Is it really possible to make money without money? The short answer is:
A limited yes
Of course you can make money without money – the lowest hanging fruit is to start a side gig:
If you have a smart phone, you can download sharing economy gigs, where you can help pickup food orders or parcels and hand deliver to the recipient. Grab has this, Uber has this. This can be accelerated if you have transport such as bicycles, scooters, motorbikes, cars but those will incur other costs such as fuel, toll, parking etc.
Walk over to your neighbours in the neighbourhood and offer them services using their equipment (or your own) such as grass cutting, war washing/waxing, power washing, dog walking, kid sitting. These are things you can do in your neighbourhood.
There’s opportunities like these everywhere, and the key is this, you must be
Willing to do the work
If you dont want work and you want money to fall from the sky (which will be nice, I’d like that too), but you gotta do the work.
In the beginning, without money, you’ve got to put in the active hours, the sweat, the strains, the effort. It’s only when you have some money, then you can play a little more game or level up, be it to hire and manage employees, or invest into investments that can provide you passive income.
I recommend people to learn to start an online business
I use this platform to learn, host and manage all my online businesses. Not only is it very affordable at less than $1 a day, it
has a powerful leverage: it works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for you
no ceiling cap of how much you can earn
a good skill that you can use to market your own businesses or sell other people’s stuff for a commission
this skill is transferable: you can teach your kids and even get paid to teach others
Downside is that it takes quite some time to build traction and traffic (about 18 months+) and it can be lonely, and that’s why I like the platform that I’m using – there’s a very active community that both keeps me accountable but also I can relate, complain to and share my joys with. This makes it a little more sustainable.
Sign up for free (there’s a forever free limited membership, no credit card required) and when you’re ready to take it to the next level, only then you commit. No upsells after.
I learnt the concept of cashflow from Robert Kiyosaki’s rich dad poor dad, and since 2003, I’d learnt again and again how important cashflow truly is. I try as best as possible to create streams and streams of positive cash flow into my bank accounts.
Like the example I gave earlier, on smart money tactics, I immediately split money into different baskets with specific functions. An example if my income is $5000/month, I will take out 20%, which is $1000/month to be put into assets that will pay me regularly be it
This will be an every-month-process, and I’ll do this month-in-month out. Let me extrapolate on the example above.
Year 01: Every month $1000 x 12 months = $12K. At 5% ROI, my dividend would be $600
Year 02: Every month $1000 x 12 months = $12K + $12K. At 5% ROI, my dividend would be $1200
Year 03: Every month $1000 x 12 months = $12K + $24K. At 5% ROI, my dividend would be $1800
Year 04: Every month $1000 x 12 months = $12K + $36K. At 5% ROI, my dividend would be $2400
Year 05: Every month $1000 x 12 months = $12K + $48K. At 5% ROI, my dividend would be $3000
Year 10: Every month $1000 x 12 months = $12K + $108K. At 5% ROI, my dividend would be $6000
Year 20: Every month $1000 x 12 months = $12K + $228K. At 5% ROI, my dividend would be $12000
Year 30: Every month $1000 x 12 months = $12K + $348K. At 5% ROI, my dividend would be $18000
And I hadnt even calculated if I
increased the amount I put in every month as my pay goes up / business grows
reinvest the dividends
The name of the game is to keep investing into cashflowing assets again and again.
I stumbled upon Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad book in my 2nd year of my occupational therapy diploma studies, when I was in Ratna’s place doing group work or some assignment. Somehow, I just saw it and it stood out to me. Without thinking, I immediately blurted out to her if I could borrow it from her, and she graciously said okay.
That was the beginning of a money change in my life.
You see, I grew up in a poor to middle class family, and I dont tire of telling this story. I have very loving parents and siblings, and we love each other. But I remember growing up seeing my parents fight over money, there was so much money stresses and strain. My dad would loan money to pay for stuff, but we manage by. There was not much money talks, so watching them was sort of front-row seats of my learning.
In school, I realized I too started borrowing money from my friends whenever the month-end was too far away, and that happened almost every month (thanks Pei Fen and Julia) for helping me all those years. I was embarrassed to have done that, but I realized it’s something
Monkey see monkey do
Rich dad’s #1 lesson that changed my life
It’s just “an” idea, that assets put money into my pocket or bank account. So, the natural conclusion is that I need more and more assets to put in more and more money into my pockets. The simplicity worked for my simple brain, especially when financial intelligence was a new concept to me.
Robert then expanded that point, on how he went into entrepreneurship because he’s not super smart to become a doctor (I could relate to that), and not talented enough to become a highly paid actor or entertainer (well…dang, me too). So it’s entrepreneurship for me too, which led me to start my entrepreneurship journey.
First, as a freelancer, then as an agency owner, then a clinic, then a clinic chain.
This allowed me to
Earning more has always been helpful.
It’s a stark difference of earning $2000/month (and taking home $1700+) as opposed to my first month as freelancer where I took home $4800. I will NEVER forget that feeling of amazement, disbelief, and this sense of hope. I knew that if I could do it once, I can do it again and again.
Then I leveled up, instead of just earning $5K/month freelancing as a freelance therapist, what happened if we opened our own clinic? We didnt have the skills or knowhow, but we were willing to learn, and then we started earning $10-20K+/month, with a clinic. Then multiplied again when we had people joining us. Then multiplied again when we have 2, 3…and more clinics.
Robert was (still is) very big into
teaching and intellectual property books / boardgames
precious metals such as silver and gold
and more recently, cryptocurrency
He taught me broadly about the idea of investing, and after we started earning more, we started to look at what and how we can do more when it comes to investing and working our hard earned monies even harder. This is a skill that I’m improving and honing everyday, on top of running and growing my businesses.
I’ve since gone for other courses and books and courses, but I wont forget this very first book. I still pick it up once in a while, and it’s a great gift to give.
Being able to save money and manage your spending impulses is a powerful ability, and yet it’s “only” one-third of the wealth equation.
What’s the other two thirds?
being born in a rich family
marrying into money
hitting the jackpot
My other two thirds are tried-and-tested truths:
Ability to earn more
I’ve said this before:
there’s only so much you can save
Yes, saving is a powerful ability, but there is one big, big problem with it: there’s a ceiling cap on how much you can save, because saving is based on your actual earning and spending.
I’ll give you an example: if you earn $3K and spend $3K, all you can cut back on in savings are max $3K (before deducting expenses for essentials such as roof, food, transport etc). In the end, it’d still be within the $3K.
BUT, and it’s a biiiIGGGGG but, when it comes to earning more, there is no ceiling. If you start a side hustle, you may earn $100 in the first week, $350 in the second and up to $1000 by the end of the month. You can scale to $3K/month and even higher, grow the business (or not, depending on your preferences) and going up to $10K/month and more too.
You get to network with different individuals, perhaps even find deep meaningful work too.
That’s what I like about entrepreneurship and side hustles – there’s no limit, once you get past the first hurdle of starting and staying the course. I spend most of my time here.
Ability to research, invest/reinvest and be patient
The last and equally powerful ability revolves around investing, basically referring to the ability to getting all your hard earned (and saved) money to work harder for you.
It’s about making your $1000 earn another $1000+++ and more for you, and not losing your principle investment as much as possible.
Why these 2 skills are equally (if not more important)
counter inflation: prices are going up and every $100 you save today will become less valuable next year (due to rising interest rates and inflation, causing prices to go up)
building passive income from your hard earn money will provide you cashflow which you can use for daily expenses and reinvest to make your investment returns work even harder for you
People are very willing to pay for time and convenience. Combine this with the sharing economy, and you’d find that you may have a much easier time earning an extra $1000+ per month.
Transport: Uber, Grab, Lyft
Food: Doordash, UberEats, GrabFood
Parcel: uparcel, lalamove
Tasks: taskrabbit, quest
There’s so many app-based gigs that you can use, literally at touch / click of buttons, to get side gigs and get paid for doing them. You can literally do that now by going into Apple or Android app store and searching and registering.
Once you’re approve, go through and choose jobs that’s part of your routine or transportation (you can even deliver food by foot!) and get paid.
Grass cutting / lawn mowing
Tutoring (will need specific skills and certs)
Renting out your spare rooms
If you bought a space and have 1 or more rooms that you actually dont use, a popular house-hack is to rent out the spare rooms. You can
get a realtor / agent to help you secure longer term tenants
use apps like airbnb for short term tenants
These revenue can be used to pay for the mortgage itself and you can save on interest or invest into other assets.
Start an online business
One of my all-time favorites is starting an online business (I recommend learning here), for so many reasons including
very low costs
no income ceiling
very portable ie you can work on your online business in any countries
passive income (set up once, earn again and again because online business works 24/7)
Of course it’s not easy and takes time (like any other skill) and will require serious dedication.
One of the most powerful thing about property or real estate investing is that you can harness the power of leverage; also known as “debt”. Banks and financial institutions looooooooove property, so they’re often very willing to loan you money to finance your property purchase. How much they can (and will) loan you will depend on
how much net earning and debts you have
the value of the property
They will be willing to loan you more based on the % of the value of the property.
Practical: people gonna live some place
Rental properties aren’t some complicated rocket science stuff.
People will need a place to live
People will need a place to work
That pretty much sums up rental property investing. Of course you will need to consider nuances such as size, location and amenities etc, but those 2 points above is key.
Tax benefits (depending on your country)
This one can be tricky, depending on your country’s tax laws, and since I’m no accountant nor lawyer, I cannot advise on this. But there are often tax breaks and incentives, that’s tied to mortgage loans that you can consider; as well as expenses that you can attribute as legit (of course it needs to be legit eh) business expenses.
Bonus Point: refinancing magic
One bonus point on refinancing is this: if your property increases in value (they call this capital appreciation), you can actually “pull” out the value in cash by refinancing your mortgage loan…and use the money to buy another rental property. This is on top of rental markets going up and you not only get more rental yield too. Nifty huh.
Sometimes we feel trapped as employees to earn more – the company may say “we’ve maxed out our budget”…but I can tell you, as a business owner, that if you come to me and tell me
I’ve an idea that may be profitable
I’d be happy to hear my employees out, and let them execute it and share the profits with them after deducting expenses and taxes. Not a hard decision for me, if an employee come to me and share this with me. We can provide some resources but it has to be helmed by the employee.
Less risk for them, less risk for the business, but everyone gets to share. In fact if the idea does well enough, I will do a spin-off by creating a business and giving them some shares (equity) where they can buyback with certain targets.
I think that’s fair and works for everyone.
If not, then a side hustle it is
The era of internet as well as sharing economy has changed the side hustle landscape for all if not most of us. Think about it, some “easy low hanging fruits” are
Spare room: rent it out or AirBNB it out
Storage space: rent it out
Food / parcel deliveries
Driving people around using Uber, Lyft, Grab etc
If not, then you can do the traditional low hanging route, such as
snow shovelling (seasonal though)
Take it one notch higher
Those I mentioned earlier are low hanging fruits that just work, but there’s others too that you can consider which you can grow well
trade skills: handyman, electrical, walling, plumbing – skills that people pay lots for convenience
sales skills in the world of properties, insurance
The “easiest” way to explain passive income is to compare it to what it’s not, in this case, the opposite of passive income is typically getting paid dollars for your efforts and hours. Most employees are paid active incomes, and if they ever get laid off or too sick to work, this type of active income stops. ie active income is paid or payable only when you turn up and work.
Passive income is income that is paid to you regardless of
you turning up to work
you putting in more or less work (in some cases, some passive income can increase with more works and efforts, I’ll cover this in a bit)
And this is the main reason why I like passive income and most of what I do is geared towards
increasing the amount of passive income streams
increasing the amount of passive income paid
decrease the amount of recurring expenses whenever possible
How does passive income work?
Generally passive income is made by building or acquiring assets or businesses that provides value even if you’re not there. Examples are:
rental homes where tenants can use and live even if you’re not there
businesses with employees that can serve customers even when you’re not there
online businesses that uses technology to provide value eg information
How to generate passive income
There are 2 very broad ways of generating passive income: build or buy assets that generate you passive income and they are:
Buying assets that can generate you passive income.
Assets are anything that can and does make you money without you working it.
One of the simplest examples are buying dividend stocks, such as REITs, ETFs or business trusts, and in turn, they will pay you a percent of their profits every 3, 6 or 12 months. These dividends can vary from 1% per year to high levels of 8-10%.
Dont just choose high-paying dividend stocks only, because dividend payouts need to make sense and be sustainable.
Other assets you can buy to generate you passive income:
intellectual properties such as rights of songs, books / ebooks
The easiest is generally dividend stocks because it’s the least amount of direct work (most passive, in that sense).
The 3 problems with buying assets for passive income
you need a lot of it to generate a meaningful amount to sustain yourself (moreso if you have dependents)
that’d mean more money and/or more time to accumulate
rental properties can be illiquid (hard or slow to sell); stock prices can fluctuate
even that being said, I am still happy with my dividend stocks. In Singapore, dividends are non-taxable so it’s really delicious when it gets banked directly into my personal bank account. If prices drop, I just buy more =)
Building assets is the key to wealth and passive income
The fastest way to wealth and more passive income is learning how to build assets, for 2 reasons:
If you can build assets that put more and more passive income in your bank account, that’d directly and immediately add to your passive income bottomline, and this is very valuable, leading to
#2 Buyers who will pay premium for your assets
Say you build a business (online or offline) that can pay your $1000/month – do you know that there will be buyers that will pay a good 40-50x of that monthly net profit?
a business that makes net $1000/month you may be able to sell for $40,000
a business that makes net $5000/month you may be able to sell for $200,000
Which you can then take the sales proceeds to buy more passive income stuff instead AND then build more passive income assets.
How to build your passive income lifestyle, beginning today
The passive income lifestyle is a lifestyle where your passive income, be it passive rental income, passive dividend income, passive business income; is more than your living expenses.
It is a very, very nice place to be in, and not only does every passive income feels so nice, it also works to lifts up so much of my pressure. Frankly, there are a lot of ways that can lead you to the passive income lifestyle (so many investment vehicles, types, opportunities), but I dont want to create more work or complexities for myself.
To me, it has to be “true” passive and simple to maintain, so I simplified the basic passive income lifestyle concept to be boring but systematic:
have a steady day job
save as much as possible
invest aggressively into dividend stocks that pay you at least 7.5% per year (ideally 10% and above) consistently
reinvest majority of dividends
until your portfolio’s yearly dividend passive income is same or more than your yearly living expenses.
The 3 biggest factors that will impact your passive income portfolio
how much you can invest regularly (this depends on how much you earn and spend)
how much is the rate of return of your passive income (ideally 10% per year but 7.5% is decent)
Time plays the most powerful compounding effect. Albert Einstein quipped, saying that compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world, and I agree.
Compound interest, simplified
Compound interest is basically how your money grow with interest return + time.
Let me show you a basic example: say you can invest $10,000 a year ($833.33 a month) into a dividend stock that returns you 10% per annum; and you reinvest every dividend return.
Year 1: Invest $10,000 + 10% = $11,000 end of year
Year 2: Invest $10,000 + $11,000 from previous year + 10% = $23,100
Year 3: Invest $10,000 + $23,100 from previous year + 10% = $36,410
Year 4: Invest $10,000 + $36,410 from previous year + 10% = $51,051
Year 10: $159,310.50
Year 15: $317,597.73
Year 25: $983,077.21
Year 50: $11,634,429.65
Instead of plain saving $10,000 x 50 years = $500,000; you can get a much bigger amount with compounding interest.
Start your basic passive income lifestyle today
Save as much as you can
Start investing into dividend stocks that gives at least 7.5% per year
Continue investing and reinvesting the dividends
It takes time for compounding effect to work its magic, and the more time you have, the more it’d work wondrously in your favor…but conversely, the less time you have, the more obvious the shortfall. Eg a person who has 40 years to invest has a lot more time-based benefits compared to someone who only has 10, and that’s why because I dont have high earning capacity as high income professions such as doctors, I knew I needed to start a business to level up.
If you want to level up to earn more, retire faster
Then you gotta earn more.
For most people who have time on their side and have a good chunk to invest monthly, they can take their time to invest regularly, ie dollar-cost-average (DCA) into stable dividend stocks. It is a good way. I take this approach one level up with my businesses which serves to help me accelerate my earning rate (it’s fun and complex too ehehe)
Quick money side hustles
These include the low-hanging fruits of app-based works such as
driving for Uber, Lyft, Grab
sending items with DoorDash or similar
pet walking / baby sitting
These are the kind of work that can help you earn an extra $50-100+ a day on your schedule, as part of your routine.
Learn high income skills
High income skills are skills and work that are higher value, such as
property agents / realtors
copywriters / direct sales
trade skills such as plumbing, electrical
and can typically earn you $100k/year.
Scale up businesses
Scaling up a business means to grow, hire and delegate, but before we go there, let me first say that it’s not always a necessity. It’s wayyyy more complex and difficult, but of course, has the most potential. Not everyone is keen or hungry to scale up businesses, and that is fine.
An example of scaling up a physical business is if you’re a realtor, you can consider recruiting a team of 5-10+ sales agents under your belt, where you then train them and lead them to grow their own businesses under your business. The upside is that you can multiply your income exponentially…when done right.
When done wrong, it can mean you working 24/7, tired and burnt out. Or lose money.
Normally, I recommend people to either do something low-hanging such as the quick small wins type or building a $100k+ per year freelancing business, because it’s less complex. If you want to do something that can scale, you can consider starting a blogging business where it can cost a few hundred bucks a year on the side.
Blogging is a publishing business where it can become a powerful passive income business with scale, but it does take a lot of time (at least a minimum of 2 years+) for it to take traction, build followers etc. The goal is to build a good enough following who likes what you write and do, and then monetize by display ads and creating products that help your followers.
I use this platform to learn how to build my profitable blogging business.
Invest the profits from businesses and side gigs into dividend stocks
The profits I use to invest into dividend stocks (mainly as core) as well as some into high-risk-high-growth investments such as crypto. Profits from high-risk-high-growth investments are taken out to decrease risk and invest into more dividend stocks and pay for primary home.