Building Multiple Income Streams as a Career

Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking about my career quite a bit. Perhaps with a few exceptions, I felt that career is a dead concept for many of us. What would prompt me to say such a negative thing? Basically, I dodged a downsizing bullet not too long ago. It’s sad to see 10, 20, or even 30 years relationships be destroyed by these downsizing initiatives. But the reality is, there’s no such thing as growing up with a company anymore.

Building multiple streams of income is the career of the 21st century

Traditionally, it was possible to achieve a comfortable retirement with a good career and some retirement investments to supplement your pension and social security. In this era, it’s no longer practical for us to count on our job, as such, we should do what we can to become less dependent on it. I strongly believe that it’s more logical to focus on creating multiple sources of income — call it the career of choice for the new millennium if you wish.

Active and Passive Income

This is basic risk management and it’s no different than diversifying your investments. In investing, we know that a small minority could do very well by picking a handful of investments — i.e., Warren Buffet. However, for the majority of us it’s better to buy and hold a globally diversified portfolio of low-cost investments. The same concept applies to income generation. It is wise to not relying on your job as the only source of income.

Some advantages of having multiple income streams:

  • If you lose your job, your income is lowered as opposed to disappeared.
  • It will help you reach your financial goals faster.
  • It gives you a taste of financial freedom — after all, financial freedom is basically when you no longer need your job to cover your living expenses.
  • It gives you greater flexibility and leverage. You’re in a much more powerful position when you know that you are not 100% dependent on your job to make do.

Have you ever had a close call with downsizing? Have you thought about building an alternative income stream?

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31 thoughts on “Building Multiple Income Streams as a Career”

  1. Pinyo,

    Great post! I like your comment that traditional career paths and job security are dead. I also like how you recommend multiple streams of income. I’m a firm believer in starting side businesses. It’s the foundation for my blog as we believe the best way to wealth and life balance is through entrepreneurship.

    The benefits of starting a side business
    – It is a low risk way to get a business off the ground.
    – It provides additional income.
    – It is diversification for your income. That way if one source drops or goes away it doesn’t hit so hard.
    – It can be incredibly fulfilling to build a company of your own.

    And congrats on dodging the bullet. Then again, sometimes the guy that keeps his job gets the worse end of the stick. I know because I was in a similar position. Over a 9 month period of time my company laid off half it’s workforce. This happened with an initial 25% cut and then smaller cuts every few weeks. It was a dark place to work as everyone wondered when the next round would start. Would your lunch buddy be around in a few weeks? Would your coworker be there in a month? What about me? This also drove everyone to work like madmen desparate to keep their jobs. 14 hour days and 6 day weeks were common.

    When the ax finally fell it was a relief. It ended up leading to new opportunities and life improved. Note: I set things up so I was ready for the cut. When it came I was ready. I wrote a couple articles that can help your prepare: 11 Steps to the Job of Your Dreams and Network Your Way to Job Security.

    I hope they help you and your readers if your jobs are ever threatened again.

  2. Totally true. I work for a small software company in a new industry, so I know my job is constantly on the line. Losing even one or two major customers could be fatal for a small technology company. As of right now, my alternative income wouldn’t pay the bills, but I’m working on it.

  3. When the layoffs at my job occured I was glad it wasn’t me. Now nearly 10 years later I wished it would have been me since it would have been the career jumpstart I needed. At least when I left it was because I had another job lined up (Though it took 4 more years and that was too many)

    By the way, since April, thanks to you, I’ve begun expanding my income sources and keeping track of it too. Using records I filled in my alternate income since Febuary and have watched it grow from $19 a month to $40. Ok, that’s really less than what I make in an hour at my current job, but the growth has me inspired to see where and what else I can do to keep it growing and growing. (By the way I exclude any income/dividends/capital gains generated in tax defered accounts.)

    I’ve set goals and charts and have been keeping my eyes open for other oportunities.

    The real scare came when my wife decided she was going to quit her job because her boss yelled at her. Well, that would have been 40% of our income gone and we would not have been prepared for it. Instead I talked about how I have started to look for alternate and steady sources of income and we agreed to focus on making that a reality so we could quit if we wanted/needed to.

  4. Creating alternative income streams is a great idea, but the reality is that they are hard to come by and are very time consuming if you do find one. If your current job and commute is already consumes 10-12 hours of your day, it’s just not realistic to invest in another income stream.

    With that is mind, you are right. The layoffs are just a matter of time and job security no longer exists. Therefore, finding alternative income streams is becoming more and more of a necessity. The solution is to position yourself to manage the job transitions that are coming. Positioning yourself can take many forms, like taking a job with a 5-minute commute so that you have time for building your alternative income streams. Another way is to build up your savings, so that you can better handle job transitions – like when your wife decides to quit her job as in the above comment.

  5. I had a very close call with downsizing, and saw several close friends and colleagues be led from our building with only a small box of their desk belongings (the rest were gathered up by security personnel). The experience definitely made me realize that there is no such thing as job security. Building mutiple income streams (the more passive the better) is a good way to hedge against the risk of another round of layoffs.

  6. I almost got laid off in 2001 – I have to admit I was just concerned with getting another job.

    While I agree with your logic, it’s difficult to make significant returns on your time with alternative methods (ie a blog). I could spend 100 hours a week on various business ventures but it’s unlikely that I could make as much as my regular job.


  7. Great post, mate. I wonder if the day when everyone will realize that having a job is insecure is coming soon. Just 20-30 years back no one ever thought that so many people would rely on alternative income today. Maybe after 20-30 years the people who go to offices every day will be exceptions. Especially with the fast development of the broadband communications.

  8. Good post and something I have been thinking about as well. However you have to be careful not to become a jack of all trades, and a master of none. What I mean by this is at, you need to ensure you excel and focus on your primary source of income (job) to ensure you are an asset to the company so less likely to be part of a lay-off. If you have a talent or high interest in something, then pursue it as building up another source of income takes time and the returns can be a long time coming (like blogging).

    The best thing to do is work on your networks, invest in your skills and build a solid portfolio of investments.

  9. I couldn’t agree more. I honestly feel it is the only way to get ahead when you are starting out way behind with student loan debt.

  10. As I am a freelance artiste, I have had multiple income streams of one sort or another for YEARS. I joke that my husband brings home the bacon & I bring home the bacon bits! Also keeps all your skills fresh –

  11. @B Smith — Great point about side business, and I agree that surviving a downsizing may not be the best thing. Also, I love your story on GRS.

    @Ben — I am glad to be part of your pursuit of alternative income sources. It was a slow start for me (in the negative), but I am doing much better now. Having set goals and keeping on top of them will definitely help. By the way, I started Moolanomy in anticipation of losing my wife’s salary due to her pregnancy.

    @Curt — I think the difficulties you mentioned is true for anything that’s worthwhile. Remember that many of us go to school for years and spend ten of thousands of dollars to be in our current job. It’s natural that you’ll have to spend some effort to make a sizable alternative income.

    @Jason — Yeah, that’s a sad thing to see.

    @Four Pillars — Please take a look a my response to Curt. We also invested a lot of time and money before we land our first “real” job. Why should alternative income be any different?

    @AndyS — True, it’s a delicate balance between being a jack-of-all-trade and a specialist. But at the same time you don’t want to be the best typewriter mechanic either. Also, I wouldn’t limit alternative income to blogging — the key is to continually grow and diversify and never rely too much on any one source of income.

    @Pam — That’s a great way to leverage your passion. Good job. I like bacon bits too. 🙂

  12. I’ve been downsized. While I wouldn’t call it a gift, it was a healthy wakeup call. Realizing that nothing is guaranteed is the first step to taking active control of your career. I do think there’s room in life for salaried work, but my future (and my retirement) is definitely in my hands and no one else’s.

  13. I work for a software development company and I’m actually in the verge of leaving it as soon as my blogging incomes equals my net pay. Everyday, I travel 50km to go to my office and another 50km to go back. I probably spend more than 4 hours on the road alone. With the ever increasing cost of gas plus the amount of time being waste on the road, I figured out that building other sources of income other than my salary makes sense.

    This way I got to spend more time with my wife and 1 yr old baby, plus I get to save more.

  14. This is a great post with some great points. I am trying to build multiple streams of income firstly by running my entrepreneur blog and then I will begin to write books, ebooks, training programs and run seminars etc. It is my goal to be able to retire before I am 30 and I believe I will need multiple streams of income to allow me to achieve that

  15. Again, I agree with all of your points here. While I’m pursuing a “career” in academia, which has its own sets of rules and regulations, the same trend is happening: more part-time teachers and less tenured profs. But I think I wouldn’t mind teaching part-time anyway. I’ve never grown up expecting handouts, and I kind of like the idea of knowing I’m in control of more than two sources of income. I feel more flexible, like I have more options. More open doors.

  16. This is a great article!

    I just love the statement that “a career is a dead concept”. Independence and freedom is what we need and the career is a prison. Just a question of better furnished or lesser furnished prison.

  17. I wouldn’t say a career is entirely dead. But the traditional career like many people in our parents’ generation enjoyed is a dead concept in the US (outside of government or military service). Pensions are also on the same path… disappearing.

    It is becoming more and more important for each of us to search out ways to be financially secure on our own. Be it a side job, investment income, rental income, or something else. Alternative income is becoming an important part of financial planning. That’s why I’m working on it… 🙂

  18. This is one of the most important lessons we, as financial bloggers, should be expressing to our readers.
    Building alternative income streams is the truest secret to financial success. In simple terms: Take the money you have earned at your job and make that money work for you by making more money.

    Investing, generating royalties, and patents as listed above are the best forms of alternative forms of building income streams.

    There are many other ways to build income streams like taking a second job or a work from home hobby.

  19. @Curt, I agree, I have the same feeling, creating multiple sources of income, you need also time and if you have a busy job, do some sport or other leisure, little time is remaining. Unless you try to create passive income streams, like a friend of mine, invest in solar energy, after 10 years, when he paid his debt, he has a passive income (government is paying an amount for produced energy).

    @Sam, how small seems the world, I have the same issue, a software firm, but loosing a lot of time and fuel to get there 100 KM (50 up and down).

    Nevertheless I believe multiple stream of income is the way to get more welfare. Some Ideas, what is income, I myself, I have a garden with vegetables, I do not earn money from them, but save on expenses for food.

    Secondly, I am member of a local exchange trading club, it saves me also money.

  20. I like what you are saying, and that has been my key focus over the last two years. It’s a great mindset to have, and I totally believe you are spot on when it comes to the way we need to be in the 21st century. Any articles on managing time wisely without becoming too scattered?

  21. This is even more true today with the latest stats that supposedly almost 500,000 Americans are now making some income from blogging (with only 2% of those being able to live off it full time) – as many almost as there are lawyers in America. So the trend would seem to see those numbers growing. I also like Pat’s idea above that growing some of your own food is a type of income since you don’t have to spend for it.

  22. Great post, and something I totally agree with. Having been made redundant twice in the last 10 years (the last time being 3 years ago) its something I have learnt the hard way. After my last redundancy (which was particularly brutal) I decided that I had to begin earning additional income for myself.

    Three years later and I’m regularly generating between 40% and 60% of my monthly salary as passive income. Its been hard work and I’ve had to overcome my own fear of trying new things – but it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. To anyone out there who’s thinking of doing the same my advice would be to just do it. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m on my way to getting there – and its comforting to know that if the axe does fall again at least my income will not drop to zero.

  23. Paul I wish you every success. I was laid of in 2007 and again in 2008. Since then I have been unemployed. A read a CNN article a few minutes ago in which mention was made that most employers stay clear of the unemployed, they prefer candidates who are employed. I have stopped submitting resumes and is looking to work from home building multiple income streams; so far I haven’t been good at anything and most of my savings and 401K is gone. Still trying to find my niche.

    Although I don’t have a corporate job anymore the truth is: the only thing I miss is the money. I agree with the comment above “a career is a dead concept”. Independence and freedom is what we need and the career is a prison. Just a question of better furnished or lesser furnished prison.

    • Jen,

      I began searching for feedback on multiple income streams, and found your reply to this blog. I totally share your sentiments, although I am almost to-the-date four years late in my reply.

      It is my hope your situation has changed. I hope you have sought and developed “multiple income streams.” As I sit here re-evaluating my gifts, skills and talents, my biggest challenge is building a client base, and bootstrapping as I build, since my only financial backing is generated by products and services I sell.

      There are several things I do, but, my passion lies with only one. It allows me to work from home, I can set my own schedule, I can sell online, and at vendor fairs locally or nationally.

      If you are a subscriber to this blog, I would like to know what multiple income streams you have acquired. I’ve considered learning a new skill to promote. However, upon my assessment of my current skills, I had to ‘put on the brakes’ and promote what I have.

      My current potential streams of income include: Licensed Nail Technician; Freelance Writing (Copywriting, Proofreading, Grant Writing, Copy Editing); Leather Artist/Designer(can sell on Ebay and Etsy), Consulting (Small Business: writing business and marketing plans). I have enough talents and skills to make multiple streams of income my business. However, I have been working for others for that ‘false sense of financial security’ of a steady paycheck until my at least one of my multiple streams of income becomes steady.

      Today is the day I have decided to stop working for others and commit to building my own multiple streams of income.

      Again, I would like to hear about an update from you if you still read this blog.

  24. Its time for everyone to look, for opportuities that will supplement their income.
    Find something that you can do part-time.

    Networking is very important.

    • Is it a sad state of affairs that most everyone is now forced to find ways to supplement there income, which if that means taking on a part-time job, means reducing time spent with family.

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