Building Passive Income

I’m graduating soon, and I’m excited about that. I’m going to have a job right out of school, and I’m excited about that, too. But one thing I’m not excited about is saving money. I’m worried that I won’t be able to save up for retirement even if I’m careful, because my job isn’t the highest-paying one in the world. Experts, what should I do?

Saving up for retirement is no easy task. It’s something that many Americans are falling behind on year after year. In fact, roughly half of all older Americans have no money at all saved for their retirement, according to one study. That’s a disturbing fact with some serious implications for the job market, the health and stability of our seniors, and public policy.

So how can you avoid becoming a part of that statistic? It’s easier said than done. It begins with spending less than you earn, of course. Every one of us should craft a smart budget that we can stick to, and we should “pay ourselves first” by setting aside savings as mandatory expenses (like rent, utility bills, and groceries) that we make space in our budget for before any discretionary spending.

But even saving like this isn’t enough. Putting away money every paycheck is good, but inflation will rob that cash of its value over time. Plus, few of us make enough money to retire on steady saving alone — and those who do won’t be able to retire at the standard of living to which they are accustomed unless they do something more.

That’s why it’s crucial to use your savings — not to spend them, of course, but to make sure that your money is making you even more money. The traditional way to do this is to invest in stocks and bonds; a diversified portfolio will go a long way toward making your retirement dreams a reality.

Some stocks pay out dividends: Cash that goes back into your brokerage account. This is an income that you don’t have to do much to earn and which comes in independently of your paycheck. It’s one form of something called “passive income” — and passive income is a fantastic way to build wealth.

A classic example of passive income is an income property. Picture this: You save up enough money to buy a property (or a second property; you’ll likely find that buying your own home first should be the financial priority). You purchase it and rent it out. Now you have a steady income in the form of rent — passive income that still allows you to earn your regular salary. It’s like getting a raise. Plus, you’ll own the real estate property, which could be an investment in and of itself.

It’s not this simple, of course. You’ll want to do the math carefully. Look at investment home loan rates, suggest experts in Australia, and research the market, average rents, the expenses you can expect to incur in maintaining your property, and so on. Is your money better invested elsewhere? Do you have the knowledge and resources to manage your property? Still, it’s possible to answer these questions and to conclude that you, like so many others, should consider an income property as an investment.

This isn’t your only option for creating passive income. Maybe you could make your work last longer in some way. If you’re a blogger, for instance, you could write an ebook that would give you sales income (which means you’ll be earning passive income even when you’re not actively writing or selling something new). If you’re a business owner, maybe you could license your brand to a franchisee or create a branded product that others will sell while giving you a cut of the profits. If you can gain an asset that keeps paying you even after your main work or purchase is done, then that’s a form of passive income.

Over time, multiplying your income streams, focusing on passive income, and earning interest on your investments can magnify your savings. Save early, save often, and make your money work for you. Do all that, and you’ll be just fine when retirement rolls around.