About 20 percent of their total income derives from two rental properties they own in Atlanta. The couple each owned a home there before they moved to California in 2015. Because they initially planned to return to Atlanta, they rented the properties to long-term tenants.
“It helped to fund my life as a student for several years,” said Dr. Vanegas, 37, a psychologist.
Dr. Vanegas is adding another revenue stream by developing an online course, the BIPOC Survival Guide to Graduate School, with a colleague. She also earns income by livestreaming workshops on vicarious trauma and leading with intention and inclusivity. Mr. Velasquez, 37, has a full-time job in corporate finance.
“Our goal for that income is to provide financial flexibility for our family,” said Dr. Vanegas, who owns Health & Inclusivity, a consulting firm in Santa Barbara, Calif., that helps organizations create an inclusive culture through assessment, evaluation and professional development.
That work will also supplement her retirement savings. “I do have a small 401(k), but having been a student for most of my life, earning a Ph.D., I feel behind,” she said.
Dr. Vanegas said she had initially felt a bit ashamed of that extra money, especially when family and friends would refer to it as “passive income,” implying that she didn’t have to do any work to earn it.
“Thinking specifically as a Latina, it’s ingrained in our stories to really have to work hard to get ahead,” she said. “Somehow passive income doesn’t count as hard work, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
For instance, Dr. Vanegas said, it takes about 10 hours to develop a one-hour online workshop. And being a residential landlord is labor intensive. Finding a long-term tenant isn’t always easy, and when something breaks, it needs to be fixed or replaced immediately even though she and her husband live more than 2,000 miles from the property.