I'm known for my two “big” debt payoff stories – the $10,000 I paid off at age 23 while living and working in New York City, and my infamous $8,000 in 90-day challenge. While the first time I paid off all that debt was due to good old fashioned budgeting and “tightening the belt,” the $8,000 in 90 days was a feat only accomplished by having multiple streams of income.
I’m here to tell you that anyone – yes, anyone! – can build multiple income streams into their life and finances. It’s one of the best ways to access the money necessary to live out your own personal “financial best life.”
I've been a proponent of multiple income streams pretty much since I started blogging, but I’ve never really put it together into one big post until now. This way, those on the fence about how to get started earning money, in more ways than ever have a quick start guide at their fingertips.
How to Create Multiple Income Streams
First, you have to start small. Maybe you have a full-time job. That's income stream #1. Then, you can work on a second income stream. Perhaps building a side business, or leveraging one of the side hustles mentioned below.
From there you can add income streams as time, money, and bandwidth allows. The important thing is to diversify your income, even if it's just a little bit. This way, you'll never be solely reliant on just one income.
Multiple streams of income not only makes saving money easier and faster but can also help you weather job loss or unexpected emergencies. In 2013, when I lost my job, I was upset, but I didn't have to panic because I had income from the blog and from my freelance writing side hustle to help cover my expenses while I searched for another job.
The Most Common Multiple Income Streams
Obviously, if you want to add multiple income streams into your life you’re going to have to work.
#Werk and work..if you know what I mean.
Even passive income streams are all active at some point.
But the work is well worth the effort, I promise. The following are the most common types of side income streams:
- The side hustle/side gig – something you do very casually on the side (usually on top of a 9-5 job)
- A side business (or side businesses) that you work on consistently and grow over time
- Passive income
- Investing (if you invest outside of saving in a retirement account)
- Rental Income
- Full-Time Salary (and the secondary salary if you are married and your spouse works!)
So, for example, when I was working full-time and my husband and I were both renting our houses, we had seven different streams of income between the jobs, the houses, and my blog and freelance writing hustles.
It was a lot of work managing it all, but we were able to fully pay for our wedding (with no debt) and buy the home of our dreams. So as you can see, multiple streams of income not only provide financial security but can help you reach your financial goals faster.
#1 – The Side Hustle / Side Gig
I think of side hustles and side businesses a little bit differently.
I see the side business as something more involved than a “gig” (like driving for Lyft or something). A gig is a small-time thing; you do it when you want, in your free time, and aren’t actively trying to grow the income. The side gig, will always be your side gig.
You have no intention of ever turning side gig into your “Main bae.”
Here are additional resources on how to find the best side hustles and side gigs for your schedule:
- 30 of the Easiest Ways to Make Side Money This Year
- 15 Side Jobs to Make Extra Money
- The 10 Top Side Hustles for Busy People
- 20 Money Earning Apps
- 7 Ways to Earn an Extra $1000 This Month
A blog or a freelance writing hustle also make great endeavors for your free time if you enjoy writing. The best thing is, now more than ever there are SO MANY gigs you can do from the comfort of your own home.
#2 – The Side Business
Have a passion you’d like to turn into a thriving side business for extra cash? I’m a big believer that everyone has a “side hustle” in their back pocket – they just don’t know it yet.
The basic steps to building a side business are as follows:
- Determine what your business will be
- Start by selling that product/service to your circle
- Deliver exceptionally
- Build a marketing presence for your business
- Grow. Profit. Repeat
That’s the high-level overview, but I go into more detail in my post, The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Hustle.
#3 – Passive Income
Some people don’t want to actively manage a business. They want to make money in their sleep, on autopilot, stack coins while on vacation or rest easy at night after a full day of work knowing they’re still making that chedd-ah.
Passive income is the holy grail of income streams.
Meaning…they’re difficult to set up and get going, but once you do it’s relatively low-cost from a time perspective. Technically, investing and real estate income are also considered more “passive” income streams, but I wanted to go into more detail so they get their own sections. Aside from investing and real estate, some of the best types of passive income include:
- Peer-to-Peer Lending
- Selling digital products like courses and ebooks
- E-commerce/Drop Shipping Business
#4 – Your House/Leveraging Existing Assets
An easy way to add in an income stream to your budget is by leveraging existing assets you already have (like renting out a spare bedroom in your house) or items that you don't use all the time. There are multiple apps now that make it easy to access marketplaces of renters looking for exactly what you have to offer.
My favorite is if you have a large home or an apartment with a spare bedroom. This is probably the easiest way on this list (even easier than a side hustle) to start earning additional revenue on top of your 9-5 job.
#5 – Investing
I’m not an investing expert, and I’m not going to try to be in this article. Instead, I’ll just say that there are investing opportunities beyond what you’re already doing for retirement.
Whaaaa? Yes, it’s true!
You can invest your regular money. And because it’s growing in the market over time, that’s passive income. I’ve linked some resources that explain this far better than I can below.
- The Beginner's Guide to Investing – Investing 101
- How to Start Making Passive Income
- Investopedia's 4 Best Passive Income Investments
- Ranking the Best Passive Income Investments
#6 – Rental Property
Renting out a room in your home isn’t quite the same as having a rental property. When we say rental property, we mean a home (or condo, or apartment, or townhome…etc.) that is different than your primary residence. While there is some time involved in finding a tenant, maintaining the property, and turning it over in between tenants, this is one of the easiest streams of income I’ve ever had to maintain.
When I became a landlord, there were a few additional resources I use to “lighten the load.” Below are my favorites and sanity-savers:
Multiple Streams of Income: Rental Property Reads
- The Book on Rental Property Investing: How to Create Wealth and Passive Income Through Smart Buy & Hold Real Estate Investing – by Brandon Turner from Bigger Pockets – Anyone completely new to this whole landlord thing should take a read of this great book.
- The Bigger Pockets online community is also a GOLD MINE of information for those who want to landlord – either full-time or as a side business.
- Every Landlord's Legal Guide – I don't want to make it sound super-easy. I mean, it can be, but being a landlord is not something you can just breeze through. There are so many legalities involved, you must absolutely read up on the tenants legal rights, and yours too.
Cozy.co – This app is the MVP of my landlord-ing line-up. This app doesn't charge you any monthly service fees and you can run credit and background checks, create leases, and check the status of payments AND collect money all through the app.
They also don't charge you for any payments made through the app. Cozy makes its money when you have tenants pay for application/credit/and background check.
I used this for my home, and again when helping my boyfriend rent out his home. Because of Cozy we were able to find a fantastic tenant for his home too! (And no, I don't have any kind of affiliate or partnership relationship with Cozy. They're legitimately just a rockstar service I love telling people to use.)
Investable- Maybe you don't want to be an “Accidental Landlord” and would rather be a bonafide real estate mogul. This super brand new tool from my friend Andrew at Listen Money Matters helps you run all the math-y numbers in an easy-to-use app.
This way, you can see if a certain property you want to buy (or, your actual home)/rental properties would make a good real estate investment and how much you'd need to charge in order to turn a profit. I know many people, myself included, struggle with the “how much to charge” question. There's a 14-day free trial, so I recommend checking it out and playing around.
#7 – Full-Time Job/Salary Income
Not everyone is going to be an internet entrepreneur (nor wants to be.) Some people, myself included, find so much satisfaction in corporate employment and a job outside the home. Most people work some type of W2 job, so I wanted to include ways to increase income in this area as well.
Because if you’ve got a salaried job, this is your first income stream. So, let’s make it as strong as we can.
Know Your Worth
Knowing how your income compares to the averages in your industry can give you an idea of your value and a confidence boost when it comes time to ask for a raise. You can use online job surveys such as Payscale.com, Salary.com, or Glassdoor.com. You can even search job listings in your industry through the salary range might not always be listed.
While these numbers can give you a good idea of where you stand, keep in mind that they are averages. Some professionals in your industry will make much more and some much less. Factors to consider are your location and your individual performance. If you're a rock star at work but your pay is less than the average, it could be a good time to have a conversation with your boss.
It's becoming harder and harder in corporate America to get promoted or become part of upper management without advanced education and/or certifications. The good news is that there are also more and more options for distant and online learning, making it easier than ever to continue your education.
- Start by having a conversation with your manager about your desire to earn a certification or degree.
- Find out if your company offers any type of tuition assistance or reimbursement.
- Also, gauge your manager's interest and support. Will continuing your education help you earn more at your day job or help you get promoted?
- You should also research job ads to see what types of qualifications they list for potential candidates.
The last thing you want to do is spend time and money on a degree that isn't going to take your career to the next level.
Volunteer for New Projects
Aside from formally earning a certification or degree, another way to boost your earnings is to demonstrate that you've learned new skills. While you're looking to fatten your paycheck, the first thing on your employer's mind is always going to be how your skills can help the company.
Offer to take on additional tasks and get involved in new projects.
You may be great at your current job, but you're already getting paid for that. If you want to make more, you often have to show that you're capable of doing more.
Tackle the Job Above You
If you're looking to increase your earnings potential, start learning the job of the person above you. It's important to demonstrate that you can fill the next role and that you aren't letting yourself get too comfortable in your current position.
- This may mean asking your boss for additional responsibilities and taking ownership of new tasks.
- Show that you can handle more responsibility with confidence.
- When you have questions for your manager bring solutions, not problems.
- If there is an issue, think through a potential way to solve it first before asking your manager for input.
Don't go to your boss expecting them to offer the solution. This shows a lack of leadership and isn't likely to help you get promoted anytime soon.
Ask For What You Deserve
Asking for a raise can be intimidating and uncomfortable, but don't let that stop you. Just remember that timing is crucial. You should consider these points first:
- Are you really going above and beyond in your current role and getting good feedback from your manager?
- Do you have examples of difficult projects you've handled and customers you've made happy?
- How is your company performing financially? Do you see co-workers getting promotions, or is the company in a period of transition?
The last time I asked for a raise, I put a dollar value to every project I’d worked on. I did a lot of research and asked friends who sent a lot of the work I was doing to agencies how much they spent. This helped me quantify – in exact detail – how much money I saved the company…and let me tell you, it went well beyond what they were paying me.
Knowing what you're worth is crucial when applying for jobs AND asking for a raise, and Payscale helps you do this. It ensures you and the company are in sync with compensation expectations and also helps ensure you ask for as much as you can get.
Find a New Job (If Necessary)
Research finds the biggest increase in earnings occur when you switch jobs. If you're happy, try and make it work at your current employer.
If you really would like to earn more, consider hunting for a new job and negotiating for a higher salary upon entry.
Sure, you can just Google to see what jobs are available near you. But there is no guarantee that those sites will actually have something for you; you'll need to check out some of the best job sites in the business.
Most businesses will post a job opening on LinkedIn, and around 87% of recruiters currently use LinkedIn to find relevant candidates. They know that many talented individuals use the website and have relevant work experience on it. Some places will allow you to simply use your LinkedIn profile to apply, so make sure yours is up-to-date.
You can use a global or local search, as well as search for a salary range and use other filters to find your perfect job. Indeed also offers email notices (like a “Google alert” for jobs), so you don't have to miss a job posting.
Along with job postings, Glassdoor has a large collection of company reviews created by its employees. Glassdoor allows you to see what it would be like to work for a particular company. A job posting might seem like the perfect fit for you, but you will need to make sure the company fits as well.
Another great thing about Glassdoor is that the companies don't have any say on what goes into the reviews about them. You can be sure that what you see is the truth instead of what the company wants you to see.
The Real Reason Multiple Income Streams are So Important
Maybe you’re skeptical. Maybe you don’t think multiple income streams are for you because you’re already so busy, or like having lots of free time.
But here’s the reason why I like multiple income streams, and why I work so hard to build and maintain them.
There’s power in having a diversified income.
Having multiple streams of income will empower you to make all kinds of “risky” choices. It allows you the freedom to follow your heart, your gut, and your conscience when need be.
And even if they never become more than just “money-making hobbies”, having side streams of income gives you options. Things to fall back on.
- You’ll be devastated if you unexpectedly lose your job, but you won’t be down and out.
- You’ll sacrifice free time up front, but end up with more, later on, to chase down the things that truly matter.
- We no longer have to be full-time corporate slaves. We can be full (or part-time!) masters of our own destiny.
And all of that sounds pretty darn good to me.
*This post appeared in September 2015. It was updated in March 2019. Ann Arceo and Kevyn Bowling helped contribute to this piece.