The Income Efficiency Plane: How Good Are You In Generating Income?

Updated: November 3, 2023

I’m an advocate of creating multiple sources of income because I believe that it’s the key to achieving financial security.

In recent weeks, I’ve been planning to start a new personal project, and it seems that my biggest hurdle is finding the time to do it.

So, I took a look at how I’ve been using my working hours and realized that if I want to free up my schedule, then I’d need to spend less time on some work that I do.

However, I can’t just set aside those that take up the most time, especially if they generate good income. Thus, I have to qualify my work according to how efficient they are in creating cash flow for me.

During this whole process of analyzing the quality of earnings that each income source produces, I was able to come up with The Income Efficiency Plane, which I’m sharing with you today.

The Income Efficiency Plane

This plane is composed of two axes, which represent different types of income.

The vertical axis is the active-passive income line, while the horizontal axis is the linear-residual income line.

To simply define these terms:

  • Active Income – you earn only if you work
  • Passive Income – you earn even without working
  • Linear Income – you earn only once
  • Residual Income – you earn multiple times

The Income Efficiency Plane can be used to plot the common sources of income in an area that can then tell you how efficient it is at generating income for your effort. To illustrate the plotted income sources above:

Job Salary
It’s an active and linear type of income. You’ll earn only if you put in the work. And you only get paid once for making that effort.

It’s an active but less linear type of income than a job salary. You’ll earn only if you put in the work. However, your output can be leveraged to generate income several times or in different ways.

For example, a copywriter would usually write sales templates, which they’ll use in different projects. Some of them would even sell those templates.

Royalty Payments
It’s an active type of income that creates residual cash flow. An author would spend a lot of time writing a book. But once it’s published, he’ll continue to earn indefinitely for as long as people are buying his book.

And more so if a film producer suddenly wants to make a movie based on it. What I’m saying is that the income potential is almost limitless.

Capital Gains
It’s passive income, but you only earn it once. An example would be purchasing a valuable piece of art. You don’t really have to work for it to generate income. You just have to wait until its value appreciates. However, you can only earn once it’s sold.

Rental Income and Business Profits
These two lie somewhere in the middle of the plane but more towards residual than linear income.

There’s the effort needed to maintain a rental property and run a business. But there’s the option to hire someone to do most of the work for you and make it more passive than active.

Then, both can generate income multiple times and in different ways. But it’s not a limitless source because demand can decrease over time and affect your cash flow.

Earned Interest and Investment Dividends
Most people desire to have these because they require almost no effort to maintain, and you can ideally earn limitless time from them.

The only downside I see here is that, normally, they don’t generate as much cash flow compared to other sources of income.

What I Learned from Creating This

When I began plotting my sources of income on this plane, it was easier for me to see which ones were more efficient in generating cash flow for me.

Interestingly, when I took into consideration the amount of money I earn from them, I discovered that those within the greener areas are the most desirable sources of income for me. Particularly capital gains, rental income, business profits, and royalty payments.

Capital gains may be linear, but at least it’s purely passive. Royalty income may require effort, but it does create a lot of residual income. Meanwhile, the wealthiest people I’ve met are either into real estate rentals or running a successful business.

Interests and dividends, which are in the bluer area, might be more passive and have better residual cash flow. However, the actual amount of money you earn from them is much lower — less than 8% a year with my estimates. This pales in comparison to business profits, where I would normally get at least a 20% return on my capital within a year.

Of course, the yellow area of job salaries and freelance income can generate excellent cash flow for an individual, but the continuous effort required to earn is severely limited by one’s time, health, skills, and abilities.

I searched online if there have been similar graphs to what I did above, but I didn’t find any. If you’ve encountered something like this before, then do tell me because I’m curious to explore this concept more.

In the meantime, I’ll just continue analyzing my own income sources using this graph and use it to improve the efficiency of how I make money.

How about you? What do you think of The Income Efficiency Plane that I created?

What to do next: Click here to start your financial journey with IMG Wealth Academy


  1. Hi Sir Fitz, your income efficiency plane is very helpful in analyzing one’s cashflow. I will be applying this in my own income and might tweak something like a SWOT kind of table. Thanks for this.

  2. Superior article and very helpful. Most folks will have their own sweet spot. Young earners with a good job will likely stick with their job until they have a cushion built up. That is when smart thinking takes over and you begin to ask yourself, do I want to break a sweat for 40 + more year or take a part of my income and set it aside to work for me.

    I will share something personal. My beautiful bride knew nothing but work, work and work some more. She earned great money from her academic writing (now two decades of experience.) She had full time help in her apartment but was never really ahead. She shared way too much of her hard earned income to a point she was often underwater. We had long discussions about this and reached an agreement before marriage.

    We as a couple, now earn more money that either of us ever did before we we were wed. We also give more to charity than ever before. HOW you may ask did we make the change in just a few years? it was all about restructuring and investing so we have more time free for important things like family and business development. Much less time is wasted just attempting to get back to even after being taken advantage of yet again. Our business ventures generate great money and the newer operations developed during the COVID-19 lockdowns are almost passive income. One business will require work be done once and then will through off residual income. It really is all about the planning and execution, making the effort to set things up. My wife and the troops should be well provided for when I depart this earth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *