The Importance of Passive Income

A late realization from a veteran Software Engineer, but better than never.

Zhimin Zhan
7 min readSep 22


Image Credits: &, great illustration by Mohamed_hassan

I have worked as a Software Contractor for over 20 years, with a relatively good income. Nevertheless, for my family, which relies on a single income (and many others can relate), it has felt like a rat race.

  • Housing
    The Australian Government makes housing more expensive while politicians yell “improving house affordability” during the election campaigns. The reality only worsens. The numbers do not lie (see below).
    I found it hard to comprehend. Australia has plenty of land but not many people.

“Australia is one of the toughest places in the world to buy property. The 2023 Demographic International Housing Affordability Scheme report found that all five of Australia’s major property markets — Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth — had been ‘severely unaffordable’ since the turn of the millennium” — Nine News, 2023–03–21

  • Childcare, School and University Fees
    I am not complaining about those fees, even though they consistently rise well above the inflation rate year after year. My family received little government childcare subsidies, the reason, as my accountant told me, “Your income was high”, while I have been paying ~40% income tax. Our tax system favours some cunning ones who reduce their tax income using the controversial ‘negative gearing’ scheme (the self-living house has no tax incentives, but investment houses are, crazy, right? This boosts house prices, pushing young people out of the property market) and get the government’s all sorts of subsidies.
    After knowing how much I pay for income tax, my father (living overseas) said: “You must get a lot of government benefits”. I answered: “No, actually, the opposite”. Our country seems to have a system to discourage people from paying taxes.

“The average Australian would need to earn over $300,000 a year to consider themselves as officially ‘rich’, new research has found”. — Nine News, 2022–01–18

Frankly, based on my circumstances, given my 20-year nearly full employment record as a software contractor, I don’t think continuing to earn money this way (9–5) will make a substantial difference in our lifestyle.



Zhimin Zhan

Test automation & CT coach, author, speaker and award-winning software developer. Help teams succeed with Agile/DevOps by implementing real Continuous Testing.