol investment are scarcity and taste. Scarcity is hard to predict because you don’t know if someone is buying alcohol to invest or drink. After all, someone will drink it one day! In addition, producers often hold back bottles to sell them later, so it’s a lot of educated guesswork to determine if it will be worth much later.
Wine is one such “investment” alcohol. Wine is graded on a scale of 0-100, with 95 and above being excellent. To keep the bottle, you’ll need special storage to preserve your investment at peak taste. And hope one day you don’t lose your discipline and crack it open!
Typically, the wine will grow at about 10% a year, but it varies because of scarcity. If you’d like to start investing in wine, check out Vineovest to learn more and get started.
Whiskey is another alcohol that has drastically increased recently. Rare whisky has grown by 564% in the last ten years. Investing is similar to wine – look for scarcity and taste – then buy and sell later.
Art is an investment that is 100% in the eye of the beholder. Art collectors purchase things in the hope that they are worth more years from now. You can discover the next Da Vinci or buy renowned artists’ paintings, knowing you will sell them later.
In early 2021, art investments took the spotlight in the form of NFTs – a new way to authenticate digital art using the Etherium blockchain. Some NFTs sold for millions of dollars.
There isn’t a “standard” growth for art pieces. Just like some assets, this is hit or miss.
There are several places where the line between investor and hobby overlaps. Some of the most common collections that can make money over time are stamps, coins, video games, dolls, furniture, cars, extended play albums (EP’s), vinyl records, motorcycles, and sports cards.
In truth, almost anything can be a collectior’s item as long as someone is willing to purchase it from you someday!
Angel investing is giving money to new companies in exchange for a percentage of the business. Like stocks, you profit if the business is successful, but you can also lose it if the business goes bankrupt. If they are successful, you’ll get paid out either through dividends or you’ll receive a percentage of the sale price is the company is sold.
To be successful, you want to spread out your investments in multiple companies and be ready to sustain some losses before you win.
We’ve covered a lot of income-producing assets that’ll help you grow your money, and while money isn’t everything, we believe it’s a foundational part of pursuing the Wealthy Life.
Now, the question is, which one is right for you? Each has its pros and cons, but there is no “wrong” strategy. To help you decide, check out this cumulative comparison:
|Savings Account||0.07% – 2%|
|Stocks||Averages 8-10% growth per year|
|Bonds||-0.5% to 2.43% per year.|
|Rental Properties||About 3% growth on the property plus cash from renting|
|REIT||From 2015-2020 REIT’s averaged 15.76%|
|Farmland||Approximately 11.5% a year|
|Small Business||Zero to unlimited|
|Peer-to-Peer Lending||5-12% a year|
|Your Own Product||You decide!|
Now that you have a better understanding of the different options, it’s time to confidently choose a couple to pursue!
If you have more questions along the way, we’re always here to help.