A Basic Look at Income Investing

If you want to put your money to work for you, consider income investing to provide you with a regular revenue stream.

One of the reasons that presidential candidate Mitt Romney is getting a lot of flack is due to the fact that his effective tax rate is so low. One of the reasons that he ends up paying a lower percentage of his income in taxes is due to the fact that a great deal of his income comes from investments. Long-term investment gains, and dividends, are taxed at different rates. As a result, Mitt Romney's investment income offers him with a way to pay at a lower tax rate.

Income investing isn't just for the wealthy, though. It's possible for you to build an income portfolio as well — although it might take a little longer than you might expect. Without a large amount of capital, you will need to carefully consider how you build your portfolio over time, and realize that it can take 10 years (or more) to get your portfolio to the point that it provides you with a significant revenue source.

But, with the right planning, and some persistence, income investing can eventually provide you with an alternative revenue source that provides you with income diversity.

Why You Should Consider Income Investing

I admit that I haven't really done a lot with income investing. I've only just started building a portfolio that includes dividend paying stocks, and I have a really sad account over at Lending Club. I know I need to step up my game, and am in the process of doing so, in order to build up an income portfolio that might eventually provide me with a somewhat reliable income stream.

There are a number of reasons to consider income investing. Some of those reasons include:

  • You can get to the point where you have some passive income to shore up your finances.
  • Some investment income, such as long-term capital gains and dividends, come with lower tax rates.
  • Many income investments are reasonably stable. While there is still risk involved, of course, many income investments are quite solid and perform relatively well even in times of economic turmoil.

It's also worth noting that it's often fairly simple to get started. There are a number of online brokerages now that offer low-cost investments, and you can start with fairly low minimums — some as low as $0 to begin. This means that you can use dollar cost averaging as you build your income portfolio. By building up a little at a time, you make steady progress, and even reap the benefits that can come when you are able to get some of your investments “on sale.”

What are Your Options When it Comes to Income Investing?

Of course, you need to decide which investments qualify as “income investments.” Basically, income investing concerns itself with those assets that provide regular income on a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual basis. Instead of hoping to hit some jackpot, you look for income from interest, dividends, and perhaps payments from rental property that you own.

In some cases, the income you receive from one asset may not be huge. However, building an income portfolio is about arranging matters so that the total becomes significant over time. Right now, it may seem as though you aren't receiving much from a quarterly dividend of $0.50 a share, but over time, as you add more shares, and as you consider the rest of your dividend portfolio, the results improve.

Here are some of the investments to consider as you build an income portfolio:

  • Dividend paying stocks: You can use these to not only build your capital, but to also receive regular payments from the company. Your payout is based on how many shares you have. It's also possible to reinvest some of your dividends automatically in order to get more shares now. This can help you build your dividend portfolio quicker; later you can stop participating in DRIPs and reap the benefits of building shares faster.
  • REITs: Real Estate Investment Trusts pay dividends, and can add a little diversity to your portfolio.
  • Bonds: There are a number of different bond options, from Treasury bonds to corporate bonds, to foreign bonds to municipal bonds. Some bonds have preferential tax treatment (like munis). You receive regular interest payments during the term, and get your principal back at the end.
  • Funds and ETFs: There are a number of mutual/index funds and ETFs that have low costs, and that invest in income assets. These can make it easier to diversify, as well as spread out your risk a bit.
  • P2P lending: Increasingly popular is the idea of lending to peers. You'll get regular principal + interest payments, offering a source of revenue.
  • Income property: It's also possible to add income property to your portfolio. If you are cut out to be a landlord, it's possible for you to earn monthly income from rent tenants pay.
  • Business: Starting a business can be a way to invest in yourself in order to see regular income now, and in the future. But starting a home business, whether you are selling products or monetizing a web site, requires hard work and some risk.

Each type of investment carries risk, of course. You can lose your capital in any of these, and you need to be careful of the investment decisions that you make. It's also important to remember that no matter what you do, there is no magic solution for your finances. You need to research your options, and build a portfolio that works for you. At first, it can require an outlay of time and effort, and you need to come up with the capital (which is possible in many cases, if you can invest using the principles of dollar cost averaging).

What do you think? Is income investing the way to go?

Written by Miranda Marquit

Miranda Marquit is a freelance writer and professional blogger, specializing in personal finance, small business, and investing topics. She writes for a number of financial web sites and blogs, and has been featured in numerous media. Read about life as a freelancer at MirandaMarquit.com and in her book Confessions of a Professional Blogger.

3 Responses to A Basic Look at Income Investing

  1. I’m using rental properties as my preferred form of income investing. I have five rental units spread across three buildings (two single-family homes and one three-unit building).

    After expenses, they generate a “net” passive income of approx. $6,000 a year (combined). It’s a good start, but I need ten times that in order to retire off it!

    The hardest part, of course, is finding the cash to invest. If I had mountains of money, I’d buy apartment complexes left and right ….

    • That’s the biggest issue with investment real estate: Finding the capital! I’d have a hard time as a landlord, though. I don’t deal well with issues. But if I could find a good property management company, that might be different…

  2. Got to read something brilliant after ages. I feel If one wants to put his money to work for him, he definitely should consider income investing to provide him with a regular revenue stream. Long-term investment gains and dividends are taxed at different rates. I have always been a big, fat supporter of it as recently my brother has opted for the same. Cant thank you enough for sharing it.
    Andrea Jones

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