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?

Octopus Group Survey Review

Increasing my income streams is one of my goals in 2021.

But I shudder when I read or hear about participating in survey sites to earn extra money.

When I first came across FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) three years ago, I enthusiastically looked into survey sites and signed up to a few. They were awful. I got phone calls during the day from all sorts of businesses, wanting me to answer endless questions for the chance to enter a draw to win some prize.

So when I heard about Octopus Group (affiliate link) – in a post on Aussie Firebug‘s facebook group, I was hesitant. But I was intrigued by its claim as Australia’s highest paying online survey group.

So I signed up.

Disclosure: Please note that I may benefit from purchases made through my affiliate links below, at no cost to you

What is it about?

Companies or governments (local, state and federal) regularly survey members of the public about their products and services. They want our opinions and seek to improve their offerings based on our feedback.

These companies offer to pay people to answer their questions, understanding that it may be time consuming. Octopus Group helps these companies reach out to a membership that is happy to participate in their surveys.

Signing up

It is free (affiliate link) to sign up.

The process is easy and simple but you do have to answer a lot of questions – about you (age, gender, postcode), the products and services you use. These answers determine which surveys are sent to you.

For example, if a company is looking for feedback from 30 year old males living in Sydney – I will not get that survey because I do not fit that criteria according to my profile.

 

The rewards

Many paid survey sites reward you with points and when you reach a certain number of points, you can redeem them for gift cards.

What I love about Octopus Group is that they reward you with cold, hard cash. You can cash out once you have $20 in your balance, directly into your bank account.

Or you can get a Flexi electronic gift card instead which can then be converted to gift cards from major retailers. You can also choose to donate to charities such as Australian Cancer Research Foundation and Beyond Blue.

I prefer to be rewarded in cash because every extra cent is going into my Antarctica account – this is a fun way for me to obtain some extra funds 💰

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How does it work?

Surveys are delivered to you based on your profile. Octopus Group does not guarantee how many surveys you get. It depends too on how many people are in your demographic or have similar profiles to you. And how many people of your target group that the companies want to survey.

Once you receive notification via your phone app (simplest way to be notified unless you like email notification), log into the app. You will see the name of the survey, estimated time needed to complete survey and how much you’ll be paid.

Select the survey you want to participate in and away you go.

You’ll be asked ‘screening’ questions about your gender, age and postcode or state you live in. If you fit what they are looking for, you’ll enter into the survey proper and get more questions.

If after a few questions, you are deemed not suitable for whatever reason, you will still be paid a very small fee – 5 cents 🙂 Even though it’s only 5 cents, you haven’t wasted much time at this stage.

I mostly complete surveys on my phone but there are times when the surveys are best completed on a tablet or desktop – they will inform you of this at the beginning.

 

What sort of surveys have I completed?

All sorts – from my views on Covid 19 vaccination to buying a car to whether I’ve seen advertising campaigns on superannuation products. Unfortunately I don’t drink alcohol so always get ‘Screened Out’ for those surveys 🙁

My top tips on maximising your chances of getting surveys and being paid

1. Establish your profile

Answer as many of the questions as you can to establish your profile – you can go back and update your answers later.

This gives Octopus Group the best chance of sending surveys that are relevant to you and that you will actually be qualified for.

If your profile data is not complete, they will send you random surveys that you may or may not qualify for in the end.

2. Start the survey as soon as you are notified

Surveys are sent out randomly to people of the same demographic as you. Therefore when the maximum number of people like you have completed the survey, they don’t need your participation any more. You will informed that the status is ‘Quota Full’

Surveys are mostly sent on Mondays to Fridays during normal working hours. Because I work full time during these hours, I may not be able to respond immediately when the surveys are available. I mostly do the surveys after work or during my lunch break. And therefore often miss out.

Despite this ‘fail’, I’ve still redeemed around $200 since I started in late November 2020.

3. Don't be too quick when submitting answers

In the beginning, I kept being ‘Screened Out’

This can be due to a number of reasons such as not qualifying for the survey or sometimes ‘Quality flagged’ is recorded as ‘Screened Out’.

Apparently, they’ve pre determined the length of time it takes to fill out the survey and offer a fee accordingly.

I am a fast reader. At the beginning, I was speed reading everything and sped through the survey – and was penalised as a result. ‘Screened Out’ still pays 5 cents but I would prefer the full amount 🙂 Plus if you are consistently being quality flagged, you won’t get many surveys.

So now I slow down and my chances of being paid have improved.

4. Refer your friends and family

You earn $1 upon your friend registering and then $1 per completed survey up to a maximum of $20 per referral.

Your friends and family may be in different target groups, based on their age and gender. They probably use different products and services. Therefore they may qualify for surveys that you are not qualified for. This then improves your chances of being paid.

So a big thank you to those who have registered using my link.

 

Final Thoughts

This income stream will not make me a millionaire. Nor would I describe it as a side hustle. I simply don’t hustle enough for it 🙂

But it is a simple and fun way to earn some extra cash without a lot of effort or having to learn new skills. All you are doing is answering some questions online and sharing your opinions. And getting paid for your effort!

Yes, I would recommend Octopus Group as a way of earning some extra cash. And if you can maximise your chances of getting more surveys by using my tips, you’ll earn much more than what I can at the moment.

Have you tried paid survey sites to earn extra cash?