3 passive income ideas for Australian investors | Finder

Passive income ideas for Australian investors

Find out how to make your money work as hard as possible while you’re fast asleep.

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Earning money without having to lift a finger sounds too good to be true, but it is possible. There are several ways that your money can earn more money while you sleep, allowing you to build a bigger savings balance without putting in the hard work.

Here are three easy ways to earn some extra money on the side, each of which has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Dividends from shares

When you buy shares in a company, you own a portion of that company and are entitled to a share of its profits. When the company’s share price increases, the value of your “parcel” of shares also rises in value.

But there’s also another easy way to make money from shares: dividends. Some companies pay “dividends”, which are a portion of the company’s profits, to each shareholder at specific times throughout the year. Not all companies pay dividends, but investing in those that do is a great way to generate a passive income. It's also possible to receive franking credits along with your dividends, so long as you're beneath a certain income bracket. You can read more about how franking credits work in our guide.

And you don’t only have to invest in shares in Australian companies either. If you open an account with one of the many online share trading platforms on offer, you can trade shares not only on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) but on major stock exchanges all around the world. So while you’re catching up on your beauty sleep, your investments could be earning you big bucks.

Start investing in shares today

Data updated regularly
Name Product Standard brokerage fee Inactivity fee Markets International
eToro Share Trading (US stocks)
US$0
US$10 per month if there’s been no login for 12 months
US shares
Yes
Zero brokerage share trading on US stocks with trades as low as $50.
Join the world’s biggest social trading network when you trade stocks, commodities and currencies from the one account.
Superhero share trading
$5
No
ASX shares, ETFs
No
Pay zero brokerage on all Australian ETFs.
Trade ASX stocks with a flat $5 commission fee and a low minimum investment of just $100.
Bell Direct Share Trading
$15
No
ASX shares, mFunds, ETFs
No
Exclusive: New customers who open an account with Bell Direct through Finder will pay no brokerage fees on the first five stock or ETF trades until April 30, 2021 (T&Cs apply).
Bell Direct offers a one-second placement guarantee on market-to-limit ASX orders or your trade is free, plus enjoy extensive free research reports from top financial experts.
IG Share Trading
Finder Award
IG Share Trading
$8
$50 per quarter if you make fewer than three trades in that period
ASX shares, Global shares
Yes
$0 brokerage for US and global shares plus get an active trader discount of $5 commission on Australian shares.
Enjoy some of the lowest brokerage fees on the market when trading Australian shares, international shares, plus get access to 24-hour customer support.
ThinkMarkets Share Trading
$8
No
ASX shares, ETFs
No
Limited offer: Get 5 free ASX trades when you open a new account with ThinkMarkets before June 30, 2021 (T&Cs apply).
Buy and sell CHESS sponsored ASX shares with $0 brokerage on your first 5 trades. Only $8 flat fee brokerage thereafter, plus enjoy free live stock price data on an easy to use mobile app.
CMC Markets Stockbroking
$11
No
ASX shares, Global shares, mFunds, ETFs
Yes
$0 brokerage on global shares including US, UK and Japan markets.
Trade up to 9,000 products, including shares, ETFs and managed funds, plus access up to 15 major global and Australian stock exchanges.
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Important: Share trading can be financially risky and the value of your investment can go down as well as up. “Standard brokerage” fee is the cost to trade $1,000 or less of ASX-listed shares and ETFs without any qualifications or special eligibility. If ASX shares aren’t available, the fee shown is for US shares. Where both CHESS sponsored and custodian shares are offered, we display the cheapest option.

What are the pros and cons of investing in shares?

Pros

  • Capital gain. Investing in shares allows you to take advantage of capital gains from the growth in a company’s share price.
  • Income. If you buy shares in companies that regularly pay dividends, shares can provide an ongoing source of income.
  • Global markets. Because you can buy and sell shares on stock exchanges all around the world, you can ensure that your money is working as hard as possible even while you sleep.
  • Convenient. It’s quick and easy to buy and sell shares online whenever it is convenient for you to do so.

Cons

  • There are risks involved. While share prices can increase, they also have the potential to decrease and there is a real risk that you could lose the money you invest.
  • Prices fluctuate. Share prices fluctuate all the time – check out a graph charting the performance of the ASX for a visual representation of this – so you could wake up in the morning to find out that you’ve actually lost money.
  • Dividends may come and go. Because Companies pay dividends when they earn profit, you may find dividends dry up along with your initial capital if a company starts to underperform.

Peer-to-peer lending

Have you ever looked at the interest rates banks charge on their personal loans and wished that you could earn the same rate on your savings? Well, it’s now possible for anyone to become a lender, thanks to the rise of peer-to-peer lending services.

The concept behind peer-to-peer lending is actually quite simple: if you have money to invest, a lending service will match you with a customer looking for a loan. The matching process takes place through an online platform such as a website, and it allows you to cut out traditional lending institutions such as banks.

You get to put your money towards a managed investment product, and the borrower pays the loan back over time with interest. Peer-to-peer investing is available for personal and business purposes, with companies such as RateSetter, Wisr and OurMoneyMarket offering this service.

Compare P2P lenders for investing

Data updated regularly
Name Product Minimum deposit Target return Investment term Available to everyday customers?
Plenti (Investing)
$10
up to 6.9% p.a.
1 month to 7 years
Yes
Plenti is a peer-to-peer lender that connects investors with borrowers.
SocietyOne
SocietyOne
$100,000
Up to 6% p.a.
1 to 5 years
No
Marketlend
Marketlend
$100
Up to 13.3% p.a.
1 year
No
Thin Cats
Thin Cats
$1,000
Up to 15.1% p.a.
2 to 5 years
No
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Investments made through a P2P lending platform are not protected and are subject to risks including credit risk (defaults) and liquidity risk. These investments are not subject to review by the Australian Financial Complaints Authority. Actual returns may vary from the Expected Returns declared by the Providers. Read the PDS for details before investing and consider your own circumstances, or get advice, before investing.

What are the pros and cons of peer-to-peer lending?

Pros

  • High interest rates. The interest rates on peer-to-peer loans are typically substantially higher than the interest rates offered on savings accounts and term deposits.
  • Diversification. Peer-to-peer lending offers a unique opportunity if you’re looking to diversify your investments, plus you can also minimise risk by spreading your funds across a number of loans.

Cons

  • New service. Peer-to-peer lending is still a relatively new offering in the Australian financial marketplace, so make sure to check the credibility of the lending platform before handing over any money.
  • Risk vs reward. While peer-to-peer lending does provide the potential for high returns, there’s also the risk that the borrower may not repay the loan. Unlike savings accounts and term deposits, the money you invest in peer-to-peer lending is not covered by the Australian Government Guarantee.
  • Defaults and fees. You’ll need to check with the peer-to-peer lending service to find out what happens if the borrower defaults on the loan. It’s also important to find out information on how the interest rate is set, whether you need to pay fees to the lending platform and what happens if the platform operator goes broke.

Rent out a property

If you’re lucky enough to own more than one property, renting out the spare property is an excellent way to generate an ongoing source of income. If you live in a capital city like Sydney or Melbourne, you could earn a substantial amount of rental income by renting out a house, apartment or granny flat. While there’s undoubtedly some work involved in acquiring an investment property, an experienced property manager can look after your investment while you sit back and wait for the money to flow in.

However, you don’t even have to own an investment property to make money from rent. Thanks to accommodation sharing services like Airbnb, you could rent out your own home while you’re away on holidays. You could even rent out a parking space or office space that you’re not using, which can provide a steady source of extra income with very minimal effort involved. If everything goes as planned, all you’ll have to do is place an ad.

Pros and cons of renting out a property

Pros

  • Earn money from something you don’t use. Got a spare granny flat or parking space you don’t use? Rent it out and start making money.
  • Capital gains. If you own an investment property, not only can you benefit from ongoing rental income but you will also be able to take advantage of long-term capital gains.
  • Long-term security. The ongoing returns provided by renting out a property can provide money for your rainy-day fund or act as an extra source of income.

Cons

  • Property damage. If you’re unlucky enough to end up with bad tenants and they damage your property, you could be left with an expensive repair bill.
  • Property management costs. Whether you manage the property yourself or employ a real estate agent as a property manager, you will need to factor these costs into your budget.

Take a look at our investment home loans guide.

These are just a few of the ways you can make money while you’re sleeping, and there are plenty more you can think of if you put your mind to it, so consider putting one or more of them to work for you. When you make money while you sleep, it’s hard not to wake up happy.

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