Creative income streams have been the saving grace for my family. I think they can be for millions of retirees willing to think and act outside the box. In this post I’ll share what I’ve learned after testing and implementing over 15 creative income streams from investing, consulting, online business and real estate along with my husband. While I’m an AFC®, I write from my 15 years of experiences in this income stream adventure.
First, read about the incredible impact creative income streams have on your retirement savings by looking at the math.
Next, you’ll see what qualifies a “creative income stream,” and some ideas and ways to get started creating them.
You can use the Table of Contents to skip to any section you want to read first, but please, please, don’t skip the math of this powerful dynamic, which is in the first section of this post. Why is this so important? The math of this will leave you with hope and excitement about what’s possible with creative income streams. Not to get too existential on you, but when we can move from feeling lack to possibility and opportunity, we lay the foundation for huge positive changes.
After tiptoeing out of the world of lifelong conditioning believing the only way to build wealth was from a diversified stock and bond portfolio, into more creative income streams, I saw there are many ways to reach your financial goals.
In this journey, I have gotten income from imported trays (which I designed and had manufactured) to books, consulting, online courses, stock dividends, covered calls, real estate rentals, and everything in between. This experience has enabled me to see which income streams worked best in achieving various goals as life has changed. Creative income streams are real, doable from scratch, and can significantly change your financial future while tapping into the core of what you really like and want.
So, let’s look at the numbers because you have GOT to see this!
The Impact of Creative Income Streams
Before you think creative income streams are about making an extra $100 from selling a few craft items at the local farmer’s market, let’s talk some numbers. (And let’s not forget that many highly successful Shark Tank entrants got their start selling products at such markets, so there is nothing wrong with that to test a market!) Here’s the powerful impact of creating a new income stream for someone who is planning on using a common 2% withdrawal rate to live in retirement. Let’s say you make an extra $1,000 a month on average or $12,000 a year from one or more creative income streams. Next, let’s see how much extra savings it would take to provide $12,000 income a year using the popular retirement withdrawal method of withdrawing 2% (to 4%) from savings annually. If you are planning to withdraw 2% of your savings to live in retirement, creating an extra $12,000 income a year is like you saved an extra $600,000 in your retirement account! That’s because $600,000 is the amount you’ll need to provide an extra $1,000 in monthly income if you are using a typical retirement withdrawal method of 2% annual withdrawal. Here’s the math to confirm this amazing equation:
$1,000 a month income x 12 months = $12,000
$12,000/.02 = $600,000
It’s important to mention that there are many variables that affect this comparison either way, including taxes, how much work it takes, how many years you’ll create the income, the impact of compounding unspent wealth using the withdrawal method, and more. But from a big picture perspective and without a lot of complex analysis, you can see how creating extra income streams, at least in the early years of retirement, can literally save you if you don’t have enough retirement savings. (And it can also just provide a lot more stimulation later in life beyond crossword puzzles and golf if you’re at all attracted to mental stimulation!) Watch this video with important factors to consider before creating an income stream and read my related post Is It Too Late to Become an Entrepreneur?
Read my related post on retirement withdrawal strategies.
What Defines a Creative Income Stream?
There are several factors that define creative income streams. Creative income streams are generated outside of traditional retirement income methods. Traditional retirement income methods include bond interest, typical stock dividends, retirement withdrawals (which are often inaccurately labeled as “income”), and social security. Read my related post Risks of Income Investing. Creative income streams require that you think creatively. Creative income streams result from thinking done outside the normal and commonly accepted way to have enough income in retirement. Creative income streams require that you act beyond conventional thinking. All the thinking in the world won’t get results without taking action. And this action occurs outside of what the overwhelming majority of investors are doing. Creative income streams merge interests with income. This makes creating income streams more about fulfillment and less about work which results in more life enjoyment. Creative income streams begin by defining what you want. You create what you want from that place of knowing what you want. It’s incredible how often we miss this simple but profound path to living with more joy and prosperity in our lives! For example, I enjoy writing, investments, small business, and analyzing income strategies and opportunities. So, I am creating income streams related to that. For years I thought I “should be” wanting to do other things, like going out to lunch, or surfing online like most other people. Then I realized I really prefer “creating” that’s related to our businesses or other income related activities over these less stimulating activities. After I committed to this being who I was, and it being good (not bad), I was happier, spent less money, and more in alignment with what I really wanted. Sure, I still enjoy friends and hitting the estate sales, but I rarely find time for shopping now and much of my socialization relates to my creative income stream activities. On the other hand, my husband loves teaching others to trade options based on his extensive related career, so he creates income streams teaching how to trade options. We both happen to be financial nerds, but you can generate very good income streams around almost any interest or skill as you’ll see below. Read my related post Starting an Online Business after 50.
Creative Income Streams Can Be Financial Based
And even income streams from real estate rentals, AirBnB, selling covered calls, or more proactive dividend investing can be considered creative income streams. This is because these strategies are outside the commonly practiced norm for retirement income. It requires tapping into creative thinking to see, for example, how you can create dividend income above 3.5% from a typical “income stock fund,” which is the norm. Or seeing how you can use your capital (savings) in more creative ways. For example, we both like real estate, so this led us to buy rental properties about 15 years ago when we began creating alternative income streams. Then, after a strong desire to share what we had learned over the decades with those who were interested, I created our first online business. Read my related post Which Is Better: Owning a Business Vs Real Estate?
Creative Income Streams Are Different
Creative income streams aren’t for everyone. In fact, they’re not for most people. I know when someone comments on my YouTube channel “Who wants to do all that work?” or “I’ll just live off 4% retirement withdrawals” or “I can get a 10% return every year from stocks to live” these people are NOT creative income stream producers! But if you’re still reading this, you’re probably a creative income stream producer. Read How to Rewire Your Brain for Success.
How to Create Income Streams
The way to get started creating income streams depends on what type you want to create. This will be based on what you want in your life in terms of income, wealth, and lifestyle so that’s really the very first step. Believe it or not, the real question is this: What do you want to do? Because what you want to do is what you will do well. You can read more about this in my post How to Create a Wealth Plan. Based on what you want, you then decide what type of income stream structure you want to create.
Creative Income Stream Models
There are several models for creative income streams. These models often overlap. Some models are:
- Intellectual Property
- Scalable Models
- Time for Money Models
- Income Stream Ideas
- Passive Income
- Active Income
I prefer things that are not time for money trades, but I am including some because many people are happy to have that structure. This isn’t about me, it’s about my readers at Retire Certain. So, this list only includes things that can be scaled or that can generate at least $40 an hour income just to get you thinking about what’s possible. Read my related post Is Passive Income Real?
Time for Money Rates
I use $40 an hour above because you can work 2 long mornings or afternoons a week (5 billable hours) and easily clear $1,000 a month from our math example above after expenses. (When handled properly, expenses are probably tax deductible, which is another huge benefit of most creative income streams.) Note that most services warrant much higher per hour fees than $40 but people think they can’t charge more. For example, my dog trainer charged $185 an hour! With pricing, a good strategy is to start with low prices and increase as your demand increases based on the old supply and demand law many of us learned in college. Read my related post Side Hustles for Older Adults.
Time for Money Model
In the model above, you’re trading your time for money. But you can also hire or outsource the work for many of the creative income streams. This will result in higher expenses of course. But many creative income streams can be scaled making the additional help worthwhile. All of this goes back to the lifestyle you defined in your wealth plan, and how many hours you want to work vs delegating work. So, related expenses will vary based on what you want to create and manage. Read my related post How to Start a Consulting Business in Retirement.
Scalable models allow you to increase your income based on factors other than the time you spend working. A good local scalable example is offering software training to a group of 10 people instead of one. Another good example is providing virtual programs on webinars. This online scalable model can serve hundreds of customers at once. Read my related post How to Choose an Online Business to Start or The Best Income Stream to Start before Retirement.
Creative Income Stream Ideas
Here are just a few ideas scattered among various income stream models to stimulate your thinking.
Local or Online:
- Consulting of any kind (legal, accounting, career, marketing, family, decorating, landscaping, etc)
- Golf lessons
- Wedding Planning
- Group Programs
- Services (Personal chef, marketing, website building, fitness, golf, etc.)
- Floral Arranging
- Dog Walking
- Senior Care
- Dog Training
- Website or Blog Ads
- Affiliate Income
- Online Courses
- Selling Covered Calls
- Real Estate Rentals
- Short Term Rentals
This is not an exhaustive list. There are hundreds of possibilities, which is another thing that is so awesome about creative income streams. This list is just enough to get you thinking about what type of model and income stream you want to create. Read my related post How Do Covered Calls Work?
Summary for Creative Income Streams
As you can see, creative income streams can significantly change your current financial situation and future. They can lead to a happier, more fulfilling, and prosperous life. And who doesn’t want that?
The best place to start is with my Ultimate Wealth Plan. You can get it here now.
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