Rating Different Income Sources by Difficulty

With rising costs of living and the desire to live comfortably and even retire earlier, having multiple sources of income has become a necessity. That’s why I believe in having multiple income sources, and I rating different income sources I’ve personal experience with by how easy it is to set it up, and the effort versus the income ratio.

Having multiple income sources is also useful if one desires to do things like geographic arbitrage, and my hope is that this will be useful for those looking for a side hustle or for those who are just curious to see what kind of income streams are available in Singapore.

Income Source 1: Day Job

Ease of Set-up: ★★★★
Effort-Reward: ★★★★

Like most people, I am now gainfully employed and have a full-time job! This started since June 2022, and I would say that getting a day job is not the most difficult thing in the world, although getting a good job can be quite challenging. I would rate the ease of getting a day job 4 out of 5 stars, with one star off from perfection because it may not be easy to find a workplace where you feel comfortable and the colleagues are nice. I probably lucked out too, and some may have had less positive experiences looking for a good workplace.

When it comes to income, I would give it a high 4-star rating personally because a full-time job takes away a lot of mental stresses that comes with being self-employed. As a self-employed individual, I constantly worry about my income, whereas with a full-time job, I know exactly how much I am getting each month and when I will be receiving my paycheck. I also enjoy perks such as medical leave and public holidays (lost count of the number of holidays I worked on as a self-employed person), and my company even reimburses some amount for buying air tickets for holidays, or anything we want to learn!

I would, however, not award it a perfect 5-star rating because a day job takes up a lot of time and limits the ability to pursue other opportunities.

Income Source 2: Referrals

Ease of Set-up: ★★★★
Effort-Reward: ★★★★

Referral income is the money I earn from referring people to sign up for credit cards, trading apps, wallets, and other platforms, and it’s something I have been doing even before I started my website and YouTube channel! Now they are all neatly in one page, and you can always support the site by signing up for a thing… or two 😉

I would give referral income a 4-star rating for how easy it is to do because most people are willing to sign up if there is a good deal involved. However, it’s “only” 4 stars because I’ve realised that there will always be people who’d turn down easy money, even if it takes them a few minutes to accomplish. It gets a bit annoying, but I’ve learnt that people have very different priorities especially when it comes to money, and it is important to respect their decision. Wish I could tell this to younger Seth.

Anyway, the rewards are usually pretty okay for the effort it takes, and some referral programmes are better than others. Generally, I give this a 4-star rating. It’s not the hardest job in the world, but after some time you’d fine popular apps difficult to continue referring since everyone would already have it.


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Income Source 3: Tuition

Ease of Set-up: ★★★★★
Effort-Reward: ★★★★

As someone who has been running a tuition business for a while now, I can attest to the fact that it is one of the easiest side hustles to start in Singapore. With practically every student in Singapore having tuition lessons, the market is massive and the demand for good tutors is high.

All you need to do is go online, find one of those tuition portals, and list your profile. Chances are the agency will match you with a student quickly, and then you can start with one student and gradually increase the number of students you teach. It’s 5 stars on how easily you can set this income stream up.

Of course, you do need to be proficient in the subject you are teaching, but between the different subjects like Sciences, maths, and languages, most people should be able to find something that they can teach and charge a fair fee for.

I believe that tutoring is actually one of the highest paying side jobs in Singapore, with a high effort to income ratio. However, I would rate it a 4-star and not a perfect five because it still requires a significant time investment. You have to lock up your weekends or your after-office hours just for the student you are teaching, and you have to realize that there are things like travel time and marking assignments that are added time costs on top of the time you are spending with the child. Teaching can also be quite an emotionally and physically laborious task. It’s not as easy as it seems, and the energy consumption levels between one and a half hours of sitting in your office and one and a half hours of teaching someone are vastly different.

Income Source 4: Investment Income

Ease of Set-up: ★★★
Effort-Reward: ★★★★★

With the high interest rates of late, even keeping my savings in the bank can earn me a significant amount of income. Bank deposits are giving as high as 4 to 5% p.a. on my savings, and the interest is now a considerable source of monthly income.

I’ve also been investing for the past five years, and even though the market has been pretty low lately, I’m still in the green because I started early and some of my investments have been paying me dividend income. Although dividend income isn’t particularly important to me as a young person, it’s still nice to have an additional source of income, and every time I receive a dividend payment, it feels good to see the fruits of my investment.

Of course, to get a significant income from savings and investment, you need a significant amount to start with. This might sound daunting, especially if you’re just starting your working life or just beginning to save. However, I believe that saving and investing should be part of everyone’s adulting life, and over time, you’ll amass enough funds to provide you with an added income stream. It’s a 3-star rating on the “ease to set up” scale since it takes time to accumulate resources, but it’s something we should be doing anyway, so it’s not the hardest thing in the world.

Once it’s set up, it’s an easy 5-star on the effort-to-income ratio. There is very little intervention of one’s part, and it is as close to true passive income as we can hope.

Income Source 5: Ad Revenue

Ease of Set-up: ★
Effort-Reward: ★★

One of the few ways I monetise my website is through ad revenue, and you may have noticed ads if you have watched my videos or visited this very website. These ads earn me a few hundred dollars every month, which is quite nice to have towards offsetting my living costs. However, getting to the point where I could earn ad revenue was a very difficult journey. It took a lot of effort to set up, especially on YouTube where one needs at least 1,000 and 4,000 watch hours before monetisation was possible. Before then, none of the ads running on my videos earned me anything.

For websites, there is no viewership requirement, but I had to go through an approval process. I was rejected multiple times over a few months before finally being approved for Google AdSense.

Overall, trying to earn my first dollar from ad revenue was a 1-star experience for me, and I would find it difficult to start anything from scratch now and try to earn ad revenue from it.

Once you start earning ad revenue, it may seem like passive income since your articles and videos will remain on the web forever. However, if you don’t continually publish new content, your ad revenue will usually decline. While I do get a few dollars from old articles and videos, these amounts are typically low and take a long time to amount to anything meaningful.

To keep up this revenue stream, you really need to keep creating new content consistently. This means publishing articles or videos frequently to keep growing your audience and bringing in new viewers to generate ad revenue. Overall, I would give this income source 2 stars on the effort-to-income ratio because it still requires a lot of effort to maintain, and ad revenue isn’t a lot as I try not to plaster the entire site with ads.

Income Source 6: Sponsored Posts

Ease of Set-up: ★★
Effort-Reward: ★★★★

As my channels grew, I started getting inquiries from companies who wanted to advertise their services and products through my platform. It’s entirely possible to find sponsored posts with a smaller audience, and one can do so by connecting with larger companies through agencies. One can usually get some sponsored opportunities even with a smaller audience, so I’m giving it a 2-star for ease of set up.

Once you have found a company willing to pay for sponsored post, the effort to reward ratio is usually quite good. You’re paid based on your audience size, so you’re not being paid for your time. I would give it a 4-star rating for effort-to-income, though it depends on the company you are working with. Some companies can ask you to revise the post multiple times and this can increase the amount of time you spend on the work. In my experience, most companies are reasonable in their requests, and the payoff can be quite good.


There you have it – the ratings of different income sources I have personal experiences in. There are 101 ways to make money, and sometimes figuring out what works and what doesn’t is part of the fun. I think the important thing is to keep exploring, and to be willing to invest time – sometimes money – and step out of one’s comfort zone.

Any suggestions on other income sources I should try?

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