35-year-old making $11,400 a week in passive income: The 3 questions I asked myself before quitting my day job

Ryan Hogue

For two years, Ryan Hogue's side hustles made enough money for him to quit his full-time jobs.

Hogue was a senior web developer at a nonprofit called CharityEngine and an adjunct web developer professor at George Mason University in northern Virginia. He made more than $117,000 per year from those jobs — but started developing passive income businesses on the side, hoping to earn money for travel, fun and his future family, he says.

In 2018, those businesses out-earned his full-time income: He made nearly $135,600. The same thing happened the following year.

Yet despite his growing success, he stayed employed — partially because quitting felt outside of his comfort zone. "My parents' ... understanding of money was kind of imposed on me," says Hogue, 35. "They're savers. They couldn't fathom not having a 9-to-5 job."

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Hogue finally left his web development role in 2020: CharityEngine asked him transition into a new role, and he saw it as a sign to take the leap, he says. He left his adjunct teaching role after finishing the fall 2021 semester.

In retrospect, he could've done both sooner, he adds: The more time you dedicate to building passive income streams, the more money you can make.

"Life was good, but I was directly trading my time for money, and I knew it wasn't going to get me where I wanted to be," Hogue said during CNBC Make It's SXSW panel in March. "By the time I left my day job, I was probably a year-plus overdue."

Now, Hogue makes $11,400 per week in mostly passive income, according to documents reviewed by Make It. Here's his advice on when to leave your full-time job in favor of a side hustle, and when it's smarter to stay.

When to leave your 9-to-5 job

Hogue felt confident leaving his full-time jobs because he could answer "yes" to these three questions, he says:

  • Does your side hustle have multiple streams of income?
  • Does your side hustle make more dollars per day than your full-time job?
  • Is your full-time job preventing you from growing your side hustle?

"I think you should wait and hold onto your day job for as long as you can," says Hogue. "You will know when it's time to leave when attending your 9-to-5 job impedes further growth of your side hustles."

Kathy Kristof, whose blog Sidehusl has reviewed more than 500 different side gigs, offers another important question to ask yourself: Do you have the desire and financial ability to withstand bumps in the road?

"This means you need to have a certain amount of savings or another form of economic cushion — like a spouse who has benefits and enough income to float you when times are tough — to survive an extended period," Kristof says.

For Jamie Inlow, it was a simple analysis: Building a side hustle while working full-time was tiring, and she was more passionate about one than the other.

Inlow balanced her jobs as a higher education consultant and a part-time student program coordinator in Virginia with her side hustle, a property management company called Be Still Getaways, for two and a half years.

She knew it was time to leave her other jobs and run Be Still Getaways full-time when she noticed she was starting to behave differently, and realized she could afford to pay herself a salary — in her case, $72,000 per year.

"I knew I was ready to quit my job when the demands of working full-time and working for Be Still Getaways was starting to affect my mental health and my ability to be present for my family," Inlow told Make It last year.

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