Whether you’re just staring your journey toward financial freedom or looking to take things to the next level, it’s important to determine how you want to make money.
Not all revenue streams are created equal but they can all have their time and place in your investing pathway.
This is intended to be a regularly updated resource that lists every legal and legitimate way an individual can make money.
If you know of a way that’s not on this list, then contact us!
1. Get a Job
Starting with the most commonly known way to make money, getting a job.
Usually the process here is looking for a company’s job posting, applying for the job, and going through the interview process.
The company offers you a wage or salary in exchange for providing them with a service that benefits their interests.
- Hourly wage or salary
- Any situation where you make money ONLY if you spend time doing something
A job is a great place to start for an investor. It will provide consistent income into your bank account and, if you budget that money, you can build a small fund to use for other money making endeavors.
But nobody wants to have to work forever.
The curse of a job is the convenience of it. Often people achieve the most when they have no choice but to succeed. When you have a job it’s totally fine if your investments or side businesses fail.
Also, income taxes are a profit killer.
2. Retirement Account
Most jobs allow you to set aside a percentage of the paycheck you earned to put in a retirement account.
Your money is handed over to another person and they decide how to invest your funds. You pay them a fee and hope that your assets increase in value over time.
- IRA/Roth IRA
I’m not a fan of retirement accounts, but they have their place.
To the person who never wants to think about money or investing…sure…give your money to someone else and pay them to manage it for you.
For me, the only time I even consider putting money into a retirement account is if my company is matching the money I contribute.
People love the company match. They call it free money.
What I hear is “Give me $100 today and I’ll give you $200 in 30 years!”
While a 50% (or better) company match is a great return on investment, I just can’t wait that long to see the fruits of my investment.
When I put money in a retirement account I’ve already accepted that I’m not retiring early.
3. Buy Stock in a Company
When you purchase stock in a company you become a part owner of that company.
The monetary value of your stock is dependent on many things, but ultimately its value is decided by other purchasers of stock. In the end it’s likely worth what another investor is willing to pay for it.
Typical stock investing has many of the drawbacks of a retirement account, but not all.
As long as you own the stock you won’t see any money from it. And as soon as you sell a stock to get your money out, it won’t make you any more money.
You can’t get the benefit of a company match, but you have much more control over where you put your money and when you sell your assets.
You can sell your stock whenever you like and you aren’t charged management fees.
You’ll be subject to capital gains tax rates, which are pretty decent as long as you’ve owned your shares for at least one year.
4. Buy a Dividend Paying Stock
Some stocks pay you cash (or sometimes additional shares) at regular intervals. Most commonly they pay out four times per year.
Just like buying traditional stock, you own part of the company and the value of those shares can increase over time. The difference is you often get paid out for that ownership.
If I’m buying into the stock market, I’m buying dividend yielding stocks.
I will regularly receive actual money that I can use however I want. That money can be reinvested or it’s money I can use to support myself and my lifestyle.
The money paid from dividends is also taxed at a special rate. While that rate is currently lower than income tax rates, its higher than the long term capital gains tax rate.
Dividend yielding stocks are one of the best passive income investments, in my opinion.
5. Start a Business
This is a pretty big category, but if you can get people or businesses to pay you for a product or service, then you can make money.
I break businesses into three categories:
- Sell a product
- Provide a service
- Share information
Every business has different expenses and ways of making money, but just about anything can be profitable if you find the right way to execute your vision.
Starting a business is a high risk but potentially high reward undertaking. Few succeed and fewer become highly successful.
- Store front
I think starting a business is a great way to learn. Often it takes a person a dozen attempts to finally make a business work.
If you want to learn to manage money in a way that allows you freedom, starting a business is a great way to acquire the skills necessary.
With that said, every business owner should be investing in other areas. The chances of a single business taking you to wealth are low– so don’t count on your startup business to take the place of other investment types.
Taxation for businesses can be significantly better than stocks, retirement funds and anything taxed at a flat rate.
The great thing about business taxes is that you get to deduct all kinds of business related expenses from your taxable income. If you made $100,000 last year, you might only be taxed as though you made $10,000.
Some businesses are able to avoid paying taxes altogether!
So start a business, but also participate in other types of investing to supplement your financial future.
6. Loan Your Money
Ever wonder how banks make money? They give loans to people and businesses.
You can do the same.
Give your money to someone else and have them pay you back with interest. Participating in crowdfunding would fit into this category.
- Hard money loan
- Personal loan
This is another low-effort investing activity, which is great. You get regular payments, which is another big plus.
The big downsides here are that 1. your rate of return is modest and 2. you can’t invest that money anywhere else until it’s paid back. With a personal loan you’re probably looking at an 8-12% return, which is respectable, but that’s the absolute BEST you will get.
If you already have a lot of money and you’re looking to slow down the amount of effort you put into investing, this could be a great option.
But if you’re ramping up and wanting to grow your wealth fast, then this is not the best option.
As for me, I’m looking for someone who wants to loan ME money, not the other way around. We both make money, but if you know what you’re doing you can make a lot more by taking on a loan and using someone else’s money to invest.
It’s important to note that interest income (money made from loaning money) is taxed at the income tax rate, which is currently the worst rate.
7. Rent Out Real Estate
Making money by renting out space in your primary residence or another property you own is a tried and tested method of generating cash flow.
The traditional style of renting out property is signing a long term lease and allowing other people to live in your house. However, putting homes up on short term rental websites like Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO is becoming more common among investors.
- Long term lease
- Short term rental
- Commercial lease (lease with a business)
The biggest hurdle with real estate investing is the up-front cost.
If you are purchasing a primary residence and plan to rent out a portion, you can often get away with 5% down on the home and get great interest rates.
When buying a property solely for investing purposes, you will normally have to put 15-25% down.
If you can afford to buy real estate, it is one of the top tier options in the investing world.
It is not uncommon to see a 20-30% (or more!) return on your investment if you purchase at the right price and manage your properties well.
You get paid regularly, which means it’s money you can use to support your lifestyle, and real estate investments offer some exceptional tax benefits.
Rental income is taxed at a rate below personal income tax.
While the tax rate is higher than the long term capital gains rate, you can deduct all expenses related to the running of your rental property, interest paid on loans for the property as well as depreciation.
8. Buy a Business
Starting a business is difficult. And it often takes years for a business to hit its stride.
If you want to skip the hardest years, then you can simply purchase an established business from someone else.
- Buy a “brick & mortar” business with its physical and informational assets
- Buy a website or web-based business with its email list, domain name and inventory
Long term, buying a business offers the same benefits as starting a business.
Buying a business is often more expensive than starting one, but a lot of the initial hard work has already been done and you can see actual data that will help inform your purchase.
I think this is a great way to grow an existing investment portfolio, especially if you already have experience running a similar business.
I haven’t purchased a business at this point but this is an investment path I intend to take in the next three years.
9. Rent Something You Own
In the same way you can rent a property you own to another person, you can rent anything else you own to another person.
Cars, power tools, games and instruments are just a few things that can be rented out.
If you have some extra time, extra stuff, and you need to make some extra money, then renting out items you already own is a good place to look.
If you want to create a long lasting stream of income; however, you’ll want to look at this category as a business. Specialize in one category, master it, then consider branching out from there.
This is an income stream that would be tricky to scale up. You’d need storage space for your rental inventory and likely regular upkeep for all those items.
The taxation outlook is better if you go the business route as well.
10. Receive a Gift
Not much to say here. People can give you money.
Don’t go looking for handouts. But if someone happens to gift you money, then congratulations!
11. Sell Something
This often falls under the umbrella of starting a business, but not always.
You can sell a physical product, information, advertising or a service.
- Garage/yard sale
- Sell advertising space on your car
- Sell an old item on Craigslist
- Flipping domain names
Like many items on this list, you’ll want to turn this into a business if you want any long lasting, repeatable income.
That being said, you can always try selling some unused clothing, shoes, furniture or electronics you have around the house to give yourself some extra cash.
It’s not a sustainable way to make money but you can free up some space in your home while putting a few hundred dollars in your wallet.
12. Side Hustle
The concept of the side hustle isn’t new, but this tool for financial freedom has garnered some serious attention- particularly with the millennial crowd. It encompasses a variety of creative ways people make money outside of formal employment.
- Completing odd jobs (mowing, painting, moving furniture, etc.)
- Coordinating events (weddings, parties, etc.)
- Buying and reselling online (clothing, electronics, etc.)
- Driving for services like Uber or Grubhub
- Tutoring locally or teaching English as a Second Language online
- Baking & decorating wedding or birthday cakes
- Completing online surveys
- Copywriting for blogs, websites or businesses
There are a million ways to make some extra cash and this category is epitomized by the hustle and the creativity.
I think of a side hustle as a way to generate that extra bit of money to get you to some milestone.
Maybe you need a few thousand dollars to buy your first house.
Or maybe it’s for an investment you’re excited about. Anything that gets you closer to that next opportunity to bump your cash flow or net worth is well worth the effort.
But don’t let your side hustles slow you down. At a certain point in every wealth building journey, time becomes the most valuable resource. Even more important than money.
When you start to reach that point I think it’s time to say goodbye to the side hustle and hello to leveraging other people’s money for your investments.
The methods to making money can be condensed into a handful of categories. In fact, the categories in this article can be condensed even further.
The following are the categories I like to use when I’m thinking about the value of a money making scheme:
- Wage Earning – Jobs and some side hustles fall into this category. It’s any activity where you’re trading your time for money. The amount of money you can make is limited by the time you spend earning it.
- Business Ownership – Starting and purchasing businesses fall into this category. The amount of money you can make is limited by success of the business.
- Investing – Renting real estate, purchasing stocks and loaning money fall into this category. The amount of money you make is limited by how much money you invest, and by your abilities to spot a good deal and have a good exit strategy.
- One Hit Wonders – Lots of things fit in this category. It’s anything that’s not repeatable like gifts and garage sales. The amount of money you make is limited by your luck, and by your ability to turn one hit wonders into full blown businesses.
The ideas listed here are intended to be a starting place to brainstorm money making strategies.