17 Best Income Generating Assets That Make Passive Income

Looking to build wealth with the best income-generating assets? As you set out on the path to financial freedom, understanding the different types of income-generating assets can truly change your life. This is because you can invest in assets that will generate you income, earning you more passive income. Today’s article will introduce you to…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: April 21, 2024

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

Looking to build wealth with the best income-generating assets?

As you set out on the path to financial freedom, understanding the different types of income-generating assets can truly change your life.

This is because you can invest in assets that will generate you income, earning you more passive income.

Today’s article will introduce you to a range of assets that reliably bring in cash, giving you peace of mind and the freedom to live life on your own terms.

From traditional investments like stocks and bonds to more creative options like peer-to-peer lending or real estate, income-generating assets give you the power to diversify your portfolio and build wealth over time.

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What are income generating assets?

Before we begin, I want to talk about the basics on income-generating assets, in case you are new to the subject or if you want a background first.

Income-generating assets are investments that, as the name suggests, generate income for you. These are assets that provide you with a steady cash flow, allowing you to earn passive income and build your wealth over time.

Examples include rental real estate and dividend-paying stocks (we will go over 17 different types of income-generating assets below in more detail).

There are several benefits of the best income-generating assets such as:

  1. Passive income: You earn money without actively working, and this can provide financial freedom and the ability to focus on other things in life. You can earn money in your sleep, while on vacation, making dinner, and more.
  2. Diversification: You can diversify your investments so that all of your income is not coming from just one source.
  3. Wealth building: Earning income and generating a steady cash flow can help you build your wealth over time.

Note: Please keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when investing in any of these income-producing assets. Everyone is different and while one asset may work great for someone, it may not be the right asset for you. I recommend doing as much research as you can if you are interested in one of the asset investments I talk about below.

Types Of Income Generating Assets

There are many types of income-generating assets. Some may be more traditional such as dividend-paying stocks, and others may be more alternative income-generating assets, such as selling stock photos, and even renting out your driveway.

Today, I will talk about 17 different types of income-generating assets, but this is not a full list of the best income-producing assets. There are many, many more!

The different types of income-generating assets that I will talk about today include:

1. Dividend-paying stocks

One of the best assets to invest in are dividend-paying stocks.

Dividends are simply a payment in cash or stock that public companies distribute to their shareholders.

The amount of a dividend is determined by a company’s board of directors, and they are given as a way to reward those who have stock in their company. Both private and public companies pay dividends, but not all companies pay dividends.

How do dividends work? If you own shares of a dividend-paying stock, then a dividend is paid per share of that stock. So, if you have 10 shares in Company ABC, and they pay $5 in cash dividends each year, then you will get $50 in dividends that year. While dividends can be paid on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis, they are most commonly paid out quarterly — so, four times a year. In this example, the $5 in cash dividends the company pays each year will most likely be distributed as $1.25 per quarter for each share of stock. 

The most common type of dividends are cash dividends. Shareholders may choose to get this deposited right into their brokerage account. Stock dividends are another common type of dividend. In this case, shareholders get extra shares of stock instead of cash. 

Both cash dividends and stock dividends are great income-generating assets that will earn more money for you.

As a shareholder, you can earn income when companies distribute profits to their shareholders. Look for stocks with a history of consistent dividend payouts and a high dividend yield. Keep in mind that dividend stocks are still subject to market fluctuations, and just because a company has paid a dividend in the past does not mean that they always will in the future.

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2. High-yield savings accounts and CDs

High-yield savings accounts and CDs are a great way to grow your savings, but most people have their money in accounts with low rates. Unfortunately, that means many of you are losing out on some easy money.

Savings accounts at brick-and-mortar banks are known for having really low interest rates. That’s because they have a much higher overhead — paying for the building, paying the tellers to help you in person at the bank, etc.

High-yield savings accounts offer an easy option for earning interest on your cash. Online banks often offer higher interest rates than traditional banks. As of the writing of this blog post, you can easily find high-yield savings accounts that can earn you above 4.00%.

Certificates of Deposit (CDs), another form of income-generating assets, are FDIC insured and provide a guaranteed interest rate over a specific term. Remember that access to your money is limited during the term of the CD. You will agree upon the term before putting your money in the CD. The terms typically vary in length from around 3 months to 5 years.

Money market accounts are also offered by banks and often with a higher yield than other types of savings accounts.

3. Real estate

Real estate is one of the most common income-generating assets that people think of.

Investing in rental properties is a popular way to generate steady cash flow. You can earn rental income from tenants, and properties typically appreciate in value over time.

Location and property management are important factors that can impact your return on investment.

By investing in real estate, you may be investing in residential properties, commercial real estate, short-term rentals, REITs, and more.

Recommended reading: How This Woman In Her 30s Owns 7 Rental Homes

4. Real estate investment trusts (REITs)

An REIT is a company that owns and manages income-producing real estate. They then sell shares to investors like stock.

By investing in REITs, you can make money in the real estate market without actually owning real estate.

So, if you don’t want to be a landlord, then this may be something for you to look into. This makes it much more passive than actually owning real estate and having to manage it.

You can even diversify your income stream with REITs by investing in different property types, such as residential homes, commercial office space, industrial, and retail store properties.

5. Bonds

Bonds are fixed-income investments that are issued by governments and companies. If you own a bond, you receive interest payments from borrowers on a regular basis.

An easy way to explain this is: When you buy a bond, you are giving someone a loan and they are agreeing to pay you back with interest.

Bonds with higher credit ratings are generally a safer investment but may offer lower interest rates.

6. Mutual funds

Mutual funds gather funds from investors to invest in stocks, bonds, or other securities. Basically, the funds are pooled together and there’s a fund manager who chooses the best investments.

Income-generating assets like this have multiple types of mutual funds available for multiple types of investors. Some of these fund types include bond funds, stock funds, balanced funds, and index funds.

Mutual funds typically have higher fees because they have fund managers who are actively trying to beat the market.

With a mutual fund, you get diversification because the fund manager mixes the assets in it.

7. Index funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs)

ETFs and index funds are popular options for those who are looking to diversify their portfolio of income-generating assets.

This is because index funds and ETFs track a specific market index and invest in a wide range of stocks or other assets, instead of picking and choosing stocks in an attempt to beat the market. This is what makes them different from mutual funds.

They often have lower fees and higher diversification compared to actively managed funds.

8. Annuities

Annuities are long-term investments offered by insurance companies that give you a guaranteed income stream to build wealth. In exchange for a lump-sum payment or periodic contributions (such as monthly or annually), you’ll receive steady payments in the future.

The way it works is you pay premiums into the annuity for a set amount of time. Later, you stop paying premiums, and the annuity starts sending regular payments to you. Some are even set up to pay you back with a lump sum. 

Annuities can be fixed or variable. A fixed annuity offers a guaranteed payment amount — which means a predictable income for you. As for a variable annuity, the payment amount does vary, depending on how the market is doing.

9. Websites and blogs

Starting a website can generate income through the money-making assets of advertising, affiliate marketing, or the sale of products and services.

Since I started Making Sense of Cents, I have earned over $5,000,000 from my blog through affiliate marketing, sponsored partnerships, display advertising, and online courses. These income-generating assets make sense for building wealth.

Blogging allows me to travel as much as I want, have a flexible schedule — and I earn a great income doing it.

Now, it’s not entirely passive, but I do earn semi-passive income from my blog.

You can learn how to start a blog in my How To Start a Blog FREE Course.

Here’s a quick outline of what you will learn:

  • Day 1: Why you should start a blog
  • Day 2: How to decide what to write about (your blog niche!)
  • Day 3: How to create your blog (in this lesson, you will learn how to start a blog on WordPress)
  • Day 4: The different ways to make money with your blog
  • Day 5: My advice for making passive income with your blog
  • Day 6: How to get pageviews
  • Day 7: Other blogging tips to help you see success

Recommended reading: The 25 Most-Asked Blogging Questions To Get You Started Today

10. Royalties and intellectual property

Intellectual property, such as patents, copyrights, and trademarks, can generate income through licensing fees or royalties. This particular option is good for creative professionals, such as authors, musicians, and inventors, who are looking for income-generating assets.

Royalties are a way to earn income from your creative work or intellectual property. By granting others permission to use or distribute your intellectual property, you can receive ongoing payments known as royalties.

Whether you’re a musician, author, inventor, or artist, royalties offer a passive income stream as your creations continue to generate revenue over time.

Royalties can be paid out periodically or as a lump sum on these passive income assets, depending on your agreement with the licensee.

11. Stock photos

If you have a talent for photography, you can monetize your skills by selling stock photos on platforms such as Shutterstock or Adobe Stock. The more high-quality images you upload, the more potential passive income you can generate.

With stock photography, you simply upload photos that you have taken to a platform such as DepositPhotos, turning your pictures into income-generating assets. Then, you will receive a commission whenever someone buys one of your stock photos.

Stock photos are used for all sorts of reasons by websites, companies, blogs, and more. Businesses need stock photos because they are not usually in the business of taking photos of everything that they need. Instead, they can use stock photos to make their content, website, or business more visually appealing.

Some examples of stock photography include pictures of:

  • Travel, vacations, landmarks, outdoor adventures
  • Family members, such as parents, children, family gatherings
  • Food and drink
  • Cars, boats, RVs
  • Businesses, pictures of people in meetings, in an office.
  • Sports, professional events
  • Animals, such as household pets or wildlife

The photo possibilities are almost endless for this type of income-generating asset.

Recommended reading: 18 Ways You Can Get Paid To Take Pictures

12. Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending

Crowdfunding platforms enable you to invest in real estate deals with a smaller amount of money than buying real estate up front, giving you a passive income through rental income or even a property increasing in value.

Peer-to-peer lending platforms allow you to lend money directly to borrowers. Typically you can earn higher returns than traditional savings accounts, though there’s always the risk of a borrower not paying you back.

Both of these types of assets — crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending — use technology to connect investors with those looking for funding.

13. Renting out storage space

If you own unused land or unused space in your home, renting it out for storage can be a simple way to generate passive income.

You can offer storage solutions for vehicles or boats. If you have a smaller space, then offer it to store personal belongings. You can rent out your driveway, closet, basement, attic, and more. You can even rent out a shelf.

A website where you can list your storage space is Neighbor. You can earn $100 to $400+ each month on this platform. This depends on the demand in your area and the type of income-generating assets you are renting out. And, you can choose who, what, and when — who to rent to, what things are stored, and when it will happen.

You can learn more at Neighbor Review: Make Money Renting Your Storage Space.

14. Short-term rentals

Short-term rentals can be a lucrative income-generating asset if you own properties in popular tourist destinations or business hubs.

Websites like Airbnb provide a platform to rent out your property to travelers for short periods, potentially generating higher returns than traditional long-term leases.

Furnished Finder is another website for short-term rentals. This is a way to connect with travel nurses in need of short-term housing.

Keep in mind that rental income can be affected by local regulations, potential vacancies, or seasonal fluctuations.

15. Car rentals

Car rental platforms like Turo allow you to rent out your car when you’re not using it. Assets that generate cash flow include your own wheels, and that means no significant initial investment besides the cost of the car you already own. 

Be mindful of risks such as wear and tear, insurance, and potential damage caused by renters.

It’s an affordable alternative to traditional rental car companies for customers, and it’s a good way to make money if you’re already working from home and don’t need your car, or are a two-car household.

Turo is one of a few different places to rent out your car, turning your vehicle into one of your income-generating assets. Your car is covered by Turo with up to a $1 million insurance policy. You can also pick the dates for when your car is available and set your rates.

Turo says you can earn an average of $706 per month by listing your car on their site.

16. RV rentals

Similarly to car rentals, RV rentals can provide additional income by renting out your recreational vehicle when you’re not using it. Your RV could easily become one of your income-generating assets.

You may be able to earn $100 to $300 a day, or even more, by renting out your RV on RVShare.

If you have an RV that is just sitting there and not being used, then you may be able to earn an income with it by renting it out to others who are interested in RVing. Cash flow-generating assets like RVs are a win-win for both you and the renter who wants to experience life in a recreational vehicle.

You can learn more at How To Make Extra Money By Renting Out Your RV.

17. Vending machines

With a vending machine business, you can generate income by selling a variety of products, from food to fishing supplies, beauty products to baby items, and more.

You may be able to earn $1,000+ a month by running a vending machine business. That’s enough reason to take a closer look at income-producing assets like this.

You can learn more at How To Start A Vending Machine Business – How I Make $7,000 Monthly.

cash money from income generating assets

Questions about income generating assets

Here are common questions that you may have about income-generating assets:

How do I start passive income from nothing?

Starting passive income from nothing requires creativity and resourcefulness. You can begin by identifying skills you possess or interests that can be turned into income-generating opportunities.

What are the assets that generate income?

The assets I talked about above include:

  • Dividend-paying stocks and stock market investing
  • High-yield savings accounts and CDs
  • Real estate
  • Bonds
  • Mutual funds
  • Index funds and exchange-traded funds
  • Annuities
  • Websites and online businesses
  • Royalties and intellectual property
  • Stock photos
  • Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending
  • Renting out your storage space
  • Car rentals
  • RV rentals
  • Vending machines

How do I start buying income generating assets?

There are traditional investments or more creative options. Do as much research as you can before deciding which option fits you best.

What are good assets to buy?

After deciding if you want to purchase traditional investments or more creative options, choose an asset that you can afford and best fits your lifestyle.

What are the best assets to buy for beginners?

For beginners seeking income-generating assets, you may want to look into:

  • Dividend-paying stocks for your investment portfolio
  • Crowdfunded real estate investing: Platforms like Fundrise allow smaller investments with lower risk exposure.
  • ETFs and index funds: They provide diversification and passive income through dividends.

What is income generating real estate?

Income-generating real estate refers to properties that produce regular rental income, such as apartments, commercial properties, or short-term vacation rentals.

How do I start passive income in real estate?

There are a few ways that you can earn passive income from real estate, including:

  1. Buying a property, such as an apartment building or duplex, and renting it out to tenants
  2. Using real estate crowdfunding platforms
  3. Investing in REITs

How to make passive income with real estate without owning property?

You don’t need to actually own property in order to make money with real estate. Instead, you can earn passive income from real estate by investing in REITs and using real estate crowdfunding platforms.

This is an option for those who want to be diversified with their income-generating assets but don’t want to spend all of their money or time on a single piece of real estate.

How to make $1,000 a day in passive income?

Making $1,000 a day in passive income with assets that produce income will not be easy. If it were easy, then everyone would be doing it, after all.

Making $1,000 a day in passive income may require a large amount of money up front, diversifying into different assets mentioned above, and lots of patience from you because it will take time to make that kind of money.

You may want to start off by focusing on building multiple income streams and reinvesting your profits as you earn them.

What to think about before investing in income producing assets?

There are many different things to think about when it comes to income-generating assets. You want to find the best assets to invest your money in that will also be the best fit for you.

Remember, as I said at the beginning of this article, not everything will be applicable to everyone. Everyone is different! You may prefer to create a stock photo portfolio and hate real estate, whereas someone else may really enjoy being a real estate investor — or it may even be the other way around.

Here are some of my tips if you are interested in income-generating assets:

  • Do your research and talk to experts — I recommend researching as much as you can on the asset you are interested in. And, if you still have questions, don’t be afraid to talk to an expert.
  • Diversify — One of the important parts of building a successful income-generating portfolio is finding ways to be diversified.
  • Think about the risks — When making money, there’s usually some sort of risk. I recommend evaluating the risks and seeing what you are comfortable with.

What are the best books on income generating assets?

Some highly recommended books on income-generating assets include:

  1. The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins
  2. The Millionaire Real Estate Investor by Gary Keller
  3. The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John C. Bogle

Income Generating Assets — Summary

I hope you enjoyed this article on the best income-generating assets. As you learned, there are many different types of assets that you can invest in so that you can earn an income.

The best income-producing assets, if they’re right for you, can truly change your life.

With these assets, you can build wealth through a reliable passive income, giving you peace of mind and freedom to live life on your own terms.

Are you looking to build income-generating assets? What are your favorite ways?


Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Preston Y

    Great list! It’s definitely ideal to have multiple income streams.

    Anyone who owns stocks can also generate passive income by monetizing their shareholder voting rights.