Gold won’t earn me passive income. Investing £9 a week like this will!

Christopher Ruane explains how, learning from billionaire Warren Buffett, he’d aim to set up passive income streams for under £10 a week.

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Warren Buffett at a Berkshire Hathaway AGM

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The gold price has soared over the past few months. In fact, it recently reached an all-time high. But gold is what is called a non-productive asset. Buying gold to store in a vault will not earn me any passive income.

On the contrary, it will probably cost me money to store it. Of course, the price could keep soaring and create wealth for its holders. But it could fall too.

It is therefore unsurprising that billionaire investor Warren Buffett has repeatedly explained why he is not a gold bug.

He once said that, although he did not know where the gold price would go in a five-year period, gold would not do anything “except look at you”.

His shares in businesses like Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Coca-Cola do a lot more than just look at him. They regularly earn him substantial passive income.

How I’d set up income streams

I could learn from Buffett to try and earn income from share dividends too.

That does not require the sort of resources the ‘Sage of Omaha’ has. Even for less than a tenner a week, I reckon I could set up my own passive income streams by investing in blue-chip firms.

Putting aside £9 each week, for example, would give me £468 a year to invest. Using that to buy well-known shares I thought would likely pay dividends in future could help me build passive income streams.

If I invested in shares with an average dividend yield of 7%, for example, I ought to earn almost £33 in annual dividends. Doing that for a decade I ought to earn around £328 of dividends.

By reinvesting dividends rather than receiving them as cash (something known as compounding), then after 10 years, I ought to earn around £468 annually.

Finding dividend shares to buy

That may not happen. Dividends are never guaranteed. But while they can be cut, they can also be raised. If I found a business with a differentiated business model in an area I expected to benefit from long-term customer demand, it might generate enough spare cash to keep raising its shareholder payouts regularly.

I would diversify across a range of shares. But what sort of company might be an example of my approach?

Consider Apple, Buffett’s biggest holding. The market for consumer tech products and services is huge and likely to remain that way. Apple’s strong brand, proprietary technology and ecosystem of services all help give it what Buffett calls a “moat”. That is a competitive trench to help keep rivals at bay.

The company is massively cash generative and has been growing its dividend annually in recent years.

Is the price right?

But the dividend yield is only 0.6%. Buffett has been selling Apple shares. At their current price, I would not buy them from him.

I think the price offers too little margin of safety for a company that reported declining revenues and earnings last year and faces risks including competitors luring away price-conscious consumers.

Buying at the right price matters when investing. Fortunately lots of blue-chip companies I would like to invest in currently do have what I see as attractive prices – and juicy dividend yields.

Buying them for my Stocks and Shares ISA could help me build up my passive income streams.

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be assessed. Consider taking independent financial advice.

C Ruane has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Apple. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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