Money at 30: “Passive Income, Aggressive Retirement” Book Review

As I may have mentioned in earlier columns, I’ve been making a point of doing more book reviews as of late. Yet, when I set out this goal, I didn’t really have a reading list in mind. That’s why it’s always exciting to discover a new potential option — in this case, Passive Income, Aggressive Retirement by Rachel Richards. I first heard about this book thanks to a post on ESI Money and, after looking it, realized I had also heard mentions of Richards’ first book Money Honey a time or two as well. So, with lockdowns still impacting my library visitation abilities, I decided to purchase the book for myself and see what it had to offer.

First of all, I should mention that this is the first book I’m reviewing that I didn’t actually read but instead listened to on Audible. Therefore, I can’t exactly comment on the way the book looks or is laid out. However, I can tell you that the audiobook version does include some tedious moments inherent to the medium such as reading out URLs, social media handles, and — most notably — what I presume was a chart of rental property data that was surely more impactful in print. With that in mind, if I had to do it over again, I probably would have gone for the paperback. But, hey, those Audible credits aren’t going to spend themselves, am I right?

Onto the book itself, throughout Passive Income, Aggressive Retirement, Richards not only explains the many benefits of passive income and why nest egg retirement strategies are outdated but also presents a number of income stream ideas. Of course, lest you think that passive income really means “passive,” the author is quick to dispel that notion and makes it clear that each of the options presented do require an upfront investment of either time or capital. As for the types of income ideas explored, they’re broken down into five main categories:

  • Royalties
  • Portfolio income
  • Coin-operated machines
  • Advertising and ecommerce
  • Rental income

Since some of these categories won’t appeal to everyone, Richards invites the reader to flip past the sections and chapters they don’t think will apply to them. For example, if you’re not musically gifted or have no desire to produce tunes, then you can probably safely skip the chapter dedicated to songwriting royalties. That said, I found each section to be interesting in its own right, even if it wasn’t exactly presenting a realistic option for me. As I side note, also in the Royalties section, I quite enjoyed the chapters on book writing and self-publishing… and not just because I’ve espoused some of the same advice myself #greatminds.

Another aspect of the book I liked is that, for each passive income idea, Richards would apply her clever SCRIMP acronym and assesses these options based on Scaleability, Controllability and Regulation, Investment, Marketability, and Passivity. On top of this, for some sections, she’d interview professionals with deep experience in a given field, asking them about their experience, insight, and tips. Speaking of experience, Richards’ excitement about real estate investment comes through loud and clear as she details how she and her spouse have been able to build a portfolio of properties — vastly increasing their passive income in the process.

While I enjoyed Passive Income, Aggressive Retirement on the whole, part of me did feel as though there wasn’t a ton that was truly fresh. At the same time, I fully acknowledge that this is a symptom of my having read several articles and books on the topics of passive income and early retirement. In other words, I have to imagine that those coming to this with fresh eyes (or ears, if they too choose to go the Audible route) will get a lot more from it than I did. Also, this isn’t to say that I didn’t learn anything from the book because I definitely did — such as the existence of “mineral rights.” Plus, it’s always interesting to hear from people with hands-on experience and success in a certain field.

Overall, I do think that Passive Income, Aggressive Retirement — which bears the full subtitle “The Secret to Freedom, Flexibility, and Financial Independence (& How to Get Started) — has a lot to offer those who haven’t yet heard about the magic of passive income or the concept of FI. Additionally, Richards’ approachable and plain-English style make the book incredibly easy for anyone to digest. And, once again, I appreciate that she makes it clear that building passive income streams does require investment and aren’t get rich quick schemes. In my eyes, this book could be a great jumping-off point or what provides the spark of inspiration you need to start thinking about specific passive income ideas. Then, you can follow up with more narrowly-focused materials that will you continue on your journey to financial independence.

Also published on Medium.


Kyle Burbank

Kyle is a freelance writer and author whose first book, "The E-Ticket Life" is now available on Amazon. In addition to his weekly "Money at 30" column on Dyer News, he is also the editorial director and a writer for the Disney fan site and has recently starting publsihing his own personal finance blog at

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I love reading books on FIRE topics, though I’m not in to Fire yet, hopefully someday I can reach that goal.

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