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Unit 1 -Farmland investment
Today, we’ll think about a slightly unusual
According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA),
there are over 900 million acres of farmland in America.
Farmers and ranchers own only about 61% of the land
they’re using, which means they’re renting the rest of
it from someone.
Investing groups hold about 31% of this rented property,
which gives you a pretty big playground to roam around
Farmland has a long history of making solid returns,
like increasing land value and cash rental payments
or crop yields.
You can also think outside of the box and make
some money from recreational use: hunting, fishing,
boating or camping. If there are waterways, lakes or
woods on the property, this can be fairly lucrative.
You can even collect rent several times for hunting
permits, as different animals are “in season” at
different times of the year.
You might even invest in some upgrades to your property,
like a boat ramp, pavilions, trails, or even a campground.
If you’re setting up these additional leases, you’ll want
to protect yourself though – post proper warnings and
boundary notices around the property, get rid of any
hazardous conditions, buy some liability insurance, and
get everything in writing when you sell those leases.
Also remember that if you’re leasing the property, you
don’t automatically have the right to hunt or fish it
– you need the lessee’s permission.
Depending on your climate and topography, you might
lease some of the land to energy companies for wind
turbines or solar panels.
These renewable energy installations can net you
$800 to $1,000 per acre for solar panels annually.
A single wind turbine can pay out up to $8,000 per year.
And once you get that lease in place, you’ve got an
almost guaranteed source of income for the next ten to
Renewable energy can be a lucrative source of passive
Another fairly lucrative type of lease is an information
tower. You may be able to lease some of your acreage
to one of those towers that carry cell phone or radio
signals, or even microwaves. As of 2018, there were
over 300,000 towers of various types in the US, and
around 10,000 are being added each year.
You may be approached by one of these companies and
offered a lease. Depending on your location, you may
earn anywhere from $1,000 to $15,000 a year.
So farmland isn’t just for the family to raise crops
or animals. If you’re looking for a solid investment,
think of buying into that market.
Unit 2 - Annuity
There are lots of different ways to make money
from farmland, and it’s not just from the crops.
In this unit, we’ll talk about annuities.
An annuity is an insurance product, a contract
that you purchase but can then give you passive
income for life as monthly payments.
You pay out a lump sum and your money earns
interest. Sometime in the future, you’ll start
getting monthly payments on that interest.
Terms with annuities vary. They’re not always a
good deal, so talk with your financial advisor
before investing in these. Annuities aren’t for
everyone. They can come with high fees and you
need to live long enough to earn back your initial
However, if you plan to live a long time and will
be able to do that, an annuity can make a lot of
There are several different types of annuities, so
ask your financial advisor which is best for your
needs. Under the right circumstances, an annuity
can be a great way to earn passive income. It’s
money you don’t have to pull from your retirement
account. You can use it for long term care or an
estate that can be inherited.
Annuities grow tax-deferred and the interest is
compounded. When you start getting those payments,
you’ll only pay tax on the interest if you paid
for the annuity with after-tax dollars.
And there’s no IRS limit as to how much premium
you can put into an annuity.
When you’re looking for annuities, there are
three basic types:
• Immediate of deferred payout: these are exactly as
they sound. Immediate payout annuities begin paying you
back within 12 months of your investment, while a
deferred payment plan will begin paying at some future
• Fixed or variable interest: the fixed rates last
between one and ten years before the rate can change.
However, the rate cannot fall below zero. Variable
annuities let you invest in a variety of sub-accounts
like securities portfolios, money market securities,
and fixed interest accounts.
These change depending on the market, and they do
have the potential to fall below market value and
lose some of your principal.
• Liquidity options: most annuities allow you to
withdraw either your interest amount or up to 15% per
year without a penalty. Any withdrawal may be subject
to taxes – and a 10% federal penalty if you take it
out before you’re 59.5 years old.
Most annuities do have a surrender charge if you make
an early withdrawal over the free 15%. This charge
usually decreases over time. You may even find a company
that offers a 3-5% bonus added to your principal if
they’re charging a high surrender rate.
These companies usually have longer surrender periods
and some charge a slightly
There are also annuities without any surrender fees,
if you need sudden cash. These don’t offer that bonus
and may charge higher fees.
Unit 3 - Robostocks
It may sound like science fiction, but if you
don’t want the hassle of picking high-dividend
stocks, you can invest passively through what’s
known as a robotic advisor.
And that’s exactly what it sounds like: you spend
a few minutes answering questions and setting up
your account, and the system takes it from there.
The robo-advisor uses an algorithm to automatically
pick your investments. Your choices are based on
things like how much risk you’re willing to take,
what levels of returns you want, and when you need
Based on your choices, your robo-advisor will pick
out a portfolio of Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)
for you, using sound investment procedures.
They won’t invest everyting in one fund because
diversity has been shown to be less risky and more
lucrative over the long term.
It’s really easy to get started with your robo-advisor
and set up your online account. And because it’s online,
the advisors are a lot cheaper than a real-life
You also get some pretty cool benefits tossed into the
pot too, like portfolio rebalancing and tax-loss
harvesting. Both of these should improve your returns
The typical cost of a robo-advisor has two components:
• The management fee: this is typically between 0.025
and 0.05 percent of your assets yearly, though your
fees may be somewhat lower or higher. That means every
time you invest $10,000, you’d have somewhere between
a $25 and $50 fee.
• The funds’ expense ratios: you’ll be investing in
funds that also charge fees based on your assets.
These fees can vary widely, but range from 0.05 to
0.65 percent annually. That means every time you
invest $10,000, your fees could be anywhere from $5
to $65 (though some may charge even more).
These fees will be mostly invisible to you, because
they’ll be deducted daily on a proportionate basis.
It won’t cost you anything just to buy or sell your
funds, to move money out of your account, or even to
change your allocation if you change your risk tolerance.
Your robo-advisor may charge a few fees if you need
something special, though.
Here are a few of the best robo-advisors in 2020,
according to Bankrate:
• Best in service: Betterment
• Best for low fees: Wealthfront
• Best for goal-based investing: Ellevest
• Best for usability: Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios
Unit 4- Reducing Debt
In our last unit, we talked about the high-tech
world of robo-advisors for stock investing. You can
automatically invest in a passive income stream that
Today, we’re talking about a form of income that
slips past most people.
That is reducing your overall debt. Yes, it’s not
an actual stream coming in, but when you reduce
your debt, you’ve got more money to start with so
it’s actually a lot like a stream.
Let’s start by refinancing that mortgage. While it
seems like a funny way to save money, if interest
rates are low, it can actually save you thousands
of dollars over the long term to refinance.
Ask your financial advisor or banker if refinancing
would help save you some cash.
Another way to reduce debt is to pay off loans early.
This does require an initial investment of cash, as
do many of the passive income streams, but boy does
it pay off!
Even if you just make one extra payment every year,
you can pay off a debt more quickly than just making
the minimum payments.
Always pay more than the company asks you to pay.
Remember: the longer they can hold onto your money,
the more they’re making, so they want you to keep
paying that minimum and taking longer to pay off the
debt. Put some money down on that debt instead of
buying a new sound system.
There are a few options you’ve got with debt: refinance,
consolidate, or balance-transfer and pay down.
If you’ve got student loans, ask your bank if
refinancing would help you. Or go online and use
a company like Credible that doesn’t make a hard
credit check. Check the interest rates and see
if that would save you money.
If you’ve got credit card debt, it may make more
sense to consolidate with a personal loan. This
is a good option if you’re not going to be able
to pay down your debt within a year, but need to
decrease your interest rate.
Ask your banker if you can get a lower interest
personal loan to pay off those credit cards.
Finally, you can find a 0% balance transfer card
and use the promotional (0%) time to pay off the debt.
You can’t pay off one credit card with another, but
you can transfer the balance. If you do that with a
card offering a promotional 0% interest rate for a
certain number of months, you can pay off most – or
even all – of the balance during that time and save
yourself a lot of money.
Getting rid of debt is the Number One way to save
money. Especially in today’s world, everyone can
afford to cut back on their spending.
In our next unit, we’ll talk about becoming a
Unit 5- Become Silent Partner
In our last unit, we discussed paying off your
debts as a way of saving yourself a good bit of
Today, we’ll talk about another type of investment:
the silent partner.
A rather risky way to generate passive income is to
become a “silent partner” in a business. You invest
in the business, but you don’t handle the day-to-day
operations of that business.
You would, however, have a say in the direction that
business takes and anything that affects the management
of the business. In other words, you stay behind the
scenes, just providing the needed income and guidance.
If the business thrives, you make money from their
profits. Unfortunately, if it doesn’t. neither do you.
A silent investor has much less hassle than an active
partner. The active partners must get the business up
and running, handling such things as payroll, taxes,
insurance, etc. That’s a lot of work, especially for
a new business.
As a silent partner, however, you’d just be sitting
there waiting for them to make a profit and pay you
whatever share you agreed on before you invested.
You also don’t have to have any experience in the sort
of business you’re investing in. An active partner must
know the market, know how to sell their products or
services, and know how to make that business thrive.
But you can invest in businesses you know little
about – other than, of course, that the business
will make money for you.
One of the main reasons to become a silent partner
is that you don’t have to constantly monitor your
investment. You can trust – or you’d better be able
to! – the business owners to run their business
properly and make a profit for you.
Then, you have a nice little income stream
You do need to do your homework with this investment.
Measure your risks. If the business doesn’t succeed,
your money is gone. You can reduce some of that risk
by investing in several different businesses, loaning
them money in small bonds. Worthy is an online company
that lets you do this for as little as $10 if you’d
like to try that out.
One very important aspect of this investment is to
have strict limits of involvement spelled out in the
That way, you can’t panic and jump in to try to run
the business (and maybe make things worse).
It’s also important that you have a buyout strategy
in place in case you and the business owners disagree
about something important. This can be a buyout
clause on the company’s part or some sort of loss
mitigation for the investor. If everybody knows the
limits and boundaries before making the agreement,
you’ll probably be able to work through most
In our next unit, we’ll talk about using your
creativity as passive income.
Unit 6- Sell your creativity
In our last unit, we talked about becoming a
silent partner in a business to create a passive
In today’s lesson, we’ll discuss using your creativity
to do the same thing. This will be a two-unit
discussion, as there are so very many ways to
utilize your creativity to make money.
One of the easiest ways to do this, if you have
a camera and a bit of talent, is selling stock
Businesses all over the world need images for their
media. And not all of those businesses can afford to
hire a professional photographer to work with them.
If you’re reasonably good at photography, you can
net a little passive income by selling photos to
Stock photos are simply photographs you’ve taken
yourself that you “have made available for sale for
commercial purposes and are subject to usage license.”
Most of the time, they’re sold through massive stock
image websites that hold zillions of images a business
can look through when they need a photo for a blog post,
social media post, magazine article, book cover, pamphlet,
You usually retain copyright – you’re really leasing
instead of selling the photos. And these licenses can
be worth a lot depending on where you place your photos
and how good a photographer you are.
Being successful at this requires discipline and
You need to know what’s needed and where to put your
images so the right businesses will find them. You’ll
want to study specific markets and take photos that
will probably be in demand there. The key is to stand
out from the crowd – not by some radical artistic style,
though. Actually, the more photos you have on a site,
the more you’ll stand out and the better chance you’ll
have of making a sale.
If you have a lot – and no, 100 is not a lot – of photos
out on the market, and they’re high quality work, you can
have a sizable stream of passive income. If you’ve got any
artistic talent, it might be worth investing in a good
camera and giving it a shot.
One tip: don’t do a lot of editing on the photos.
Companies want bright, clean images they can edit themselves
to get whatever effect they’re looking for.
Just produce good photographs and have them available for
lease. You’ll have to do a little more research and learn
how to label those photos with searchable keywords, too.
It won’t do you any good to have tons of photos if the
company can’t find any of them. Remember to also use
conceptual tags (happiness, childhood, etc.) in addition
to the usual concrete ones.
The six most popular sites for selling stock photos are:
Getty Images, Shutterstock, iStock, Dreamstime, Pixabay
You should investigate each one and see how you can sell
them your images and make some money doing it.
In our next unit, we’ll talk more about about how you
can build passive income channels by banking on your
creativity... more ideas to come!
Unit 7- Sell Your Creativity, Part 2
Have you ever thought of selling your designs?
One great way to do that is to sell t-shirts, coffee
mugs, posters or stickers, or other merchandise.
All you have to do is design a unique picture, logo,
or other image and have it printed on merchandise which
you then sell.
If you’re a photographer, you can merchandise your photo;
if you’re an artist, do the same with a painting or
Work with a company like CafePress or Amazon Merch that
will allow you to upload your own designs and start selling
With CafePress, you earn royalties if your designs sell
well enough. Amazon Merch is a great place to start because
they do everything for you – printing it out, packing it
up, and shipping it off.
Another way to sell designs is to design digital files for
sale on Etsy.
You can create a digital downloadable file of your artwork
and sell it for a small fee per download. You can also design
and sell templates like monthly planners for people looking
for a little organization in their lives.
Etsy already has an audience looking for these downloads,
so you don’t’ have to try to create a website and drive
traffic to be able to sell.
Before you get started, do a little research. Don’t just
copy ideas – look for what’s missing. If all you see is
bright colors, try creating some pastels. If everything
looks masculine, switch it up to feminine. Also try your
own take on a popular digital downloadable.
If you have trouble coming up with ideas, think about
what problems your audience may have and how a digital
download might help them solve those problems. This is where
organizational items like meal planners or shopping lists
Also research keywords so you know which ones are going to
help you sell that download. Try using the search function
on Etsy and see what it predicts – that’s usually a good
keyword phrase for you to use. Another place to do keyword
research is on Pinterest (what’s popular on one is usually
popular on the other).
Use your knowledge to help you with your designs. If you
can make a spreadsheet in your sleep with Excel, you might
try selling those.
If you’re a whiz with Photoshop, try something in the
graphics department. Get some free or affordable software
to help you create the downloads. Software like Canva is free
(though they do have a paid version that gives you better
It’s great for creating printable art or simple e-books.
Inkscape is another free one that’s similar to Illustrator.
It’s perfect for making graphics and other simple printables.
Procreate is $10 and is designed for the iPad. You use your
tablet’s pencil to create simple printables or graphics.
Some of the best-selling art prints are just quotes and phrases
on different backgrounds in simple font combinations.
You need to make sure that quote or phrase isn’t copyrighted,
first, though. Remember the same holds true for images – if
you don’t own it, don’t try to sell it.