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How We Generated Passive Income in 2017


Passive Income 2017***I added a new Passive Income page. You can click to it from the menu on top of this site or follow this link – Passive Income. I will update that page monthly.

Happy New Year! 2017 was a great year for investors and our passive income was great too. This was the first year that our passive income covered our annual expense. That’s financial independence! Last year, I updated this page every month and reposted it. That worked very well because it was easier to update the spreadsheet monthly. Previously, I went over my passive income once per quarter and it was a lot of work in one sitting. This year, I added a Passive Income page that you can access from the top menu. I’ll update that page monthly. Okay, let’s go over some  background and then I’ll show the detail of our passive income in 2017.

The 2020 Passive Income Challenge

One of our long term goals is to generate enough passive income to cover our expenses. The challenge is to reach 100% FI ratio by 2020 so Mrs. RB40 will have the option join me in early retirement. In theory, she could retire right now, but she is not quite ready to pull the plug yet. She wants a little more financial security. She is also worried about healthcare because she has some pre-existing conditions. There is just too much uncertainty with healthcare right now. Her employer-sponsored health insurance plan is working really well for us, so she wants to keep it for now. Currently, we support our moderate lifestyle by a combination of these income streams:

This is working very well for us and we continue to save and invest over $50,000 per year. If Mrs. RB40 stops working now, we’d probably stop saving and may need to withdraw a little money from our nest egg every year. In 2016, we would have needed to withdraw about $8,000 to cover our living expenses. Personally, I believe this is perfectly fine because our withdrawal rate would be less than 1%, which is very safe over the long term. Actually, we don’t need 100% FI ratio because we still have my online income. 70% would give plenty of margin for her to retire. We could cover the rest with my online income. However, she just isn’t comfortable with any withdrawal, so she is determined to continue working until our FI ratio is 100%. That is – as long as she enjoys her job.

Disclosure: We may receive a referral fee if you sign up with a service through a link on this page.

FI Ratio 

FI ratio = passive income / expense

The FI ratio is a simple way to track our progress toward total financial independence. Once we reach 100%, then it would may give Mrs. RB40 enough financial security to stop working full-time. Personally, I think 100% FI ratio is overkill, but I suppose it’s better to err on the side of caution. Normally, financial independence means having about 25-30x your annual expenses, which we already achieved in 2012.

*Caveat – I’m not going to worry too much about tax at this time. We’ll deal with it when we hit 100% FI ratio. At this level of income, tax should be minimal.

Current Status

In 2016, we generated about $38,222 in passive income. It was our best year so far, but that’s not quite enough to cover our expenses. We spent about $54,000 last year which means our 2016 FI ratio was 71%. Actually, that’s exactly where I hoped to be, so I’m satisfied with our progress. We plan to increase our FI ratio every year until it reaches 100% in 2020.

For 2017, my target FI ratio is 78%. If we can keep increasing our passive income at this pace, then we should reach 100% by the end of 2020. Let’s go over our investments one at a time and see where we stand. This year, our passive income needs to increase to $42,000. That’s a $4,000 increase, so it won’t be easy.

 *2017 Target FI ratio = 78%

  • 2017 Passive Income = $53,723
  • 2017 Expense = $49,131
  • 2017 FI ratio = 109%!

We had an incredible 2017. Our expense was relatively low so that makes our FI ratio look awesome. Here is the spreadsheet.

2017 passive income

Taxable Accounts

Dividend Income (target $11,500)

First up is our dividend growth income portfolio. Dividend income is my favorite form of passive income. Investors own a small part of these public companies and they work for you. These days, I focus on companies that consistently grow their dividend income over the years. This strategy will ensure that our dividend income keeps growing even if we don’t add new money. Currently, we reinvest all the income from this portfolio, but we’ll use it to pay our expenses once Mrs. RB40 retires full time.

As for reinvestment, I don’t DRIP in this portfolio. I just accumulate the dividend and invest in a stock or real estate crowdfunding whenever I see good value. Earlier this year, I purchased Amgen, Kimberly Clark, Consolidated Edison, and Helmerich & Payne. The stock market is expensive right now, but I’m too impatient to sit on the sidelines. I’m pretty sure it will be fine in the long run (30+ years).

For 2017, I expect to receive at least $11,500 from our dividend portfolio. This is assuming the dividends remain stable. I’m hopeful that we can reach our dividend income goal through dividend increases, reinvestment, and additional investment.

2017 Dividend Portfolio Gains

  • 01/01/2017 value = $329,134
  • 12/01/2017 value = $379,806

2017 dividend income = $12,601

Our dividend income met my $11,500 goal. Yes!

Here is a chart of our dividend income since 2012.

dividend income 2017

Rental Property (target $3,000)

Currently, we have a small duplex and a 1 bedroom condo in our rental property portfolio. I’ll skip the condo because we co-own it with my brother. Besides, it breaks even so it’s not really all that interesting at this point. (We put the condo on the market because our tenant moved out.) The duplex is more challenging because it is an older home and needs more repair and maintenance. I’m raising the rent a little in January and that will increase our rental income next year. When the duplex tenants move out, we’ll most likely move in to the house.

YTD rental income = $10,973

The duplex rental did much better than I expected. There were only a few minor repairs that I could DIY. We hit our target ($3,000/year) early so that’s awesome. Now, we just need to keep saving and prepare for expensive maintenance jobs. We’ll need to paint the exterior soon and that will have a big impact on the rental income next year.

I met a neighbor who has a similar rental in the same area and he pulled in $50,000+ from renting the basement unit last year. That’s pretty crazy. I’ll have to seriously consider a basement remodeling and putting it on Airbnb. $50,000 is almost enough to pay for our annual expense.

P2P lending (target $600)

I’m slowly pulling our investment out of Prosper.com. I’m just not a very good investor there. You’d probably have better luck if you have time to screen the loans. Our ROI is about 7% which isn’t bad. However, these unsecured loans won’t perform well when we see an economic downturn. P2P loans will be the first thing that borrowers default on when they run into financial problems. The economy seems to be doing quite well at the moment, but I’m just getting out while we’re ahead. We made $443 from Prosper.com in 2017. That’s short of our goal, but whatever. It’s not a huge deal at this point. At the end of 2017, we had $4,528 left at Prosper.

YTD P2P lending income = $443

Real Estate Crowdfunding (target $500)

Here is something new – I gave real estate crowdfunding a try in 2017. I opened an account at RealtyShares in January and invested $8,000 in a commercial property in Arizona. The ROI for this project is estimated to be in the high teen after 3 years. That’s amazing and I’m anxious to see if they can deliver.


Since my first investment, I’ve invested $5,000 in an apartment in Texas, $5,000 in a new Church Chicken in Florida, and $10,000 in an apartment in Arizon. Read more about my experience investing with RealtyShares here. All in all, I like RealtyShares and I plan to increase my investment with them next year.

You can sign up with Realty Shares through this link if you’re interested in real estate crowdfunding. You can browse the investment listing and see if any project is interesting.

YTD RealtyShares income = $437

Kickfurther (target $150)

This one is more for fun. You’ve heard of Kickstarter. That’s where you try get funding to create a product when you’ve got a great idea, but what about after you’ve got a product? A company needs money to buy inventory and that’s where Kickfurther steps in.

I tried investing at Kickfurther, but I don’t think it is a good way to invest. Small businesses have way too many problems. Inventory went bad, the shipping container got delayed at port and missed the prime selling season, or the mall closed. When things aren’t going perfectly, the payout is delayed or just dried up altogether. Truthfully, it’s a bit like gambling because you never know which business will be successful.

YTD KickFurther income = $59

Interest (target $100)

This is our saving account and reward checking account. They’re boring, but retirees need a hefty cash cushion.

YTD interest = $204

Tax advantaged accounts (target $26,000)

Now to the tax advantaged accounts. The money in these retirement accounts isn’t easily accessible at this time, but they still count as passive income. Once we both retire full time, we’ll build a Roth IRA ladder to access our traditional IRAs so we don’t have to pay the 10% early withdrawal penalty. All of the investments in these accounts are invested in low cost Vanguard funds. The dividend income here will be reinvested via DRIP (back into the funds).

You can take a look at the dividend in the spread sheet below.

passive income 2017

2017 Passive Income

To wrap up, 2017 turned out to be the best year for our passive income yet. The challenge for us was to keep our expenses relatively flat. That way, the denominator didn’t screw up our FI ratio. We did really well this year with both our income and expenses.

  • 2017 Passive Income = $53,723
  • 2017 expense = $49,131
  • 2017 FI ratio: 109%

Our FI ratio was fantastic in 2017. The biggest change from 2016 is the income from our rental property. We haven’t had a big maintenance bill so the rental income improved drastically. Our annual expense was been great too. We spent less this year because our kid attended public school and we didn’t have to pay for daycare. Our vacations were cheaper as well due to successful travel hacking. Higher income plus lower expense equal a great FI ratio.

If you plan to track your passive income, you should consider signing up for Personal Capital to help manage your investment accounts. They are very useful and I can get all my passive income data from one site.

Do you have passive income? Is your passive income enough to pay your cost of living?

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, the job became too stressful and Joe retired from his engineering career to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. Today, he blogs about financial independence, early retirement, investing, and living a frugal lifestyle.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is increasing his investment in real estate with CrowdStreet. He can invest in projects across the U.S. and diversify his real estate portfolio. There are many interesting projects available so sign up and check them out.

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help DIY investors analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.

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{ 191 comments… add one }
  • Income Master January 3, 2018, 4:50 pm

    That’s a seriously impressive dividend return. More people need to be aware of passive income and just how easy it is to start generating and compounding returns.

  • Dividend Dozer January 2, 2018, 12:49 pm

    Thanks for sharing your RealtyShares experience. I’m mostly a stock investor, but I do own a home and have a little experience fixing things that come up. That experience has me thinking I’d rather not deal with more properties! RealtyShares might be a good way for me to get some real estate exposure by putting money in the hands of someone who manages properties better than I do.

    • retirebyforty January 2, 2018, 9:56 pm

      RealtyShares is good so far. I’ll have to see how they hold up over the long haul. If we can get around 10% returns, then I’d be very happy. Owing rentals is good, but it is work.

  • Alanna @ Work Online Sites January 1, 2018, 8:48 am

    That’s great that your dividend income worked out so well for you! Congratulations also on your rentals. I used to have a rental property as well, but it just wasn’t worth it keeping up with the maintenance and the types of tenants I had. Great it is working out for you!

  • Dividend Portfolio December 31, 2017, 11:40 pm

    Truly inspired by this report. You have such a tremendous level of passive income coming in, which exceeds your expenses, and which comes from a variety of sources. I’m looking forward to following your progress more closely. I’m not quite yet 40 and I’m sure I won’t be able to retire by then, but I’m trying to get a very strong foundation so that by the time I get to 4o, all I have to do is build from there. Happy New Year and thanks for the inspiration.

  • Cindy @ Dash2Retire December 12, 2017, 12:38 pm

    Nice post!
    Quick question about your P2P lending. What is your default ratio? We’ve been investing in P2P lending since March 2017 and so far, we’ve had 0 defaults, although I’m a bit worried about that if the economy takes a turn. Our interest rate average is 13%, which sounds high compared to your results. I’m thinking it’s due to our default ratio.

    • retirebyforty December 12, 2017, 9:48 pm

      Our default ratio is about 17% since 2011. It’s great that you have 0 default so far, but it will increase. Many investors started off with high returns and it will drop over time. Our returns is pretty stable at 7% now. I’m also not very good at screening loans…

  • Mr. Groovy December 11, 2017, 7:58 pm

    Love the transparency. Love the results. You’re my hero, Joe.

  • Carmelo Mannino December 7, 2017, 3:17 pm

    Great blog posts and way more mathematical detail than nearly every other passive income blog out there. You really give all the details. Thought I’d let you know about STOW IT. We are like airbnb for storage. We help you rent your garage, barn, land, or driveway for vehicle, RV, and boat storage. We even have one hosts that make about $2,000 per month. Would love for you to try us out. Thanks and keep up the great blog.

  • JoeHx November 17, 2017, 3:04 pm

    I tried Prosper.com once. This was back in 2007 or so. As you can imagine, I lost a lot of money. Much of the notes I invested in ended up defaulting, even the ones that were listed as having good credit.

    From what I understand Prosper.com has gotten a lot better since then, and let’s you diversify a portfolio there a lot more easily than it used to.

  • Todd Weitzman November 16, 2017, 2:53 pm

    Interesting about the RealtyShares portion. It’s an interesting app, just unsure if its clear enough for the average joe. The way you can invest without a whole mortgage seems interesting!

  • Mac @ financecareservices.com November 14, 2017, 5:09 am

    I have always been fascinated by posts regarding planning your retirement. It seems that you always fall short no matter how well you plan the retirement. The concept of passive income is interesting and the way you have stated the facts and the figures, it really makes for an interesting read!

  • ReinisZ November 8, 2017, 10:57 pm

    Nice job of generating extra income. What are your thoughts on earning cash rewards while shopping as a means of passive income? There is an upcoming project I’m interested in that works as a cashback network, and it earns you rewards while spending money on regular stuff like UBER, Amazon, etc.
    It’s called FluzFluz.

  • Tabby November 7, 2017, 7:18 pm

    I recently start renting out properties. It seems that in my country Pakistan the rental income is high. I recently purchase PKR 11.9 Million 2-bedroom apartment (approx. $113,247) and I am getting $2280/year.

    Is this good return? Can you reveal how much you invest in your duplex that bringing $9000?

  • fred smidlap October 17, 2017, 7:32 am

    the smidlap household has been working on and thinking about income in our portfolio for some time now. as a portion of investments i bought a couple of different preferred stock ETF’s. i’m using them as sort of a bond proxy as the yields are between 5 and 7%. we own a big chunk of PFF in a retirement account and a smaller chunk of SPFF in a taxable account. i have been DRIPping them but am considering stopping that in order to make more “on sale” buys at opportune times. there can be some downside to these but the price fluctuations don’t seem to be too severe where you would end up in the red. i think they require patience where if they’re down 2-3% you wouldn’t need to liquidate them right away.
    i’ve also been interested in BDC’s as a yield instrument. we owned a crappy one called PSEC a few years ago before i wised up and dumped it. they were very opaque and i thought a little shifty. there is a pretty good article here on BDC’s: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/invest-bdcs-100000236.html
    i believe they get a strange tax treatment so i personally would only own them in a retirement account. i’ll be looking again at ares capital soon ARCC. good luck with all this can hopefully the stress of being a landlord doesn’t give you a heart attack by 40.

    • Tom @ Dividends Diversify November 7, 2017, 4:50 am

      Fred, I keep an allocation to preferred stocks as well, both ETFs and individual shares. I like them as a bond proxy too and like the ETF ticker symbols, PFF and SPFF you mention. I got burned with BDCs in past years and avoid them like your experience with PSEC. Tom

  • GYM October 9, 2017, 2:55 pm

    I like that you calculate a FI ratio, it gives an objective way to calculate and see how close you are to achieving FI given your yearly expenses. Retiring in Hawaii is getting more achievable than ever! You could buy a coffee plantation and rent it out for now to a Kona coffee business until you are ready to move in and live in it 🙂

  • HP @ Full-Time Dollars October 9, 2017, 9:15 am

    Dividend income is one of my main avenues for passive income. I had the same thought-process as you when I started buying individual stocks a few years ago. I go with the mainstays and don’t risk anything on being speculative.

  • TJ Mitch October 9, 2017, 7:02 am

    Hi Joe, I recently created a new passive income website. http://www.passiveincomewiz.com
    I have admired your site and content and would appreciate any feedback. Your site inspired me to create my own. Thanks, TJ Mitch

  • Grand Dad Helper September 21, 2017, 10:34 am

    Thanks for the post. This kind of detail is so motivational to me to retire early. My plan is retire by 59 1/2. My wife’s employer healthcare will cover us in retirement if she works until then (3 1/2 more years). Healthcare in retirement is a big area that must be planned for. An area everyone should work on.

  • Passive Income M.D. September 19, 2017, 10:47 am

    Awesome stuff Joe. Inspired by the diversification of income. Focusing on passive income has totally changed my outlook on life, retirement, work, and money overall. Looks like it’s done the same for you. Thanks for sharing!

  • Iyer to retire September 19, 2017, 7:42 am

    I don’t understand why are you considering growth of your retirement funds as passive income!! You are in your 40s and sure you are not going to touch these funds till 59.5 unless you are planning for 79 (t). Enlighten us with your perception on this.

  • Brian September 15, 2017, 2:38 pm

    Does anyone else have information on Reality Shares? It seems very interesting to me, but I don’t fully understand it. Are you purchasing equity that can appreciate as well pay dividends? Or is this a dividend only venture? It seems that owning rental property might be the better option if there is no equity appreciation on the investment. Thoughts?

  • Kanwal @ Simply Investing September 14, 2017, 3:49 pm

    Great job Joe! Your story is very inspiring. The FI Ratio is so simple, everyone should check their FI Ratio at least once a year.

  • Al September 12, 2017, 8:58 pm

    What is in your retire accounts that is generating all those dividends? Do you have an article that goes through your IRA/401k holdings?

    • retirebyforty September 12, 2017, 9:27 pm

      We have mostly Vanguard index funds in our retirement accounts. Total market funds and total bonds pay about 2% dividend. REIT pays 4-5%.

  • GYM September 12, 2017, 1:02 pm

    Congrats on the passive income! So great! I have almost $6000 in dividend income annually but have a long way to go to reach where you are at. I hope to explore Airbnb later on (though I guess that’s not so passive, it takes more work than a rental property) with my current accommodation.

    You’ve definitely mastered Warren Buffett’s quote by generating passive income for your family:

    “If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.”


    • retirebyforty September 12, 2017, 9:25 pm

      Keep at it! You’re doing very well. I want to try Airbnb at some point too. It sounds like a great way to make money.

  • Lily @ The Frugal Gene September 11, 2017, 10:54 am

    Astounding! The joke was that FIRE’d people will likely FIRE’d again in no time. Now it’s funny because it’s true!!! Hahaha ?

  • SMM September 11, 2017, 10:12 am

    Nice breakdown! You have a well-diversified set of investments. I thought about real estate crowd sourcing for a hot minute, but bought into REITs instead (I suppose because of the liquidity). Your FI ratio is really high and you’ll get to 100% in no time….keep grinding 🙂

  • Mr. ATM September 11, 2017, 7:15 am


    If I’m not mistaken you are still in your early 40s which means you got another 20 some years to go before you can access your 401k/IRA accounts tax and penalty free.

    Therefore, I believe your true or retirement age FI Ratio is much lower that what you are making yourself to belief.

    In other words, by including your retirement accounts into your FI ratio calculations and then noting a ratio target of 100% by 2020, seems to suggest that you are counting on passive income from your retirement accounts as well as taxable accounts to cover all your expenses by 2020. Is that correct?


    • retirebyforty September 11, 2017, 8:31 am

      I’m planning to build a Roth IRA ladder when Mrs. RB40 retires and our income drops. That’s the easiest way to access our retirement accounts without paying the penalty. It should not be a problem unless the law changes.

  • Veneta @ Becoming Life Smart September 11, 2017, 6:45 am

    Thanks for these comprehensive updates, Joe. It’s great to see your diversification and how your investments are working out for you.

    Quick question: are your dividend paying stocks just in retirement accounts or also in taxable accounts?

  • Okiepennypincher August 8, 2017, 6:41 am

    Great post! You always offer a great deal of details. You have really built a well diversified portfolio. Keep up the good job.

  • Joe August 7, 2017, 11:31 pm

    I made most of my money in stocks, and then diversified it out into real estate when prices got ridiculously cheap a few years back. They are both pillars of wealth and I love the diversification they provide me. My rentals are high quality and high demand, I believe they should do well even in a serious recession.

    That said, I think the pendulum has swung to the other side for California real estate. Rental return is too low now to interest me in any new purchases. As with stocks, buy when the price is right. And broadly speaking the price doesn’t seem right for either at this time. There is always a good buy somewhere, but it requires a lot of research now.

  • Tim Kim @ Tub of Cash August 7, 2017, 10:20 am

    Hey Joe, just coming from Sam’s blog where he talks about stocks vs real estate. Since you do both as well, what’s your take on the two asset categories relative to each other? I’m only in one, if I take my primary home equity out of the equation.

    • retirebyforty August 7, 2017, 9:26 pm

      I like both. We’ve been lucky and both asset classes are working well for us.

  • Ernie Zelinski August 7, 2017, 1:35 am

    Yes, I still love my passive income from my intellectual property. Funny, a few years ago I had made declarations (affirmations) such as “I am making an income of $250,000 a year” and even increased it to “I am making an income of $300,000 a year.” Weirdly, it looks like my average annual income for 2015, 2016, and 2017 will be $300,000. I guess it’s time to make a declaration of “I am making $500,000 a year” and at the same time finish writing and then publish the 10 other books I have been working on. Of course, declarations or affirmations without inspired action (combined with great critical thinking skills, creative thinking skills, and common sense) are totally worthless.

  • Mr. Hammocker June 17, 2017, 7:57 pm

    The concept of passive income is amazing. Let your money work for you while you sleep in a hammock, travel the globe, or spend time with friends and family. Dividends are powerful. Congrats on your success. Your story and message is inspirational! I look forward to other great posts.

  • Lance @ My Strategic Dollar June 17, 2017, 6:33 am

    Impressive! My goal is to become financially free through creating passive income. I appreciate seeing how you do this! Great post!

  • Kevin @39months.com June 13, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Love this addition to the blog. As I am a competitive person, its great to compare myself to others, and seeing how I’m doing. I’ve taken your ratios and metrics and started tracking myself, which only helps to motivate me even more.

    Thanks for putting this out there!

    Mr. 39 months

    • retirebyforty June 14, 2017, 5:42 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it!

  • Mr. All Things Money June 12, 2017, 5:52 am

    I’ve thought about buying VNQI as well but decided to keep adding to VNQ instead.

    VNQI seems too expensive right now as people are crowding into foreign stocks and prices have gone quite a bit.

    On foreign dividend, you also have to take into account for foreign withholding tax, so your actual yield would be lower.

    In a recent interview. Jack Bogle said “crowd is always wrong”, he was referring to the recent hype of foreign stocks. He is staying all in US market.

    • retirebyforty June 12, 2017, 8:47 am

      I have plenty of VNQ so a little VNQI wouldn’t hurt. 🙂
      Jack Bogle also said the ROI for US stocks will be in the low single digit over the next 10 years. He’s already rich and old so he’s in conservation mode. I think for younger people, it’s better to move some money away from US for a decade or so. Jack Bogle is a lot smarter than me, though.

  • Frugal Safari June 2, 2017, 11:02 am

    Great article man!
    Our FI ratio is 100% now, but most of it comes from our 2 vacation rentals. That scares me, as we bought our 2 properties after 09 so we haven’t gone through a recession yet to see how much it will affect us. I assume people won’t vacation if the economy tanks. Does that mean I will lose half of my passive income from the rentals or more?
    I am trying to find a way to hedge against that. I do have 2 years of emergency fund, and I can keep working part time to cover, which I don’t since this is my company and can decide when to work. Another solution is to move into one of my rentals, as I wouldn’t have to pay rent, and that would stretch my emergency fund to 4 years

  • John Seehorn May 24, 2017, 7:32 am

    I’d love to hear more about where the P2P community is today. This would be a great topic for a blog post that updates where it is now. I noticed that the lendacademy website has been parked. A few years ago it seemed to be all the rage, but I see very little on it now. Like you I invested too. My returns have been diminishing, but still exist. What has your experience been?

  • John G May 22, 2017, 1:40 pm

    Hey Joe,

    I’m new to the blog, but I have been reading a lot trying to play catch up. Have you ever thought about selling call options against your dividend stocks? That would bring in additional passive income every month. I’m trying to help my parents get to retirement on time and do this strategy on their IRA. I sell call options monthly and usually sell far out of the money (OTM) so that the risk of the stock being called away is roughly 15-20%.

    This is another alternative to help your portfolio manage the volatility in the market. Some would call it “hedging”. The only risk is if the stock hits through that price level your stock could be called away and you don’t receive the dividend… At which point, you can just re-buy the stock and sell another or call or sit on it and wait for the dividend. I’m sure you could do a price comparison on the call option vs dividend to see what would make you more money for that month/quarter. Best case scenario: you get the dividend and keep the call premium!

    • retirebyforty May 22, 2017, 8:26 pm

      I thought about the call options and did some research a few years ago. From what I found, it doesn’t seem worth it. I might have to take another look.

  • DivGuy May 10, 2017, 11:52 am

    What a nice plan you got Joe! Well diversified, well detailed too. You FI ratio is quite impressive too. I wish I was there! But working hard to achieve that… already enjoyed some of it with my one year RV trip.

    For sure dividends are my favorite passive income. I too plan on some diversification on a personal level so that I can keep a decent lifestyle for myself and the family while being retired. Cause, yes, I’m making the move this year! More to come on that on my blog! 😉

    Great job!

  • jonathan May 9, 2017, 5:31 am

    So reason you don’t just pay off your mortgage is because you can generate more income by having that money in the stock market. Is that correct?

    • retirebyforty May 9, 2017, 9:41 am

      Yes, that’s it. I also like to have some money available in case we need it. The tax deduction comes in handy, but it’s not a big consideration.

  • Duncan's Dividends May 8, 2017, 12:13 pm

    Great job on over $10,000 in dividends. I started my own journey once I found your site, couldn’t even tell you how I ended up here originally, but it’s definitely pushed me in the right direction. I’ll be hitting over $7000 in dividends this year without counting my 401k so I’m pretty happy with my progress as well. I’m 36 until December this year and working hard to emulate the retire by 40 journey 🙂

    • retirebyforty May 8, 2017, 1:39 pm

      $7,000 in dividend is great especially if you’re just starting out. The great thing is that it will keep growing. Good luck on your FI journey!

  • Grant May 8, 2017, 11:03 am

    I like the details. I would love to get to 100% expenses covered by passive income but it seems like a lot of overkill and would add several years onto my working. Like you said you could have covered last year with a 1% withdraw rate which is crazy low.

    I’m glad your wife likes working but I have to imagine running the blog together would be even more fun.

    Thanks for the motivation as always!

    • retirebyforty May 8, 2017, 12:23 pm

      It seems like overkill to me too. That’s why I retired early. 🙂 1% is great because we have so much time in retirement. I’d be more comfortable with 4% when we’re 65.
      Mrs. RB40 can work until she’s ready to retire. I’d love some help with the blog, but I don’t think it would scale the income much. I could be wrong about that.

  • The Magic Bean Counter May 8, 2017, 5:48 am

    love these detailed posts! You guys are rocking it!

  • Rob Typher May 6, 2017, 7:45 pm

    Farmland is a nice way to make passive income. The pros:. Compared to residential rentals, farmland is much easier in that farmers typically want to lease for many years. They care a lot about your property, quite a contrast to residential rentals. Very little maintenance, and I have had no problems finding a renter. Farmers need a lot of land to make it. Also, ongoing costs are mostly limited to real estate taxes and a liability insurance policy. Also, farmland is a nice diversification tool.
    Cons:. Good land is expensive, perhaps $10K an acre. But certainly there is less expensive land. Also, I am concerned about the price of grain and soy beans being driven down by global competition. The USA is no longer the largest exporter of corn. Now Brazil is.

    On a side note, I hope to one day lease my land for solar. I have been approached by two companies in the past year, but it hasn’t worked out yet. Note:. The land needs to be located near the power transformers to tie into the grid. For many reasons, I very much want to get onto the solar business via leasing land.

  • Mike Broker April 14, 2017, 5:05 am

    Congratulate with Your strategy. I also use mix of thechnics but all my business
    base on Internet.

  • Eric April 13, 2017, 9:19 am

    did you claim depreciation on your rental property to offset income? we did and although this increase eventual tax when sold, you can reduce your tax on current rental income.

    • retirebyforty April 13, 2017, 10:02 am

      Yes, we did. Depreciation is not optional. You have to do it because the IRS will assume you did.

  • Tropical Nomad April 13, 2017, 7:08 am

    Hi Joe, great post!
    When you calculate your FI ratio should you not take into consideration that a part of your passive income serves to compensate for inflation?
    As an example to make my point, say one has 6% net passive income (over the entire portfolio) over a given period and inflation over the same period was 2%, the real passive income would be (1+0,06)/(1+0,02) -1 = 3,9% of the portfolio. Intuitively, this is the value I would use to calculate the FI ratio.

    • retirebyforty April 13, 2017, 10:04 am

      It’s just easier to keep it simple.
      Inflation will increase both income and expenses (hopefully.) If income lags too much, then we’ll see the FI ratio drops. Take action accordingly.

  • Mr. Enchumbao April 11, 2017, 2:56 pm

    Even though your passive income from last year didn’t cover all of your expenses that’s an impressive amount. Well done!
    Our favorite form of passive income has to be dividends. Our rental property has done extremely well over the past couple of years so I’m appreciating that passive source of income right now.

    • retirebyforty April 13, 2017, 8:55 am

      Dividend is my favorite too. It’s just so much easier than rental property.

  • ReachingTheCrest April 10, 2017, 6:19 pm

    Wow, you are already making good progress this year.
    I saw your comment to someone else about how your wife wants to keep working for the security. My wife and i just had a discussion about maybe her retiring several years before me. Something we will have to discuss a lot before we actually pull the trigger on that one day.
    great run down of your income.

  • Financial Panther April 10, 2017, 9:43 am

    Thanks for sharing this stuff Joe! Just want to note – I think everyone should be very careful with Kickfurther. No more than few hundred bucks at most that you can completely lose without caring at all. It’s a lot like gambling like you said.

    I was one of the first wave of investors on the platform back in 2015, and unfortunately, it’s been a bad experience on my end. I’ve gotten most of my money out of that platform now, but our household did fall for a fraudulent offer that was listed on Kickfurther and there are a lot of people in the same boat as me.

    We ended up breaking even ultimately over the course of the year, but being the victim of fraud didn’t feel very good. One bust of an offer basically will lead to negative returns or breaking even at best. And the failure rate for offers are pretty high – seems like over 10% based on my experience and anecdotal evidence.

    I’ve heard they’ve changed things up a bit on their end now, but I’m personally staying away at this point just due to the bad experience I had.

    • retirebyforty April 10, 2017, 10:38 am

      Thank you for sharing! I’ve heard about some deals gone bad too, but I haven’t experienced it. Even without frauds, I saw many businesses having trouble paying back. There are a lot of things that can go wrong.
      I completely agree that you shouldn’t invest much with KickFurther.

  • FinancePatriot April 10, 2017, 9:26 am

    My only concern with all those stocks is those could easily be replicated in an index fund with much lower fees. Each time you buy and sell a stock, fees are incurred. I suppose it’s not a big deal given your net worth, but it is a bit redundant.

    Does your wife not desire to retire? I looked at rockstar finance and your net worth is much higher than most others listed. We will be retiring soon with about half. (wife has been stay at home for five years, but I don’t technically consider her retired until we both do).

    • retirebyforty April 10, 2017, 10:02 am

      We pay $2 in commission and I buy and sell only a few times per year. Usually, we pay less than $20/year in transaction fees. However, I’m open to a good index fund. It will be more stable and I won’t have to worry as much. I’ll probably move things over to a good index fund a little at a time.
      Mrs. RB40 just isn’t ready to quit working. She needs more security. I’ll just let her do whatever she wants.

      • FinancePatriot April 10, 2017, 1:24 pm

        Ya, after talking to my in-law’s and there lack of following any rules as far as withdrawal rates, I am confident we’ll be very safe and any adjustments won’t occur until a 38% decline in the market, which could happen this year or five years in the future (at which point our net worth will be higher). I only wish social security would happen sooner than 62, which is a long 21 years away. Oh well, I’ll just enjoy the fruit of our labors in the meantime.

  • The Magic Bean Counter April 10, 2017, 6:25 am

    You guys are rockin and rollin! Thanks so much for such an in depth post.

  • Stephen March 18, 2017, 7:02 pm

    I’ve never heard of kickfurther, interesting concept. I’m going to have to look a bit more into it. That’s a pretty solid YTD for passive income though! Best of luck hitting your goal!

  • CashintheKitty March 17, 2017, 2:37 pm

    It’s definitely a good return, I think for new investing eyes to read that I would have to have 329K in a portfolio to get 11K back per year is just a little daunting! 🙂 If I consider myself financially free at about 30k per year then now I need to have $1mil in there.GULP!

    • retirebyforty March 20, 2017, 9:40 am

      Good luck! Just keep investing. Also, you don’t need to be financially free to retire. You just need to find some ways to make money doing something you enjoy. Part time. 🙂

  • CashintheKitty March 17, 2017, 10:32 am

    Hi Joe,
    To me that seems like a huge dividend portfolio and $10,800 for $329K investment is 3.28% roughly. A lot of investors just starting out would have nowhere near that kind of capital to invest, and yet the payout doesn’t seem that high – especially when some companies like AT&T are paying out over 4% in dividend. Can I ask how much in capital gains you made in 2016? Maybe altogether your returns would look higher? Also, how often do you review your equities and what would make you sell one off and buy another?

    • retirebyforty March 17, 2017, 12:25 pm

      AT&T has pretty high dividend. From what I read, most dividend investors would be happy with at least 3%. Our capital gain in 2016 is about $30,000. Our dividend yield on cost is actually closer to 5% (estimate.)
      I usually review once or twice per year. I rarely sell except if a company is starting to go downhill. Cutting dividend is one sign.

  • Milly March 16, 2017, 9:23 am

    I had a goal of adding passive income in 2016 too. I got exactly $100 for the year by selling 2 years worth of my hair for $200 at http://buyandsellhair.com/?type=affiliate&id=35798. So basically, I’m an $8/month human hair producer. Not the way I planned to get income, but I’ll do better in 2017. Maybe get some welding plans selling online? I’ve read Crash Course 2.0 and just have a hard time investing in the market.


  • Emily Brookes March 15, 2017, 7:49 am

    $2000 is still very good for passive income! I’m sure you will achieve all your goals, you seem so driven and determined! Loving your journey 🙂

  • Investor March 14, 2017, 10:10 am

    Great post – appreciate the detail! Question about RealtyShares please: why did you decide to go with them vs. any of the other real estate crowdfunding sites? Curious as I’m considering investing in this arena and had somewhat narrowed it down to Realty Shares and Peer Street (leaning towards the latter due to secured collateral debt offerings).

    • retirebyforty March 14, 2017, 12:36 pm

      I was considering Realty Shares, Fundrise, and Peer Street. I removed Fundrise because I read a few negative things about them. I also heard from a friend that Realty Shares has a good executive team. I haven’t heard much about Peer Street and I should research them a bit. Someone said Mr. Money Mustache is using Peer Street so that’s a good endorsement.

  • gfaseed March 14, 2017, 8:32 am

    Very nice post. It’s valuable to see other’s strategy to financial independence!
    Thanks for sharing!

  • FinancePatriot March 13, 2017, 1:11 pm

    Dear Fellow Altria shareholder,

    We’ll keep this our little secret. We own a lot of shares, and this one stock has done wonders for us. It’s not all of our portfolio, but man it’s a game changer.

  • Michael March 13, 2017, 6:09 am

    The easiest passive income stream is dividends. I used to have 10-15 stocks in my dividend portfolio. I felt like a portfolio manager without the pay to back it 🙂 It was a time drain. I have pulled out of all individual stocks.

    My dividend portfolio is one ticker symbol for now – SCHD. It has done well. I earn a decent chunk of dividend from other ETFs too, but dividend wasn’t my focus on those.

    • retirebyforty March 13, 2017, 12:45 pm

      I’ll probably switch over to a good ETF at some point. It’s just easier.

    • FinancePatriot March 14, 2017, 9:33 am

      I think in the past it somewhat made sense to have dividend paying stocks. However, now that ETF’s have slashed their expense ratios so incredibly low, such as at Schwab and somewhat at Vanguard, you can practically own a basket of dividend paying stock at very little expense and zero hassle.

  • Stafford March 13, 2017, 5:51 am

    Great Post! I am currently investing in VTSAX and my company 401k. I like the idea of living off of dividends in the future and just allowing the principal to continue to compound! Sounds like you guys are playing it VERY safe but nothing wrong with that, especially if your wife still finds joy in her job. Best of luck with your passive income this year!

  • Oliver March 4, 2017, 12:32 am

    Great update!
    Just curious how you plan on accessing the retirement income when most accounts you can’t tap into until you are 59 which is still a few years away for you?

  • Abby February 19, 2017, 2:06 pm

    Very nice and great work putting you on target to reach your goals. It is very informative to read about your journey to inspire us to work hard for FI 🙂 congrats!

  • Great Indian Retiree February 18, 2017, 7:23 pm

    Wonderful to see the progress you’re making joe! Keep up the good work. The only thing is that too much exposure to equities worries me to a degree. 🙂 but I Guess as an asset class over the Long run there are few substitutes.

  • Benjamin Davis February 16, 2017, 1:14 pm

    Joe, you are truly an inspiration. I love the detail you put into each post. Love your blog (can’t get tired of saying this). All the best.

  • Mustard Seed Money February 15, 2017, 6:29 pm

    Thanks for the tip on Kickfurther. I have never heard of this and I will definitely be checking it out and seeing what’s out there. I love the passive incomes that you have created and it looks like you are well on your way to having all your expenses taken care of.

    • retirebyforty February 16, 2017, 6:48 am

      I would start slow on KickFurther. Just try a few deals and see how it works out. I heard some investors lost money last year. I did okay so far. A few businesses are late and I’m hoping they continue to pay.

  • Your First Million February 14, 2017, 6:51 pm

    Very cool! It absolutely amazes me that this stuff is not taught in school. Just like Robert Kiyosaki says… schools teach the same old “go to school, get good grades, get a job, save in a 401k for the long term.”

    I don’t have anything against getting a good paying job… but blindly putting money into a retirement savings account in hopes that it will appreciate so that you will have enough savings to live off of when you retire is flat out irresponsible in my view.

    Building and buying assets that will generate dependable, passive income is far safer and smarter than just saving in a retirement account (especially one that doesn’t pay dividends of any kind).

    Imagine if schools taught the basic concepts of investing in real estate. Imagine if in 12th grade economics they taught “buy a rental property as soon as you get a good paying job. Once it is paid off in 15-30 years, you will have a free and clear property that will pay you a fat monthly check every month for the rest of your life. And what if you bought 2 or 3 rental properties? Do the math.” I mean come on! This stuff is so simple but because the masses don’t have access to this simple investment concept many of them will never know what true financial freedom (let alone basic financial security) really is.

    Keep spreading the word and teaching readers about passive income! I love it!

  • Duncan's Dividends February 14, 2017, 12:06 pm

    Wow almost $900 in one month in dividends is fantastic! Curious how you choose some of the companies on your list, such as Lloyd’s. If it’s Lloyd’s banking (LYG) I’m curious the thought process as it looks a bit riskier than the average FI investor.

    • retirebyforty February 14, 2017, 1:24 pm

      I picked up a few shares of Lloyd after Brexit last year. It was opportunistic and I only invested $2,000. Up about 17% so far, not too shabby. Yes, that one is a bit risky. I should sell it soon.

  • Michael February 8, 2017, 4:04 pm

    Hi Joe, What is the minimum investment required to get started with Kickfurther? Do you receive a 1099 from them? How do you deal with taxes? How do you determine which product is selling well? How do you go about selecting the product you want to invest in?

    • retirebyforty February 9, 2017, 9:26 am

      The minimum investment is very small. It depends on the deal, but I’ve invested as low as $30.
      They don’t send out 1099. I’ll have to download a spreadsheet and figure it out.
      Which product? Just the one I like. For 2017, KF will only fund products with 100% purchase order.
      I’ll need to sit down and calculate the ROI for 2016. I would start very slow because I heard some investors lost some money. This is a lending model and some businesses will default.

      • Michael February 9, 2017, 2:27 pm

        Thank you, Joe! One more question – from a tax perspective, is this income considered capital gains or interest income or something else?

  • Dividend Diplomats January 15, 2017, 1:14 pm

    Thanks for the detailed summary here. I envy the diversity of passive income sources, especially considering that the majority of my passive income is attributable to dividend income. I guess I have to start somewhere haha I would love to get into peer to peer lending one day in the future. I’ve noticed that other commentors have commented on the low returns for your rental property, and that has been the major reason why I haven’t started investing yet. Part of me wants to start RE investing and when I do, I am thinking I have to own multiple properties to maximize the benefits. Are you planning on adding more real estate to your portfolio? Or are you holding firm with just the property and the condo?

    Best of luck in 2017!

    Bert, One of the Dividend Diplomats

    • retirebyforty January 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

      The return is low because the price is so high here. I think you get much better return in the Midwest and other more affordable locations.
      We’re just holding at this point. We’d need to invest out of state to increase our ROI.

  • Preston Hunt January 13, 2017, 5:19 pm

    I like the FI ratio! But, did I miss it or did you not mention how you are going to deal with taxes. If the numerator (passive income) is post-tax, then everything is fine. But if it’s pre-tax, then I think there is a risk of false optimism because the FI percentage will be misleading, once the tax bill is considered.

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2017, 11:11 am

      I’m going to ignore tax until we get to 100%. 🙂
      At this level ($55,000), tax won’t be a huge piece anyway. With the current tax system, we will pay very little or no tax on dividend income. I’m pretty sure tax will be less than 10% at this level. I’ll need to run it through a tax software to make sure. Of course, we’ll have to move out of OR to minimize state income tax.

  • Mr. Need2Save January 10, 2017, 5:52 pm

    You may have covered this in another post, but how much time to you spend researching your portfolio of dividend companies? I’ve been taking the easy way out by investing in Vanguard High Dividend Yield (VHDYX) and Vanguard Dividend Growth (VDIGX).

    Eventually, I think we will get into the real estate rental market, but I feel like we don’t have enough time to commit right now… not to mention home prices in the DC metro area are just too high.

    • retirebyforty January 11, 2017, 7:48 am

      I spend a little time every week checking on the stocks on my list. Once I have a good list, then I pick the one that look the best. I’ll write about the process more soon.
      I like Vanguard too.
      Real estate is tough in Portland. The price is too high and you can’t make any income. We’ll make some money when we sell.

  • Crispin January 10, 2017, 5:05 pm

    Since the returns on your rental property seem to be low, have you considered selling the property? I’m assuming it’s appreciated since you bought it, but I haven’t followed the Portland market closely.

    • retirebyforty January 10, 2017, 8:23 pm

      We’ll probably move into our rental in a year or 2. The return is low. Mostly because it is an old house (1895) and needs more repair and maintenance.

  • Fiscally Free January 10, 2017, 4:42 pm

    It seems like Mrs. RB40 is being a little over-cautious. Unless she loves her job, it seems like she should go ahead and retire, or at least dial back her hours or something.

  • Rich v January 10, 2017, 1:24 pm

    I agree with your assessment of the P2P lending. I tried Lending Club and am currently pulling money out. The returns aren’t that great, I don’t want to spend the time to hand-pick loans, and there is no tax advantage there. Actually, I was fooled momentarily by the NAR return values which are lower than your actual internal rate of return. After I figured this difference out, it was a no-brainer to get out.

  • Trip January 10, 2017, 10:43 am


    I love the level of detail you went into in this post on your passive income and the FI ratio. Does your 54k of expenses include or exclude the expenses on your rental properties?

    My wife and I hit 30k in passive income in 2016 for the first time. This provides us with an FI ratio of 0.75. We feel we can easily and reasonably reach 35k in passive income in 2017 and we may exceed that depending upon how much RE investing we do this year. Currently, RE investments are only 11% of our portfolio and we’d like to increase that percentage going forward to:
    – increase our cash flow
    – increase our average yield on our total portfolio
    – reduce our sensitivity to stock market fluctuations

    Your approach of exceeding well past 30x annual expenses does seem very conservative to me.

    • retirebyforty January 10, 2017, 8:18 pm

      That includes the rental expenses. It was cash flow positive in 2016 so it didn’t impact the expense column.
      Great job with your FI ratio. You’re almost there!
      Good luck with more RE. Some markets are doing quite well.
      I’m comfortable with 30x annual expenses, but Mrs. RB40 is more conservative.

  • Dominic @ Gen Y Finance Guy January 10, 2017, 4:58 am

    Hey Joe – I love this idea…probably because I have decided to start a similar series. My wife and I have done a fantastic job growing our incomes from our careers (we brought in $339K in 2016 and project $450K in 2017), but realized that that income is heavily dependent on our day jobs.

    The past 5 years has been focused on adding jet fuel to growing the income side of the equation and getting our after tax savings rate to 50% (which we hit for the first time in 2016, and are projected at 63% for 2017).

    The next 5 years will be focused on created more passive income. I spent some time between Christmas and New Years pulling together our current passive income from our rental property, dividends, and interest and was pleasantly surprised that we are already generating almost $28,000/year in passive income.

    The goal this year is to get that up to an annual pace of $50,000 by the end of 2017, and up to $100,000+ by 2020.

    Onward & Upward!


    • retirebyforty January 10, 2017, 8:15 pm

      Wow, that’s great income. Excellent job. With that kind of income, I’m sure you’d be able to grow your passive income very quickly.

  • Go Finance Yourself! January 9, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Kickfurther sounds really interesting. I haven’t heard of it before. The returns sound similar to individual P2P lending but with potentially less risk involved as the loans are secured by inventory. The inventory could be tough to liquidate and require some big discounts, but at least there would be something there if a loan goes bad. I might have to look into this as I’m planning on expanding my P2P investing this year.

    Looks like you have some pretty good stocks in your dividend portfolio that are earning a pretty decent yield. When I move into the retirement phase, I plan on converting a good portion of my growth stocks into dividend payers. Out of curiosity, what is your criteria for selecting dividend stocks?

  • Steve @ FI Warrior January 9, 2017, 6:25 pm

    Awesome job generating dividend income! I have the same goal as you which is to have all our expenses covered by passive income.

    In 2016, we generated $27,018.95 from dividends. My goal is to grow that by 11-14% in 2017.

    Keep up the great work and good luck on generating more passive income.


  • Iyer to retire January 9, 2017, 3:45 pm

    can you comment on your contributions (if any) on bonds and annuities?

    Is it a wise investment for early retirees?
    Are you for it , against it?

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2017, 9:53 pm

      We have about 17% in bonds at this time. The primary reason is because the stock market is too high. If we get a crash, I’ll move some money from bonds to stock.
      I don’t like annuities at this point. I prefer to manage my own investment. And I think the payout is bad because the interest rate is so low.

  • Mr. All things money January 9, 2017, 2:48 pm

    Wow you have a lot going on. I can focus on only one or two things and just try to do them well. I am not too good in hustling across many areas. All this P2P stuff seems too risky in terms of default rate, good you got out while still ahead.

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2017, 9:52 pm

      I had a lot of defaults over the years, but the rate is so high that I still came out ahead. Once the economy turns south, the default rate will sky rocket. We don’t know when this will happen, though. Probably in the next few years.

  • Roadrunner January 9, 2017, 2:44 pm

    That’s a really nice and detailed overview. Have you ever thought about increasing the rental portion of your passive income? Or would an extra real estate be too much hassle?

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2017, 9:50 pm

      We can’t afford local properties anymore. We’d have to look for an out of state property and I’m not quite comfortable with that yet. Maybe in the future. I read that it is a great way to make passive income, though.

  • RocDoc January 9, 2017, 1:28 pm

    Joe, do you recommend owning rental property? I’ve never tried being a land lord before. I’ve read that rental property can be much more lucrative than mutual funds and stocks if you are able to get a good property (good cap rate)and have good management skills or hire a good property manager. I think my husband and I would get too stressed and tired out worrying about a rental property. Stocks and mutual funds are so convenient and easy. And the market is not too stressful as long as you have sufficient cash and bonds to get you through 5 to 8 bad market years. I would still enjoy having the diversification of a rental property but I don’t think I’d enjoy the potential problems! Maybe when I quit working full time I’ll feel like I have more energy to tackle a rental.

    • Iyer to retire January 9, 2017, 3:54 pm

      The thumb rule is 0.6 to 1% return per month on your investment properties. Thus, your net is 5% and above per year (post HOA, insurance, warranty, property tax, management fee). Remember, all line items in the brackets are tax deductible if properly documented.

      Also, majority of “good” american renters fall under the affordable slab off$1200- $1500. Anything below, they can live in an apartment rather than dealing with a private owner.
      Anything above, affording renter crowd is less and chance of you messing up is more.

      So, your rental property (3+bed, 2+bath – preferably single story) value should be anywhere between $180000 – $225000.
      All the best.


    • retirebyforty January 9, 2017, 9:49 pm

      I think owning rental property is a great way to build wealth. It seems in expensive area, the appreciation is really good. In cheaper area, the cash flow is better. I’d say try it and see how it goes. You might be better than you think. If you want to minimize problems, then buy a newer property.
      If you’re not comfortable with it, you could look into REIT or Realty Shares. Those companies will give you some exposure to real estate.

  • Dividend Growth Investor January 9, 2017, 12:27 pm


    You have some solid dividend income. I think that as you and your wife manage to save more each year, and you reinvest those dividends, you could expect to see that dividend income grow quite nicely. If your current yield is 3%, you can easily expect 5% – 6% in organic annual dividend growth. If you reinvest those dividends, you can expect 8% – 9% growth in dividend income, before even adding any new money.

    Plus, once you pay off your mortgage on the apartment you live in, your expenses would decrease, wouldn’t they?


    • retirebyforty January 9, 2017, 9:46 pm

      Our yield on cost is around 4.5% after about 5 years of gradually transitioning into dividend investing. That’s not too bad.
      Once we pay off our mortgage, the expense will decrease a bit. We’ll still have to pay HOA and property tax, though. Our expense probably will decrease about 20% once the mortgage is paid off. We’re not in a hurry to do it with this interest rate.

  • TJ January 9, 2017, 12:22 pm

    It’s cool to see the companies you selected. Some of them are pretty big holdings in my core mutual fund. I like the idea of spending more time researching individual dividend paying stocks when I reach FI and can spend less time working.

  • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life January 9, 2017, 11:27 am

    I like that we hold stocks in some of the same companies 🙂 As you can see in my update today, we are nowhere near your dividends because I just dipped my toe into dividend investing a couple years ago but we have the same approach. We’re due for another selection soon, I’m hoping to see a little dip in the market but we can’t hold our breath waiting for it.

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2017, 9:41 pm

      I think at this point, it’s probably best to just average in. Trump seems to be good for the stock market so I think 2017 will be another good year. A downturn is coming, though. Maybe in 2-3 years? I have no idea. Good luck!

  • M January 9, 2017, 10:09 am

    Q: Can you pls share with us your asset allocation, means bonds/equity ratio?
    It is very interesting to learn what is your approach to risk of loss due to equity market issues.

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2017, 10:32 am

      Sure, here is our asset allocation.
      US stocks – 50%
      International stocks – 23%
      Bond – 17%
      alternatives, REIT and such – 10%
      We had 20% bond, but it decreased recently. I probably should bring that up to 20% again this year.

  • Mr. Grumby January 9, 2017, 8:40 am

    Thanks Joe- The passive income approach through dividends in particular will be instrumental in our early retirement date next year at this time. We hope to avoid drawing from our principal for at least a year or two. I probably won’t delve into P2P at this point, but it is interesting to learn about.

  • Mr Crazy Kicks January 9, 2017, 7:39 am

    Great stuff, you have your hands in a lot of interesting investments! I am with you on the P2P lending – I had a good amount of money invested when the market crashed. I was trying to get better rates, so not all of my loans had the best ratings. After the crash a majority of the loans defaulted, and I took a big hit. That was the last time I invested in uncollateralized debt, I think you are wise to take your winnings and move on.

    Best of luck in exceeding your new 21017 goals 🙂

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2017, 9:05 am

      Thanks for your input. I’ll let the P2P account wind down this year and reassess the situation again at the end of 2017. I might have to put the rest of the loans in secondary market if it takes too long to wind down.

  • Wes @ thepursuitofhappiness.me January 9, 2017, 7:32 am

    Hi Joe, Do you use a management company for your rental properties or do you manage it yourself?

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2017, 9:04 am

      I manage the properties. Usually, it doesn’t take that much time, but some months are worse than others.

      • Wes @ TPOHappiness January 12, 2017, 4:51 am

        Would you be willing to share the number of average weekly hours spent on management of the properties would be?


        • retirebyforty January 12, 2017, 7:46 am

          It’s hard to find the average because sometime I spend a lot of time managing it. When there is a big repair, I need to schedule and meet contractors and such. If there aren’t much problems, then I don’t have to do much at all. In November and December, I think I spent just a few hours per month. Less than 1 hour per week on a good month.

          • Joe August 7, 2017, 11:10 pm

            Hmmm… what’s breaking? I have four rentals and I maybe have to fix things 3-4 times a year total (have been a landlord for 5+ years). Yours sound like a lot more work.

            Before renting out, I do a thorough walkthrough on each unit and proactively fix all potential problems. I think it makes things easier once tenants move in, and I subsequently don’t need to make any emergency repairs. It may cost an extra few hundred dollars to be proactive, but it sure saves me hassle down the road.

            It may be that I have the luxury to be more proactive? My units cashflow $12000, $15000, $15000, and $30000+ each year.

          • retirebyforty August 8, 2017, 8:10 am

            This year, mostly little things. I replaced the bathtub drain stopper, fixed a broken sidewalk slab, replaced a light fixture, and a couple other things. This is a 100 year old home and it needs maintenance. Good idea about fixing potential problems. Nice cash flow. Our units don’t cash flow that much.

  • Ty January 9, 2017, 7:25 am

    This is great, Joe. Nice diversification. I’ll be interested to follow you this year for updates your crowd funding investments.

    Like @financialsamurai I think you’ve got a good argument for your wife to FIRE earlier that she expected. And like @makesmarterdecisions I’d love to hear her take on all of this 🙂

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2017, 9:03 am

      Mrs. RB40 is our editor so she knows what I’m thinking. She’s just not quite ready for ER, though. She needs more financial security. She is very conservative.

  • Smart Provisions January 9, 2017, 7:17 am

    Very details plan, Joe!

    I don’t currently track my dividends on my investment account, but I’ll start doing it to get more clarity of how my investments are doing.

    I’m really interested in how the real estate passive income would work as I’m currently reading up a bit on it myself.

    Looking forward to the next post!

  • Ms. Montana January 9, 2017, 6:40 am

    I’ll be interested to see how your rental incomes goes. We own 2 rentals, and so far they have been really profitable. I’m not sure how much money we will put into them this year. But we usually clear $12,000 from the 2 of them.

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2017, 9:02 am

      It’s awesome that your rentals are so profitable. I guess I’m just not a very good real estate investor. It’ll pay off when we sell… The real estate price in Portland is too high to make much income.

      • Ms. Montana January 9, 2017, 9:31 am

        It wasn’t so much savvy investing, as it was having a lot of cash ready when the housing market busted. So when everyone else was scared and running away, we bought 3 fixer upper houses. For all three, our total loan amount is about $133k. One being fully paid with cash (no loan.) If we bought one right now, it would be challenging to find something we could buy with a small down payment and still get $200-$300 a month income from. The application can be great as well, especially if you don’t have too much cash in them. Ours have all almost doubled in value. =)

  • Lazy Man and Money January 9, 2017, 6:21 am

    I love the change.

    I don’t track my dividend income, because I like Aaron Smykowski’s advice of just focusing on growth. Also, our investments are in retirement accounts that we wouldn’t be easily able to tap (even with the IRA ladder) for some time (due to the good problem of other income). I wonder if it makes sense to just through a 2.5% number out there on the assumption that I could sell all the current equities and buy a dividend fund/portfolio.

    I was wondering if refinancing (and extending) the investment property brings in more income. Also, is it worth trying to amortize the costs of home improvements? It seems that if you don’t, it’s going to vary a lot by each year, which means you might be 100% FI one year and then not the next year.

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2017, 9:01 am

      I’m pretty sure we could start withdrawing from our Roth IRA now. We already have a ladder because we invested in our Roth for many years now. Also, we don’t need a lot of supplemental income even after Mrs. RB40 retires. We probably need just $10k per year.
      Refinancing might work. We probably could pull out some money because the value increased quite a bit over the last few years. Rentals are a bit of a pain…

  • The Green Swan January 9, 2017, 5:34 am

    Hi Joe, thanks for the update and I look forward to the regular updates. I had never heard of Kickfurther before. Just by reading your description of it though, I’d be a little nervous of this…for many of the same reasons you are getting out of Prosper. If a small business has to resort to Kickfurther for a loan and is willing to pay 8% – 20% interest for it then that is a huge red flag (when the prime rate is 3.25% today…))! I’ve been a banker for 10 years with experience lending to small companies all the way up to the largest publicly traded companies and there is a lot that gives me pause about Kickfurther.

    But anyway, here’s to a great 2017 and getting closer and closer to 100% coverage!

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2017, 8:58 am

      Thank you for your input. I have about $2,000 at Kickfuther and probably won’t add anymore. It’s just a hobby account. Of course, now you made me more nervous. 🙂
      Does bank make loan for inventory? I don’t know enough about the lending process at the bank.

      • The Green Swan January 9, 2017, 9:12 am

        You bet, banks will lend to companies specific to inventory and accounts receivables (companies’ primary working capital and short term assets). And for riskier customers, the collateral of those assets is managed very tightly (think weekly and even daily sometimes). There is a lot that goes into banking clients like this, let me tell you.

        Granted, it is just a couple thousand and play account for you so you couldn’t get hurt too bad by it. But in a downturn, I’d expect some pain here. Inventory seems to disappear during those times…even with the tightest collateral controls.

      • K January 12, 2017, 9:14 am

        I have an 800 credit score and three decades experience, and “I” would not jump through the hoops banks required for a small inventory loan. I never let them (despite their begging) get their claws into my business. The point is, I CAN see why people/businesses would go this route RATHER than simply use a bank…the time that would be wasted dealing with meetings and red tape is better put to use actually running the business.

  • Nicoleandmaggie January 9, 2017, 5:22 am

    Maybe I missed this, but do you include principal pay down on your rental property in your numbers or do you subtract that out?

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2017, 8:56 am

      No, I don’t include principal pay down. I just look at the cash flow. The principal pay down just goes to the bank…

      • Nicoleandmaggie January 10, 2017, 3:47 pm

        But unless you are willing to foreclose, it is erasing a liability. I guess if you only care about cash flow and not assets… that would also explain how you view dividends and not stock appreciation even though they are really both income. There are a lot of ways to increase cash flow that decrease your net worth…

        • retirebyforty January 10, 2017, 8:21 pm

          The real estate value and stock appreciation are rolled up in the net worth spread sheet.
          Net worth gain is good, but it doesn’t help pay the bills. 🙂

  • Erik @ Hippies de Land Rover January 9, 2017, 5:17 am

    Hey Joe! Great report and idea to follow up every month. It would be interesting too if you could share your stocks picking strategy. Think about it, it could be why did you add X stock to your portfolio. Good look in this 2017!

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2017, 8:55 am

      I’ll work on how I pick dividend stock. It would help me as well because my screen probably would improve too.

  • Mrs. Picky Pincher January 9, 2017, 5:07 am

    I’m super jealous that you can blog part-time. I feel giddy just thinking of how much I could get done without a full-on 9-to-5. Oh well.
    Congrats on that 70% FI ratio. I’m pretty sure ours is in the negative (debt will do that), so we have a while to go on our FIRE journey. 😉
    Just out of curiosity, how did you become educated on investing? I’m not a numbers person whatsoever but I know I need to get my butt in gear with an investment plan; I’m just not sure where to start when I know almost zero about investing.

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2017, 8:55 am

      I love being self employed part time. Life is so much better than working for a corporation.
      Investing? I read books, magazines, and blogs. There are a ton of educational material out there. I’d start with Money magazine. It’s an easy read. In the beginning, focus on saving as much as you can and invest in low cost index funds. Once you’ve got a good base, then it’ll be easier to invest in individual stocks. Good luck!

  • Apathy Ends January 9, 2017, 4:51 am

    Appreciate the full breakdown of what you own.

    How much time do you spend researching dividend stocks before you buy? Browsing through the companies It looks like they have all been around for awhile and getting historical data would be pretty quick- just curious if you do a deep dive on them.

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2017, 8:52 am

      I’ve been keeping an eye on these stocks for a few months now. Whenever I see a stock I’m interested in, I’d put it on my list and keep checking them periodically. I check pay out ratio and a few other financial numbers, but probably could do a better job. Generally, I try to buy undervalue stocks.

    • Michael April 12, 2017, 9:27 pm

      It is a full time job to build and maintain a portfolio of individual dividend stocks – it is a mammoth task. If you are looking for a lazy man’s approach, you might consider a stock dividend ETF like SCHD which tracks the Dow Jones US 100 Dividend Index. That is my dividend portfolio in a nutshell. If you want to learn more on why I came to this conclusion, you might be interested in this – http://stretchadime.com/simple-dividend-portfolio/

  • Jay @ ITF January 9, 2017, 4:50 am

    Thanks for the detailed passive income report. And congratulations on all your progress in 2016. It looks like you are well on your way to getting that FI Ratio exactly where it needs to be.

  • Full Time Finance January 9, 2017, 4:39 am

    My big concern with the FI ratio is how much of it is market performance dependent, dividends get reduced in down times after all. That means it might be 100 percent in 2016 and 50 in 2017 due to no fault of your own. I much prefer a 3 percent rule assuming that I might see 1 percent passive. A two percent reduction in principle a year would take fifty years. I’d use a fire calculator to do the real math as it’s not the simple given net worth still fluctuates yearly as would 3 percents impact.

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2017, 8:51 am

      Most of the companies I own have very good dividend track record. Hopefully, they won’t have to reduce their dividend much in the next recession. I don’t think it will fluctuate as much as the S&P 500 index. The problem with 3% is what will you do when the markets crash. If it drops 50%, withdrawal would be a huge problem. I don’t trust FIRE calculators because I think they are a bit too optimistic.
      Thanks for your input.

      • Dan April 12, 2017, 10:47 am

        Plus, the Dividend Aristocrats are known for increasing their dividends consistently. If they dont, just rebalance your portfolio. There is bound to be at least a few which continue to increase their return.

  • [email protected] January 9, 2017, 4:16 am

    Thanks for sharing your detailed plan Joe. I’m really interested in Mrs. Rb40 and her take on continuing to work, but I’ll continue to follow your story for now 😉 I am planning a dive into Realty Shares too this year. I just haven’t had the time to devote to learning enough about it to “jump in” yet. Hopefully I’ll have it figured out in the next few months.

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2017, 8:47 am

      I haven’t had time to research much at Realty Shares either. It looks like the better deals require higher initial investment. I’ll try to start this month, but it’d be fine later too. Good luck!

  • Jon @ Be Net Worthy January 9, 2017, 3:27 am

    Well done Joe! Thanks for sharing the numbers, it is great to see how much progress you have made. I love the goal of covering 100% of expenses with passive income. That would be a huge milestone!

    Keep up the good work and best of luck in 2017!

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2017, 8:46 am

      Thanks and good luck to you as well. 🙂

  • Aaron Smykowski January 9, 2017, 1:38 am
    • Ten Factorial Rocks February 14, 2017, 2:22 am

      Aaron, thanks for sharing the link. I read the WSJ article and the interesting comments below it. The article is more relevant to dividend mutual funds than a portfolio of diversified dividend paying stocks. It’s like the broader market. If the market is pricey, doesn’t mean every stock in it is.

  • Aaron Smykowski January 9, 2017, 1:37 am

    Hey Joe, just a couple of comments.

    1. Be careful about the tax handling of these alternative investments. I know Kickfurther is all taxes as short term capital gains. Not sure about reality shares.

    2. Did you know that dividend stocks are historically very overpriced right now? I know it feels good to slowly raise a number of passive income generated each year but until you actually retire you don’t need it. I would think your main focus should be overall growth (stock price + dividend yield). What is the overall growth compared with other alternatives? It’s easy to buy an entire dividend stock portfolio when you actually need that income. Just some food for thought.

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2017, 7:33 am

      1. Yes, peer to peer lending and crowdfunding are all short term capital gains.
      2. The whole stock market is overpriced at this point. We don’t churn much so most of these stocks have been in our portfolio for years now. The overall growth has been better than the overall market over the last few years, but that could change. From what I understand, dividend stocks weather a bear market better than other stocks.
      What investments are you investing in now? The stock market is overprice and will probably continue higher next year.

  • Ernie Zelinski January 9, 2017, 12:59 am

    Have you ever considered writing a book to see if you can have another means of generating residual income?

    In today’s blog post, Joel Friedlander of The Book Designer Blog talks about his progress/success as a blogger and how it became apparent that he needed to write a book.


    Pay attention to this bit on Joel’s blog post:

    “As my blog had grown more popular, I started to get invited to industry events, writers conferences, and publishing groups of various kinds. When I first spoke at one of these big conferences, the host bookstore asked where to get “my book.” I didn’t have a book. But I realized I needed one, and had a ready source of content in my blog archives. After scanning the 400+ posts I had at the time, 43 became the book I could take to conferences with me: “A Self-Publisher’s Companion.”

    Just a note that if your book becomes successful, it will also help you generate other surprise bonus income. For example, I recently was contacted to make a presentation about “The Joy of NOT Working” at a career conference to be attended by 1,200 to 1,300 career practitioners. I will end up making $3,000 US plus first-class expenses for a 45-minute speech, not to mention that I can use the paid-for Business Class flight to stop off in Montreal, which I have wanted to visit for some time. What’s more, I just got contacted on Friday by a financial consultant wanting me to make a presentation about “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free” to 200 to 500 retired members of one of the best known organizations in New York City. If I get this gig, I will end up making a similar amount of profit as I will at the career conference and will use the paid-for Business Class flight to stop in Toronto to visit my friends. (Of course, these paid-for Business Class flights will generate more Aeroplan miles for me as will my paying for them on my Visa.)

    In short, a successful book, besides generating residual income, can also help generate other forms of surprise bonus income for you.

    Ernie J. Zelinski
    International Best-Selling Author, Innovator, and Unconventional Career Expert
    Author of the Bestseller “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free”
    (Over 310,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)
    and the International Bestseller “The Joy of Not Working”
    (Over 295,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2017, 7:28 am

      Yes, I’m thinking about writing a book. It might take me a while to actually do it, though. I just can’t find the time to sit down and do it. I’ll probably have to take a couple of months off from blogging to write a book.

  • Sam @ Financial Samurai January 9, 2017, 12:45 am

    Nice details Joe. I’m pretty sure you will get there this year.

    Since $24,000 out of the $38,000 of income is from the tax-advantaged retirement accounts, is the goal to have all your expenses covered just accounting since you won’t be able to access the income until 60?

    If so, won’t this require you to just withdraw down your non-tax advantageous principal anyway? This is a great argument for Mrs. to retire early as a result, since drawing down principal is an inevitability.


    • retirebyforty January 9, 2017, 7:24 am

      We’re planning to access our retirement accounts by building a Roth IRA ladder. Although, when we get there, we won’t need to take out that much because we’ll still have my online income. It looks like we’ll need $10k per year and that shouldn’t be a big deal to take out of the Roth.
      But yes, it’s just accounting.

      • Sam @ Financial Samurai January 10, 2017, 1:06 am

        Time for the Mrs. to let go of the rope! Since you’ve done the math, have several years of not working under your belt, and know the ups and downs, it seems to me that she should have no problem leaving to share the early retirement life with you.

        That said, if she likes her job, then by all means keep going. But if not…. I say it’s time for her to be free. You guys can do A LOT as a team more dedicated to the site.


        • retirebyforty January 10, 2017, 8:14 pm

          It’d be great if she can come onboard. She’d be able to help redesign the site.

  • Mr. Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes January 9, 2017, 12:27 am

    Very cool Joe. I have a similar post on my blog, update monthly with our latest expenses and passive income numbers.

    In 2016 that amounted to about $48,000 in dividends. I’d like to grow that by at least 10% in 2017.

    Like you, I want 100% of my expenses covered by passive income!

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2017, 7:22 am

      Your dividend income is really great and you don’t even count the tax advantaged accounts. Nice job.

    • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance April 12, 2017, 12:33 pm

      Wow $48,000 in dividends is a big number! I will need to check out your blog to see how you hit that goal. 100% covered by passive income is my goal too (although it’ll be a long way for me to go!).

    • Counting Quarters June 12, 2017, 12:52 pm

      That is fantastic! I am surprised that he is not utilizing DRIP for the dividends. But I would like to hear more about the rational for this since usually you have to pay a fee to purchase individual stocks.

    • All I can say is wow.

      This statement right here:
      “In 2016 that amounted to about $48,000 in dividends.”

      That is one of my dreams come true and you’re currently living it! I’m getting more serious about investing so I’ll be aiming for this amount and beyond in the future.

    • David @ VapeHabitat July 28, 2018, 11:59 am

      This year the figure is over $60K, hopefully

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