How to make money without working – a lot, anyway

If you don’t want to work forever, you might want to look for ways to generate passive income – money that you get with no trouble. Much of the income you earn from passive sources is taxed at preferential rates. Translation: You keep more.

Generating passive income usually requires assets. But you may already have them.

A number of online platforms have sprung up to help people generate passive income by renting out property they already own. These possessions can range from large items such as entire houses and cars to smaller items that you might never have considered particularly valuable, such as your driveway, attic, carpet cleaner, or tools. Some platforms allow artists to collect royalties and license fees for the use of their art.

About taxes

When you earn income from work in the United States, you are subject to a multitude of taxes, such as state and federal income tax, as well as employment taxes that fund systems such as social security and health insurance. Passive income is taxed differently and, in general, less heavily.

Some forms of passive income are not taxed at all. If, for example, you earn thousands of dollars renting your personal residence for up to 14 days a year, that income is tax-exempt. (Be careful, though: if you rent out your home for even one more day, all that otherwise non-taxable income is thrown into the taxable column.)

Most other forms of passive income are taxable. But unless you turn your passive income into a part-time business, you’ll at least avoid employment taxes on income, says Mark Luscombe, senior federal tax analyst at Wolters Kluwer.

Even when income from primarily passive activities – such as renting out your personal property – is classified as self-employment income, you can benefit from tax breaks that are likely to significantly reduce Uncle Sam’s share. , the self-employed can deduct any expenses necessary to earn that income before determining the taxable portion of the income. There is also a special 20% deduction that further reduces the taxable portion of self-employment income, Luscombe says. But you should seek professional tax advice to determine which rules affect what forms of your income. The US tax code is complex and riddled with landmines.

Stock dividends

The most common way to earn passive income is to invest in dividend paying stocks. In most cases, dividends on investments held for the long term are considered “qualified”, meaning that they would be subject to a maximum tax rate of 20%. (This compares to the top tax rate of 37% for earned income, which is also subject to FICA tax.)

But dividend income is rarely generous. The typical stock will pay between 2% and 4% of its value each year in dividends. This means that it could take more than 20 years for the dividends to add up to the value of your initial investment. That said, there is no work to be done to earn income with dividend paying stocks. Other forms of passive income are more generous but a little less passive.


If you’re a good artist – or even a smart slogan writer – you can earn royalties or license fees by uploading your art and allowing it to be sold on various products, such as coffee mugs and cases. for iPhone, manufactured by printing on-demand companies. These companies, the best of which are Fine arts of America and Redbubble, manufacture, market and ship the products, and authorize the art that decorates the articles. Artists set their own royalty rates. The print-on-demand operation adjusts the price of the items to reflect your catch.

If a t-shirt or puzzle costs $ 20 to make (and sell and mail) and you set your royalty rate at 20%, the t-shirts with your design will sell for $ 24 and you will earn $ 4. every time a t-shirt is sold. Once you recoup the cost of your time and any art materials, additional sales mean additional income without additional labor.

Your house

You can also earn semi-passive income by renting all or part of your personal residence. Let’s say you put your house up for rent while you take a two week vacation. If you list on Airbnb, you can charge a nightly rate plus a cleaning fee. Airbnb will deduct a commission to compensate itself for advertising your rental and collecting payment. If you rent out your house for $ 250 a night after Airbnb charges, that’s $ 3,500.

This is semi-passive income as there is quite a bit of work involved. You need to take photos of your home, list it on a website, respond to potential tenants, and have the housekeepers clean it up. All in all, it will probably take an hour or two per rental.

Airbnb isn’t the only site to rent out your home. You can also rent your house to tourists via Vrbo. And you can rent to film producers and event planners via Giggster, Peerspace and Splacer, among others. These sites encourage you to bill by the hour, which can earn you four to five times what you would get with Airbnb or VRBO. But there are unique risks in having movie productions and events in your home. Be sure to collect a bond for potential damage and consult your insurance agent.

If you don’t want to rent your house but are ok with letting people use your pool, you can sign up with Swim. The same caveats apply.

Your goods

Dozens of online platforms will help you rent your personal items.

BabyQuip can help you rent cots, high chairs and other baby equipment to travelers who need them while on vacation. FriendWithOne helps market personal items such as tools and sports equipment. KitSplit and ShareGrid can help you rent cameras, photo and video equipment.

Do you have a boat? You can try Boat fitter or GetMyBoat. camping car ? Rent it out on RVshare, Outdoors or RVnGo. Free parking space? List it on CurbFlip, ParqEx or Paving stone. Unused storage space? Check Neighbour or Stache.

If you have an additional car, you can rent it to tourists via Turo or Uber and Lyft drivers via HyreCar.

Kristof is the editor of, an independent site that reviews hundreds of lucrative opportunities in the concert economy.

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