Do you ever feel like life can be a little too routine? Many Americans feel like they’re stuck in the rat race, which is an ongoing cycle of working hard and earning just enough to make ends meet.
As income increases, expenses increase as well, so there’s little room to exit out of the day-to-day routine that often involves working a 9-5 job.
The typical rat race cycle can look something like this: Work (40+ hours per week) → receive income → pay bills → give in to lifestyle inflation → take out debt due to having no savings → work to continue to pay bills and pay on debt. The cycle can go on and on.
If you’ve ever wondered if it would be possible for a normal person with an average income to escape the rat race, you’re not alone.
How to Truly Escape the Rat Race
In America, the median household income is $57,652. You don’t have to be rich, marry someone rich, or sell your organs to escape the rat race.
To truly escape the rat race, you’ll need to save and invest more money so you can become financially independent. In short, you’ll want to earn more money and diversify your income streams. While what you earn at your day job may seem limited, you can always consider a side hustle that brings in residual income.
Residual income is when you keep getting paid after the work has been completed. Some refer to it as passive income because you do all the hard work upfront. Not sure where to start? Check out these best residual income ideas to help you escape the rat race.
1. Sell Products Online
One of the best ways to earn residual income these days is to sell products online. You’ll often have low start-up and ongoing costs when you sell products online.
You can create goods to sell on Etsy or create digital products. I have a friend who earns money selling printables on Etsy. She only has to create them once, and then she can keep reselling them for profit over time.
If you have a blog or similar online platform, you can create courses, guides, and digital products to sell as well.
2. Write and Sell an Ebook
You don’t need a huge audience to sell an ebook online. Thanks to Amazon, you can use their platform to sell and market your book. You just need some expertise in a particular area or an entertaining story to share. Here’s a complete guide to help you get started.
3. Rent Out Your Extra Space
If you have a spare bedroom or unused basement, consider renting out your space to others for extra cash. You can use sites like Airbnb to advertise your room and connect with serious and legitimate guests who can rent from you.
Don’t forget; you can also rent out storage space like your garage or a shed to earn residual income each month. You may have to do some work up front in terms of cleaning, reorganizing, and listing your space. However, after that, you’ll earn mostly passive income from your efforts.
4. Sell Your Photos
You don’t have to be a professional photographer to make money by taking photos. One residual income idea to consider is selling your photos online. Stock photo companies like Getty Images, Deposit Photos, and Shutterstock are more than willing to buy your professional images and resell them to their customers for use.
These stock photo sites will often pay you a commission whenever their customers download your images. Depending on the popularity of images you submit, you could be earning some decent passive income each month.
Related Content: 40 Ways to Make Money Selling Photos Online
5. Rent Your Car
Another thing you can rent out for residual income is your car. If you have more than one car in your household or don’t drive your vehicle too often, Getaround is a site that will help you list your car for others to rent.
You can set your daily rental rate and exclude days that don’t work for you to lend your car. This is a great income opportunity for anyone who works from home and doesn’t drive much anyway.
6. Buy Real Estate
Getting into real estate is a popular way to build residual income, but it does require an upfront investment. If you want to buy a rental property, you’ll need at least 20% down and be able to prove you have enough savings in the bank.
Still, renting out a home or apartment can undoubtedly help you escape the rat race. You can also consider real estate investing through companies like Fundrise and PeerStreet. With this option, you can pool your money with other investors to buy a portion of individual properties, and you’d share in the returns.
Fundrise has a $500 minimum required to invest, and their historical annual return for investors ranges from 8.7% to 12.4%.
7. Affiliate Marketing
If you have a blog or social media presence, consider affiliate marketing to build residual income. Affiliate marketing involves promoting products or services that you believe in with a link that’s unique to you.
If someone clicks on your link and makes a purchase, you earn a commission. Affiliate marketing is scalable and super passive once you put in the work to build your audience and produce quality content.
8. Peer Lending
Peer lending is another residual income idea that requires an upfront investment but can pay well. Peer lenders offer personal loans to borrowers and earn money off the interest as they repay the loan.
Lending Club was one of the first peer lending companies, and they allow you to start investing with as little as $1,000. Their investors see between a 4% to 7% return each year. Prosper is another peer lending company that allows you to get started with as little as $25.
Just know that with Peer Lending, there is the potential to lose money as borrowers may default on their loans, and your investment is not FDIC insured.
Escaping the rat race all comes down to deciding how you want to live and using money as a tool to create the lifestyle you want.
Don’t like driving to your 9-5 job day in and day out? You may want to try working from home. Tired of never earning enough to make ends meet even with annual raises? Give yourself a raise by starting a new side hustle or small business.
Use these eight residual income ideas to help spark some creative ways that you can earn passive income.
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Choncé Maddox is a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI), blogger at My Debt Epiphany, and freelance writer who loves to talk about everything personal finance. Her writing has been featured on sites like Business Insider, AOL, Credit Sesame, Barclaycard, and the New York Post. She lives with her husband and son in the Midwest. When she's not writing, she is spending time with her pets, trying out new recipes, being active outside, and looking for new Netflix shows to get into.
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