🐧 Secrets to building financial resiliency

Recession-proof mindset, 6-month runway (+ earn 4.7% yield), 6 side hustles, FANG offer tactics
March 19, 2023

Today in 10 minutes or less, you’ll learn:

  • 🧠 Secret to a recession-proof mindset
  • 🛣️ Create 6-month runway (and earn 4.7% yield)
  • 💸 6 income-generating side hustles
  • 💼 FANG offer tactics (plus: free cold DM script)

☠️ Build financial resiliency… or else

Resiliency is like this tree relentlessly pushing through the pavement cracks to soak up the sunlight.

You can cut the tree down, but it won’t remove the roots burrowed deep in the soil. The tree will keep coming back strong.

In this deep dive, we’re going to show you how to be financially resilient like this tough-as-nails tree:

🧠 1. Learn the secret to a recession-proof mindset

No one knows with certainty if there will be a recession and how big it is. Anyone telling you otherwise is lying.

Recent market data is giving us more mixed signals than your hot tinder date: 🔥

  • Recession is coming: SBV collapsed, inflation rates are still increasing, 2,700 tech layoffs happening per day, housing market starting to slow
  • Coast is clear: copper prices rebounded (signaling increased manufacturing demand), labor employment is still high, consumers are still spending

Either way, as individuals, we don’t control the outcome.

Focus on what you do control: your finances. By preparing for both scenarios, you come out net positive:

  • If we hit a rough patch, you’re prepared to outlast it.
  • If we don’t, then breath a sigh of relief. You have even more optionality.

🛣️ 2. Save for 6-month personal runway (and earn 4.7% yield)

I work in startups, where founders report their cash runway in monthly investor reports. The CEO uses this cash to create options and make bets. 🚀

You are the CEO of your personal finances. Build up your personal runway to give yourself options. Play defense now (save), so you can play offense later (take risks).

🇨🇳 You never know when you’ll need the cash. I recently chatted with my friend, founder of a fast-growing education company. Last year, when China banned for-profit education, his company value plummeted to 0 overnight and he went from multimillionaire to being to debt. Create options for yourself.


  1. Save 6+ months of cash for rainy day fund. Buffer enough for potential job loss, hospital stay, business collapse, or even zombie apocalypse (half-kidding). You’ll thank yourself later.
  2. Consider using part of your cash to earn low-risk interest. ie Treasury bills and high-yield savings accounts.
  3. I put 60% of my emergency funds into a mix of 3-month US T-bills (~4.7%) and 6-month SG T-bills (~4%). Rest is in liquid high-yield savings (~3.4%).
💡How to buy US T-bills as a non-American

I was asked this recently. Here’s two options I found:

1. Use International Brokers (or other brokerage) that offers US T-bills
2. Purchase directly from
treasurydirect.gov and file W8BEN form for tax exemption. This method requires a U.S. taxpayer identification number (TIN) and a U.S. bank account for wire transfer.

😨 3. Don’t panic sell your investments

Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful."

Warren Buffett

Think long-term as an investor. Mr. Market is like your weird uncle with crazy mood swings. Sometimes, he’s ecstatic, while other times, he’s a total downer. 🤷‍♂️

Over time though, Mr. Market has averaged 7-8% annualized returns.


  1. Don’t sell immediately. Watch out for giving into a knee-jerk fear-based response.
  2. Keep investing regularly. Channel your inner Warren Buffet. When others are fearful, ask yourself: what are the opportunities that they’re missing due to fear?

💸 4. Diversify your income sources

Why diversify? For a simple reason: optionality.

Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse was a cautionary lesson on diversification in business & personal finances. If your income is 100% dependent on your paycheck, then your hands are tied.

Generate a new income stream, so you have more flexibility. Plus, you won’t feel as stressed out if funemployed.

Experiment with a side hustle. Personally, my partner and I have tested lots of side income sources in the past: selling loose leaf teas, selling art, teaching online courses, tutoring, rental property, career coaching, public speaking, consulting, and advising.

Here’s a few income sources (DM me if you do any of these, I want to hear stories!):

📕Sell your digital products. Earn income from selling guides, books, journals, and even spreadsheets. Gumroad is an idiot-proof way to get started.

💼 Sell your services. Earn income from selling your services on Upwork or Fiverr, freelancing, consulting, etc. Fast way to generate more cash.

👑 Dividend-paying investments. Invest in REITs or the Dividend Aristocrats, S&P 500 companies that have paid dividends every year for 25+ years. (I own a few triple net lease REITs like O and SRC.)

🏠 Rental income. Collect rent on a long-term lease. Or list on Airbnb as a short-term rental. (We have a rental property in Australia.)

✏️ Paid or sponsored content. Launch a newsletter about your curiosities. Get sponsors using Sparkloop or Beehiiv Ad Networks. Sell paid subscriptions.

🧰 Buy a small business. Self-storage, car washes, etc. No cash? Consider using seller financing to acquire for 10-20% cash down.

Liked these? More REAL expat side hustles coming soon…

🚀 5. Scout for new investments

Recessions are one of the best times to hunt for opportunities. By all means, take care of your defense first. Pad your rainy day fund. But once you are ready, don’t be afraid to switch to offense.

In 2023, I am still investing in ETFs. I am also saving cash and watching:

🧓 Boomer-owned small businesses. US baby boomers own $30T+ SMB equity. They will be retiring and selling their businesses over the next decade, creating a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

🏠 US sunbelt and Bali residential property. Currently overheated. If market corrections happen this year, then numbers might make more sense.

🚀 Tech private equity. I mainly watch industries I work in: SaaS and fintech. Curious if more M&A consolidation will happen.

💼 6. Adapt your post-layoff job search plan

Tech layoffs are everywhere. If you have been impacted, please prioritize your mental wellbeing first.

Once you feel ready, here’s tactics used by my former clients to win offers from Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Square:


  • Position yourself as a desirable product. Job search is a marketing exercise. If the market places greater value on profitability, margins, and frugality — then tailor yourself towards this need.
  • Don’t just drop your resume, find a referral. Internal referrals have a 7x higher hire rate than other sources. Leverage your network or do Linkedin cold outreach (see below).
  • Do 5 mock interviews with high-performers in the role you want. Get their feedback on your responses, and use their feedback to tailor better to your target role.

🤝 7. Invest in your network as career capital

Network is one of the best forms of career capital. We talk a lot about money, but don’t underestimate the currency of connection to help you grow your career.


  1. Run a career experiment. If you’re making a career switch, talk to 6-8 people working in your target role and switched from your background. Learn from those who made a similar switch as you.
  2. Use this free cold DM script (~40% response rate). Want to connect with someone you admire, but don’t know what to say? Here’s my script you can rephrase into your own words:
Hi Susan,

I’m Joseph, a marketer at PG&E. I came across your work while I was researching the tech product marketing community in Singapore and noticed you also made the leap from CPG to tech.

Can I get your advice as tech marketer for 15 minutes? I’m very curious how you arrived to your current role, because I share a similar starting point.

Would Friday or Saturday work for you? Happy to schedule whenever is a convenient time for you.


🌐 Beyond your borders

  • 3k remote workers took part in 2023 State of Remote Work report (Buffer)
  • China resumes issuing visas for foreigners (KBS)
  • Portugal bans new licenses for Airbnbs & other short-term rentals (Investing.com)
  • US to issue 1 million visas to Indians this year (TIE)
  • Rise of the Silicon Valley Small Business (Substack)
  • Time scales for obtaining Mexico residency visas (Mexperience)

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Dexter Zhuang

Dexter is the founder of Money Abroad, a website focused on financial independence for professionals abroad. He has 10+ years of experience building products and teams at companies like Dropbox, Xendit, and startups. He's lived and worked across the US, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. His work has been featured in global publications like Business Insider, CBS, US News & World Report, and Tech in Asia. He graduated from Dartmouth College.

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