When thinking of the best ways to establish a financial cushion and overcome reliance on any one income stream, it is advantageous to diversify your income sources. This means having several streams of income coming from different investments or assets generating money.
In fact, many successful people choose to do this by utilizing income-producing assets, or assets which generate cash flow. Specifically, the definition of an income-generating asset is an investment which generates consistent, recurring revenue, cash flow or income over time.
In fact, assets that generate income require various amounts to get started. Some are investments which require little to no money to begin, while others require significant amounts of capital to grow and maintain the investment over time. Further, cash-flow assets are not only a resource for experienced investors, but also for anyone who wishes to make money while you sleep.
With proper research, planning, and some initial money, anyone can diversify their income streams through investing in passive income activities. Let’s have a look at some of the income-producing assets to drive your cash-flow.
1. Living Off Dividend Stocks
Dividend-paying stocks are a great way to receive consistent earnings throughout the year. Usually, these stocks are from more mature and established companies who are able to part with their cash flow more easily. This occurs because there are fewer opportunities to invest and grow the company and the best manner to invest these funds would be to return the cash to shareholders.
No two companies are the same and therefore the percentage rate for your dividends (dividend yield) varies by company. Quality companies which have consistent earnings and pay shareholders dividends regularly are commonly referred to as “blue-chip stocks.” They tend to carry less risk than growth companies, all things being equal.
Investors tend to invest in blue chips because these companies’ underlying assets, which generate income for shareholders, have more market certainty and do not need to take significant risks to continue as a going concern.
Exceptions to this certainly exist but by and large, their size and maturity often result in less risk-taking on the part of investors. Today’s best financial apps offer the ability to invest in these high-quality companies.
Finally, dividend paying stocks tend to be reliable, even when the economy struggles. You can pick individual shares to invest in if you want. Alternatively, you can invest in index funds that specialize in high-yielding dividends, such as:
Dividend-Focused Mutual Funds:
If you have the desire for living off dividends as a major source of income, you might also be delighted to know they can act as a tax-advantaged investment if they count as qualified dividends.
For reference, for a dividend to be considered qualified, generally it must be paid on stock you have held more than 60 days during the 121-day period that began 60 days before the ex-dividend date. This is the first date new investors are not entitled to receive the stock’s next dividend.
If the dividends meet this requirement, you would only need to pay the passive income tax rate on them, lowering the amount you would need to pay to Uncle Sam each year on your income-generating assets.
To invest in dividend-paying stocks, you may consider using Webull, one of many great Robinhood alternatives. The investment app doesn’t charge trading commissions, has no account minimums and even comes with a chance at free stocks for opening an account and depositing at least $100.
2. Bonds and Bond Index Funds
Stocks and bonds are talked about together as often as macaroni and cheese. Bonds are essentially a loan you give to the government or a corporation. These are very stable (as compared to bonds) and you’ll know exactly how much money to expect back when you invest in a bond.
Longer-term bonds tend to carry higher interest rates as a means for compensating you for holding their debt longer. However, you can choose to invest in bonds of different terms based upon your personal investing objectives and goals. You might prefer some shorter-duration cash flowing assets and therefore opt for shorter-term bonds set to mature in the coming few years.
Compared to stocks, bonds have a smaller return, but are also lower-risk. Depending on the type of bond and the current financial climate, interest rates vary. Usually, bonds yield between 1-8%, depending if you wish to purchase governmental debt, investment grade corporate debt, or high yield (junk) bonds. If you’re looking for one of the more stable income-producing assets, bonds might be a fitting path for you.
Alternatively, you might avoid investing in individual bonds and opt for bond index funds, either as a mutual fund or exchange traded fund (ETF). This diversifies your risk from holding just one bond and instead provides you a diversified portfolio which tracks a broader bond index benchmark.
Some popular examples include:
Bond Mutual Funds:
As a useful application of bond investing, consider the circumstances of what potential home buyers want to do with the liquid assets while saving money for a down payment. Depending on the timeline set for having enough to afford a down payment, these investors might wish to have some mix of bonds and stocks to limit their downside, earn some income, and also have potential for some upside as they save more and near the purchase date.
If you want to consider short-term bond funds as part of your broader portfolio for savings like these, you might consider using one of the best financial apps for young adults and using an investing service like M1 Finance. This robo-advisor allows you to create “investing pies” which allocate money into specific funds either of your own choosing or based on 80+ professionally-created portfolios.
You might wish to invest money in the Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (BND), the Vanguard Short-Term Bond Fund ETF (BSV) and the Vanguard Short-Term Corporate Bond Index ETF (VCSH).
All of these funds carry respectable yields north of 2% (as of May 2020) and represent low risk since most of the assets are Treasuries or corporation with high credit ratings. You can use M1 Finance to build a portfolio of these ETFs and have your future contributions automatically contribute to the allocation you choose.
This might match your investment goal of investing in bonds as income-generating assets while also building your down payment fund. Further, M1 Finance doesn’t charge fees for managing your assets, so you don’t need to worry about those types of investment expenses eating away at your hard-earned money.
If you want to do some more due diligence to decide which bond funds will handle your needs best, have a look at the best investment research apps.
3. Secured Peer-to-Peer Lending
Another income-generating investment option, Constant, offers P2P lending though in a different flavor than LendingClub. This service differs by serving as an alternative investment platform and offers only securitized peer-to-peer loans.
This means that Constant requires collateral- specifically cryptocurrency- to back all loans made on their platform. Because these loans come backed by collateral, they represent a lower risk than a non-secured P2P loan, all things being equal.
What I want to state unequivocally, however, is that Constant is not a federally-insured savings vehicle like some of the options mentioned in this article. Rather, Constant is an alternative investment platform which offers interested investors attractive risk-adjusted returns.
The secured nature of the loans makes the platform safer than conventional lending platforms like LendingClub, Prosper and others which do not require collateral to back the loans.
To compare how this service stacks up in terms of risk, please visit read more on my alternative investment options list. Also, consider learning more about the platform by reading my Constant review.
If this sounds like an income-producing investment of interest, consider opening an account for as little as $50. When you open an account and make an initial deposit, you’ll receive a $10 bonus as an added incentive for opening and funding your account.
4. Lending Cryptocurrency
Millennials have flocked to cryptocurrency in droves- often to their detriment. However, for those who have bought and held their cryptocurrency, they might want it to do something for them while they wait around holding it. If this sounds like something of interest, BlockFi is a service which offers multiple services you might enjoy.
The company, targeting an audience looking to do more with their crypto assets, wants to help crypto investors grow their investment holdings and build their overall wealth. One popular product with the service is the BlockFi Interest Account.
This product helps individuals and companies which own crypto earn interest in crypto on their crypto held at BlockFi. BlockFi Interest Account clients can deposit their crypto and earn interest on these funds- often well above market for traditional high yield savings accounts.
You don’t need to have your interest paid out in the same cryptocurrency held on deposit. The service also offers Interest Payment Flex, an arrangement which offers to pay in a different crypto asset or Gemini Dollars (GUSD), which is a stablecoin cryptocurrency issued by Gemini, one of United States’ largest cryptocurrency exchanges.
Gemini Dollars peg to and are backed by US dollars held in reserve at State Street Bank and Trust Company. In other words, if you hold Bitcoin (BTC) on deposit in your BlockFi Interest Account and choose to receive a different interest payment through the Interest Payment Flex option, you could receive crypto income which follows the USD.
This product might be a good way to explore making money from your existing cryptocurrency assets if you want them to earn passive income as an income-generating investments.
5. Real Estate Crowdfunding
It might come as little surprise, but investing in real estate appeals to many people for multiple reasons: the tangible nature of the investment, low-correlation with the stock market, multiple return components (assets that appreciate in value and also yield rental income), tax advantages, and more.
However, the hands-on factor of owning property and acting as a landlord deters many people from getting started. Thanks to the advent of fintech, or the use of technology to enhance and automate certain financial transactions and processes, many companies now offer the opportunity to invest in real estate with or without owning property.
Currently, one of the leading (and easiest) ways to get started with real estate investing is through crowdsourced lending or purchasing. Several online platforms cater to this investor demand by providing various levels of service, investment options, and different points of investment in the real estate value chain.
This results in you avoiding any aspect you might not wish to participate in, such as owning or managing properties but still gaining exposure to these alternative investment options.
Depending on the type of investment you wish to make in real estate crowdfunding ventures, you have multiple options available to you. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular options available and how they differ from one another.
6. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)
Some people consider Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) to be the mutual funds of real estate. REITs are a collection of properties operated by a company that uses money investors give them to buy and develop real estate. You can choose to invest in trusts that build condos, apartments, business buildings, or other facilities.
REITs pay you dividends. These are a fitting income-producing asset for people who want an easy way to get involved with real estate investing without having to purchase property themselves. One avenue to explore for investing in REITs is by investing through stREITwise.
The service has a low minimum of $1,000 to begin investing in commercial real estate properties. The company provides REIT offerings federally-registered with the SEC and offers them to both accredited and non-accredited investors. These investment vehicles offer a great source of passive income, recurring cash flow, higher returns, portfolio diversification and inflation protection.
Consider learning more about stREITwise, which most recently paid an 8.4% quarterly distribution net of fees in the 3Q2020, more than twice the publicly-traded REIT average.
If you have been followed investing for any significant amount of time, you likely have heard of how some investors made serious money by investing in a small company now known the world over. People like Peter Thiel who invested in PayPal or Ashton Kutcher who invested in Uber before they created new platforms millions now use on a daily basis.
Just as likely, you’ve also likely heard of people who invested in companies thought to be the next big thing but in fact turned into abject failures. Think companies like Theranos, who now no longer exist.
In the world of start-up investing, your investments often either turn out as home runs or strikeouts. Their success depending on how well the companies’ founders execute and lead their company to glory (e.g., going public or being acquired) or failure.
When it comes to investing in start ups, anyone who chooses to invest in start-ups should be aware that losing all of their investment has a high likelihood.
A 2012 law loosened the restrictions placed on startup crowdfunding platforms. Some platforms, like NextSeed, allow access to both accredited and non-accredited investors to invest in pre-vetted businesses and start ups from around the country.
Depending on the stage of investment you target, you will see differing levels of risk. Meaning, for those interested in investing in early rounds of financing, they will face significantly higher risk (and reward) than those who fund a later round of funding as the startup scales.
Because screening startups can be notoriously difficult, crowdfunding platforms like NextSeed look to bridge this screening gap.
The investments NextSeed provides both rely on earning income from investments held in startup companies funded through the platform. The two primary investment options are:
1.Revenue-Sharing Notes – these are agreements the startup business receiving funding will pay investors a percentage of their monthly revenue until they receive the total repayment amount
2.Term Notes – These act essentially as a business loan with a fixed interest rate repaid in an agreed amount of time
One thing to keep in mind before investing through platforms like NextSeed is the risk inherently involved in startup investing. Before jumping in with a significant amount of your net worth, consider opening a NextSeed account to learn more about how the vet companies and then consider dipping your toe in the water with a small initial investment.
Signing up for an account does not constitute an obligation to invest in companies on the platform.
8. Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
Certificates of Deposit (CDs) are offered by most banks and credit unions and are easy to open and understand. CDs are almost risk-free and insured in the United States for up to $250,000. They are another savings instrument like savings accounts but come with longer-term commitments, varying from three months to five years.
They work by having you lend money to a bank for a set amount of time (the “term length”), with longer term lengths typically involving higher interest rates. Much like any interest-bearing asset, the longer the term length or commitment, the higher interest rate and return you can expect to earn in exchange for losing access to your money for longer.
During the term length, you gain interest on the principal at a rate usually higher than that of a high-yield savings account. If you take money out during the term length, you’ll have to pay a penalty, so it isn’t wise to invest money you anticipate needing in the near future.
Keep in mind that some CDs might have a lower interest rate than inflation and if that happens you may lose money. Depending on your current financial objectives, holding money in a risk-free CD might be one of the best investments for young adults who have short-term financial goals they need to meet.
When people think of royalties, music is the first to come to mind, but royalties can apply to other creative products, such as art, natural resources, and more, as well. You don’t have to be the musician or artist who created a song or piece to profit from it.
In the world of art, you can invest in royalties and receive payment every time your product is used. An easy way to get started is to check out Royalty Exchange. This website allows you to buy music royalties from musicians.
And if you’re looking to invest in art for capital appreciation instead of just as assets generating income for your financial needs, consider investing in art with MasterWorks. The platform allows you to invest in “blue chip” art and profiting when the company sells this art for a higher value than it was acquired.
10. Short-Term Rentals
Rather than investing in creating buildings, another income-producing asset is renting out property that already exists. The basic idea is to own a house or apartment, rent it out to tenants, and make money off of the rent checks each month.
However, investor beware: this can be a lot more complicated than it initially seems and it’s possible to get tenants who don’t pay and you can’t legally make leave. A safer option is to do short-term rentals of a house, or even just a room, through reputable services, such as Airbnb.
In eligible countries, Airbnb’s Host Guarantee program gives you protection up to $1,000,000 in damages to covered property in the event of guest damage. Depending on your location and the type of accommodations you’re providing, Airbnb can be very profitable without the headache of badgering tenants for rent.
My wife and I hosted an AirBnB in a lock-off unit in the rear of our house for two and a half years. With payments from these short-term rental guests and long-term tenants in the adjacent unit, we managed to have these renters pay for our entire mortgage. While flipping the room between guests at first took a considerable amount of time, once we established a routine and segregated duties between ourselves, the task became considerably more efficient and worthwhile.
By the end of the first 6 months, we had a set routine and flipping the room took less than 20 minutes (not counting laundry). We created a short-term rental checklist for tasks which needed to be done between guests and this covered every cleaning task, inspecting for damage or needed repairs, and left no remnants of the previous guest who stayed.
We quickly earned tens of 5-star reviews and averaged north of 4.8 stars, earning Superhost status for several quarters before we decided to move to California. The experience helped us to save for a down payment quicker by covering our living expenses.
11. Land Rentals
You don’t need to rent out buildings. Another option is to rent out land. Depending on the size, location, and characteristics of your land, there are various options for how you can rent it. If you have fertile soil and an expansive enough plot of land, you can rent it to farmers.
You can do this privately or through a matching service, such as Shared Earth. If you don’t have enough land for a farm, you can rent it to someone who wants a garden. YardYum can match you with potential renters.
You can also have people with dogs pay to use your land as a dog park. This is more popular in urban areas where there aren’t many open spaces readily available. The website Sniffspot lets you list your land or you can create an ad elsewhere on your own.
12. Car Rentals
Cars are a depreciating asset, but it’s still possible to turn your vehicle into an asset which generates cash flow by renting it out. You can choose when to rent it out so that you always have it when you need to use it. Websites such as Getaround and Turo will let you list your car for rent and set the time frames.
You could also make a deal with someone you trust who would like to use your car to drive for Uber or Lyft. Your car’s value will depreciate faster the more miles that are put on it, but if you’re making income more quickly than the depreciation rate, it can still be worth it.
Be aware: this may run afoul of insurance coverage policies and result in loss of coverage or lack of a claim being honored if something should occur. Check your policy to see what terms apply.
Often, car insurance carriers require a special type of insurance policy for ride-sharing to honor any claims made against policies. It is not recommended if this places you at risk for liability. Carefully consider this decision before moving forward.
→ Do Need to Rent a Car for a Side Hustle? Consider HyreCar
If you don’t have a car but have interest renting one on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, consider the service from Hyrecar. The company connects you with rental cars you can use to drive with Uber, Lyft, and food-package delivery services that best fit your needs.
To rent a car on HyreCar:
- Create a HyreCar driver account with your email address – Submit your one-time background check to complete your profile. Use code FREEBGC to waive the $29.99 fee.
- Find your car by entering your location and desired pick up date and then search through the large selection of locally owned cars
- Submit applications for multiple vehicles (at least 5) and see which one matches with you – you won’t be charged for them all, just the first one for which you receive approval
- HyreCar runs a quick background check on new drivers, normally taking only a few hours
- Once approved, you will receive three documents required to upload to your Uber and/or Lyft driver accounts: vehicle registration, 19-point inspection and rideshare insurance
From there, you meet the owner at a negotiated time and location to pick up the rented car. From there, you use it as a rideshare or food-package delivery service to earn money. After you have completed your rental, you replace the gas used and meet the owner to drop off the car. Walk around the car to review any damages and hand over the keys.
Likewise, you can also list your car for rent on HyreCar by creating a listing in just a few minutes. You will need to describe your car and upload photos, vehicle registration and Uber/Lyft inspection documents.
From there, you respond to driver requests, coordinate meetup times to hand over / pick up your keys. You will get paid when the driver picks up the vehicle.
13. Mineral Rights
In my first job out of college, I worked for an oil and gas firm which specialized in purchasing mineral rights from landowners who wished to cash in upfront on the oil and gas located beneath the surface of their property.
The company mapped hot spots for drilling activity across the U.S. and targeted landowners who held property in actively-producing regions or in areas the company thought drilling might target in the near future.
The company built a portfolio mixed with currently-producing properties and non-producing properties to provide a current income return and potential upside down the road. When properties came online, the cash flows added incremental value to the portfolio’s overall return.
Once exhausting the available funding from the company’s investors, the company sold the portfolio to a firm based in Dallas, TX, which would securitize the assets and sell them to institutional investors.
Over my 3 years with the firm, they made purchases of nearly $100 million in properties, netting substantial returns during this period on top of the profits made when sold to the securitizing firm in Dallas.
This type of income-producing investment carries inherent risk from oil price movements, production potential, available resources, willing landowners and many more factors.
During my time with the company, I learned a substantial amount about net present value analysis, negotiation, marketing, and how to account for these assets on financial statements.
Cash flow assets can be digital as well. You’ve likely heard of people who “flip” houses by buying them and reselling them at a higher price. You can do the same thing with a website, but with a lot less work.
Basically, someone researches upcoming popular topics or news, gets domains they expect others will want to own, and sells it to them at a higher price than it cost to buy. Much like a fixer-upper, you can take a website with minimal traffic, build it up and then flip it for a profit if you find a lucrative niche an investor would want to target with affiliate marketing.
15. Money Market Accounts
Money market accounts are similar to online high-yield savings accounts, except they aren’t FDIC insured. Meaning, they don’t carry the obligatory $250,000 in insurance against assets held in the account in the event the depository institution fails. Because these accounts carry a slightly higher risk, they tend to pay more than a traditional savings account.
Different than CDs, which can charge penalties for early withdrawals, you can close a money market account at any time. Further, you usually also carry the ability to withdraw money from the money market account each month.
However, some may come with a limit to the number of withdrawals you can make in any given month or specific period of time. Make sure you read the fine print on any account when you open it to be sure of the terms and to avoid any penalties which might trigger as a result of excessive withdrawals.
Of final note, most money market accounts carry account minimums, especially if you want to earn the best rate.
16. Owning a Traditional Business
buying a latte on a credit card
In business, cash is king. This provides financial flexibility to meet your obligations, expand your business, fund your operations and much more. Many businesses generate significant amounts of cash from their operations, providing ample room to reinvest in the business or pocket the cash yourself.
Not every business needs to be groundbreaking to become a great income-generating investment. In fact, Richard Ruback and Royce Yudkoff teach a class at Harvard Business School which promotes the idea of buying an existing small business for the right price and running it yourself as the CEO.
Many business schools preach the need to become managers in existing companies and drive them to even greater success. These professors suggest going the opposite route: starting small by purchasing an existing small business and managing it toward financial gain.
By purchasing an established business with developed customer lists, operations, staffs, and processes, you de-risk much of the uncertainty around business formation and starting up. If done well, you can generate cash flow freely and either grow the business further or pay yourself a handsome salary from your profits.
Some common examples include:
•Pest removal services
•Specialty cafes and bistros
•Commercial building window-washing businesses
•Private ambulance services
•Medical testing clinics
•Chemical supply businesses
•Electrical utility equipment supply businesses
•Pool repair and supply businesses
•Boat and RV storage facilities
17. Owning an Online Business
Similar to owning a traditional business, owning an online business can generate income for your investment as well. Commonly, this involves earning income from display advertising, affiliate marketing, course offerings, training, services, and many other inventive ways for making money online.
The key is to find a niche audience with problems you can uniquely address. Once you build this audience around your online business, you can have a dedicated audience who come to you directly to resolve their problems.
By earning these users’ trust, you can develop a lasting business which both earns you money and helps people.
Annuities act as a contract between an investor and an insurance company where the former makes a lump sum investment or series of payments over a period of time in exchange for regular income payments beginning now or some agreed-upon point in the future.
These investments are popular with retirees who want a guaranteed income during their retirement. Contributions made to annuities accrue on a tax-deferred basis, and like contributions made to retirement plans like a 401(k), investors can can only withdraw these funds after age 59½ without incurring a penalty.
When investors consider purchasing an annuity, they can customize many aspects to their specific needs. Further, investors may elect between purchasing a lump-sum annuity or making a series of payments to the insurer.
After purchasing the annuity contract, the investor has the ability to choose when to annuitize (or convert into a series of payments received over time) the contributions made.
When you purchase an annuity which begins paying immediately, these are referred to as an immediate annuity. For annuities which pay at a later date, these are called deferred annuities.
19. Writing Covered Calls Options Contracts
For interested investors who wish to pursue a lower-risk alternative to investing in the market for investment returns can consider writing covered calls. This approach is the most conservative method for trading options and can also produce income with your portfolio, regardless of whether the stock you own rises or falls (assuming you position your trades appropriately).
To understand a bit behind the process, we should first explore what an option contract is. At its most basic definition, a single option contract represents a 100 shares of an underlying stock. This can be as a put or call option and also referred to simply as a round lot.
From a buyer’s perspective, call options are considered bullish because they aim to lock in a lower price point for purchasing a stock now or at some future date. Investors who purchase a call option have the belief the underlying stock will rise from current levels.
Because they want to lock in this entry point, they opt to pay a smaller amount now (called an option premium) than they would for the full stock order purchase.
Likewise, investors can also sell a call option (act as an option writer) and collect a premium from another investor who believes the price will rise. This premium, in exchange for selling the call option against stock they own (called writing a covered call), gives the call writer some added income if the price of the underlying stock does not rise above the strike price + option premium.
→ Covered Call Example
For example, Investor A owns 1,000 shares of GOOG, which has a current market price of $1,450. Investor A thinks the stock price for GOOG will not rise significantly any time in the near future and decides to sell a $1,500 call to profit from this forecasted price direction.
Investor A sells one GOOG call option (representing 100 shares of underlying stock) for a $100 premium to Investor B and has this set to expire in three months. For writing this call, Investor A receives $10,000 ($100 option premium * 100 shares) and Investor B pays $10,000.
Now, Investor A has the obligation to deliver the stock at $1,500 to Investor B should Investor B choose to exercise the option between now and the option expiration.
In the event the stock price remains the same or declines, Investor A pockets $10,000 and has no obligation to Investor B. However, if the price rises to $1,600, Investor B would choose to exercise the option, forcing Investor A to deliver these shares, effectively making Investor A cost neutral.
Any price between the strike price and the strike + premium would result in Investor B exercising the option and reducing the loss for buying the call option from Investor A.
As an example, if GOOG stock rises from $1,500 to $1,550, Investor B would exercise the option to receive 100 shares of GOOG stock at $1,550, thus cutting the loss from paying the option premium from $10,000 to $5,000.
Writing covered calls can be another way to generate income from assets you hold. Consider using a service like Webull, which offers free options trades and comes equipped with useful stock research and analysis tools to inform your decision-making.
Additional Income-Generating Asset Ideas
For some other income-generating assets, consider the following couple examples. I have not personally explored these options in great detail but do feel the need to bring them to your attention should you wish to know of more cash-flowing investment ideas.
21. Storage Rentals
Let Income-Generating Assets Diversify Your Financial Resources
Make your money and property work for you by turning them into income-producing assets. The phrase “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” can apply to income streams as well so it’s a financially literate idea to diversify your income and see how to build wealth for long-term financial security.
Before proceeding with purchasing or investing in any of the above methods for acquiring assets which generate income and cash flow, make sure you carefully consider the amount of risk you’re willing to take. These best income-producing assets can help you to reach financial independence if you use investing strategies wisely.
This post was previously published on Youngandtheinvested.com.
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