My Active and Passive Income Streams

A Portrait of a dreamy brunette lady in a white tank top. Dollar notes are falling from the ceiling.
Is this what my income streams should look like?

I had never been concerned about diversifying my income streams.

Until the pandemic hit. And I saw how jobs and livelihoods can disappear, literally overnight.

I will never forget the image of long lines of people queuing outside Centrelink offices on the nightly news, a sight that I’d never associate with Australia, the lucky country.

At that time in 2020, I was just concerned about surviving in my full time job and ensuring we kept up with all the changes in procedures associated with Covid-19. It was a highly stressful time to be in healthcare. It still is. (I wrote about it back in 2020)

Fast forward to 2021. The uncertainty is still with us. The lockdowns. Businesses unable to open and trade. Low vaccination rates (but slowly improving). More infectious Delta strain. And on and on it goes.

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Why do I feel a need to increase my income streams?

It has nothing to do with wanting to be a millionaire! Even though we’ve all heard or read that millionaires have 7 income streams.

Over the last year, my full time job oscillates between periods of intense busyness and boring nothing to do days.

During the intensely busy seasons, as in now when we are in our sixth lockdown and ramping up vaccinations, I am mentally tired and worn down coping with it all. 

(As an aside, it is mentally exhausting listening to why people don’t want to be vaccinated and explaining why they should. And it is challenging to remain upbeat and supportive when working with anxiety all around us. We are all waiting on tenterhooks, praying that we don’t become a Tier 1 site (ie a Covid positive case visits our premises) which means we’ll have to quarantine for 2 weeks. We are back to anxiously watching the daily positive case numbers. And back to split shifts where the day and evening shifts have no contact with each other, including outside work hours)

When we are in the boring I-have-no-idea-what-else-I-can-do-to-look-busy times, I worry that my job is not secure and the business will close down.

It’s a blessing I have a job. And that I can leave the house to work thereby not experience the social isolation during our lockdowns. But it’s a double edged sword.

I am more likely to get Covid from my job. And inadvertently pass it on to others such as my elderly parents. Even though this is somewhat mitigated by all three of us being fully vaccinated, I still don’t want us to get Covid and the possibility of its long term effects. 

Maybe it’s a case of the grass being greener on the other side. But working from home sounds blissful at this stage.

Therefore, increasing my income streams is one of my goals for 2021. Just so I don’t have to depend on my salary so much. And I can dream about working from home some day.

My active income

Without question, my biggest source of income is the salary I earn from my full time job. 

And I would definitely classify it as an active income. I actively trade my time, energy and effort (LOTS OF IT at the moment!) to earn this income.

Because I have also experienced burnt out from working a highly stressful job (pre Covid), I hesitate to launch into side hustles. 

Quite frankly, I don’t want to hustle. I have neither the energy nor the mental headspace to do so.

Therefore I’m not seeking any more active income streams. I don’t want extra shifts or another job in the same industry.

The only other active income stream I have is doing Octopus Group surveys (review). The income is sort of active but it’s not time consuming and I can do it while watching television so I don’t mind it. The income is also miniscule compared to my full time income, haha.

The longer I’m on my FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) journey though, the more I’m attracted to the concept of passive income. 

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What is passive income?

I define passive income as income I earn without actively doing something to generate it. Income that I earn while I’m sleeping.

How awesome is that? To have income streaming into my bank account without me having to work for it?

Is that even possible??

Yes and no.

Let me explain.

When you google ‘passive income ideas’, the lists invariably include rent from investment properties, dividends from shares, interest from bank accounts, investing in a business as a silent partner, income from blogging and other online activities such as selling printables, ebooks, affiliate marketing, dropshipping etc

I don’t know about you but a) they either need money to begin with or b) they need a lot of time and effort to generate which doesn’t really shout ‘passive’ income or income that I can make in my sleep.

And herein lies the rub. 

You need MONEY to generate more money.

Or you need to invest a lot of time and effort UPFRONT to generate money later.

So where does that leave me?

I have neither the ready cash to invest in investment properties nor do I want to be a landlord at this stage of my life so rental income is out of the picture. I’m not sure I classify rental income as passive when there is work involved in dealing with tenants, home maintenance, attending body corporate meetings (if owning units/flats) or dealing with agents.

If I don’t have money to invest in rental properties, I certainly don’t have any to invest in someone else’s business as a silent partner.

I have no idea what dropshipping even means … more googling required. And you all know I’m not good at googling!

The interest rate is so low these days that interest from cash in my bank accounts would hardly buy me an extra cappuccino or two. But I wouldn’t knock it back – it is true passive income.

That leaves blogging and dividends from a share portfolio.

 

Blogging for passive income? Noo ...

Or not yet. 

I can tell you there is NOTHING passive about it right now, haha! I am sure eventually, I can make a profit out of blogging if I try hard enough and work at it long enough. However, I am not currently earning enough to break even. 

It is a creative outlet for me and I do love sharing my message that it is never too late to start your FIRE journey, take control of your money and save for retirement. A big thank you to those of you who have supported this blog by reading and sharing with your friends, purchasing from my affiliate links and Action Plan – I love you all ❤️

Passive income from blogging or selling digital products takes time and a lot of effort upfront. Many things have to work out – how much traffic you get, how much marketing you do, how many products you have to sell, how many affiliate products and services you recommend and so on. It is a huge learning curve, to be sure. I’d love to have the time and energy to fully devote to it. But alas, hello my full time job.

And now to dividends from my share portfolio.

Chart showing dividend income for 9 months of 2021
Dividend income (nearly) 9 month in 2021

Dividends from my share portfolio

I’ve been hanging out on instagram lately (come join me if you’re ever on insta) – and been inspired by all the charts that are posted, in particular dividend income charts.

So as a matter of interest, I decide to chart my dividends. 

And lo and behold! I do have income in the form of dividends from my share portfolio. Now, this is what I call passive income – income that I ‘make’ while sleeping. Income that I didn’t even realise I was getting.

This is because the majority of my dividends are reinvested automatically so I don’t see any cash hitting my bank accounts. Out of sight, out of mind.

That’s the good news.
 

The ‘bad’ news is that I have to keep investing and growing my portfolio in order to grow this passive income. And that means I need my active income derived from working a full time job.

Until, that is, with compound interest growth, and (fingers crossed), companies continuing to grow despite the pandemic and thus be able to reward investors with dividends.

 

Pie chart showing income streams in 2021

My 5 income streams in 2021

I have always tracked my spending but never tracked my income. After all, what is there to track besides my salary?

But after discovering I do have some income via dividends, I decide to look at the breakdown of my income streams.

So, I currently have 5 streams of income – a mixture of active and passive income streams. 

The active income streams are from my full time job and doing Octopus Group surveys (affiliate link).

The truly passive income streams are from the interest earned from cash (mainly the emergency fund and my travel sinking fund) sitting in high yield online bank accounts and the dividends earned from my shares portfolio outside of superannuation.

I would classify blogging income as both active and passive – there is still considerable work involved up front before it can generate any passive income.

Right now, a whopping 85.7% of all income is from my full time job followed by dividends at 11.8% This makes dividends my biggest passive income source!

I would love for the above pie chart to look differently in a few years – dividends and blogging income to have increased in comparison to my full time job. 

Now, I just have to come up with a plan to make it happen 🙂

Final thoughts

I have overwhelmingly felt the need to develop extra income streams in 2021 and to decrease my reliance on my full time job.

In particular, I’d love to increase my passive income. 

But as my biggest passive income source is from dividends, I still need my very active income derived from my full time job to invest in my shares portfolio which will then generate more dividends.

I’m looking forward to making money in my sleep 😴. Ah, what dreams I shall have!

Do you have multiple streams of income? What is your source of passive income?

8 Replies to “My Active and Passive Income Streams”

  1. Ah, Passive Income Streams (make Money While you Sleep)

    This is what we ALL want, isn’t it?

    I am also on Octopus and have made about $130 (tax free) dollars that have bought me and the soccer player a couple of nice meals.

    But certainly not passive..

    And you’re right – the blog IS an expensive (and active) hobby!

    I am looking forward to reaching Fi and getting enough income from both dividends and cashing out my shares to do what ever I like, on the other side of my 9-5.

    Looking forward to hearing about what you do next…

    Shaun

    1. Hi Shaun,

      My Octopus payout is going into my Antarctica fund! It’s just a little extra something – it will absolutely not be able to fund the trip on its own 🙂

      I’d love not to have to sell my shares ie just live off my dividends but I know I’ve left it too late to build the portfolio to that extent. We’ll see though – I’m still plowing in as much as I can afford and just monitor what the dividend growth is.

      Who knows? I never thought Coast FI was possible for me, a late starter either!

  2. Like you, the DRP has made our passive income out of sight, out of mind. It’s changed a little this year because the incredible returns during COVID means we need to fill out the Capital Gains Tax Schedule and I’m having to go to a tax agent because I can’t figure it out myself (or with the help of 3 people from the ATO).

    Are you including Super as well? That will form part of our FIRE plans, and although you have to work to get it (active), returns are still kind of a passive stream.

    1. No, I did not include Super in this pie chart. Super is absolutely a part of my FIRE plan but I’m only including income I can access right now.

  3. Blogging is definitely not as passive as most think – as a fellow personal finance blogger I can really resonate with this one.

    Lots of work goes into creating these awesome pieces of content!

    Great post keep it up 🙂

    1. Thanks, Sam! It does take time and commitment 🙂 But it is so rewarding too (in non monetary terms) which is why I keep going … just wish I had more time

  4. I just don’t get this huge lust for passive income.
    I’ve been lucky in a couple of investments ( Surgicenter and building) but lost in others.
    I often wonder if spending a few more hours per week in my specialty would have been equally rewarding financially. The calculus should be comparing earnings/hour.
    Work hard. Spend less than you earn and your bonds and equities will passively create wealth

    1. Hi Dr J,

      I agree with you – work hard, spend less than you earn and your investments will passively create wealth.

      I’m also tired of working my 9-5 and no longer enjoy it as much as I used to. But I know I have to keep going for a little while longer, to earn the income to invest in more shares.

      If I can create passive income via a creative means that is totally different from my 9-5, why not? And if I enjoy it and am able to make connections with others and learn new skills, then it’s a winner 🙂

      But I’m under no illusion that it is my active income that is funding my future freedom right now

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