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.

Your Money or Your Life Book Review

Your Money or Your Life

First Published: Oct 16, 2008

I just finished reading Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) and I decided to do a review of this book for ADJ readers. Before talking about the book, let me give you some information about its author, Joe Dominguez. Vicki Robin is the co-author of YMYL.

Joe Dominguez

The late Joe Dominguez worked as a Wall Street analyst for ten years before retiring at the age of thirty-one. At that time, Joe had a portfolio of $70,000 and he had lived on a yearly income of $6,000 derived from that portfolio. YMYL was published in 1992 and Joe and Vicki donated all monies they received from the bestselling book and their other activities to the New Road Map Foundation—a non-profit organization Joe and Vicki founded to promote the reduction of our consumption. The book’s dedication is very fitting: “We dedicate this book to all of the people who are actively engaged in leaving our planet in better shape than they found it.” Joe Dominguez tragically died of cancer in 1997.

Let me describe the following main issues the authors tried to present in this book.

Life Energy

Life energy simply means the time we have here on earth. It can be broken down into hours or minutes. Let’s say you work 40 hours per week. It means you are trading 40 hours of your precious life energy for money. You are paying for 40 hours of your life with money. How you spend your life energy is up to you. You could spend these 40 hours doing something else, such as spending time with your family or spending time on your own terms—not working for someone else. The book has a nice chart showing the average remaining life expectancy based on your age. For example, if you are 40, you have 329,601 hours (thirty-seven years) of life energy remaining before you die.

It’s Not Making a Living, It’s Making a Dying

By working a traditional nine-to-five, we are killing ourselves. Just look at all those employees at the end of the day, whether they are coming out of an office building or a factory. We are killing our sense, relationships, health, soul, self-confidence in our jobs. We are sacrificing our life energy, our very lives, for our jobs. This is happening so slowly that we hardly ever notice that making a living is taking us closer to death; it’s actually making a dying.

We Make a Dying at Work so We Can Live It Up on the Weekend

We spend our precious life energy on the weekdays to earn money so we can spend it on the weekends. We work to pay our daily expenses, but we end up spending more than we make on things we do not need. So we go back to work to get money to pay interest on money we’ve already overspent. If you look deep into it, in the end you are wasting your life energy to pay for your credit cards or loan interests. Is it worth it to spend two month’s (or more) worth of work or life energy just to pay your interests?

What Is Your Real Hourly Wage

You may be making $25 an hour on paper, but that’s not your real hourly wage. Since we are trading our life energy for money, take a hard look at how much you are really earning. When you factor in all the job-related costs such as commuting, costuming, meals, stress, job-related illness, vacations etc., to your surprise you will find that your hourly wage is a lot less than what you have been making on paper. As a matter of fact, a $25 per hour wage can end up paying you $15 per hour after considering all the related expenses. Is this worth trading your precious life energy for?

We Are a Cancer to Earth

Our consumption-based society is sold on materialism. However, we do not realize that the Earth is the source of everything we use and resources are depleting so quickly that very soon the planet will not be able to accommodate our demands. We are a cancer to the Earth and one day this cancer will spread to a level from which there will be no return.

A New Road Map

Your Money or Your Life teaches you how to be financially independent by following a new road map. Once you a reach that point, you will no longer need to work for someone else. You start living on your own terms and start trading your life energy for yourself. The authors call this “The Crossover Point.” At this point, your expenses can be covered by your investment income and you will be all free from your nine-to-five and making a dying.

Things I Liked and Didn’t Like

The book has lots of tips on frugality and 100 sure tips to save money. Even if you don’t agree with the authors that a nine-to-five is actually making a dying, you can still use these tips to save lots of money.

I find the book a little too long. It could have been made at least 1/3 shorter. YMYL has too many real-life stories to conclude the authors’ perspectives—which I find annoying sometimes. Also, YMYL recommends that you put all your money in one place: in government bonds. I do not agree with this idea, as it will not provide any diversification. I still believe in the old adage, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

My Rating

I am giving Your Money or Your Life a “Must Read.” I recommend it highly, especially if you are tired of being trapped in a regular nine-to-five schedule.

ADJ Interviews International Best Selling Author Ernie Zelinski

A Dawn Journal Interviews International Best Selling Author Ernie Zelinski

First Published: Sep 25, 2008

While reading The Joy of Not Working, I had the feeling it was I, not Ernie Zelinski who wrote it. I could not have agreed more with everything he said. Since then, I wanted to share my thoughts regarding this book and Ernie Zelinski with my readers.  What better way to do that than  an interview with an international best-selling author. I would like to thank Ernie for taking the time to answer these questions for ADJ readers.


1 - Tell us a little bit about yourself

I was born in Athabasca, Alberta, Canada and was raised on a farm around Grassland, Alberta until I was 14 and then finished high school in Lac La Biche.  I didn’t know what career path to choose, but I was very good at mathematics, trigonometry, and physics. So, on the advice of my teachers, I stupidly enrolled in engineering at the University of Alberta in 1966. In my second year of Engineering I missed over 85 percent of my classes and still ended up with the 7th highest grades out of 250 engineers. Even so, it took 7 years for me to complete a 4-year program because I quit twice and stayed out a year. You can read more about this in an article called The Joy of (Not) Engineering in the University of Alberta Engineering Alumni Magazine.

After working for Edmonton Power for five and a half years, I was fired for taking two months of unauthorized vacation. My firing was, in fact, the best thing that ever happened to me because I hated being an engineer. (Just as important, I hated corporate life.) As Hal Lancaster once said, "Getting fired is nature's way to telling you that you had the wrong job in the first place." I am proud to say that I have not had a real job for 28 years.

2 - For those who have not read the book, how would you describe the central idea in the Joy of Not Working?

The Joy of Not Working is all about learning to live every part of your life — employment, unemployment, retirement, and leisure time alike — to the fullest. If you have a job, the book is about how to thrive at work by being more leisurely. If you are unemployed, the book will help you be happier than most people who have jobs, simply because happiness is a matter of choice,  whether you have a job or not. If you are retired, The Joy of Not Working will help you find just as much purpose — even more — as you had in your career life.

3 - Some people have read the book and are left with the impression that you are encouraging people to be lazy and unproductive.  What do you say to that?

On the contrary. I am encouraging people to have a better balance between work and play, which will make them more productive. Take me, for example. I work only 4 or 5 hours a day and earn an income twice that of most people who work 8 hours a day. This makes me 4 times as productive as the average person.

4 - If one was to follow your advice and start leading a life of leisure, wouldn't it be quite difficult to maintain the same standard of living?

First, the important question that arises is "Does one really have to live at the same standard of living?" Studies show that Americans were happiest during the 1950s. Today Americans have houses two to three times as large as in the 1950s, eat a lot more (look at all the fat people in the US), and consume two to three times as much. Yet they are not as happy. The point is that standard of living does not contribute to happiness. I have a friend who is 62 and lives on $434 a month. He actually saves some money certain months. The important point is that he is happier than 95 percent of people in society.

Second, if you become more leisurely, you may just end up making more money, and increasing your standard of living if you want to. That has happened to many people. Tim Ferris (whose book I recommend later) used to work 12 hours a day and earn $40,000 a year. Now he works 4 hours a week and earns $40,000 a month. Similarly, several people I know work hard 8 to 10 hours a day and earn $50,000 to $60,000 a year.  I leisurely work only 4 hours a day and have an pretax income of about $125,000 a year. This is about working smart and not hard — but most people are too hard-headed to grasp this concept and actually follow it.

5 - What do you think is the biggest factor that stops people from changing their lifestyle?

Most people are too programmed by society and society's values. They don't want to risk and be different. As a matter of fact, they are so plugged into mainstream thinking, they don't realize how programmed they are. This even applies to the highest of educated people such as doctors, lawyers, dentists, and university professors.

6 - Now that you are living a life of leisure, how are you spending your time?

I usually sleep in until 11 AM or noon. My first priority is going for a rigorous run or bike ride. (This normally takes about one and a half hours of my time. After I get out of my house, and arrive at one of my favorite coffee bars, I spend about 4 hours a day working. Another 2 hours is spent talking to people in coffee bars. The evening is left open and I can do a variety of things including visiting people, reading, or meeting someone for a drink in a bar.  I normally get to sleep around 3 AM after reading the newspaper and having a snack.

7 - Name a book that you think everyone should read, and why.

The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris. This book is written for ordinary people who want to accomplish extraordinary things with minimal time involved. Some of the most important principles in this book are:

1. Get unrealistic.

2. Practice the art of nonfinishing.

3. Cultivate selective ignorance.

4. Do NOT multi-task.

5. Outsource as much of your life as you can.

6. Being busy is a form of laziness - lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.

7. Forget about time management.

Here are four of several favorite quotes from The 4-Hour Workweek

1. If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.

2. The blind quest for cash is a fool's errand.

3. Ninety-nine percent of people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for the mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for "realistic" goals, paradoxically making them the most time-consuming and energy consuming.

4. The fishing is best where the fewest go, and the collective insecurity of the world makes it easy for people to hit home runs while everyone is aiming for base hits.

8 - Do you have any plans for a follow up to the Joy of Not Working?

I have already written and published 3 follow-up books related to The Joy of Not Working which are:

- The Lazy Person's Guide to Success: How to Get What You Want Without Killing Yourself for It

Real Success Without a Real Job: The Career Book for People Too Smart to Work in Corporations

How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won’t Get from Your Financial Advisor

For the record, How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free was rejected by 35 publishers even by my own publisher Ten Speed Press that publishes The Joy of Not Working — and had to be self-published.

With an order that I received last week from Allstate Financial for 3,700 copies,  How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free has now sold over 100,000 copies.

I have also sold rights to nine foreign publishers. The cool thing is that I have now realized a tidy pretax profit of $350,000 on this self-published book — much, much more in earnings than I would have received from a major publisher.

For anyone interested, I provide over half — mainly the top half — of How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free as a free E-book download on the Creative Free E-Books Webpage at the Real Success Resource Center and as well as on: .

9 - What advice do you have for someone who will be cutting back on work and investing the money they have now?

Contrary to popular belief, you can actually cut back on work and earn more money. Again, work smart and not hard.

When it comes to the secret of handling money, there are two principles: The first one is: Spend less than you earn. If this won't work for you, then the second principle is definitely for you: Earn more than you spend.

A lot more North Americans could retire early and have a comfortable retirement if they followed my principles. As I tell my friends who claim they have money problems, "You don't have a money problem. You have a serious thinking problem." Unfortunately, most people in North America end up believing that they "need" all the things that they buy. Fact is, most of the things people buy are "wants'. Regardless of who you are, your needs have always been provided. Plain and simple, if they weren't, you would be dead! So stop fooling yourself that you need all those material goods to be happy and you will have no problem saving.

I semi-retired when I was 35 and had a net worth of minus $30,000. Even though I have worked less than half of my adult life and have never made a penny in house appreciation (simply because I rented for all these years), I can retire comfortably.

I recommend this well-titled book for which I have adapted a short review from two other reviews:

"You're Broke Because You Want to Be: How to Stop Getting By and Start Getting Ahead", by Larry Winget.

The author is a no nonsense guy and a master of tough love. This book will tear down every excuse you can think of and show you that it's your choices that are making you broke. Warning: The author is harsh. So if you get upset about that, maybe you should pass on this one, continue to blame your problems on someone else, and end up broke in retirement.

To be sure, there's no sweet talk in Winget's advice, who summarizes money management to these points: Get off your duff and start doing the hard work necessary to make financial success happen. His advice includes: Give up cable TV. Get a cheaper car. Move to a more-affordable home. Live on what you earn.

10 - Can you tell us who you will be voting for in November, and why?

I will not be voting in November because I am Canadian. If I could vote in the American election, I would vote for the Democrats even though I am more of a conservative than a socialist. To me, the Republicans have absolutely no integrity. They talk about fiscal responsibility but are running unheard of deficits after taking power from the Democrats who under Bill Clinton were running surpluses.

The situation is no different in Canada. Again, to me, the Conservatives have no integrity in regards to fiscal responsibility. The Liberals were much more fiscally responsible when they were in power than the Conservatives are now. So on October 14th, if I vote, instead of voting Liberal, I will actually vote for the New Democrats (a socialist party!) simply because the New Democrat candidate in my riding has a chance of beating out the Conservative candidate.


Read Ernie Zelinski's blog:

Best Retirement Quotes and

Retirement Quotes cafe

Freakonomics – A. Dawn Journal Book Review

Freakonomics – A. Dawn Journal Book Review

First Published:  Aug 12, 2008

Recently, I wrote an article about Freakonomics and mentioned that I would write a short review on Freakonomics. Today, I am going to jot down my thoughts briefly on this book. As you may have noticed, my book reviews consist of both recently published and not-so-recently published books, and I keep my reviews simple so my readers can make the most out of it.

Freakonomics is a collection of empirical data to show that things are not the way they appear on the surface. The authors question many of the general views that we have on lots of things we come across in everyday life and present them differently by analyzing data and drawing distinct conclusions from it. The authors' goal is to piece together human behaviors and look inside the hidden parts of everything. Here are some of the interesting views presented in Freakonomics:

- What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?

They both cheat in their own way and the authors use economic data and analysis to catch them.

- How is the Ku Klux Klan like a group of real estate agents?

This is all about abusing information. If you control information, you control everything. The authors try to connect the KKK and real estate agents by showing how individuals or groups can commit sins of information by hiding real information or promoting false information.

- Why do drug dealers still live with their mom?

Not all drug dealers are created equally; some of them can't even earn enough to live on their own. The authors present statistics to back this up.

Freakonomics is full of intriguing facts and information; however, I do find it boring at times. If you read the beginning and the end of each chapter, you will find it riveting; in the middle, it feels far too overloaded with statistical facts and economic data. I am unable to rate this book as "A Must Read." I give it a "Worth Reading."

NB: My ratings are very straightforward and simple. I go by only three different ratings: A Must Read, Worth Reading, and Do Not Read. I hope these are self explanatory

A Moment for “The Dark Knight”: EPIC film that goes beyond comics

I would like to introduce my first guest author - Shayan Mannan. 
The following article is written by Shayan - who is an ADJ reader and also my nephew. At 21, he is a musician, an entrepreneur, a soon to be professional blogger, and a Law & Society student at York University. He just released his first album, the "No Cure" EP which is available on iTunes. Check out his music at his MySpace Page I'm personally into new age music, and after listening to his album (which is electronica) my first comment was "This sounds just like a professional musician. I couldn't have guessed that this wasn't made by well-known artists such as Vangelis or Enigma."

A Moment For "The Dark Knight": EPIC Film That Goes Beyond Comics

The lines were packed to the back of the theater, and Batman shirts and joker-painted faces were out full-fledged. What an AMAZING, EPIC movie.

"So where do I a year ago these cops and lawyers...”

The Dark Knight delivers on all fronts, but let’s get something straight - this isn't your typical summer blockbuster - sure, there's action, but this movie is really a character piece and it explores themes of order and anarchy. It raises questions about morals, society's duplicity, when to cross the line, what is good/evil and looks at philosophical musings.

This is the best Batman film EVER. That title easily belonged to Batman Begins, and how the hell Christopher Nolan was able to continue and make even a better one is a mystery all by itself. This movie is 10 times better; it makes Begins look like, as a friend said to me, "Some bonus feature on a DVD that would be there 'just for flavour.'" Remember, sequels almost always SUCK, so what was done here is nothing to be overlooked.

Christopher Nolan:

This film is dark to the core. Thank you Christopher Nolan. Not only has he revived Batman, he's taken it to levels I don't think any filmmaker who tackles future Batman movies can reach. It makes all the other comic-book movies look like child’s play. Nolan balanced out the screen time decadently and gave both the villains their due diligence (unlike Spidey 3, let's try to forget that one). One of the things that really make it special is the REALISM that Nolan's injected into a fictional character and his world that's made everything believable. I think Nolan and Ledger both deserve Oscars. It's really too bad films like these don't get considered for nominations because "comic-book" movies are looked at as derogatory and something you can't take seriously - which is true for most films, but not this.

I don't know how you go out and make a better Batman film. Seriously. And just like Begins, this was packed with great quotes that you'll remember.

Christian Bale:

Once again perfect, portraying Bruce Wayne/Batman's struggle as a warrior whose city crumbles to the ground after being so close to restoring order thanks to the arrival of the Joker. I agree with my friend that Bale's best times were when he's picking away at his gadgets in the basement or contemplating alone about his horrifying and depressing situation. I'm glad they included a bit more of the playboy Bruce Wayne scenes, and they were hilarious; showing up late on purpose to the party with not one or two but THREE women in his arms, making fun of Dent, and just being an arrogant jackass. I also loved that scene where he sacrificed his Lamborghini to save that dude and then was pretending he has no idea what's going on.

Heath Ledger:

You've heard about how sensational he was, and you really have to SEE it to grasp just how scarily good he was as the Joker. The smallest details, like how he puts down the champagne glass softly instead of throwing it, the slight slouch he walks with instead of standing straight, how he licks his face, his movements in general and his facial expressions add to his creepiness factor. His voice is haunting, and anytime you see him on camera it feels uneasy. The best part is though, is that he's believable because he's human: because if you didn't believe he was human he wouldn't be nearly as scary. Ledger really disappeared into this role, you can't even recognize him. And one of the people in the group I went to see it with really didn't; she had no idea it was Heath Ledger. It's tragic the man passed away, and we'll never see him reprise his role again. Oh yeah, Heath Ledger's Joker slaughters every other Joker before him, including Jack Nicholson's...he makes Jack Nicholson look like...well...a clown.

The joker as a villain - what makes him unique is that he does all the crimes, just for the FUN OF IT: "I don't have a plan. I'm just chasing a car. I-I wouldn't know what I'd do if I ever caught it!" He doesn't give a damn about money, women, sex or drugs. He just wants chaos, and that's what makes him so scary, because he fits into the type of guys that Alfred explains: "…Aren’t looking for anything logical. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn." This joker is sadistic, psychotic and just simply psychologically disturbing. And he's so smart and can read people well; he understands how people think which is quite ironic since he's a crazy sociopath.

Maggie Gyllenhaal:

I originally didn't know what to think, but was just happy that they replaced Katie Holmes (she was so awful). Alas, Gyllenhaal was SOLID and has the personality that was originally needed which Katie Holmes could just not fill.

Morgan Freeman:

never gets old. Plays the same guy in every movie? Yes. Does he ever get boring though? Love the playful conversations he has with Bale.

Michael Caine:

plays that father-figure perfectly and provides that dead-pan humor needed amid a serious scene with Bale. He's got some of the best lines when he gives his advice.

Gary Oldman:

I'll let my friend sum this up - "The man's a chameleon. He really just brings the a-game to every role he does, and it really is hard to believe he played Sid Vicious, Count Dracula, and a drug dealer all with the same dedication." Also, remember Hannibal? You know the rich old guy in a wheelchair who had the deformed face because Hannibal peeled it off and therefore he wants to exact revenge on Hannibal? That's Gary Oldman.

Aaron Eckhart:

another brilliant casting. Let's face it, when we originally heard that Heath Ledger and Aaron Eckhart were chosen to play Joker and Two Face, we didn't know what to think. That scene when he's on the hospital bed and commands Gordon to say the nickname that they used to call him started the whole transformation into Two-Face nicely. "SAY ITT!!!!" And his face was nasty, scary, and REAL as hell. Easily throws Tommy Lee Jones off the bench (but that’s not really his fault, Batman Forever was just an atrocious movie in all angles).

Random thoughts:

If I had to pick one SPECIFIC action scene as my favourite, it was when the Batpod goes by Joker's trailer truck and....FLIPS OVER that thing like it's nobody's business, and then the Batpod turns back around off the wall in a slick Transformers way. And I never would've guessed that the Batpod is literally a part of the Batmobile; when it shot out and ejected, that was ABSURD!

That blue flame in the beginning - MESMERIZING.

It was nice to see Cillian Murphy/Scarecrow in the beginning, and although it wouldn't be necessary at all, I would've enjoyed seeing Carmine Falcone as well just because I liked Tom Wilkinson so much in the first one.

The scene showing Batman's bruises on his back was awesome and important - because it reminds you he's only human, not one of those typical heroes who fight a 100 men and don't even get a scratch.

Batman Begins' main colour for all the posters, promo, etc. was beige/light-brownish/yellowish, Dark Knight's was blue.

Thank GOODNESS Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard was back to do the score - neither of these movies would be the same without them. The music was masterful and I'm going to buy the album like I buy a lot of Hans Zimmer albums.

The ending again was left open, and it was dark. My friend summed it up perfectly:
"even as the credits are about to roll, you really have to sit back for a minute and think "wait a minute, the good guys didn't win at all". And they didn't. The only one that really comes out ahead here is Joker, accomplishing his mission to show the city just how low it can really go."

For a two and half hour movie, it wasn't long enough - you heard right. It goes by so fast and you're left wanting more. The length is justified with all the complexities involved and giving all the characters a deserving screen time. There isn't a single bad moment; it's hard to criticize anything.

Make sure you see this in IMAX - this movie was specifically MADE for IMAX - they shot several important, long scenes in IMAX and it's something to experience, like those shots of Batman gliding through the sky (and of course the incredible action scenes itself).

Movie of the year. I'm not just saying that because I'm a Batman fanatic; you can't tell me there's been a better film so far, nothing comes close. Granted there's still half a year left, so we'll just have to wait to see. This wasn't just the best Batman movie, it's one of the best movies ever made period.

Don't forget Jonathan Nolan, Chris Nolan's brother who actually wrote the story with him. This is obviously a key reason why this movie rocked.


I want to see The Riddler. I think he'd be sly and DANGEROUS, especially the way Nolan does films. Just think of all the puzzles and mazes he could put Batman through.

I'm going to go see The Dark Knight again. And again.

- Shayan Mannan

First Published: Published on: Jul 29, 2008