No one is going to give you something for nothing. Even those who earn money passively through real estate, business, and stock market investments needed to put in work at some point.
There is no denying how much upfront time, energy, and effort it may take to disconnect the linear relationship most of us share between time and money. It takes dedication, study, persistence, patience, and grit.
That being said, all passive income originates from some form of active work.
However, I will be showing you something that has led me to earn $10,000 from doing minimal work.
I call it The Free Money Game.
about the Free Money Game
You know that feeling when you find money in your back pocket?
That’s how I felt when I discovered I had $1,000 laying around in credit card rewards. Before redeeming it, I considered just leaving it in hopes of forgetting about it again only to rediscover it in larger sums later.
I was considering leaving it in there for 5 years for even a bigger rush of that money in your back pocket feeling.
Then my investor’s brain turned on. I could invest my credit card rewards!
Money that I didn’t even realize I had was soon making me more money. Essentially “free money.”
I began adding money that I received selling things I was planning to throw away around my house and turned my trash into cash. Which got me thinking about turning other people’s trash into cash. All it took was being a little more aware on trash days. Another man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right?
Over the course of two years, this fund has motivated me to make small amounts of money on the side and encourages me to continue churning credit cards.
If you want to do something similar, it does mean you need to feel comfortable with investing.
New To Investing?
I highly recommend checking out this e-book. It will give you more insight into the investing world and it will teach you how to retire in 5-10 years. Best of all, it will provide you with resources to teach you more about money and investing so no one will ever take you for a fool.
How Do You Play The Free Money Game?
Before you even start:
- You need to have 18 years of life under your belt
- Have access to the internet
- Own a bank account
- Know your investment strategy. I recommend every investor to create an IPS. I write about it here where I share my own IPS along with a free template.
- Prepare to “play” for at least a year, ideally 5+ years for optimal results.
I call it a “game,” but remember you are still investing real money which can come with the risk of losing it. With that being said, let’s get started!
Step 1: establish which funds qualify to enter your “game”
Personally, I include money that I feel that I’ve earned with very little effort. These include:
- Credit card rewards – I strategically apply to certain credit cards especially during times when I know I will have a big expense such as home insurance, auto insurance, or medical bills. Good timing means that I will be able to meet the spending requirements these credit cards have to qualify for sign-on bonus rewards.
- Cash gifts – I may receive cash gifts on occasion during the year. If I don’t need to use the cash immediately for anything, I will deposit it into my Free Money Game account.
- Selling trash for cash – While driving around, I will occasionally spot something that I will see of worth. I do a quick search on google for price points. If I think I can sell it, I’ll just place it in my trunk. I also include things in my home that I would otherwise throw away or donate like electronics, books, and furniture.
- Individual Stock Trades – I liquidated my Robinhood portfolio in 2019 for an emergency purchase and left some “play” money where I made some lucky buys. I liquidated the winnings again recently and deposited it into my M1Finance account.
I exclude funds earned routinely through my full-time job and part-time job.
There is no official rule book, but this is where I would start if you are well-positioned to play. For me, that means no high-interest debt and an emergency fund that would keep me comfortable. After all, we’re talking about investing and I don’t want to overexpose myself to any risk that I can’t afford to take.
My estimated deposits by category from 8/3/2018 – 6/20/2020: Not exact since I just began entering into a spreadsheet and needed to do some digging to match my sales and bank statements to my deposits.
- Credit Cards Rewards: $1,812
- Cash Gifts: $1,300 (Included $1,200 stimulus check)
- T-shirts: $150
- Trading Stocks: $2,156
- Trash For Cash: $1,416
- TOTAL: $6,834
I can’t account for around $15 and don’t feel like digging around anymore so I’ll just leave good enough alone. So far, I made $3,300 while investing money that was earned fairly effortlessly
STEP 2: Determine where you want to “Play”
After you decide how you want to fund your investment account, you should decide where you want to invest it.
I invest through a number of brokerages and investment platforms and I really enjoy M1Finance because of the ability to create your own fund or as they call it “pie” and you buy partial shares commission-free. This means you don’t need to save over $2K to buy a share of Amazon, you can own a partial share for as little as $1.
How Do You Level Up?
What type of game would this be if you cannot level up?
Everyone starts at Level 0 and each time you earn $1,000 of capital gains, you level up.
- Level 1 = $1,000 – $1,999
- Level 5 = $5,000 – $5,999
- Level 20 = $20,000 – $20,999
You get the idea. Eventually, you will take some damage from a bear attack, but you will always level up when riding the bull.
If you invest in the right things, you will always level up over time. Who knows, maybe you will be able to retire sooner than you think. If interested in a 5 – 10 year retirement guide, check out this e-book.
- On any given day, the stock market has a 56% chance of rising and a 47% chance of falling.
- When you expand this observation period to any given 3-month period, stocks rise 68% of the time and drop the other 32% of the time.
- Over a 12-month period, your chances of making money in stocks rise even further to 75%
- Source: seeking alpha
- Here’s an even better article by Zack, an awesome data scientist now full-timer blogger on why the stock market always goes up
While I call this a “Game” it is really just a way for me to satisfy my individual stock picking urge. I have included a provision within my investment policy statement that prevents me from being overexposed to individual stock picks. Over 90% of my invested assets are in low-cost domestic index funds. While index fund investing isn’t as sexy as trading individual stocks, it’s much safer. Besides, being too sexy will just get you into trouble.
If you decide to begin investing your side-hustle income, consider downloading M1Finance. Using my link will support my work on this website. See my disclosure for details.
Also, check out this e-book for some gems on investing and early retirement.
Good luck and “play” at your own risk!
Art is the founder of Flexcents, a blog created in 2018 to help others reach their fitness and financial goals through sharing insights as a physical therapist, personal finance nerd, and self-directed investor.