‘It Feels Like Free Money!’: 4 Stories of Successful Passive Income Strategies

"All in all, I couldn't think of an easier way to make $2,400 per year!"

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"My rental properties bring in almost $6,500 per month."

Netiva Heard, 38, financial educator in Harrisburg, N.C.

"My husband Malcom and I currently own seven single-family homes in Illinois and Indiana—netting us just under $6,500 per month after taxes, maintenance and insurance costs.

Being a landlord isn't super time intensive, but it does require some attention since we manage the two properties in Illinois. (A family member manages the others.) If a pipe breaks or a water heater gives out, the responsibility is ours. Before moving to North Carolina two months ago, we deliberately built up a solid team of affordable electricians, plumbers, roofing specialists and contractors. If something comes up, we’ll be prepared to handle it.

We bought our first property back in 2011, when I was working as a Realtor. Our strategy has been to invest strictly in foreclosures and pay in cash—so far anywhere from $19,000 to $35,000 per property—so we never take on mortgages.

This was no easy feat! In September 2009, we began reducing our expenses and saving my entire income so that we could tap our savings to purchase the homes. We first used rental income to replenish our savings, and now invest the profits into other real estate projects, our retirement and kids’ college funds.

Establishing this kind of passive income takes time—and a hefty financial commitment, at least at first—but since we had a solid emergency fund and no debt to our name, it made sense for us. My best piece of advice is to get as financially fit as possible before jumping into the rental property game."

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