We all know that making money is one of the keys to financial success. While there are tons of ways to earn income, I think my favorite way is through “mailbox money.” One of my favorite things about being an optometrist is learning oddball things from my patients, and this term came onto my radar a few weeks ago from one of my more colorful clients who had recently retired after selling his business. As he is only in his mid 50’s, I asked if he had another career on the horizon when he told me that he as pretty content to collect his mailbox money from various rental properties acquired over the years. Sounds like a great plan if you ask me!
Mailbox money is income that arrives either in your physical or virtual mailbox, in a somewhat fixed frequency with a minimum of management, basically the definition of passive income. Passive income is the holy grail for those of us seeking financial independence and/or early retirement.
Since few have access to royalties or trust funds set up by someone else in our names, that means earning our own mailbox money. Luckily, there are several ways to cash in.
While setting up streams of passive income can take Herculean efforts in the beginning, once seeds take root, there really is no limit to how much money can be made.
Rental properties are my favorite source of somewhat passive income. While you can make landlording a full time job, it’s also possible to buy properties that cash flow well enough to hire out most of the management and maintenance. In our case, that’s exactly what we do with all of our residential properties. The commercial property is pretty easy to manage ourselves.
Right now, we get a monthly payments that mostly go right back into taking care of and paying off the properties, but someday, this source of income should be able to support our living expenses, meaning we don’t have to work for a paycheck anymore.
Rental income takes a large investment of time and money upfront. There is always the risk that something could go wrong, but real estate is a great investment. We can raise our rent multiple times while our mortgage stays fixed. It’s pretty sweet to have someone else pay off our houses.
If you can’t or don’t want to buy a rental property, remember that renting a room in your home can also bring in passive income. Yes, you’ll give up some privacy, but if the right situation presents itself, this is easy money.
While building a blog is certainly not passive in any sense of the word, it is possible to eventually make money from online ads and affiliate sales. It does take time and effort, but there is virtually no risk involved from this stream of income. If you can create an audience with regular visitors, using ads and affiliate links can bring you money after the fact and that’s why this can be labeled as “mailbox money.”
Starting a website or blog is really cheap and easy. You can start for as little as $50 a year and that is cheap. Many bloggers earn a full-time income from blogging. If you are willing to put in enough time and effort, there is money to be made through online endeavors.
Check out this blogging guide to help you get started on your way. It’s the most comprehensive guide out there.
Dividends and interest from investments is one of the best ways to make mailbox money. Obviously, more money invested means higher returns. For most of us, earning enough investment income to cover living expenses will take many years. That’s why it’s so important to get started now.
It’s very easy to set up an investment account through Vanguard, Betterment, Motif, or a variety of other online brokerages. If you don’t have tons of money to invest, start small and increase your contributions overt time. Putting if off means working twice as hard to catch up down the road.
Develop a Product
If you have the talent to develop a product, course, book, ebook, or app that someone else will pay for, this could be a gold mine of passive income. I don’t have the creativity or energy to pursue this source of income personally, but I know many people who have earned and continue to earn residual income from turning an idea or concept into a product.
Who doesn’t love a little Amazon.com? It is the biggest e-commerce site in the world. Seriously though, there is a part of Amazon most consumer don’t know. It’s called FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon). This program is a way to sell products to Amazon customers without dealing with shipping and customer service of those order. How is that possible?
Amazon gives you their warehouse space and handles all the shipping/returns for you. Yep, they do. While they take a cut of your revenues, if you can develop a white-labeled product, you can ship it to Amazon’s warehouse, then they handle the rest. You don’t have to market, you don’t have to fulfill orders. If you find a product you can sell, get it made in China, have it shipped to Amazon, and watch the money come into your mailbox.
Here is an excellent guide on how to get started with Amazon FBA.
While there are many other ways to start earning mailbox money, these are a few common ways to set up alternative income sources that could turn into huge revenue streams. Even if you have no plans to quit your day job, it never hurts to have a backup plan in place.
Do you earn mailbox money? Wouldn’t it be fun to become a mailbox millionaire?