Mailbox money is the idea of getting money in your mailbox with little or no work. In the "old days", this meant getting checks in the mail - but today, it basically means passive income that hits your account without much effort.
The idea of mailbox money has always been around, but was made popular by the late rapper Nipsey Hussle, who named his final commercial mixtape "Mailbox Money".
The idea of mailbox money is passive income. Now, nothing is truly passive, but you can usually invest time and/or money up front, and get the reward in your mailbox every month.
Here's our favorite mailbox money ideas, from traditional to out-of-the-box.
1. Real Estate
Real estate is one of the best ways to earn mailbox money (and it's likely the income stream that started this trend because renters would send you a check to your mailbox every month).
It's important to note that traditional real estate requires both time and money - you need to buy properties (which costs a lot of money), and spend time managing them as a landlord.
However, the internet has revolutionized real estate investing - making it easier and cheaper (and take much less time) than ever before. Here's how.
Do you have at least $500 and want to get started investing in real estate that will push cash into your mailbox (or bank account). Well, check out Fundrise.
Fundrise is an online REIT - Real Estate Investment Trust. This means that you invest in Fundrise, and you actually are part of a portfolio of properties. The fund has to pay out at least 90% of it's earnings, so that usually means you'll get a check in your mailbox.
Read our full Fundrise review here.
Invest In Single Family Homes
If you're looking for a more traditional path to real estate investment, check out Roofstock. This company allows you to buy cash-flow positive single family rentals (with a duplex or fourplex throw into the mix every now and then)! You can sign up and start searching properties today. Check out Roofstock here.
Plus, they now have a service called Roofstock One where you can buy shares in other properties, and not even have to worry about managing it!
The great thing about using a platform versus doing it yourself is that the income is even more passive. Check out our full Roofstock review here.
Invest In Larger Developments
If you don't want to be a landlord, but still want real estate, then consider being a limited partner in a large development. With these options, you can invest in multi-family or commercial properties. You get the income and tax treatment just like regular real estate ownership, but you don't do any of the work!
Our favorite platform for this is RealtyMogul because you get the flexibility to invest as little as $1,000, but can also participate in REITs and private placements – typically not offered to the public. Investors can fund real estate loans to gain passive income or buy an equity share in a property for potential appreciation. Their platform is open to both accredited and non-accredited investors.
Read our full Realty Mogul review here.
2. Stock Market
Investing in the stock market is a great way to earn that mailbox money! The reason? It requires almost no work after you invest. Seriously. The trick to earning that money is to invest in dividend paying stocks and mutual funds. These are stocks that pay you cash just for owning them.
If you start small, the mailbox money won't be huge. But over time, as you keep investing and growing your portfolio, you could easily live off the dividends you receive each month.
To get started, you need to open an investment account. We recommend using M1 Finance because it's free, and designed to help you build a long term portfolio of stocks. It has automatic deposits, allows you to build a portfolio and automatically invest, and more!
Read our full M1 Finance review here.
This is probably one of those ideas that you think is lame, but it's actually a great way to earn some mailbox money safely with no time or effort.
If you already have a little bit of money, you can deposit it in a high yield savings account and start getting interest payments every month.
The best accounts out there right now are paying around 1.50% APY. That means, for every $100 you deposit, you'll get $1.50 per year. Once again, not a lot, but it adds up over time with no work or effort. Think about how that changes if you now have $20,000 in the account. That's over $40 per month you'll get paid!
Oh, and it's 100% safe because it's FDIC insured - so you can't lose!
CDs are the next level up about savings accounts. In general, they typically pay a little bit more interest, but they have a catch - you have to "lock" your money in for a period of time.
It's not that you can't take your money (you always can), but you typically will lose the interest you earned as a penalty for taking your money out early. The goal here is to incentivize you to leave your money a long time - and they'll pay you more for it.
For example, if you commit to locking your money up for 2 years, you can get 2.70% APY on your money - that's 0.25% more than you get in a savings account.
Check out our list of the best bank CD rates todays.
5. Lend To Others
Lending money to people has been going on since the dawn of time - and it's a huge source of mailbox money for those that do it. The idea here is that you give someone $X, and they pay you back that amount with interest.
Today, there are formalized ways that you can lend money easily. A popular solution is using a service like Lending Club. What happens is someone wants to borrower money - say $20,000. Lending Club puts together a group of people who all lend $100 together to give that other person a loan.
You get paid back your percentage of the interest (on your investment of say, $100). Now, of course, this is riskier, because what if the person doesn't pay? It does happen. But on the flip side, you have the potential to earn more because of the risk.
Read more about Lending Club Investor here.
6. Lend To Businesses
A relatively new trend in earning mailbox money is to lend money to businesses (rather than people). Some people think this is a little safer (but still not without risk), and new tools are making it easier to connect business and people together.
There are two popular options - both of which provide a 5% annual return! That means you'll get over double what you can earn in a savings account right now.
7. Online Empire
One of the most modern ways to make mailbox money is to build an online empire through affiliate marketing, Amazon FBA, drop-shipping, and more. This is one of the ideas on this list that doesn't take much money, but does take a lot of time and effort.
I like to think of building websites and online products and services like online real estate. But unlike real real estate, you can spend a lot of your own time and effort making the money up front, versus having to spend a lot to invest.
There are so many blogs and resources that can teach you what to do, the question is, do you want to invest the time and effort up front to have something passive later on?
Check out our guide on how to start a blog or website.
8. Rent Your Stuff
More and more services are coming out that let you rent your stuff. I'm talking about you renting things you own - like your car - and earning mailbox money for doing it.
This is a pretty passive way to earn, but if you want to supercharge your earnings, you want to put in more work to make the experience fantastic.
The most popular option to rent your car is Turo. These services allow you to drop you car off and earn money when you're not using your car.
9. House Hack
Do you have extra space in your house? If so, you should be taking advantage of this to get your mailbox money (or really, cash under the door). You can easily list your spare rooms for rent, or even space in your backyard.
There are places now that you could even list your driveway or garage to help people store bigger items like RVs or boats.
The bottom line is, do you want to earn from the extra space around your house? If so, then get going on services like Airbnb.
Check out our guide on how to get started house hacking.
10. License Your Music
In memory of Nipsey Hussle, this can be a great way to earn mailbox money if you're musically inclined. You might think that the only way to get paid for your music is to create a record and sell it. But another way to really earn passive income is to create a beat and license it.
Every TV show, movie, and more use music in the background. Where do they get it? They find it in music catalogues and they pay licensing fees for it. And today, with the rise of YouTube, the demand for music is higher than ever.
The trick is that you have to put in the work of creating the music, and submitting it to music libraries that will get your music picked up. You can then be paid a royalty when people use your songs.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.