Whether you've got a great job or a "gotta do it to keep the lights on" kind of job, it's still work. Unless you're one of the very lucky few who get paid for doing what you'd be spending your time doing for free, you've got higher priorities in life than punching a time clock. If it weren't for the need to earn that pesky little thing called a paycheck ...

Unfortunately, you're going to need some sort of income your entire life. You've got bills to pay, and money has to keep coming in to replace the cash that keeps finding its way out. While there doesn't seem to be a way to make the bills go away, there is a way to receive quite a bit of money -- without working. And that's at least the next best thing, right?

The great part is that it's something available to nearly all of us. So what is this money-making secret? Dividend-paying stocks.

Yeah, seriously. That's it. If you buy stocks that pay dividends, you get paid simply for owning those stocks. Somebody's working hard to get you that paycheck -- but it's not you. Even better, there are a whole bunch of companies out there that would actually like to pay you more money every year, while all you do is sit around, collecting the checks. Say you had made a $1,000 investment on Jan. 3, 2000 -- just before the Nasdaq bubble burst -- in each of the following companies:

Income From Dividends, 2000 to 2003





Talbots (NYSE:TLB)





PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP)





General Electric (NYSE:GE)





General Growth (NYSE:GGP)





Hershey (NYSE:HSY)





Wrigley (NYSE:WWY)





Bank of America (NYSE:BAC)





So while the market was struggling, you were getting cold, hard cash for doing nothing much at all. Over the following three years, things got even sweeter.

Income From Dividends, 2004 to 2006












General Electric




General Growth












Bank of America




Since 2000, you would have gotten paid more money for doing absolutely nothing. In fact, in 2006, your total payments would have been double what they were originally -- and you wouldn't have done a bit of work in the interim.

It gets better
As if getting paid ever-increasing amounts of money not to work wasn't good enough, it's also significantly tax-advantaged, too. You don't pay Social Security or Medicare taxes on your investment income. Plus, with many companies, the tax rate you'll pay on your dividends will be far below what you would have paid on an equivalent salary.

More money. Lower taxes. No work. What's not to love? If you're ready to start getting paid to invest, then put dividend-paying stocks to work for you. And if you want some help finding the right dividend payers, join us at Motley Fool Income Investor, where our picks average a 4.1% dividend yield and are beating the market by nearly nine percentage points. You can sample Income Investor free for 30 days by clicking here.

At the time of publication, Fool contributor Chuck Saletta owned shares of General Electric and Bank of America, and his wife owned shares of General Growth Properties. Wrigley and Bank of America are Income Investor recommendations. The Fool has a disclosure policy.