Frustrated by traffic, man builds side hustles and quits job.
Frustrated by traffic, man builds side hustles and quits job. Now he earns big and uses a fun method (Big Macs!) to track progress.

Ryan Hogue's approach to evaluating his side hustle income is far from conventional. He measures it in a unique and practical way: through Big Macs.

Hogue, a web developer and teacher, used this practical method to calculate the value of his time. He would determine how many Big Macs he could buy with his daily earnings, a concept he calls 'dollars-per-day mindset '. This approach, he believes, helps individuals understand the true worth of their time.

So, what's the takeaway from Hogue's unique approach? According to a CNBC report, his technique shows how setting small goals for a side hustle can pave the way for passive income to succeed, which can lead to a comfortable life.

This idea was born out of years of frustration being stuck in traffic trying to get to his full time job. Hogue saw his commute as wasted time. So, he gamified his side hustles, turning them into journeys towards success. Because of it, Hogue's side hustles made enough money for him to quit his full-time jobs.

From Frustration to Freedom: Quitting the Day Job

Hogue hated how much time he spent stuck in traffic in northern Virginia, calculating he spent nearly eight days' worth of time sitting motionless in his car each year.

Despite the traffic woes, life felt fulfilling, enjoying a job next to his best friend as a senior web developer. He supplemented his income with a part-time teaching gig at his former university in Fairfax, Virginia. Despite a high salary of $117,300 per year, commuting felt like a drain on both time and money.

The desire to reclaim wasted commute time sparked a quest for alternative income sources. In October, a drop-shipping venture took root, soon blossoming into a print-on-demand business. This entrepreneur further diversified his income streams with online courses, personalised coaching, and a YouTube channel.

To keep his earnings in perspective, the entrepreneur continued to leverage a gamified approach for his side hustles. Even when these ventures become automated and require less active management and a desire for fresh challenges emerges.

A Fun Way to Gauge Progress

To do this, Hogue measured his success through a multifaceted approach. A financial tracking system monitors net worth, while another unique metric is also employed to gauge progress. This personal metric allowed him to assess progress in a motivating way.

This is where his Big Mac approach came in. For example, a burger costs roughly $4.67 in his home state. Based on this, his earnings can be equated to approximately 343 burgers per day. Only some financial experts would recommend measuring your worth in fast food menu items, but Hogue's strategy aligns with conventional advice in some ways.

Experts recommend setting small financial targets, tracking your progress regularly, and understanding that achieving financial goals can take time.

It took Hogue three years for his side hustle income to surpass his combined salary - the number of Big Macs he could now buy in a day eventually led him to leave his day job in 2020.

In the previous year, documents reviewed by CNBC's Make It revealed his earnings exceeding $1,600 daily, translating to roughly $11,400 weekly. The entrepreneur attributes a large part of his success to a gamified approach.

Each day became a challenge to surpass the previous day's earnings. Initially, sales were modest, yielding only around $4 in daily profit. This spurred efforts to double that amount. ″[My friends] would just laugh at me — 'Dude, cool. $8?' — but in my head, I knew that I could double that and double it again," he said during a recent Make It panel at SXSW.

Setting small, daily goals provided a sense of progress, even if the initial gains were modest. This daily accomplishment helped prevent giving up before the business became profitable. Now, he recommends this strategy for anyone else launching a side hustle.

"The dollars-per-day [mindset] helps you understand what your time is worth," Hogue told Make It.

"It takes a long time for a lot of human beings, sometimes 5, 10, even 20 years, to accomplish that goal," Wells Fargo head of advice and planning Michael Liersch told CNBC in January. "You just got to stick with it and inspire yourself to make sure you can achieve it."

Hogue is currently experimenting with starting print-on-demand businesses and then transferring ownership to high-paying clients. The service involves building a business within six months, primarily using artificial intelligence and automation, for a fee ranging from $10,000 to $15,000.

Eleven clients have already signed up for this service, and the entrepreneur anticipates raising the price based on the results of these initial ventures.

Looking for a lucrative side hustle? The possibilities are abundant. Take, for example, Leonardo Urbano, a resourceful individual who parlayed trash into a remarkable $66,000 annual income. Another example: reselling Legos yielded a staggering 400 percent return on investment for Shane O'Farrell, a New Jersey native, in just one year.