Passive income is income you can earn without actually exerting yourself in a job. The idea of passive income rose in the early 1900s with the rise of income investing. Back then, Americans didn’t have the social protections they enjoy now (social security and Medicare for example). You may take your retirement plan for granted, but before these policies were enacted, the majority of the elderly working class lived in poverty. While all employees can benefit from 401(k) plans right now, the retirement options for Americans have not been improved to suit the ever-changing needs of the elderly. One of the biggest reasons Americans can’t save as they used to is debt. At present, people are in debt even before they are fully employed. If you are in debt like most Americans, then earning passive income is more important than ever. It can help you pay down debt and generally make you more financially secure. But how exactly can you generate passive income? Some methods for earning passive income require very little work on your part. Investing, whether in the stock market or with a bank, is the best way to make your money grow with very little ongoing effort. It just takes a different type of discipline – the discipline to spend less than you make and resist investment decisions based on emotions. Invest in Blue Chip Stock There’s stock and then there’s blue-chip stock. In poker, the blue chips are the most expensive. In the stock market, blue-chip stocks are considered more valuable and less risky than lower-priced stocks. These stocks belong to well-known companies like Facebook, Google, Johnson & Johnson, and so on. Due to the massive success of these corporations, they pay shareholders lucrative dividends. A single blue-chip stock can cost well over $500. If you can find the money, the quarterly or annual dividend payments would amount to generous passive income you can rely on. Though these stocks are considered more lucrative, all investments involve risk. Lehman Brothers’ stock was solidly blue- chip until the financial crises tanked the company. Keep that in mind when investing in this type of stock. There are no guarantees in the stock market – only educated guesses. Buy and Sell Cheaper Stocks The practice of day trading refers to buying and selling mostly cheaper varieties of stock. These traders don’t hold onto stock like traditional investors do. Instead, they earn profits by day trading. Now, this type of trading can be very risky because the market is volatile. Also, the cheapest types of stocks are highly likely to be negatively impacted by scams and fraud. Regardless, some traders do manage to master the art of day trading by researching the companies from which the stocks originate. Studying price history charts and understanding trends in a particular sector can help traders become proficient in their craft. Thanks to new tech, anyone can become a trader from the comfort of their personal computer or smartphone. Invest in Certificates of Deposit If you are too risk-averse to engage in stock trading, there’s a much safer option to earn passive income, albeit with much lower margins of return: certificates of deposit or fixed deposits issued by banks. These financial vehicles are similar to mini investments. CDs work very similar to savings accounts with one notable difference. Once you place a deposit, it cannot be withdrawn until the certificate matures. You can obtain these certificates for lump sums of cash that you can allow to mature within time periods like 2 years or 5 years. The advantage of CDs is that they offer higher interest rates than regular savings accounts. You can rest assured that the money will be safe in the bank. A CD earns interest quarterly or annually and all you have to do is just sit back and wait for it to mature. Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) If you want to invest in something more tangible than a piece of paper from a bank or stock exchange, real estate investing is an excellent option. If you’re dealing with debt, chances are your credit score isn’t the best in the world. However, you can band together with other investors to tackle real estate investment opportunities in your area. A Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) provides individuals with the opportunity to invest relatively small amounts of money alongside other investors. By pooling resources, a group can take on bigger projects with bigger returns. And the risk of loss is spread across multiple investors, and depending on the size of the REIT, multiple investment properties. There will usually be an individual assigned to manage the properties on behalf of the REIT. This individual will normally receive compensation from the REIT in return for their work managing the properties. This means that you do not need to be involved in the day-to-day operations of the properties owned by the REIT. Passive Income Opportunities for Busy Entrepreneurs Diverse income streams are a cornerstone of wealth creation. For busy entrepreneurs, putting all of your eggs in a single basket – even if that basket is your startup – is a bad idea. As you begin to generate revenue, place at least 10% of your revenue into an investment fund. I personally leverage mutual funds to provide consistent returns of the stock market while minimizing my risks associated with the volatility of individual stocks. It’s easy to get sucked into the mindset that every penny, every minute and every ounce of your spirit needs to be invested into your company. But if you’re an entrepreneur that is seeking financial independence, passive income can be a core strategy to beating away debt and building a foundation to grow from. And if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, here are some entrepreneur quotes to help you recharge and learn from the great business leaders of our past. Here are three key lessons from this article to take with you as you move forward with your life: Financial diversification is critical to weathering the ups and downs of the markets. Don’t forget to invest in passive income generators. You don’t have to limit yourself to one or two solutions or vendors. Financial products are packaged by investment analysts and then sold by salespeople. Do your own research and find products that match your needs, instead of blindly accepting what your financial advisor loves – products that generate huge commissions for themselves at the expense of ignorant clients. Get out there and grind. Build your business empire. And use at least 10% of the revenue you generate to put your money to work for you in the form of investment in stocks, funds, real estate or commodities. You’ll amplify your earning potential over the course of your life.