My First 4 Years of Passive Income Growth

Getting Started making sustainable passive income is both exciting and addicting, but figuring out where to start can be a little scary and confusing. There’s the fear of losing your hard earned money on a bad investment or putting your money into something and being unable to withdraw when you need it.

Should you invest for equity growth or the greatest immediate return? You probably hear terms like “diversification”, “portfolio” and “income streams” and if your like me when I was getting started you may be thinking “Just tell me what to do!!!” Unfortunately I can’t do that in one article, there’s always the option of hiring a financial advisor, but that can get very expensive and make turning a profit all the more difficult in the short term so carefully weigh your options. What I can do is share my journey and hope it helps you.

A Brief Overview

It took a lot of research and personal consideration to decide how I wanted to structure my portfolio, but what I settled on was to structure first for equity growth and then for income generation, so I made my Robinhood the foundation of my investments. I like this app because its free and offers commission free trading so it makes generating a profit much easier (assuming you know what your doing). Not only that, but if you share your link (or click mine) and someone signs up you will get a free share of stock and so will they – but lets be real, at this point if you don’t have it you don’t want it. This made up about 50% of my total investment portfolio with the remaining split between Lendingclub and now Driverloan.

Getting Started With Passive Income

I first started my investing with $5 on Stash because I clicked a link somebody sent me and thought “its just $5”- and I got a free $5 for signing up so why not? I remember watching excitedly as my $5 appreciated to something like $5.10 and thinking how cool it was to see my money grow without any effort from myself, but then it happened.. I looked down at my phone and saw the notification that I had received $0.01 in the form of dividends on my $5.

I looked a little deeper and realized that this was going to be a monthly occurrence and not just a yearly thing. I get it, that probably doesn’t excite most people but for me it was a game changer, because I realized that my $5 would continue to grow and so would that $0.01, and for every additional $5 I put in I would get a little bit bigger of payout each month. The fire was lit and I was ready to fan it.

I didn’t have a lot of disposable income to put into this (although I did have an extra $0.01 per month thanks to dividends), so I put back the $5 per week that I could and found ways to cut down my expenses to free up as much as I could to throw at Stash.

Adding Income

I had determined that my first goal was to make $1,000 per month from passive income. As much as cutting back did help, I learned pretty quickly that getting to any sizable income this way was going be be a slow and painful process so I started looking for any and every opportunity to make money that I could invest. I tried a few gig apps like Task Rabbit and Gigwalk, but they ended up being more of a time drain than anything.

Where I really found what I was looking for was when I started driving for Uber and Lyft. I was fortunate enough to live in an area where the customer base was fairly large, so I would turn on the apps on my way home from work and usually have a ride request before I made it home. After work rides and weekends combined I was bringing in an average of about $400 per month extra that I could put toward building passive income.

My Setbacks In Passive Income Creation

Here is where I made my first mistake. While I was looking for extra work I was also digging into article after article on how to build passive income and I wanted it fast. I was hooked and like a drug addict I was looking for my next hit. That’s when I found Shopify. I found countless examples of online dropshipping stores generating thousands every month and decided to try my hand… it did not go well.. I found a good US supplier in a niche market and built a decent social media following but still wasn’t getting any sales.

So when my Ride-sharing income began coming in I began putting about 80% of it into marketing for my shop. I got countless visitors but never made more than about 10 sales before I closed shop. Disclaimer here, the problem wasn’t Shopify or dropshipping, you can actually earn a great deal of income from that. The issue was that I went into it blind, with no idea what I was doing, what SEO was, the impact themes have on conversion, the impact a connection with your audience has, and a slew of other important factors that I now understand.

Making Progress and Residual Income

In total I was putting back about $100 per month after I cut down my expenses, began Uber/Lyft and blew a large chunk on my dropshipping site. By now I had found Lending Club (a peer to peer lending platform) and had decided to put $50 per month into that (at the time the minimum to start was just $25) and $50 in dividend stock.

This is when my momentum started to shift. Lending Club has a very interesting structure which I’ll talk more about later, but for now it more or less meant that from my contributions every month my passive income increased about $0.20, but with Stash my income was actually still a negative because my free period was up and they were charging $1 per month. That’s when I found Robinhood and made the switch. They didn’t offer fractional shares, but I no longer needed them, I could afford whole shares (oh yeah, ballin’ now). So once I switched to Robinhood I found a pretty safe Dividend ETF and my income was adding about another $0.10 per month in income every month ( I did branch out on single stocks later).

A Moment to Review

So at this point in my story I was about 6 months in and making about $1.00 per month total. I had just had a baby so my Uber and Lyft time is gone, but thankfully I had a raise so I was still contributing about $50 per month total to my investments. I had about $200 in Lending club and about $350 in stock through investments and value appreciation. $1 was pretty great to me, but still $999 short of my goal. So that just some quick math here, but that told me that I needed 999 times the investment I currently held. That would work out to a little over $500 thousand. Not going to get there any time soon on $50 per month.

The Good New and Bad about Financial Freedom

The good news is, while it would take 915 years to accumulate $500 thousand at $50 per month, stock tends to appreciate at about 8% per year compounded annually (your interest is earning interest), and Lending club had something of a doubling cycle that helps compound pretty fast as well (that’s an explanation for another post). Not only that but my investments were now paying me a dollar per month and that was growing every month. The bad news was that I still wasn’t going to reach my goal any time soon. I needed to keep pushing forward.

Moving Ahead

Over the next two years I was able to continue putting back money on my investments, I got raises and promotions and upped my contributions. I put a pause on Lending club at $1,000 and let it basically fund itself for a while and put all my extra income into Robinhood Stock. I had taken advantage of their Gold package that lets you borrow at a super low interest to invest because I was and still am averaging about 30%+ appreciation (I was actively trading but I have several core stock picks I buy and hold for dividends). On active trading I make about $150 per month (day trading isn’t for everyone, I’m an accountant and live for this stuff) which isn’t passive income, but definitely helps me get closer to my goal. At this point in the story I’m now making about $80 per month on my total investments and that’s growing by about $1 per month. So $80 this month, $81 next, ect.

Adding Income Streams

As I kept going I never stopped looking for ways to add some passive, or at least semi-passive income to my income streams. I found something called PPOC Club, this is product testing sight that pays you to try out the products of various e-commerce stores on amazon and give them constructive feedback. So how this works is I buy the product, get reimbursed tax and all, give my feedback and get about $2–3.50 per product. So I stack this with my Amazon card which gets me 5% cash back and this usually generates about $100 per month and some interesting products for me. Which means more money to invest, as is always the case.

Researching Income Sources & Passive Income

At this point I had probably logged more hours researching passive income than I put into my whole undergrad degree, but I did find some things that worked for me and I found a lot of “easy income” or “discount” types of apps and programs to get some extra income to help me reach my goals faster.

For example, I had tried a lot of survey apps and apparently I don’t qualify for any survey that has ever been or ever will be developed (although this is only determined after I’ve completed about 98%… convenient), but I was stubborn so I kept wasting my life trying and eventually downloaded Swagbucks again after I had tried it several years prior and discovered that they seriously upped their game. I still don’t use their surveys very often- I like Premise for those, but they have some free offers that I’ve taken advantage of and continue to find and try out, which averaged me about $5 or so per month income. Not groundbreaking but its not too shabby either.

Cash Back as an Investment Source

So what I really like about Swagbucks is the cash back. Cash back is truly the unsung hero of early retirement. So here is how I look at it. On average a person spends upwards of $16,000 per year on retail or eating out. Its wild to think about I know, but if you’re like most people (hopefully you’re not though) you can think about how much money you earn per year, subtract general living expenses and your left wondering “where did all my money go”?

My point is, 1% cash back can potentially get you $160 dollars per year. If you shop around you can probably find a credit card that can earn you 2% or more and that is stackable with Swagbucks offers which are sometimes as high as 5% cash back, now take that a step further. There’s a new app I’ve quickly grown to love called Fluz that you can stack on top of those for 0.5% on up to 20%. Let me break that down, if you managed to get stack the three for just half of your retail or food purchases at a 2% card, 1% on Swagbucks and 0.5% on Fluz then you would get $280 per year back.

So even though $280 isn’t a fortune, I was and am doing this because I can make that $280 work for me and keep earning. Granted this isn’t passive income in its self, but its money saved which can be repurposed for investing in passive income generation.

Trying New Sources of Income

Now toward the end of the fourth year I suffered another failure. I had a friend who had recently bought a house but still had a lease on his apartment. He thought that rather than break the lease it would be better to list it on Airbnb and wanted myself and a couple of other friends to join him. After he, myself and a real estate friend of ours had looked over the lease we decided to go along with his plan as there was nothing in the lease prohibiting subleasing, let alone Airbnb specifically.

So we each poured in about $700 on furniture and spent our free time working on the listing and making sure everything was nice and tidy for pictures we had our first guest. Week one and we had already earned about $200 or $50 each. Week 2 came and went with guests and so on for about a month until finally we had earned about $700 each which had us break even.

Then the party guest came… Long story short they disrupted the neighbors who complained and upon finding out what we were doing (not that we were hiding it) we were forced to break the lease which ate up all of the “profit” which essentially meant we had lost $700 each and a lot of time. Having seen the potential of the business model I was not going to just walk away from the idea, but I did end up going in a different direction thanks to a coworker turning me back on to a prospect I had considered years ago and since forgotten, car rentals.

So after a painful amount of research I took a leap of faith and bought a cheap BMW so that I could test the waters. I decided I would rent out both my main vehicle and the BMW. I thought “whichever is rented, I’ll drive the other”. That couldn’t possibly have gone better. I quickly found myself driving my wife’s minivan because both cars were in high demand and within 2 months I had to add a vehicle so that I have something to drive to work. Within just a couple of months these vehicles were generating about $1,200 per month in income for me.

My Passive Income

So what my passive or semi-passive earnings looked like at the end of year 4 monthly basis:

Robinhood: $200

Lending Club: $15

Swagbucks: $5

Driver Loans: $3.75

Cash Back: $30

PPOC: $100

Turo: $1,200

Total: $1,553.75

I’ve learned a lot about passive income and how to research over the years and since starting I have found a greater passion for business, got my MBA and began working on my DBA. I’ve since turned my focus more on A & N Accounting which exploded around 2020, Midnight Supplies, and Da Pet Treats. I reinvest all of their earnings back into each respective business, and let the passive income largely fund itself.

My passive income portfolio has changed a lot over time to add some sources and remove others, but the point of this writing is to show you that it is possible to break free from a job being your only source of income.

App Review- Side Income

Making money is the drive that’s hammered into us nearly from birth. From the time we are able to form coherent sentences we are asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. In other words, how are you going to feed, cloth and provide shelter for yourself? There’s no escape from work and in the quickly modernizing society many people are being replaced with automated technology. So where does that leave them? You can’t eat without a job and you can’t have a job because your skills were rendered useless. Then there’s the rest of us who just want to actually be able to enjoy our lives and see what its like to be at home on a Monday and be able to feed ourselves and our families. Well, as I’ve said before, there is no real magic solution to this short of a miraculous windfall. But don’t let that stop you! Start somewhere, anywhere, because if you don’t START it will never happen at all. Building wealth takes time and we’re in this together. Below are three great apps that I’ve tested and found to be legit and a really great, easy way to start working toward freedom or to add to your existing plan.

SliceThePie

We love to give our opinion, its just human nature. Don’t believe me? Post an opinion you have on social media and wait. Before long your notifications will be filled with comments, either agreeing with you or letting you know that you’re the embodiment of evil because you enjoy a Snickers over Reese’s Cup.

Well, SliceThePie is a place where you can get paid feedback. The more detailed you get with your opinion the better your rating becomes; with a higher rating you earn a little bit more for every review. You’ll be reviewing things like new music, cellphone cases and new clothing, so you’ll get to see products and hear new music before its ever released.

What does it pay? Well what you can make per review varies, but I think its fair to say you’ll probably average about $0.20 per review, which may not seem like a lot, but it can add up and for the “work” its not too shabby at all.

To get started only takes about 5 minutes, you’ll answer some basic questions about yourself and your interests and once that is done you can begin reviewing immediately. You will need to have earned at least $10 before you can cash out, but I’ve not seen any issues with this one like other apps where you get close and then they stops giving you anything. This one is on the up and up.

The only issue I have with it is that you don’t get to pick what genre of music you want to review, so lets say you’re a die hard heavy metal fan, you may get a nice gentle singer/songwriter love song to review and it can be difficult to offer an honest opinion on something you don’t normally enjoy to begin with.

1Q

This one is extremely quick and easy money, its just sporadic. 1Q has about a 2 minute signup process where you enter some very basic information and your PayPal email address. You’ll get questions periodically, in my experience its about one or two per week. They vary from single question to short (5 minute) surveys, with the single question paying out $0.25 and the longer paying more. The biggest payout I’ve gotten so far for a single short survey is $2.00

What I love about this app is that there is no payout limit, within minutes of answering a question your payout is sent to PayPal.

The downside is that questions are only available for a short period of time, usually less than an hour, so you’re busy when a question becomes available you may miss your chance. You can, however set an alert to give you a notification any time a new question opens up so that this doesn’t happen quite as often.

Premise

Premise is among the best small task income producing apps I’ve found, its primarily short 3-4 minute surveys and longer product verification tasks. Most surveys pay out $0.25 each and I’ve never ran into a case where I answer several questions and then screen out like many other “paid” surveys – I use the term paid loosely there because I feel like many are more screener questions and failure than pay outs. The bigger money is in the tasks, for example just yesterday I made a Walmart run and decided to open my Premise app and there were 3 available tasks at my location. Each one required me to find a product, Snap Cookies, Peanut Butter Stick, and some automotive parts, and take a picture of the barcodes for a payout of $5 each. Now these were actually pretty hard to find, but with some looking its doable if you’re not really in a hurry.

The paid tasks are almost always available, but in all honesty I rarely take them because I prefer the 4 minute surveys since I don’t have to leave my house and I can be done relatively fast. The threshold for payout is $10 and so far its only done through PayPal. Doing just the surveys I typically earn about $1.75 per week.

Investing

Neither of these things are going to make you a millionaire, but its money that you wouldn’t otherwise have, so with that in mind my go to is always investing. Lets say you were able to make $10 per week using these apps, you put it into a dividend stock or ETF with an average performance then in one year you would have about $520 and be earning $1.08 per month without doing anything. Once again, that isn’t earth shattering, but that’s money and income you wouldn’t otherwise have.

Another route is to pay off debt, every dollar you put toward your debt will help you get free faster and in the long run reduce your income needs. The point is, the key to becoming financially independent is to leverage your money. Very few people ever got rich by selling their time for money, aka working a job, it comes from making that money and having it earn for you.

Starting a Dropshipping Business

A Beginners Guide

Starting a dropshipping business can seem like an easy way to make money while you sleep and become wealthy beyond your wildest dreams. That’s what a lot of online advertisers want you to think anyway. In truth, if they were multi-millionaires from dropshipping they wouldn’t be spending thousands on adds trying to get you to do it. That would just further stretch the market share and increase their competition.

The truth is, there is a lot of money that can be made from dropshipping, or any other business for that matter, but it is much more complicated, time consuming, and technical than it seems at first glance. If you don’t know what dropshipping is, it’s a fairly simple concept on the surface. Here’s the breakdown

1. You create an online storefront, connect with a supplier

2. You list their products for a higher price than you pa

3. Customers purchase from your store

4. You buy the product and have it shipped to your customer, pocketing the profit

This may seem a little sketchy, but in truth it is simply a form of inventory system your accountant would call JIT (Just In Time). Its legitimate and a perfectly fine business model which reduces, minimizes, or eliminates warehousing and storage costs, and in this case makes it possible for individuals to start a business with no inventory on hand.

So what’s the problem then? The issue is that too many people jump into dropshipping under the impression that the four steps above are the extent of it and no additional work needs to be done, then fail miserably. If you’re interested in starting a dropshipping business, or even a hybrid then I’m going to share a few tips to help you prepare and get started on the right foot.

What to Sell

Know what you want to sell. This seems like an obvious first step, but with the ease of dropshipping today its tempting to just pick a name, open a store and then randomly add whatever you find and hope it sticks. While you can do that and I won’t say that you can’t find success in that, it is much easier to succeed with a strategy. There are a few approaches to finding what to sell, I will recommend 2 that I really think are easiest:

1. Sell something you are passionate about

I suggest this because the best way to market for the long term is to build an captive audience (i.e social media following or email list) and the best way to build that audience is to establish yourself as an authority on the topic. For example, if you are a car enthusiast you probably find it easy to talk about cars and engage with other car enthusiasts, but if you try to sell perfume because it has a high margin, then you may find it difficult to connect with your customer base on any meaningful level. This is important because its that connection that can quickly become your competitive advantage. Consumers like to see their favorite brands succeed and often encourage those who they feel close with to become a part of that connection. For example, if you have ever met a fan of the HBO series Game of Thrones then you have likely been asked to watch it, probably more than once, or maybe you are the one asking. The point is, when people we care about like something that you identify with then we feel validated and it strengthens that connection with the other party. So if people can connect with your store then they will be your most powerful marketing tool for the long haul.

2. Research trending products, find a category you like with a lot of trending products and build your store around that.

While this doesn’t offer the same long-term marketing & repeat customer opportunities as the previous, it does allow you to see what products are easiest to make conversions on. This gives you a good chance to hit the ground running, make some sales, get contact information, provide a good experience and hopefully earn repeat customers. The downside here is that trending products change quickly and once a customer has bought it; they aren’t likely to buy the same thing again. This is why I suggest you choose a category rather than a hodgepodge of trending products. It gives you a slightly better chance of repeat customers. For this you will still need to try to build a captive audience and you will need to keep up your research to make sure you are always adding the latest trending products to your store.

Sourcing

Sourcing can be tricky. There are many dropshipping partners out there whom you can use for sourcing, but not all are created equal. Here are some things to consider:

· Some integrate with your storefronts, some don’t. Those that do, getting products loaded can be as simple as installing an app on your website, while those that don’t will require you to manually load each and every product.

· The next hurdle is finding a dropshipping wholesaler. There are many suppliers who are willing to let you dropship their products, but many have retail pricing which forces you into premium pricing, making it significantly more difficult to compete in the market.

· Shipping Time This is the MOST IMPORTANT thing for you to look into. Those suppliers with wholesale pricing are far too often Chinese suppliers, which would make no difference if not for their lengthy handling times and import times through customs. The ideal shipping time is no more than 5 days from order to customer. Amazon has proven that one day shipping is what many want, but for dropshippers 3–5 days is a really good goal that you should strive for, any more than that and you are testing your customers patience.

· Resale certificate — if you are really serious you may want to pursue obtaining a resale certificate which will allow you to connect with true wholesalers in the US (you can do so without one, but it is much better/easier if you get one)

Platform

There are many ways you can start dropshipping from creating your own website from scratch from somewhere like GoDaddy or use something directly geared toward sells like Square or Shopify. Each has its own unique properties and customizability, but my personal recomendation is Shopify because of its easy integration with multiple sales channels and social media platforms and there is no need to understand coding.

Layout

As important as having the right products and pricing is, layout and design is almost as important. Depending on what type of product your selling, there are optimal layouts which drive conversions. This is part of your “click funnel”. You have to consider what drives a site visitor to click on this or that category, then what leads them to click on a product, click add to cart, and eventually make a purchase. The reasons may vary depending on what your specialization is, so you will likely need to do some research to determine those answers, but this is another reason I think Shopify is a good place to start, they have prebuilt, customizable layouts that are geared toward driving conversions on almost every sales category. The downside is that they do require an investment of $200–400 usually.

Marketing

This is basically the lifeblood of your store. You have to get your products and store in front of the right people and identifying those people or how to do that can be tricky. It generally takes a little over 500 site visits before you make your first sale, and about 22 contact points before a customer makes their first purchase. In other words, you have to get your site or products in front of any given consumer at least 22 times before you get anything out of it. That is assuming you are offering something that they want at a price they are comfortable with. That means marketing, retargeting, email campaigns, SEO optimization and making your site appealing enough to entice them to take another look on their own. The good news is that once you do have a purchase you are much more likely to get that consumer to buy again and develop that relationship we mentioned earlier. So essentially, while marketing never stops, the greatest investment will always be in new customers and over time profitability should increase though repeat customers and building your captive audience.

Wrap Up

This is by no means a comprehensive breakdown of all things dropshipping, but hopefully this does give you an idea of what to expect and what you need to look at to get started if you make your own informed decision to do so. So to recap:

Step 1 — Find what you want to sell

Step 2 — Find a platform that suits your needs

Step 3 — Find a supplier

Step 4 — Set up & optimize your layout

Step 5 — Advertise, build audience, engage

The Trying – Part 1

“I’m going to be late again” He said for the hundredth time, knowing all too well the resistance he would be met with. Kate would always urge him home, after all Sarah had school in the morning and will be in bed soon. Neither of them see very much of him lately.

“ok, I’ll save you some dinner in the fridge” she replied with a hushed tone of defeat. She had given up, she had finally come to accept that his job would always come first. She was through fighting it. She understood that in his own way, his work was his way of being there for them. He always thought that if he worked hard enough now he could give them the life he never had. He would sometimes stay up late telling Kate about his ideas for these family vacations and how much he wants to someday take the whole summer to go traveling and spend with she and Sara. Kate knew what that hope meant to him, she just wished that he would be here now instead of someday.

John was a bit taken back by the ease of the exchange, but after a brief goodbye he went back to work. As he pounded away at the keyboard a picture that rested at the corner of his desk, mostly hidden behind a mound of paper grabbed his eye. It was of himself with Kate and Sarah last summer. It was probably the happiest John could remember being.

He decided to cut short his usual late night and have dinner with his family for a change. He shut down his computer and turned the lights off and shut the door, he was always the last to leave the office. John walked through the dimly lit parking lot toward his old white sedan. He’d had that car for ages in spite of being more than capable of affording a newer model. There was just something about his old car that gave him a sense of comfort. It was the car he drove from the church when he married Kate, it was the car he drove Kate and Sara home from the hospital in, but most of all, for him it was a constant In a world of chaos.

As John drove home he wondered what Kate would think. How surprised she would be to see him so early. He loved to see her smile; it was one of the small things in life that made him genuinely happy. He couldn’t remember the last time he sat down for a family meal and his own excitement started to bubble up.

He pulled in the garage and as he stepped out of the car he was struck by the sound of shattering glass and muffled screaming from inside the house. A deep dread filled his body and his heart was beating out of his chest as he burst through the door. A serving tray lie shattered on the floor among tiny droplets of blood. John manic gaze searched as thoughts raced though his head.

“Please!” he could make out between weeping sobs coming from upstairs. John rushed to the top of the stairs, his thoughts all but gone, acting purely in a mix of fear and defensive fury. He reached the top of the steps in what seemed like an instant and turning to he and Kates bedroom. There Kate lie, unconscious with a large gash on her forehead. A large man dressed in black standing over her as he was reaching down to tie her hands. John ran at the man with a rage he had never known and threw his body at the man with every ounce of his strength hitting the stranger in the chest with his shoulder.

They both hit the wall with a sound like thunder, crushing the drywall under the force and falling to the ground. John suddenly came to himself and felt as though he couldn’t move. His entire body ached, and he could hardly move his arm. Nevertheless, he mustered up all of his strength, he had to make sure Kate was alright.

“Dad?!” a hopeful voice rang out from across the room. It was Sara, she was peaking out of the closet, her face pale white with tears streaming down her face.

Before John could take a step he felt a blow to the back of his head that shook him to the core. He turned feebly trying to lift his arms to defend only to be met with a barrage of strikes. Each blow felt like sledge hammers raining down. He stumbled backwards as he swung wildly, hoping to land a blow. The world was spinning as his vision became crimson. One last violent strike to Johns forehead sent him tumbling down the stairs. Everything began to dim as John lie at the foot of the steps.

Faint beeping and the rustle of fabric and footsteps began to grow louder as John awoke. He struggled to open his eyes. They felt tight and John could tell they were swollen. He looked around disoriented and his gaze was met by a nurse.

“where am I?” He forced out in a dry, broken tone.

“you’re at Hopkin’s Regional. You’ve been .. “ She began, but John broke in with a panic

“Kate! Sara! Where are they?!” He sprung up, remembering the attack. Searing pain coursed through his body, half covered in bandages. He regained his focus just in time to see the nurse sink, her face so full of grief, though she tried to hide it. John knew at that moment that they were gone. Emptiness enveloped his soul as his head fell back to the pillow. He lacked even the strength to shed a tear.

In the following days John wouldn’t eat. He couldn’t eat, he saw no point in feeding himself and most of all he couldn’t find the strength. Though his body was healing his soul was broken. It hurt simply to exist, and John wanted desperately to run away, to hide somewhere. But hide from what? Reality? Truth? There was no escaping. The doctors and nurses would try to encourage him to eat and urged him to seek counseling, but John could barely withstand the sound of another voice. His brokenness was deep and burned with a flame that demanded stillness, he felt that any move, any slight jostle would enrage the flame and consume his being. Still he knew he had to carry on, they would want him to carry on.

After several days John was finally able to begin to eat again, little as it was. He quickly learned that the path of least resistance was to pretend he was ok, that he was healing. If he seemed alright to everyone else he could hide within himself, the world would stop trying to fix him with senseless advice and hollow empathy. He could fake it until he was alone and then, then he could finally rest. So that’s exactly what he did.

Soon John was able to return home. A few friends and his parents offered to let him stay with them for a while or come stay with him, but the thought of countless hours around others was far too much to handle so he politely declined and assured them he would be fine. He did however accept their kind offer of cleaning up the home before his arrival. As John drove home he passed by the school where Sara goes… went rather… his heart sank and a sick feeling of anxiety and dread filled him. He tried to shake it off “just hold on til you get home” he told himself. As he continued to drive he could feel his will draining.

Finally, the driveway was in the distance. He pulled in with a heart full of mixed feelings. Part of him thought Kate would be just on the other side of the door, in one of her comfy sundresses, working on some little project. She was always tinkering with something. John loved to see the way her face would light up when she got a new idea for a craft or she finally finished a DIY project. But as he opened the door he was greeted by silence. He collapsed to the floor and wept, tears poured out like a flood as he wailed and pounded the floor, with this came the first bittersweet relief John had experienced since the attack. As the tears slowed he raised himself to lean against the cabinets, he numbly stared across the room into space several minutes until deciding to go upstairs. As he reached the top of the stairs the sound of Kate pleading rang in his head. He turned the corner into the bedroom and stared at the spot Kate had laid. “Dad?!” he heard Sara’s call from that night. That hopeful call, she trusted him to save them. “I couldn’t protect you” John let out as tears streamed down his cheeks. He fell to his knees and cried himself to sleep where his world ended.

John awoke in terror as screams came from the other room. He quickly jumped from the floor, something was off. He was back in the kitchen, but it didn’t look quite right. “Help! Please!” came from the other room, it was a woman’s voice. John ran toward the noise to see two men standing over a young woman who seemed to be in her early twenties. The men were beating her, but why? What could she have possibly done to them? John unthinkingly ran to them yelling for them to stop. They turned to him visibly startled to find someone else in the house, but quickly regained their composure and began toward John. He readied himself for a fight, and as the first got close enough he swung with all his might and, making contact with the man’s jaw, and sent him stumbling backwards. The second tackled John and as they struggled on the ground John managed to make his way on top and began firing a flurry of punches, most were absorbed by the thugs arms covering his head, but John persisted to rain down blows. Suddenly he felt a cold, heavy, stinging pain between his shoulder blades. He toppled over and struggled to pick himself back up, but one of the men quickly leaped on him and dug a large knife into Johns chest.

John awoke in a cold sweat. He was in his bedroom, just where he had fallen asleep earlier. His chest and back seared with pain and his whole body ached as if he had the flu. He picked himself up and pondered on the crazy dream he just had as he crawled into bed. After sleeping for what felt like days John awoke feeling refreshed in body, though still broken inside. He looked around the room feeling the emptiness inside those walls as he pulled himself out of bed for a shower. He didn’t feel like showering, but it was a part of his routine, he found solace in routine. It was always his way of escaping from the world, inside of his ritualistic habits everything is the same, no tragedies, no arguments or hurt feelings, no bad news or depression, just the same comfortable things. John turned on the shower and began to undress. As he passed the bathroom mirror he noticed a scar on his chest where he had dreamed of being stabbed. John examined the scar in disbelief for a moment before brushing it off as coincidence. This must have been from the attack, he had sustained so many injuries surely this must have been one of them. After showering he did feel somewhat better, or at least numb, either way he could function well enough to put on a façade of wellness, as he was expecting a visit form his parents. His mother was determined to make sure he ate so she would be making dinner that night. He just hoped she wouldn’t mention Kate, try to bring up fond memories to help him heal. His mother was always worried about everyone else’s wellbeing, especially her kids. A part of him didn’t want to heal, that would mean letting go, accepting the way things were. In a way his pain helped him to hold onto the tiniest little piece of his family. His father was a strong man, in both body and will. He wasn’t much for talking about feelings, not because he didn’t care, but one of the few things he feared was not knowing what to say in times like these. So John knew he was safe there, the only comfort he found was in those not trying to comfort him.

As Martha and Henry arrived a little bit of Johns agony faded for a moment. It felt like he was a kid again and his mom and dad were there to pick him up in their arms, chase the monsters from under his bed, make his scraped elbow all better, and protect him from all that is bad in the world. The nostalgia of childhood and the pain of reality fought hard all night, with the latter winning. Still, it was nice having them around. Martha cooked John his favorite meal that night — broiled shrimp, corn on the cob and potatoes. For a moment he was home again, safe, the world wasn’t his responsibility. Still he ached in the midst of his comfort. As they left all the pain and more came flooding back. He watched them pull out of the driveway and with every inch that car traveled John felt the comfort of the past grow more distant with them. As they faded from sight he slumped down against the front door and wept from the very deepest part of his soul. He felt so alone. Ultimately alone. Everything ends and he would always be alone…

As John returned to work he was greeted with warm hello’s, condolences and a few sympathetic glances throughout the day. He tried to be warm in return, but it was obvious he would rather be left to his work. As the day worn on John began to feel more like himself, he could believe everything was normal for a time, and when he returned home Kate and Sara would be right there waiting. He typed away at his computer for hours, even working through lunch until the usual mass exodus from the office and the flurry of “see ya tomorrow”s. John absent mindedly picked up his phone to call Kate to let her know he would be late as usual. The phone rang twice and then Kates voice started “Hi, this is Kate. Sorry I missed your call..” John dropped the phone as the horrors of his memories flooded back into his head. Hands shaking John stood up and stumbled toward the elevator, his trembling fingers searched for the top floor. As the elevator lifted he held his head in his hands and moaned with agony. As he reached the top floor he walked to the stairs up to the roof, that was the first time he had been up there. Everything looked so different from atop the offices. He stood at the edge and imagined throwing himself over. The relief he felt as he pictured hurdling toward the ground was overwhelming. Still he had to carry on, he wouldn’t tarnish his family’s memory by ending it like this, not yet at least. He climbed down from the edge and lied down on the roof. Somehow being in an odd place removed him slightly from his darkness. John lied on the roof until morning, unable to sleep but unable to pick himself back up.

CH 2

“I got this one, you can get the next” John cheerfully offered as he pulled out his wallet. “I take it next time you want to hit up somewhere expensive” Zach joked. Lunch hangouts had been the new norm for John. His friend Zach had really been there for him through all of the tragedy. Though it was more often a burden than a help, any more John preferred to be alone. Nevertheless, John appreciated the thought..

As John got back home, he could barely keep his eyes open. Any sort of social interaction had become so draining these past several months. He dragged himself up the stairs to the bedroom and flopped on the bed face down welcoming sleep, the only comfort he felt any more. He was jostled awake by the sounds of a struggle in the next room. He lifted his head and panic and confusion set in as he didn’t recognize anything around him. He leapt to his feet and rushed to leave but as searched for the front door he heard the crying of a small child, as if she were in agony. Curiosity and worry compelled him to turn his head to see through the open doorway. His eyes rested on an elderly couple lying in the floor. The man bleeding from what appeared to be a stab wound and the woman had a large gash on her forehead. “they must be the kids grandparents” John thought. He felt of his pockets for a phone to call for help but his searching hands found nothing. “Shut up!” He heard a deep voice yell from around the corner. A man in ratty jeans and a black hoodie appeared from around the corner aiming a gun at the girl as he aggressively stepped toward her. John ran to protect the child, but the gunman heard his steps as he raced down the hall and quickly turned the gun toward John. A loud boom came as a flash of light danced off the barrel of the gun. John felt the hot metal rip through his left shoulder, but he pushes forward and knocks the shooter off of his feet. “Run!” John cried to the little girl as he tried to pry the gun from the killers’ hand. As John miraculously secured the gun, the hooded man surged to his feet and ran out the door in what seemed like the blink of an eye.

As John remembered the little girl fear overwhelmed him. “Is she okay? Did he find her?” He wondered as he tried to stand. His vision was beginning to fade, and his cloths were soaked in his own blood. Every step he took felt heavier than the last. As he approached the front door, he saw the small, pink stuffed giraffe the little girl had been holding. It was lying on the front porch. His mind raced as to what this meant. “was she taken? Did she drop it as she fled?” He questioned. Suddenly he felt a jolt as something hard and heavy met the back of his head and he dropped to the ground.

“I’m losing it” John thought as he opened his eyes to see his bedroom, just as it was the night before. He looked at the clock, it read 9:30 am. It was Saturday, and that was about the time Saras favorite show would come on. John didn’t care for it very much, but he would always watch it with her. He loved how she would scoot up close to him as she rested her head against his chest as she sat and watched.

John stood up from bed, his head pounded and seared with pain with each beat of his heart. He downed a couple of asprin and proceeded to get dressed. As he reached to take his shirt off his left shoulder had a sharp pain that stopped him in his tracks. “Guess that explains the weird dream” he thought, deciding to stay in yesterdays cloths.

The empty house, though silent echoed the pain of memories that would never be. John turned on the tv to try to drown out the screams of brokenness inside himself. He clenched a pillow as he found Sara’s show. He fixed his eyes to the screen through his tears. The routine helped him somehow, and between his sobs he could capture brief flashes of a sense that it was just another Saturday, that Sara was sitting in his arm with a big smile on her face, watching her favorite show.

A commercial break started as John began to calm “Tonight. Home invasion turned fatal in the Pembrook area as an elderly couple were found stabbed to death in their home. Police are still on the lookout for their grandchild. If you have seen her please…”

John was in utter disbelief as he watched the images fly across the screen. That was the little girl, those were the people he had seen last night. A sick, sinking feeling filled his stomach as he questioned the reality of it all and the idea that he let down yet another family. “Its not possible” he decided. Still, he needed to talk to someone, but the only one he ever really felt safe talking to was gone..

As the weekend passed John was slowly able to put his “dream” out of his mind. Though the gaping hole left by his own loss never subsided. He began visit Kate and Sara’s graves everyday after work now. He would talk to them as if they were still here until silence would break him and he’d inevitably end up pounding his fists against the dirt and releasing a cry of anguish in the air. It didn’t solve anything, but it did make him feel better, even if only a little and for a fleeting moment. In fact, his only goal these days was just to make find those fleeting little moments where his agony was quenched ever so slightly. He avoided people now more than ever, it took every bit of focus he had to keep his pain under control and any distraction from a well meaning friend was breathtakingly painful and the exhaustion of keeping up appearances took days to recover from. He didn’t really know why he pretended to be okay anyway.. maybe it was to protect the people he cared about from worry? Maybe its because deep down he believed that if they knew his constant misery, he would be too much of a downer to love. Empathy seems to have a limit with people. Maybe it was safer to pretend, that way he could at least continue to feel like he’s worth something to somebody, to keep believing he’s worth being loved..

When he would return home, it was usually the same routine, eat – usually something unhealthy, sit in front of the tv for far too long, finally lie down in bed and fight back bittersweet memories until finally falling asleep.

Work was different now than it was before the attack, it used to be fun, he would joke around with co-workers, there was a sense that he was doing something important, he was providing, he was building, he was a part of something. Now it was just a place he went every day and fought to keep pushing forward. Everything was so difficult now, from mailing an envelope to researching a client account. He longed for rest, for a recovery that would never come. From the time he arrived he counted the minutes until he could leave. Every second there felt like an eternity. It was like placing a hand on a hot stove and being forced to rest it there for hours on end. His mind simmered as his body ached. Panic would inevitably fill his chest as he would imagine that this is what the rest of his life would be.

As Friday came around John began to fear for the weekend ahead, if he didn’t find some sort of joy in it then Monday would come all too soon and then he’d be trapped again. “I can’t handle another week” He thought.

“Happy Friday!” Melanie shouted. She worked in the office next to Johns, she was always so bubbly and happy. John admired that in her, but today it just hurt to hear those words that he had longed for since Monday. “Happy Friday!” John cheered back with a smile and a fist raised in victory.

“Happy Friday? What’s happy about it?” He thought to himself. “I’ll just sit in anguish for a couple of days and then be back here Monday to try to push through another week. Sure, it’s a break I need, but the cycle will never stop” he continued.

As the day passed on, he wondered what the purpose was of what he was doing. “What am I working for?” He wondered as his pain turned to numbness. He was cold inside now. Anything should have been a relief over what he was feeling for so long, but it wasn’t… it was just a different kind of cruelty.

Five o’clock came and he slowly drug himself to his car. That same old white Honda that had brought him first comfort, then the pain of memories, now meant nothing at all. He began to make his way to the cemetery to visit Kate and Sara one last time. As he pulled up to the graveyard he gazed at the horizon and pondered on the emptiness of it all. A year ago it would have been unsettling to John, but now it feels more like home than his own house. There was something about that gravesite that was comforting to John. Kate and Sara’s graves sat directly beneath the branches of a large Southern Live Oak. The foliage hung down off the limbs and seemed to melt from the grey fall sky. The crisp, chilled wind and misty rain licked Johns face as he watched the leaves dance in the light of the lamp post. It was soothing. Finally, the outside world began to match how he felt inside and there was an strange comfort to that. As he sat there, John began to doze as he caught a surprising moment of peace.

He was jostled awake by the sound of crashing plates. “what the..” John was lying upstairs in his bedroom. “No!” He heard a familiar voice shriek. John shot to his feet, completely disoriented. He quickly shot out the door and turned to run down the steps. He was met by a towering man dressed in black forcing a woman up the stairs as she fought for her life.

“Kate?!” John uttered in disbelief…

5 Small, Easy Steps to an Early Retirement

Early retirement is something very few would snub their noses at. Who doesn’t want the freedom to travel whenever you want, spend more time with friends and family, or just sleep in on a weekday? Yet, short of winning the lottery or having a very affluent relative leave you a substantial inheritance, it seems like nothing more than an unatainable dream. DEPRESSING!

While I don’t have all the answers because everyone’s situations and goals are different, I do have a few ideas and concepts to get you started off right.

  1. Determine your needs . I want to get simplest and least exciting out of the way. It’s not glamorous, but it’s probably the most important. Decide what you will need in retirement. Do you want a minimalist lifestyle or lavish? What will you need to put back for emergencies or basic medical? How much do you anticipate your income needs to grow year over year? How you answer these questions will determine how quickly you can retire and what sort of investments you will need to hit your target.
  2. Minimize expenses. Now I’m sure this sounds obvious and this concept has been beaten to death by everyone who has ever written about finance. While that’s for good reason, I’m going take it a step farther. Now I’m sure most of us aren’t having the $5 coffee every single day that investing “experts” tell us that we would be rich if we justs gave up. That being said, if there’s anything you can eliminate, do it and divert that money to savings or investing. For those things you can’t get rid of (occasional lunches, celebrations, getting Memaw her favorite spiced rum for her b-day) cash back is the next best thing. There are tons of cash back cards out there that give up to 5% cash back, plus there are now really great apps you can stack them with. My favorites are Fluz and Swagbucks. At a minimum you can usually get 1% back on those apps, so if you spend even as little $1,000 per year you’re missing out on $60 plus if you’re not taking advantage of these cash back opportunities. Plus with Fluz you can actually earn by referring others too, so there’s a little bonus. For lowering expenses I’m really just barely touching on some basics, but a post that will really dig in deep is coming shortly.
  3. Develop multiple income streams. Truly this is by far the most important step. You’re not preparing for “No Income”, your savings will run out. You’re preparing for self-sustaining income, or “passive income”. In order to do that you will need more than just your job to earning you income. Part time or contract work is always a good way to start hoarding cash, but eventually you need your money to make you money. The easiest way to get started is through dividend investing. It’s among the safest if you do it right, so it’s a good place to start. Some other ways I like are P2P lending, passive real estate investing and asset rentals. You can see a beginners guide here.
  4. Pay off debt. This one is a little tricky because in some cases it’s can actually be better invest than to pay down debt. I don’t recommend this if you’re not extremely comfortable with financial management, but for a simple example, if you have $10,000 in debt at a 3% interest rate and you have $10,000 cash, but the average return in the stock market is 8%, you MAY be better off hedging your loan by investing. On the other hand, if free cash flow is what you need or want, then by all means pay down your debt for more flexibility.
  5. Keep learning. I know this is cheesy, but it’s so important. Knowing how to leverage your money can mean the difference between a successful, lavish early retirement and having to return to work. Some things to consider focusing your attention on would be tax laws, new passive income opportunities, personal finance and general stock market news, drivers and operations.

I get it, this probably isn’t the secret formula to retiring tomorrow that you wanted but believe me, this is a good place to start. While this is a thousand foot view and vague, more posts are coming to dive in on a little more of the “how to” for most of these topics and more, so if you liked this then bear with me and keep checking back for more.

How to Start a Business

If you’ve ever had to wake up early and go to work all week, only to see that after paying bills you have about 20 bucks left for the week, I would be willing to wager that you’ve wondered if its even worth it. You may have also wondered about what it would be like to be the one running the show and making the real money. Maybe you’ve even thought about venturing out on your own to start something for yourself. Most of us have entertained the idea and for the vast majority that fire fizzled out. Whether that’s because it was just a daydream, starting a business seemed overwhelming, lack of time/capital or countless other reasons its often a missed opportunity.

Sometimes I wonder how many people would have a greater sense of freedom if they just followed through with their ideas? The truth is most would fail, many would struggle through to retirement, and a handful would be successful. Most businesses fail, that’s just the harsh reality. But starting a business is an investment in yourself and a wager that your skills are worth more than just a weekly paycheck. If you have that drive, then below you will see how you can position yourself to have a much stronger chance of success.

Business is hard. Its time consuming, stressful, competitive. Its also fun, exciting, and rewarding, and when it is started right it’s much easier and I truly believe that just about any business can be

Feasibility

Once you have an idea, the first question you need to ask yourself is “can it be done”

If you want to sell volcano diving lessons on Mars, I’m sorry. I don’t think anything I have to offer will help you. It may be possible in some form or fashion; you’ll have to talk to Elon Musk about that. But regardless, it’s not feasible. Of course this is an extreme example, but lets break it down anyway.

· There are many certifications I’m sure you would need, transportation, special training for customers,

· Extreme safety risks (though I’m not sure how safety regulations would be enforced on Mars)

· Your target audience is likely far too small to sustain a long-term business.

Conversely if you wanted to open a Café’, that is significantly easier; however, the problem with the achievable, especially the easy, is that it has already been done. Low barriers to entry usually mean higher competition. For example, there are thousands of Café’s, but no volcano diving Mars tours to my knowledge. Essentially, what I am trying to convey is that starting a business is a fine balancing act.

Examining the Café’ concept, it’s been done time and time again, its relatively easy to start one, but the question you have to ask yourself is “can it be done better?” Maybe yours will offer shots of alcohol, or you’ll have a live band, or maybe it’s all gourmet drinks. The point is that you need to make your entry into the market raise the level of difficulty for anyone entering behind you and for those already in the market.

Purpose

At this point the reality is you probably already have an idea and with that a concept of who your customers will be, but it’s time to narrow that down and zone in on refining you’re offering and your customer base. This will help you in starting to define income projections and whether this is worth your time or if you need to adjust your plans to MAKE it worth your time.

Going back to using a scenario- Lets say you want to open a shoe store. Most people have feet and those with feet tend to wear shoes, so your customer is everyone right? Not exactly. We need to look at some things like:

· where do people buy shoes? Online or in store?

· What makes them buy shoes? Theirs are worn out? Special occasion? Impulse buy? Outgrown them?

· Do men and women have different triggers for buying shoes or different shopping habits?

· What is the income profile of those who buy the most shoes?

So whatever your product or service, take a Zoomed out look at it and slowly zoom in as you answer those questions to really define who you are selling to and what motivates them to make a purchase. Once you have that answer you will be in a much better position to formulate your strategy and that begins with the big “Why?”

Why Consumers Choose You

So you’ve narrowed down your shoe business to figure out that you just want to sell to one guy, Bob. He’s a wealthy, shoe lover nearby and he is an active shopper. Now its time to get a little bit more specific by asking a couple of questions:

· Why does he want to buy from you?

· Why would he choose to go in your store or shop your website over yard sales, countless websites and other shoe stores?

Where are the Consumers?

Answer that and at this point you have a strong fighting chance of success. But let’s improve those odds even more. Let’s say Bob isn’t your only potential customer. In fact, he may be one of thousands, you don’t know. But you know the profile of what your customers will look like, now you just need to find them. For a brick and mortar, or other business that serves a location we need to check out the area. I love census records for this, you can go to the US census bureau’s website and identify how many people that fit your criteria live within a certain location. You will have to do some digging, comparing and light calculations to extrapolate the data, but it is there and well worth your efforts to look into.

Competition

Next you will look at the competition. How far do people travel for your product? How many businesses that sell what you do are in the radius which you intend to operate? You’ll be sharing business with them, no matter how good your product or service, you’ll never capture 100% of the market in most cases.

So working off the shoe store scenario, lets say you checked out the and you are looking to open a shoe store for those in the higher tax bracket in Somewhere City and you’ve found through that data that there are 5,000 customers who on average spend $700 per year on shoes. You’ve figured out who you have 3 competitors and formulated a plan for how to make your offering a little better than theirs, so you expect to capture 10% of your target market in your first year. This would give you a revenue of $350,000. That means you will need to fit Cost of Goods, Rent, Insurance, Labor, Utilities and all other costs under $350,000 in order to make a profit.

Taking Stock

At this point you should know what you will sell, to whom, why they choose you, and have a rough idea of your expected revenue. But you still need to know where you’re getting your products or if this is a service industry, who will provide the service. What is the cost of your facility, what regulations do you need to be aware of, and what will your employee obligations be?

Flow

To help determine some of these answers you will need to answer the following:

· Where does the service or transaction take place?

· Will you need a large facility or just a laptop and wifi?

· Will you need to hire a team, or can you run everything yourself?

· What costs are directly associated with each transaction?

Unexpected

These costs are important to know this for obvious reasons, but they also gives us a breakeven point. In other words, how much volume does your business have to have in order break even. Conventional wisdom says that you should have enough cash reserves or a loan large enough to cover 6 months of expenses when you first begin. This is to prepare for a worst case situation where you are working and fighting to make your business successful, but people just aren’t interested in volcano diving so you don’t generate any revenue at all. Ideally it’s not just so that you can stay afloat for 6 months and then call it quits though. It’s so that you have ample time to see where your business is succeeding and where it needs work. Normally businesses aren’t profitable for the first 3 years and business owners don’t get to pay themselves for the first 5. These reserves give you the chance to course correct, make necessary expenditures, and adjust your model to help make that profit faster cover any losses along the way.

Exit Strategy

A successful, thriving business is always the goal, but sometimes even with the best planning things just don’t work out, so it is important to formulate exit strategy. Will you try to sell the business, close it, downsize, convert it to another business model? Ideally, you’ll want a strategy that recoups as much capital as possible. That will vary for every company so this will be highly individualized

Administration

You’ve got an idea, you know who you are selling to, why they would choose you, financial goals, an operational flow, and an exit strategy. Now you just have to jump through the administrative hurdles such as those pesky details like getting the money to start, licensing and taxes.

Thankfully, the SBA has a slew of resources for funding, and you have a few routes you can go.

· You can choose to self-fund, meaning you save up the money and pay for it all out of pocket.

· Take out a loan

· Take on investors

Each route has its own pros and cons which, like many aspects of this writing requires its own dedicated post to dive into.

Next you need a business name and entity ID which is often procured through the Secretary of State’s website or at your local courthouse. This gives you rights to that name in your jurisdiction and sort of “validates” your business as an entity. This can vary a bit if you are working as a sole proprietor but if you are an LLC, S Corp, C Corp, LLP, or Partnership you will usually need an entity ID. Determining your ideal business structure can be a bit tricky and I suggest connecting with an accountant to determine what is best for your business.

Next you will need a business license which can be obtained similarly to the name reservation. In many cases you will need an EIN which can be obtained online through the IRS website.

Finally, you can check with your accountant about your state and local requirements for tax accounts. These are generally set up through your states department of revenue.

Conclusion

Don’t misconstrue this as any sort of financial advice, opening a business is difficult and risky. This template is meant to be a tool to provoke thought and encourage you to do your own research and does not encompass the entirety of possibilities, contingencies, legalities or business knowledge that exists. There is no one perfect plan that fits everyone or every business that would guarantee success, but the more questions you can answer upfront and the deeper you dive and dig you position yourself for a greater chance of success.

Owner of A & N Accounting and Midnight Supplies

I worked as an accountant for years, starting as a work-study help in the accounting office at my junior college, I moved on to intern for a defense contractor, to a machine shop accountant, to the controller of a Coca-Cola branch.

I started A & N Accounting somewhere in the middle of all that with a partner and that’s taken off since. We help small businesses improve efficiencies and get some clarity on their financials so that they can make sound decisions and push for growth. Doing that made me realize that accounting is less of my passion as it is where I ended up. My real passion is the business management, which is why I am currently enrolled in a Doctorate of Business program.

I’ve since began helping others create their own businesses and even added another two of my own, one of which adds value to and receives value from A & N Accounting.

I started this blog for several reasons.

  • To help people become financially independent
  • To give myself a creative outlet
  • To give exposure to my businesses

Ultimately, my biggest hope is to see others benefit from my work here and use what they learn to help someone else.

5 Easy Passive Income Ideas for 2021

Who doesn’t want to get paid for sitting back and doing whatever you want? The traditional 9–5 is outdated and technology is playing a bigger role in our income generation every day. For me a full time job is a lot like a hostage situation, if you don’t work your family suffers. If you don’t have a family to support its still not much better.

So lets break down the struggle. Not working means not being able to pay rent, eat, see a doctor or enjoy basically anything the world has to offer. Working a full time job in most cases means that you can afford these things, but you have very little extra time or money to enjoy any of them or do anything remotely fulfilling. So then the question is “what can we do about that?”

While I can’t give you the magic formula to let you break free from your job and sip fruity drinks with little umbrellas in them on the beach all day every day (at least not over night), I can let you in on a few of the things I do that are working for me and I believe can work for you too.

  1. We’re all probably familiar with Robinhood by now and I’m sure you’re probably tired about hearing how you can get a free share of stock by signing up through my link ( which is right here by the way), so I’ll go ahead and get this one out of the way. You probably won’t get rich from investing unless you’re a super genius, insanely lucky, or already have a ton of money to invest. BUT this is still a really good way to leverage your money and make some passive income. The way I like to do this is through dividend stocks:
https://join.robinhood.com/andrewh1371

This is just a glimpse of the past couple of weeks. I like Coca-Cola because they are a dividend aristocrat, which means that they have a long history of increasing their dividend payout every year. Another of my favorites is SPLV which is a generally safer ETF with a strong dividend. Robinhood is the foundation for my passive income for a few reasons. Its free, my equity grows with time, and the dividends are generally a safe bet. If you’re not sure where to start, its my opinion that this is a really great place.

2. Fluz App. This one is my new favorite, I think it has a great deal of potential. Whether or not it ends up generating a lot of passive income is to be seen, but its well worth having either way. So this is a cash back app (Stop rolling your eyes, I know there are a million of them). This one is different for two reasons. 1. Its a higher than normal cash back percentage. and 2. Anyone who you invite will earn you income any time they use the app to make a purchase. This one is really a no lose situation to me because its free to download, and if I share it I can get my friends some cash back. This short video should explain how it works. If you’re not feeling the video here is a quick glimpse that should give you the gist of it.

https://joinfluz.app.link/ANDREWM194123679EEE

3. Turo. Probably one of the best passive income sources I’ve seen so far in terms of immediate cash flow is Turo. This is an app where you can list your vehicles and let guests rent them. The rental could be for a day to several months, you decide how long you’re willing to lend out your vehicle. The vehicle has to be at least 2006 or newer and less than 130,000 miles (obviously has to be in good working order too). I’ve just started in mid March and in spite of the current situation with the world I’ve already had to add a vehicle and am getting ready to add one more. You can find out how much you could potentially make through their calculator to decide if it works for you. For me, my first car is paid off so anything I got minus depreciation and insurance was pure profit (you only need your personal insurance, Turo will provide commercial which is subtracted from the total the customer pays).

I took out a loan for my second car because I can get a greater return on Robinhood than I would be paying in interest on the car. So, what I am paying is $135 per month plus $80 insurance on the car, but it has generated roughly $400 both months it has been listed, giving me a positive cash flow of close to $200, plus the equity on the car as it makes its own payments.

4. Lending Club. I was a bit apprehensive about P2P lending, after all I’m pretty sure there’s a kid from 2nd grade that still owes me a dollar. So, I only invested $1,000 to start with. I’m quickly realizing that if I reinvest every month my passive income grows FAST. Here you can basically leverage your initial investment to cover about 2x dollar value that you invest. So basically, what I mean is that as you receive payments in you get both principal and interest, so if you reinvest that principal you haven’t actually put any additional money in, you are still receiving the full payments from your initial investments, but now you are getting paid on additional investments. I’m a visual person, so I need a chart-

http://lclub.co/b6e8ad3c

So you can see, I have received $2,702 in payments, $542 in interest. I first put my $1,000 in about two and a half years ago and now I’m comfortable enough with it to start investing a little more because that $542 return on my $1,000 equals out to about 24% annually. Notice that its telling me that the annualized return is only 8.35% (which is still good). That’s because I have reinvested my principal every time I get paid, so that 8.35% is on the initial thousand about two and a half times over. Keep in mind though, that every month that I reinvest my passive income theoretically should grow. Now please note, this is a lot riskier than Robinhood because some loans do default.

5. Swagbucks. I know a lot of people think that this is just a survey thing, but its really a lot more than that. I never qualify for any of their surveys, but I still really like Swagbucks. You probably wont get rich from it, but you can definitely make something. There are tons of offers and this is another great one for cash back. Plus, you can stack Swagbucks rewards with Fluz to really boost your earnings. While SB doesn’t give you cash immediately, it can actually be leveraged in your favor. The way it works is you redeem Swagbucks for gift cards, but there are always discounts. So if you have 2500 SB you can redeem for a $25 Visa gift card which may be discounted to about 2100 SB. So this is definitely a good one if you want to use your spare time to make a little on the side.

https://www.swagbucks.com/p/register?rb=57540748

So there you have it, five ways to start chipping away at that 9–5 shackle. I have a few more ways I earn that I will share later, but these just felt like a good place to start. They’re very easy to jump into and once you’ve got a taste of passive income there is no going back.