Everyman’s Guide to $30 / Month in Passive Income

by Mr. Cheap

A while back I made reference to $30 / month of passive income and one of my off-line friends was quite interested in more details. Along the same lines as my previous “Everyman’s Guide” posts the rules are that that we’re thinking about ultra-low-risk, very reliable ideas (“get rich quick” schemes aren’t allowed). In previous posts we assumed our “everyman” is poor and unskilled. Unfortunately, passive income usually requires at least one of the two.

Poor and No Skills

  • Sell some junk from around your house each month. Arguably this isn’t passive, but with all the stuff most of us have gathering dust around our place, you could make $30 pretty easily slapping an ad on Craigslist or Kijiji and having someone come by your house to pick it up. I could probably make $30 / month for the next couple years if I started selling off my DVD collection.

Borrow from Lending Club

Poor and Some Skills

  • Start blogging. I was actually surprised when Mike start monetizing the site. My expectation was that we’d get enough money each month to mail a letter or two, but its been better than that. Its debatable whether this is passive or not, but if you’d blog even without getting paid, then monetizing it can be viewed as passive income (its especially passive for me since Mike does all the work).
  • A generalization of the first point, but sell something that you’re currently creating for fun. Do you knit, sell what you make! Paint? Sell them! Make pottery? Ditto. You probably won’t get anything near minimum wage for your efforts, but if you keep enjoying it for its own sake, getting a bit of cash from it might be ok.
  • Create some product that can sell on its own. Think T-shirts at Cafe Press, a how-to or recipe book at Lulu or create a casual game and sell it through Reflexive Arcade.
  • Buy other people’s junk cheap and re-sell it on Craigslist or Kijiji.
  • Get other people’s broken junk for free, fix it, then re-sell it on Craigslist or Kijiji. Think computers, cars, or bicycles.
  • Property manage OTHER people’s real estate. If real estate is passive, than managing other people’s property should be passive as well. If you found someone who had a condo or small unit they’d probably be willin to pay you 5-10% of the gross rent to show it to potential tenants and be a “first line contact” in case of problems. 5% of $600 is $30 / month.

Not Poor and No Skills

  • Pay off $1,242 on a 29% credit card (saving $30 / month is as good as earning it in my book)
  • Buy $8000 of General Electric stock (currently yielding 4.5%) or $8372 of Royal Bank stock (currently yielding 4.3%)
  • Put $11,804 in 3.05% PC Financial’s Interest Plus Savings Account.
  • Buy real estate that will have cash flow after paying all expenses (including a monthly vacancy and maintenance budget).

Not Poor and Some Skills

  • The world is your oyster, seize it!

Some of these are a stretch as “passive” I’ll admit, but passive income always seems a bit ambiguous.

What ideas do you have (or better yet, things you’ve done) for getting $30 / month in passive income?

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 squawkfox

I think I need to partner with Mike to make my blog passive. 😀

2 Early Retirement Extreme

Ahh yes. GE is nice. Wells Fargo (WFC) is nice too. In fact with the downturn, many stocks are starting to yield really well. Of course these pay quarterly. There are a lot of income ETFs that pay monthly.

3 Pinyo

Mike should come work with me. Time to get rid of dead weight. 😉

4 squawkfox

@Pinyo I have dibs on Mike…besides, he’s a Canuck like moi. 😉

5 Mr. Cheap

lol – I better buy Mike a meal when he gets back from his trip so he won’t listen to your offers!

ERE: yes, perhaps I should have mentioned that the payments are actually quarterly not monthly (I guess people could withdraw 1/3rd of a dividend payment each month…)

6 guinness416

Mike’s ears are burning right now. Who knows, maybe he won’t come back at all?

I like your “sell something a month” suggestion, and may implement it. Although it’s kinda annoying that we’re talking about the same amount of cash that $11,800 of hard-earned in a bank would generate.

And hey don’t forget “thoroughly investigate work benefits” – I have colleagues who are leaving medical, RRSP matching, and professional organization discounts on the table. Which is mad.

Anyone know anything about stamps? I received a collection of a whoooole bunch of Year of the Tiger and tiger-related stamps and FDCs from round the world a couple of years ago, that I’d love to offload. They’re very pretty but are just sitting in a binder right now. I haven’t a clue where to start, what I’d get, or if anyone would even want to pay for them.

7 Mr. Cheap

Guinness: what I’m always tempted to do with collectibles like that (and Magic Cards, coins, etc) is find someone you trust who knows about them, and offer them a cut to sell it for you. Then you can be reasonably confident you’re not GIVING it away, but its easy to get rid of.

That or post it on E*Bay with a very detailed description and hope it gets bid up to the appropriate price range…

8 Four Pillars

I’m back baby!

I should sell my services to the highest bidder. Although given the rather pathetic monetization results so far, I imagine the bids would be quite low. 🙂

Guinness – excellent point about the work benefits – I would also extend that idea to government programs if applicable.

Regarding the stamps – if you don’t know anything about them then you might have to take the time to learn. I used to collect stamps when I was much younger but I would have no idea about your material. Maybe take it to a dealer or two and see what they say? I will say that if the stamps are relatively new then they are probably worthless.

9 DebtKid

Good list, I’d argue that very few of those are actually “passive” income though. Managing property is still managing. If you were the owner of the property and someone else was managing, that would be passive.

Blogging itself isn’t passive, but building up posts that then make money is, so it’s kinda a combo. Anyway, thumbs up : )

10 Mr. Cheap

DebtKid: Yes, “passive” is quite a debatable term.

11 FFB

How about maxing out your company match in their 401(k) plan? You don’t get to spend this money now but in many cases you could be getting up to 5% of your salary added to your retirement savings.

12 Di Eats the Elephant

Regarding the question on stamp collecting, my Mom wanted to know what she should do with her “kewpie doll” (sp) when she died – did I want it? Since there is no emotional attachment by me to her doll (she never played with it while I was growing up and some of her other things give me more memories), I suggested that since she had a better idea of how much it was worth (along with more time to deal with such issues), she sell it on ebay and split the money among her heirs (me and my siblings, grandchildren as well) because none of us had room for extra “stuff” and none of us had any idea how much these things of hers might be worth. I’m ready to sell my grandmother’s silver place settings as well. I have boys (not girls), my own silver pattern and place settings, and no need for the additional silver. However, I could use the cash for it to offset purchases of things I did want in my house (like a bed and new towels!). How many of us have things like this we can sell or call it recycle – to cycle it out of our lives and into the lives of those who would appreciate it?

13 Mr. Cheap

Di: Often with collectibles they aren’t worth anywhere near what people think they are. It might be depressing for your mom if she tried to sell her “kewpie doll” (I don’t even know what that is) on E*Bay and found out its only worth $8.56.

14 Di Eats the Elephant

LOL – good point! I should check first myself. I thought I’d let her use her time to figure out how to sell stuff on e*bay, but guess I will have to be the one to do that! Thanks!

15 Jules @ Lovely Las Vegas

Great list – I’m thinking about selling some stuff that is lying around the home – it definitely won’t be worth what I purchased it for originally, but at least it will help create more space, reduce clutter, and add a little extra cash to put into savings.

16 Toni


I found this blog yesterday and I think it is quite good. But I have something to complain about (obviously not Mr Cheap’s fault):

I DID the GE approach back in october 2008 (400 shares at 19$) and since then the company has cut dividends by more than two thirds… so: please diversify, do not invest in only a single company.

I repeat: very good blog. You are being read from Spain

17 Mr. Cheap

Toni: Yes, I bought GE shares back around then and got bit by the dividend cut as well. I share your pain :-).

Thanks for your kind words!

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