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7 Passive Income Ideas (That Aren’t Stocks)

Do you – like most people – want more money? Everyone wants more money, but very few people are willing (or able) to go get a second job. Most of us can barely handle the first job, much less a second one.

What if I told you there were ways you could earn some passive or residual income without having to gamble on individual stocks? 

Interested? Read on. 

Residual or Passive Income Ideas to Earn More Cash

Every single day, people like you are earning extra money. And they’re not just doing it by making $12 an hour working a second job at the local big box store.

Instead, people are using their skills (or opportunities) to work less and earn more.

If you want to earn more money for the work you do, read on. You’re bound to find a residual or passive income idea in this list that works for you.

1. Invest in Real Estate (without taking on mortgages or managing property)

Investing in real estate is not a new concept, but there are so new ways to get in the real estate game.

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t want to deal with the day-to-day responsibilities of being a landlord or owning offices.

And I’m guessing you don’t want a second large mortgage loan hanging over your head.

Luckily, there are some ways you can invest in real estate without having to cut any grass or make any repairs. It’s called crowdfunded real estate investing.

Crowdfunded real estate investing is where a bunch of people each put in a little money to buy commercial and/or residential rental properties.

The experts that head up each crowdfunded real estate company assess the properties, purchase them and manage them.

You sit back and collect the profits.

There are several crowdfunded-type real estate companies you can choose from. Here’s a bit of information on some of my favorites.

Rich Uncles

Rich Uncles definitely tops my list of favorites for one main reason: You can get started investing with as little as $5.

I started investing with Rich Uncles when I was unexpectedly hit with a divorce. I had no money and LOTS of debt, but I knew I needed to start saving and investing immediately – SOMEHOW.

Rich Uncles allowed me to start investing in real estate even though I had very little money. I still invest with Rich Uncles today, and every month I get a nice little dividend payment – which I promptly reinvest to take advantage of the wonder of compound interest.

Rich Uncles primarily buys and manages commercial retail spaces and student housing spaces.

Whether you have a lot of money or a little money, Rich Uncles can help you create a great source of passive income.

Average rate of return (historical): Between 6 and 7.5 percent

Fees: None


Fundrise provides an easy way to invest in real estate through REITs (real estate investment trusts). Here is the best part – you only need $500 to start.

Like Rich Uncles, Fundrise primarily invests in commercial real estate. You can open a starter portfolio with just $500. If you want to invest more you can open one of their core portfolios for greater investment diversification.

Average rate of return (historical): 8.7-12.4 percent

Fees: 1% annual

You don’t need a million dollars set aside to buy a huge office building. You can start making money on real estate with your Christmas bonus or tax return.

2. Use a Robo-Advisor

The confusing part of investing is picking the investments. It takes a seasoned pro to understand all of the numbers and jargon. A lot of people want to invest their money, but are too scared to try.

If you’re one of them, or you just want to boost your portfolio, give a robo-advisor a shot.

Instead of hand-picking investments, sites use algorithms to manage all of your investment money for you. You decide how much risk you want to take on, they handle the rest.

Here are some of the most popular robo advisors for 2019.

SoFi Invest

I first learned about SoFi years ago when I took out a loan from them. Their products and customer service were superior.

SoFi also does robo investing with their SoFi Invest program. The best part about that? Not only do you NOT have to try and choose stocks to buy; you can get started investing with as little as $1.

Average rate of return: Varies per product

Fees: None

Ally Invest

Ally Invest has some great banking products, including their high yield savings account that currently pays 2.10% (as of July 2019).

But we’re featuring the Ally Invest managed portfolio. You can start a managed portfolio account with Ally Invest for as little as $100.

They’ll help you decide which investment approach is best for you – and then manage it for you. Bonus: Ally Invest fees are MUCH lower than traditional robo advisor firms.

Average rate of return: varies

Fees: 0.30% annually

3. Invest in Peer-to-Peer Lending

While we’re talking about investing, we have to talk about peer-to-peer lending. P2P isn’t a new idea, but it’s becoming one of the most popular choices for making passive income.

It’s simple – people need money and you have money to give them. Think of yourself (and usually a group of people) as the bank.

There are A LOT of P2P lending sites, but not all of them are effective. One of the most popular is Lending Club.

Lending Club

With Lending Club, you can invest much smaller amounts than other sites require. In fact, you can start investing in peer-to-peer lending with as little as $25.

Lending Club lets you open individual investment accounts or retirement accounts.

Average rate of return: 4 to 7 percent annually

Fees: Varies, see website for details.


As with Lending Club, Prosper lets you start investing in peer-to-peer lending with as little as $25.

One cool thing about Prosper is that the average FICO score of its borrowers is 710. That’s higher than the national average of 695.

The Prosper website says that over 85% of active investors had returns that met or exceeded their expectations.

Average rate of return: 5.3 percent historically

Fees: Varies. See website for details.

4. Write a Book

Do you have a skill for writing? Is there a subject you know a lot about that you could teach others? Or, do you have a gift for writing gripping fiction stories?

Why not put your words on paper and start bringing in some cash? You can publish an ebook for less than $100 and sell it on Amazon and other online sites.

How is writing a book passive income? Picture this – you’ve finished your book. Put upload it as an ebook to a couple of sites.

Do some marketing. Now all you do is sit back and watch your investments earn you cash.

If you have a great story to tell or an area of expertise, try and write a book. It won’t be quick cash, but it could seriously pay off.

5. Get Cashback for Shopping

What better way to make money than by doing something you already do – shop!

If you haven’t heard of cashback apps, you’re missing out. There are tons of cashback sites and apps.

Each of them is slightly different in the details, but the overall idea is the same. When you go shopping, you can take advantage of any offers they have. You redeem those offers, you get cash. It’s that easy.

Here are the details on a couple of popular cash back shopping sites.


Rakuten (formerly Ebates) gives you cash back on all of your online purchases when you shop through the Rakuten portal.

It’s really easy to do: Simply open your free account on Rakuten. Then, when you need to shop online, access the store through your Rakuten account.

The link will bring you right to the store site you want to shop on. You’ll shop as normal and won’t notice a difference – except when you get your cash back check in the mail.

Rakuten partners with over 2,500 stores to give you cash back of between 1% and 40% on purchases.


Swagbucks has been giving people cash back on shopping purchases for over a decade. In fact, Swagbucks has paid out over $350 million to members so far.

When you join Swagbucks (it’s free), you can get cash back from shopping purchases at hundreds of stores.

Most stores give you between 1% and 10% cash back, but there are lots of other cash back deals for up to 40% and more.

Important note, cashback apps are NOT going to make you a fortune, but you have to shop, so why not get paid for doing so?

6. Open a High-Interest Savings Accounts

Are you a bit risk averted when it comes to investing? Then why not invest safely: with a high-yield savings account?

Savings accounts at FDIC insured banks are covered by the government for up to $250,000. This means that even if the bank goes under, you get your cash back if it’s under the insurable limit.

You won’t get that guarantee if you buy stocks in companies.

There are more and more banks operating completely online.

Yep – no brick and mortar locations. All online.

What does this mean to you? They have less overhead which equals better interest rates on your saving account.

If your money is just going to be sitting there, you should make some money off of it. If you put it into a high-yield savings account, there is no risk.

Sure, the interest in a savings account isn’t going to make you a millionaire, but it’s a no-risk investment.

Here are some of the best high-yield savings accounts as of this writing.

Check out the various high-yield bank accounts and see which one will best help you earn passive income.

7. Rent a Room in Your House

Do you have an extra room in your house? Why not set up a bed and let people crash there?

There are two predominant websites that will help you rent out a spare room in your house: Airbnb and VRBO.


When you join Airbnb, you can get paid for letting people use your spare bedroom(s). Business and leisure travelers like Airbnb because they can spend less than they normally would at a hotel.

Also, staying in a home gives them more of that at-home feel.

You provide that spare room – and collect cash in the process. Some people even rent out whole houses on Airbnb. If you have an extra house (or even a finished basement) you can make even more money with Airbnb.

Note that Airbnb takes a cut of your daily rental fee from each renter. This fee covers advertising for your rental , website maintenance, etc.

This isn’t an entirely passive income project; it’s more of a residual income project. You’ll have to ensure the room or house is clean before visitors come.

You can hire a housekeeper to take care of the maintenance part of things, but that will obviously eat into your profits.


VRBO is another site that will advertise a room for rent in your house. Like Airbnb, VRBO takes a fee each time you get a renter.

But the fee is typically well worth the money you make in return, for both sites.

The rental rate you’ll get paid for each night rented varies based on where you live and what you have to offer. Both Airbnb and VRBO can help you decide how much you can rent your space for.

Bonus: Both sites screen renters/travelers so you can be sure you’ve got decent people staying at your place.

If you have a spare room or finished area in your house that you can do without, consider renting it out so you can earn some extra money.


Money is important. You know this. Who doesn’t want to make more money?

Want to know the best part of all these 7 ways? You can do more than one! You can mix and match.

You don’t have to get a second job to supplement your income. Now, get out there are start making some passive income.

Are you making residual or passive income? If so, how? Share your experiences in the comments section.

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About Carol St. Amand

Carol St. Amand

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