Shape Up Your Finance - Unlimited Magazine Interviews Financial Author Ahmed Dawn

Media Coverage: Business Magazine Interviews Ahmed Dawn

First Published: January 12, 2009

Canada’s new business magazine “Unlimited” Jan/Feb 2009 issue is now available at bookstores and newsstands. In this issue, Unlimited magazine presents my perspectives on personal finance for young professional among with other experts.

You can read this article titled “Shape Up Your Finance: A six-step training guide for your bank account. Because money doesn’t grow on trees” in the magazine or online.

How To Pick The Right Moment

Picking the Right Moment

Most, if not all of us, have agonised over decisions for far longer than is healthy at one time or another. The difficulty of leading a life of second-guessing and false starts is that it becomes hard if not impossible to move forward with any kind of momentum and confidence, against a backdrop of uncertainty. The longer it goes on, the harder it becomes to break the cycle. When something becomes habitual it becomes part of the structure of your life. This is a simple fact, and part of why addicts find it so difficult to kick the habit. They may want to consign their dependence to the past, and have long ago stopped feeling the benefit of the substance to which they were addicted, but leaving it behind means changing the structure of their lives – and that is difficult.

All of us have a certain structure to our lives. Even if the structure seems chaotic, there is generally an element of routine in it, even if that routine does not extend very far beyond getting out of bed every day. Moving away from the habits which are holding you back means making a change to that structure. Perhaps a good analogy for this would be that you are standing in a burning building. To escape you need to climb down a ladder. In the burning building, you have the temporary advantage of solid ground, but sooner or later standing there is going to cause you problems. That ladder may be unfamiliar and even a little bit unsteady, but by climbing down it you are going to improve your future prospects.

There is no shortage of people who will hesitate before stepping on to the ladder – metaphorically or literally – because there is something there to be afraid of. It doesn’t feel all that safe, and the fear of the unknown is something which affects all of us at one time or another. Making a change requires determination. It is a case of looking at the problems which stand behind and around you and seeing a way that you can say goodbye to them. They may be old and familiar problems, and stepping on to the ladder may well hold problems of its own later on, but getting on the ladder is the thing. You are putting behind you something which is definitely causing you problems, and giving yourself a chance of directly improving your situation. Future problems are to be worried about in the future.

If you are having difficulty making a necessary change because your current problems at least have the advantage of being familiar, it just takes one decisive action to consign the problems of the present to the past. It requires bravery and determination, and it will ask a lot of you, but it is better to simply make that decisive action and free yourself. Once it is done you will immediately begin to relax, and then you are in the position of being able to dictate where you go next. Rather than letting your life burn down, you can build it so as to resist future fires.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to Ahmed Dawn Dot Com. This article originally published on the above website on August 30, 2009.

How to Get from Singapore Changi Airport to Downtown or City Hotels

Singapore Airport to Downtown Hotels

There are many ways you can get to Singapore city or downtown hotels from the airport. Some of these options are expensive. Today, I will talk about the best and cheapest way to reach your hotel from Singapore airport.

Taking the City shuttle costs only $9 and it will take you to most of the downtown hotels or city centre. Once you pass immigration and customs, look for the City Shuttle concierge desk near the exit gates. If you can’t find it, ask someone or look for a huge red fan on the ceiling. The concierge desk is near the big, red fan.

You will have to purchase your ticket using the self-service kiosks. If you need help, just ask the concierge and they will show you how to buy a ticket.

Once purchased, wait near the concierge desk. The driver will come and pick you up. The city shuttle runs every 15-30 minutes. You can also book your return trip from the hotel to the airport with the driver or by calling their phone #. Check the Singapore Airport Website for updated information.

My trips on the city shuttle both times (airport to the hotel and back) were pleasant. I was the only one on the shuttle and the driver gave me a lot of information about Singapore. So it was like I paid only $9 each time but had better experience than taking a taxi.

I have a video on the whole process. Watch it here and you will see how easy, cheap, and efficient taking the city shuttle from Singapore’s airport to the city.

10 Tips to Save Money at Restaurants

How To Save Money At Restaurants

First Published: January 15, 2009

We all love to eat out at restaurants. Have you ever noticed that if you follow a few simple steps, you will be able to cut down your restaurant bill in considerable amount, e.g., 20% to 30%. Below, you will find ten tips which will save you some money at restaurants. You may not be able to use all of these; however, I don’t see why can’t you use at least one tip.

1. Beverages Are a Rip off Refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, juices etc at restaurants. These items have a high markup and you will be saving a lot just by drinking plain water. 

2. Eat Out With Friends and Family Always try to visit restaurants with a few people. The more number of people you have, the better. It’s simple Economies of scale. Your meal will cost more if you are alone and you will be wasting foods because items are so plentiful. Example: if you have five people, you don’t need to order five main dishes. Order three main courses and two appetizers or salad. 

3. Coupons Save You Money Use coupons. Find coupons in the newspaper, in the mail, on restaurant’s website, sometimes on the takeout menu. Also, if you join their emailing list, restaurants send out promotional coupons via email once in a while.

4. Look for Deals Always beware of special day deals, e.g., “kids eat free night”, “parents eat free night”, “birthday deal night”. Restaurants often offer deals on one slower night of the week such as Monday night, Tuesday night etc. By eating on these nights you will be able to save a lot. 

5. Lunch is Better Than Dinner Lunch will always cost you less than dinner. Lunch menus are often similar to dinner menus but you will be paying a lot less just for eating at a different time of the day.

6. Leftovers Should Not Stay Behind Do not leave your leftovers behind. Pack them up and they will save you money at home on the next day.

7. Avoid Appetizers Appetizers  or deserts are unnessery, wasteful, and usually cost a lot (another high markup item). By the time I finish eating main course at a restaurant, I find it hard to eat anything else. 

8. Special of the Day Before start browsing the menu, ask if they have any special of the day. Special of the day always provides better deal than items on the menu. 

9. Combo Makes Sense When ordering, pick combo or tiered meals instead of picking individual items. Combo means always cost less than if those same items were picked individually.

10. Plan Ahead and Stay Within Your Limit Plan ahead. Decide how much you want to spend and check a few restaurant websites to see where you can get a better deal. Also, plan how many times in a month you want to dine out. Do not cross your monthly set limit to visit restaurant and do not go over your decided amount to spend. 

Singapore Travel Diary (Part 2) : Impressions & Highlights

Singapore Travel Blog: Part 1

Next Day: A Busy Day Sightseeing

Next day I had a tour arranged from 9 to 1. The tour operator picked me up at the hotel and it was very busy day for the next few hours. I visited popular places like:

Little India
China Town and the ancient Thian Hock Keng Temple
Marina Bay and Singapore's iconic Merlion
National Orchid Garden (part of the Singapore Botanic Gardens)
And much more

Singapore is very neat and clean city. Its downtown has lots of skyscrapers and has the look and feel of a downtown in a western country. I noticed that the skyscrapers and tall buildings have different styles and poses different from the architectural beauty of skyscrapers in New York or Toronto. I liked it because it looked different than what I was used to seeing in North America.

I will not detail each place I visited because I captured most of it in my video and pictures and you can see them on my YouTube and Instagram.

Maxwell Hawker Centre Singapore - Famous Street Food

Maxwell Hawker Centre is a famous street food court in Chinatown, Singapore. This is the best place to try Singaporean dishes served by various street food stalls in one place. There are tables and chairs to sit down and enjoy all the food under the same roof.

You will find street food stall like Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken that was endorsed by celebrities like Anthony Bourdain and the Michelin Guide. But there is always a lineup, so I decided to try the next one without a lineup. I was told that any stalls in Hawker’s Market would taste as good as Tian Tian.

Any items here are extremely cheap and the taste and quality are mind blowing. I tried the famous Hainanese chicken rice and it cost me only $3.50. Another time I was planning to try the hotel buffet, but it was way expensive at $70. So I walked about 15 minutes to another street food complex and had 7 items only for $5.80. It was so much that I couldn’t eat it all and tipped the server, which made her day.

Singapore: Time to Leave

My 2 days in Singapore are almost over and I am heading to the airport for Melbourne, Australia. I found Singapore to be a very clean and beautiful city. You will not see any homeless people on the street and everywhere is very neat and clean.

I heard laws are very strict in Singapore. For example, you cannot eat on the street while walking or even chew gum. If you are eating at a street food vendor, you will have to finish eating there.

I will be taking a low-cost airline, Scoot, owned by Singapore Airlines and I will write my experience in the next blog.