9 Passive Income Ideas To Make Real Money In 2021

“Making money while you sleep” has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? If that sounds like something you want in your life, then passive income is the way to get there!

Building wealth that doesn’t eat up your time allows you to spend it on things you really want to do. That’s the ultimate goal of financial independence, and passive income is a very important piece of that.

Speaking from personal experience, adding passive income streams can supercharge your financial goals in tremendous ways. When I go to sleep every night, I know that by the time I wake up, I’ll be several thousand dollars wealthier! How cool is that?!?

In this special post, I’m going to break down all the ways that you can generate passive income. Some ideas will make you money immediately, while others take more time. But if you’re able to commit to those, you could be earning big money for years to come.

Interested? Well then, let’s get right to it!

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What Is Passive Income?

Passive income is money earned with minimal activity through any venture that requires little daily effort or upkeep on the individual’s part.

Before we get down into all the passive income ideas, I think it’s a good idea to clear up some misconceptions.

The word “passive” makes it sound like you have to do nothing to generate income isn’t entirely true. While there are many ways to make money doing nothing (which I’ll tell you about), others require an upfront investment in either time or money.

What’s NOT Passive Income?

Anything that you need to constantly spend time on is NOT passive income. Remember, to be considered passive income, the ongoing effort should be minimal. That means most side hustles are not passive income sources.

That doesn’t mean you should avoid side hustles. I make six-figures a year with it and wrote about different side hustles that can make you $500 or more a month.

Ultimate Guide To Passive Income

The first part contains what I call easy passive income ideas. These are ones that takes minutes to set up and you never have to think about them again. They’ll keep on paying you a regular income every month.

Ideas later in the list contains big money passive income ideas. These take a little more time to get off the ground, but once they take off, they’re killer money-making machines!

I’ll also include money bag emojis at the end of each passive income idea to symbolize the money you can make:

💰 = easy-to-do passive ideas that make enough to cover the occasional night out or what I call “beer money”
💰💰 = passive things you can do that’ll make a tangible difference in your life
💰💰💰 = game-changing passive strategies that will fundamentally change your lifestyle
💰💰💰💰 = done right, you will never have to work a “real” job again

Ok, let’s begin. Here’s my list of passive income ideas that actually work!

Easy Passive Income Ideas That Pay Monthly

1. Rent Out Your Internet (💰)

Can you really get paid renting out your internet?

YES!

Companies will pay you money for using a tiny fraction of your internet to test things out like location accuracy and WiFi speeds from different cities. It’s safe, secure, and requires zero maintenance on your part.

One company that has been doing this for a while is Honeygain.

Honeygain will pay you $10-$20 a month to share your internet from your phone or computer (read my Honeygain review).

I included this video below in case you wanted to learn more about how the process works:

Another way to make money doing this is by taking advantage of Honeygain’s referral program once you sign up.

Honeygain will pay you 10% of what referral makes on a daily basis. Forever.

If you’re interested, you can sign-up with the promo code MONEYNINJA to earn a $5 new user bonus.

2. Invest In Real Estate Through Crowdfunding (💰💰)

I like to look at Forbes’ The World’s Billionaires list to see how the world’s elite get rich and was surprised to learn that there are 256 billionaires whose main business is in real estate!

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense. There’s only a finite amount of space on Earth (sorry, buying a house on Mars is not an option yet), and demand will always grow while supply is limited.

But what’s keeping regular people like you and me in doing so is because normally you’d need a ton of money to invest in these real estate projects. Not everyone is lucky enough to have millions of dollars available to build the next Empire State Building or Burj Khalifa. Luckily, we no longer need to.

Thanks to real estate crowdfunding platforms like Fundrise, you can invest in projects for as little as $10. Fundrise allows people to pool together their money to invest in a diversified portfolio of real estate projects located throughout the United States. You earn returns on your investment through quarterly dividends and through appreciation in the value of your share in the project.

Fundrise gives the average person the ability to invest in real estate without the headaches. It has the potential to produce stable returns over the long-term and you don’t need to deal with the expense of being a private investor or the hassle of being a landlord.

3. Rent Your Unused Space (💰💰)

Ride-sharing, house-sharing, and now… storage-sharing? Yep, it’s now possible to make money by renting out your extra space!

Do you ever wonder why storage units are so popular?

It’s because people in America have LOTS of stuff. We like our stuff. We don’t want to get rid of it. However, we don’t have enough extra space for it and renting a storage unit is expensive.

Enter peer-to-peer storage rental company Neighbor. Neighbor helps hosts rent out their unused basement, garage, closet, or driveway to people who need it at a fair price to both parties. Hosts are protected up to $1,000,000 in insurance while renters have $25,000 in guaranteed protection.

How much can you make renting your space with Neighbor? It depends on what type of space it is, but here are the average earnings per year broken down by the area of the house:

  • Rent your basement for an average of $2,340 a year
  • Rent your driveway for an average of $1,560 a year
  • Rent your closet for an average of $96 a year
  • Rent your garage for an average of $1,560 a year

So if you’ve got an empty or could-become-empty closet, attic, basement, garage, or parking space, turn it into a passive income stream.

4. Invest In Dividend-Paying Stocks (💰💰)

Dividend-paying stocks are companies that pay out regular dividends.

They’re essentially just like any other stocks you invest in. The difference is instead of only making money when stock prices goes up, these companies also give you a special payment, called dividends, just for being a shareholder. It’s another way firms share profits with shareholders.

(Photo by Ally Bank)

Dividend stocks are a time-tested option of creating a passive income stream. The goal is to not only find stocks that have the highest dividend yields, but also steady earnings growth to provide stability in the stock price. These four stocks are examples that fit those requirements:

SymbolCompanyDividend Yield
AGMFederal Agricultural Mortgage4.4%
FITBFifth Third Bancorp3.1%
RIORio Tinto5.6%
TSBKM.D.C. Holdings3.0%

Ready to invest in dividend stocks? Open an account with my favorite stock trading app Webull and get 2 free stocks while you’re at it. You can also create an account with my other go-to app, Moomoo, and get 4 more free stocks.

5. Advertise With Your Car (💰💰)

Another way to make passive income is by placing ads on your car. Companies are always looking for additional brand exposure and will be happy to pay for it.

How much you’ll get paid depends on how much advertising your car is covered in and how many miles you drive.

For example, if you drive 25-35 miles a day working with a firm like Wrapify, here’s what your monthly income could be:

  • For lite coverage, estimated income is $196-$280 per month.
  • For partial coverage, estimated income is $196-$280 per month.
  • For full coverage, estimated income is $264-452 per month.

It’s up to you to decide if you want some light advertising on your car to make a decent amount of money or go full out. If you’re curious to see the difference between ad coverage, the pictures below show a fully covered car and lite coverage:

Wrapify full vs lite ad types on car

One important thing to mention is the fact that these ads are not permanent. They’re adhesive stickers that a professional will install for you and is 100% removable upon your request to stop making passive income this way.

Besides Wrapify, other companies that pay you to advertise on your car include:

Big Money Passive Income Ideas

6. Invest In Worthy Bonds (💰💰)

Are you looking to earn more money compared to the measly interest rate offered from your “high-yield” savings account, but are too afraid of the volatile stock market? If so, then investing in Worthy bonds may be the right choice for you.

Worthy is an investment platform that lets you buy bonds that support small businesses and earn a stable 5% return. They carefully vet small businesses and only invests into fully-secured and asset-backed companies. Worthy bonds costs just $10 each and are available to all investors.

Plus, if you sign up with this link, you’ll get started with a $10 bond for free!

For those that aren’t familiar with bonds: a bond is simply a loan taken out by company. Instead of going to a bank, the company gets money from investors who buy its bond. In exchange, the company is obligated to pay investors back the amount of the loan plus interest over a specific period of time.

Ninja Update 7/27/21: There are no more available bonds from Worthy at the moment. We will update this post when that changes.

7. Refinance Everything – Mortgage/Loans/Debt (💰💰💰)

Refinancing your mortgage, student loans, or credit card debt is one of the quickest ways to make money. As long-time ninja readers know by now, saving money IS making money.

I literally can’t think of anything else that you can spend 5 minutes on that will save you thousands and thousands of dollars. I’ve refinanced my home five times already, and each time I did it, I ended up saving over $15,000 in interest charges.

Mortgage: Check your refinancing rate with Credible. Credible allows you to compare lenders in just 3 minutes. You’ll get actual rates from multiple lenders without impacting your credit score.

Student Loans: See how much you’ll save on student loans with SoFi. I find that SoFi offers very competitive rates for people who are looking to lower their monthly payments. You’ll also get $310 for doing so ($10 for checking your rate and $300 for closing on a loan).

Credit Card Debt: If you have credit card debt, your interest rate is probably ridiculously high. Stop bleeding money and look into consolidating them into a single personal loan. SoFi offers a great personal loan program that charges no origination fees, pre-payment fees, or late fees. There’s also a $300 bonus if you successfully close on a loan.

8. Start Your Own Blog (💰💰💰💰)

Starting your own blog is a grind at first, but it can be one of the best investments you’ll ever make. I started The Money Ninja in 2019 and two years later earn more money from this blog than my high-paying corporate job. In December 2020 alone for instance, I made $40,139!

You may be wondering how you can earn a passive income from a blog. Don’t you have to create new content on a regular basis?

Yes, creating new content takes time, but there are so many ways to make money from blogging. One option are display ads, and they’re as passive as you can get.

Display ads are ads that shows up on your site. New bloggers usually do this by adding Google Adsense to their sites. Once your blog gets more traffic, you can sign up for premium ad management networks like Ezoic, Mediavine, and AdThrive. Every time an ad shows up on your site, you get paid!

I’m with Mediavine, which you can join as soon as your site gets 50,000 visitors a month. Mediavine pays you a rate (RPM) per 1,000 sessions (unique visitors). If you look at the screenshot below for November 29, you can see Mediavine paid $51.48 per 1,000 sessions that day. There were 12,383 sessions, so multiply $51.48 times 12.383 and it comes out to $637.47, which is the amount earned:

Mediavine Earnings Summary - November 2020

How awesome would it feel to wake up every day and earn $10, $100, or $1,000?!?

I can tell you it’s definitely possible. I did it, and I don’t consider myself a great writer by any means.

If you’re interested in making your own blog, but don’t know where to begin or feel overwhelmed – have no fear, The Money Ninja is here! I wrote a really easy-to-understand guide on how to start a blog in just 7 steps.

9. Become A Landlord (💰💰💰💰)

I mentioned investing in real estate through crowdfunding sites like Fundrise earlier. While that option is great, if you have ability to invest in rental properties on your own, then becoming a landlord may be the ultimate passive income business you’ll take part in.

Although it can be tough to build up enough cash to put a 20% down payment on an investment property, once you do, things can snowball very quickly. The important thing here is to forecast how much rental income you can expect to receive versus what you’ll pay out in expenses. Since this is a passive income post, be sure to include the cost of a property management company – it’s typically 10% of the monthly rent.

Don’t have enough money for a 20% down payment? Do what my parents did in the beginning of their real estate business, which is renting their current house once they move to a new place. If the monthly rent can cover the old mortgage, this could be a great alternative to selling your existing home.

The Bottom Line

Building passive steams of income is the key to unlocking wealth. As you get older, you can’t keep trading your time for money. Life only gets busier and free time becomes a highly-valued commodity. This starts with generating income that doesn’t take too much of your time and leveraging your existing money to work harder for you.

I hope the list inspires you to take the next step in financial independence by taking the plunge into building your own passive income streams.

Which ones are you going to try? Which ones have I left out of the list?

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