How to Turn Existing Savings into Passive Income
Many people look at their savings as money they can spend in the future. But I like to think of my savings as a perpetual generator of income instead. The difference is once you spend money in the future it’s gone. But if you have a machine that brings you a steady stream of income then that cashflow is perpetual. 🙂 It’s better to have a goose that lays golden eggs than just a pile of golden eggs.
This means when I save $1,000 today, I don’t deem that money “spendable” anymore. Instead that $1,000 of savings have been changed into $40/year of passive income (or 4% of the saved amount) for the rest of my life. 😀
Many actuaries and financial experts like to use the 4% rule because it represents a sustainable draw down rate over a long period of time. On a similar note, when I occasionally sell my investments to pay for large purchases, I also think of that as stealing income away from my future self.
The power of compounding
If one manages to save $1,000 a month and make an investment return of 4% above inflation every year, then after 32 years of working, he or she will have about $750,000 of investable assets, which that person can draw down from at 4% a year, or $30,000 of spending money forever.
With $30,000 of income every year coming from our nest egg, plus maybe $20,000 from government assistance/private pensions, we can expect to live quite comfortably on a $50,000 annual income. Not everyone is able to save $1,000 a month, but statistics show that men who live on the west coast like myself plan to save on average about $15,000 this year. So for most people, $1000/month of savings, if not more, is to be expected. One way I like to save is to cook my own meals most of the time because eating out can be quite costly.
Don’t have to start large
Personally my savings rate is about $1,500 to $2,000 a month thanks to my side hustles. So I plan to retire quite a bit earlier than 55. In fact, according to my latest net worth blog post, I already have over $750,000 of financial assets today. 😉
However that’s not the entire story. The reality is that I only have about $175,000 of investable, liquid assets. The remaining $575,000 is locked up in long term, capital appreciating resources such as my home and my farmland. Nevertheless building up $175,000 of stocks and bonds over a 5 year period still sounds pretty far-fetched given my average salary.
Luckily there’s a wonderful tool called leverage that has made all this possible! Instead of buying stocks in a regular trading account, I have a margin account which allows me to invest with borrowed money and I was able to double the performance of the S&P 500 stock market index over the last few years!
Our age and risk tolerance will influence our asset allocation but generally speaking we should be able to sustain a 4% withdrawal rate by investing 60% of our money in equities, and 40% in fixed income. In terms of geographical allocation we can go with a 50/50 North American and international split to stay diversified. We then rebalance our portfolios to meet these ratios once a year. 🙂
Random Useless Fact: What is a 4 letter word, yet is made up of 3. Rarely consists 6 letters, and never is written with 5.
Hint for the riddle above: Think about why it’s under the Random Useless Fact section 😉