If you are a police officer, you can absolutely become wealthy through prudent saving and investments over the long term. One distinct advantage that you have over other professionals is your pension. If you couple that income with money from your investments and other sources, you can live an enviable lifestyle.
There are 4 ways that a police officer can become rich: (i) earn income from your job and invest your savings; (ii) get a second job and aggressively save and invest extra earnings; (iii) buy cash-flowing assets for extra income; and (iv) buy a passive side business.
We’ll cover each of these methods in detail below. Now I will admit that the first two are fairly obvious strategies, but in the interest of completeness I did not want to leave them out. And the bottom line is they work: If you want to pursue the tried and true path to building wealth, maximizing your savings and investing those savings prudently is the way to go.
But if you want to explore options to really accelerate your wealth check the last two options. You will find some strategies there that are off the beaten path and that can truly set you apart financially.
With that, let’s get into it!
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Earn Money From Your Job and Invest Your Savings
This is the most traditional (and obvious) path toward wealth that you can take as a police officer. The strategy is simple: take what you earn and invest as much as you can into appreciating assets, like stocks, bonds, and other investments.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual wage of a police officer is $70,000. In high paying states like California, the BLS found that the average annual wage is over $100,000. This means that, although it may not be easy, there is plenty of opportunity to save and invest if you are willing to make some sacrifices.
Saving Is Essential
It goes without saying that to use this strategy you must save some money each month. I would aim to save at least 10% of your income.
If you are struggling with debt, having a hard time making ends meet, or just can’t seem to get ahead with what you are making right now, check out my article on basic personal finance, which tackles each of these topics and shows you how to navigate through them.
If budgeting is your problem, you can read my article on the 10 biggest reasons why budgets fail and how to fix them.
Investing Is Essential Too
If you have your spending and budgeting under control, the next step is to invest your savings.
Where to start? First, you should open up a high yield savings account to start saving up some money toward an emergency fund, like Aspiration. This fund will cover all of the unexpected expenses that pop up in life (like a surprise car repair, an unexpected medical bill, etc.).
After you have funded your emergency fund (probably want at least a $1,000 in it), you can begin to seriously invest. If you don’t know much about the stock market, I would go with something like a low-cost mutual fund or exchange traded fund (ETF) that gives you broad exposure to the market.
I like Vanguard's total stock market ETF (ticker symbol “VTI”) and have invested a decent chunk of my portfolio in it. Depending on your risk tolerance, you may also want to buy a Vanguard bond ETF (ticker symbol “BND” is the Vanguard total bond ETF) to reduce your stock exposure. A common allocation between stocks and bonds is a 60/40 split.
If you prefer a ready-made solution that will invest your money for you, check out Titan. They were voted the top robo-advisor of 2020. Check them out below if you want to learn more:
Using this save and invest strategy, you can really set yourself up for a fine retirement. Assuming you are 20 years old and can invest 10% of your $70,000 salary each year into the stock market at a 10% return, then after 40 years, you would have over $3 million! And if you invested some of that money inside a Roth IRA, your withdrawals from your Roth at retirement would be tax-free to boot! On top of that, you will get a pension when your retire. I would say that's pretty rich, by anyone's definition.
Get a Second Job and Aggressively Save and Invest Extra Earnings
Of course, you may not want to wait 40 years to accumulate your nest egg. There are ways to accelerate your wealth. Taking on a second job is the most obvious way to do so.
Most departments allow police officers to have a second job (so long as it is not done while you are on duty), so it is possible to work a side hustle for an extra source of income. But you should definitely check with your department to see what the rules are around holding down a second job before starting one.
If you can survive off your income as a police officer, your income from your second job can go straight into investments that will grow your wealth.
That will put you on a different path financially.
Look, I get it. You already have a stressful and exhausting job and many police officers are not willing to take on the extra work associated with a second gig. But if you are willing to do what others aren’t, you can enjoy some extraordinary results over the long term.
Some great side hustles for police officers include working part time at another jurisdiction, at a security firm, at a retail establishment, or as a driver. Of course, there are tons of other jobs out there that you can explore – just make sure they do not create a conflict of interest and you have approval from your department.
Bottom line: This is just the first option but supercharged. You sacrifice more early on in exchange for better options later in life. You can retire early. Or you can retire on the same schedule, but have a more luxurious retirement. And along the way, you enjoy the peace of mind that comes with having a rapidly growing portfolio to handle whatever life throws at you.
Buy Cash Flowing Assets for Extra Income
If you don’t want to start a second job, but still would like an extra source of income, you can buy passive income assets. I am talking about assets that will generate money for you even if you are not actively involved in managing them.
Here are some ideas for you to consider:
Rental Property Investing
Investing in rental properties has been my go-to passive income strategy. It is not completely passive, but you can automate or outsource a lot of it to make it mostly passive.
I own nine rentals (which I self-manage) while working a full-time job, so I can say with full confidence that you can manage your rental properties in an efficient way that doesn’t require a ton of work. But if you are working all the time and you absolutely need someone to handle the rentals 24/7, you can do that too by hiring a property manager.
Want to learn how to get started? Check out my step-by-step guide to getting started investing in rental properties.
Ninja tip: Want to learn about a rental property investment that is completely passive right out-of-the box? Check out my article on Triple Net Properties. You can make a ton of money renting out property to corporations like McDonalds, Walgreens, etc. and they take care of all of the repairs, maintenance, taxes, etc. You will need some money to put a down payment on these expensive types of properties, though.
Rent Out Stuff You Already Have
The triple net strategy is a pretty good one if you have the funds, but if you aren’t in that league yet, here’s another little-known strategy that's a lot more affordable:
Rent out your car (or even extra space in your house) for an additional source of passive income.
For cars, I would check out Turo. They are like the Airbnb of car rentals. For renting out your extra storage space, check out Neighbor. I have used both and written articles on these passive income methods. If you are interested, check them out below.
If you want other great ideas on renting out your existing stuff, check out my article on 15 truly passive income ideas that require no money. It talks about how you can rent out stuff like your backyard, pool, musical instruments, and other things you probably never imagined could give you passive income.
A vending machine can be a great passive income source that produces very strong cash flow.
You just place it in a high-traffic location and make money every time someone buys something from your machine. The cost to get started varies, with a simple gumball machine costing only around $200 to a more expensive vending machine running between $3,000 to $5,000.
The only part of this that requires some work is restocking and collecting money from the machine, but you can easily outsource this function.
For more details on this business, check out my beginner’s guide on how to start a vending machine route for passive income.
For an even more passive vending option, consider ice vending machines. Because these machines do not need to be restocked, they really can be the ultimate passive income asset. If you are interested in learning more, check out my step-by-step guide on how to start an ice vending machines business.
Did you know that you can buy ATMs and set them up at various locations to make passive income? Every time someone uses the ATM, you will get a fee. Occasionally, you will need to restock the machines with cash (which you can outsource to companies that handle this), but there’s no inventory, customers or employees to manage.
Can be a pretty nice passive income set-up. If you want to learn more about how to get started, check out my article on ATMs for Passive Income
Buy a Passive Side Business
Now I know what you are thinking – how in the world can I operate a business when I am working full-time as a police officer? It’s a valid question, but there are businesses out there that can be run without your day to day involvement (of course, like getting a second job, you should check with your department to confirm a side business is acceptable).
These passive income businesses are often referred to as “absentee-owned” and there are tons of business owners who operate their businesses in this way. If you want to make serious money, then this is the way to go.
Now, no business is completely passive – you must still oversee the overall business and make sure it stays on track, but you can outsource the day-to-day functions of the business to employees and managers who will handle the daily operations, so you don’t have to.
Here are a list of some of the businesses that can be run passively (with links to my articles showing you how to get started):
- In-Bay Automatic Car Washes
- Buy Billboards and Rent Out Ads to Local Businesses
- Rent Out Bounce Houses
- Buy a FedEx Route
- Buy a Bread Routes
- Passive Income Blogging
For more passive income business ideas, check out my article on the topic here.
Ok – there you have it. Four ways that a police officer can get rich.
None of these methods is going to make you rich overnight, and they each have their pros and cons, but if you are determined to make big money as a police officer, it is absolutely possible.