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Pre-planning

December 28th, 2010 at 09:20 am

Christmas was great. My mom bought me a Wii & DH got me a Wii fit (meanwhile I got him the PS3 Move) - so we've been fitting in more exercise that way.

I'd really like to get back in the habit of working out. Studying for the CPA exam sort of squashed my workout habits and I should really get back in shape.

I realize that in preparing to work outside the house, DH and I are going to have to do a lot of pre-planning and making sure we stay to a schedule from now on. If I wake up at 5am, workout, shower, do my hair, makeup, get dressed, and eat - that is already an hour and a half. I was actually surprised it wasn't longer because I have really long hair that I blow dry and sometimes flat iron if I decide I want to style my stick straight hair into a more wavy look (My stylist recently showed me that trick... it was completely counter-intuitive for me to use a flat iron to CURL my hair).

Fit in time to get four kids ready for school, eat breakfast, clean their rooms, and clean up the kitchen afterwards and be out the door at 7 - I wonder how chaotic it might be if we don't establish a schedule.

Even coming home. Making sure homework is done, dinner is made, kitchen is cleaned, lunches for the next day are made, 4 kids are showered and ready to be in bed around 8-9 pm considering we get home at 6... that's a lot to accomplish in 2-3 hours.

Going out to eat isn't an option so it's looking like the best way to save money and time is to pre-plan. Maybe on Sundays when DH is doing laundry, I can be busy pre-planning/making the dinners for the week and the kids can pre-make their lunches and stick their sandwiches in the freezer till they need them.

DH and I used to make a lot of the Pampered Chef 29 Minutes to Dinner recipes... it was actually a nice bonding time for us to make dinner together - so we may get back in the habit of doing that.

Cutting Back

December 24th, 2010 at 02:42 pm

I'm feeling really optimistic about this job change. Some people want to telecommute - I realize I want a clear separation between work and home. For six years that line has been blurred & I'm far too easily distracted if I'm trying to potty train while also attempting to hold a conference call or training session.

Since I'll only be home in the evenings and weekends now, we cut back on our internet to a slower speed, reduced our phone bill, reduced our plan with our DVD rental service, cancelled other subscriptions... so we should be saving around $64/month.

I'm hoping that this means when I am home... I will be able to enjoy that time with family and focus on them more.

The kids... I think this will be beneficial for them too. They have a before/after school program that they can go to & field trips on days that I have to work but they don't have school. The youngest, our 2 year old, is excited to go to daycare. She loves being around other kids and I know she gets bored during the day when it's just her and me.

The new job - I'm excited about. I actually get my own office, not some cubicle. An office with a door and a window that faces the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

But anyhow, I do hope this is a positive change... for my professional and personal life. Professionally it gets me closer to my CPA license... personally, I hope it helps the family in the above mentioned ways.

Aside from that, DH goes back to work Monday. He had been sick the past week so we didn't get to do much. This year we are actually getting each other Christmas gifts, and I liked that. For a long time we've told each other "Oh, we can't afford it" or put each other off... but this year is a little different. We aren't being extravagant but I told him I want us to get each other stuff & be thoughtful of one another.

Plan for CPA

December 22nd, 2010 at 11:39 am

So after further research, I've pretty much concluded that getting my CPA license in Nevada is just not going to happen. I'd have to log 4,200 hours at a public accounting firm with 1000 attestation hours (700 of which need to come from auditing).

Why will that not happen? Location being among the first, CPA firms in the area where I live are not hiring, and what part time work I can pick up in the next 2 1/2 years we are here will not equal 4,200 hours.

And I'm not entirely sure where we'll be stationed next. But we're rooting for Hawaii or California.

I'm already a CPA exam candidate in Virginia and in that state you only need one year of general accounting experience with the experience verified by a CPA. Theoretically, I don't even need to be supervised by a CPA - but simply have the experience form verified by a CPA holder.

My goal has always been to get my CPA license by the time I'm 30. Which will be next year.

If I work for one year at the new company, I'll be supervised by a CPA, and will be 30 1/2. If I can get my new employer to sign my experience form, I'll at least be able to meet my deadline before I turn 31.

After that, I'm wondering if I can then apply for a reciprocity license in California or whatever other state.

I'm not entirely sure - but getting my CPA license is important and I always said my deadline was when I was 30. So that's probably why I don't really care which state I'm licensed in... just that I'm licensed and can be licensed in the next state we move to.

So that's my thoughts for how I can possibly achieve my goal. CPA license by the time I'm 30... I don't know if it will happen but I think I'll probably be among very few military wives & teen moms to achieve that. There is a stat that says less than 2% of teen moms graduate by the time they are 30... so having my CPA license would be huge to me.

I just don't know if, given all the state laws/regulations/rules, and the constraints I live with as a military wife & mom of four - that my goal is still possible. But I'm trying.

Accepted the job... now the background check

December 16th, 2010 at 04:01 pm

I went to the interview at the other firm but it just wasn't what I would be interested in. They are promoting their admin person internally to be a Staff Accountant so they changed their needs from wanting an Accountant to wanting someone to start in Admin & work their way up.

But it was a nice interview, no false pretenses and at the very least I made a good impression with the CPA so in the event I run into him in the future, I'll have left a positive impression.

When I got home, I immediately called the other company letting them know I was accepting their job offer.

It was a busy day. Talked to my supervisor, the CFO, and registered the kids for childcare. The plan is I'll drop the kids off and DH will pick them up. This way if I need to stay late for work, I can.

I hope this all works out and it's a positive move. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have any anxiety about whether this will work out or not. But I have to stay positive. Most importantly, I have DH's support in this.

Looks like I start January 10th and in the meantime there is the background check.

Honestly, the only thing I'm concerned about is - my credit card. I still owe $7K on it, and we have the other two houses with one HELOC. We have great credit... but our debt is high so I'm sure it may make them ask why I have 2 homes, a HELOC, and a $7K CC bill.

Either way, I'm hoping everything goes well with the background check. What would usually prevent someone from getting the job in the background check process?

Job Offer

December 15th, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Well the insurance group administrator offered me the accounting position for the salary I requested - $50K. Which is a huge jump from my $33K currently but when you factor in the added childcare and expenses to work outside the house - I'm about $200 in the negative in comparison. We can still make ends meet, but it's a $200/month loss compared to my current job. So I may ask my current job if I can go part-time or work on a consulting basis for the next few months to help ease the transition for them & for me.

However, childcare expenses will continue to go down as DD #3 becomes potty trained and then eventually starts school. In the meantime, this gets me into accounting and establishes a new salary baseline for me that allows me to grow.

I'm thinking very likely that I'll accept the position. I have an interview with a firm an our away tomorrow but the commute is my biggest drawback from the position. The job offer, meanwhile, is only 30 minutes away.

But anyhow, so DH and I are trying to work out the details for work and everything. I told the HR person that I would get back to her tomorrow with an answer.

I wonder if maybe I should have negotiated a higher salary since there are no options for bonuses, just annual reviews - but on the flip side, maybe once I have more experience under my belt THEN I'll be able to negotiate a salary. $50K to start as an accountant with no official accounting experience doesn't seem too bad. Plus, the benefits are better than my current company.

So it may be $200 less/month but I think this will be a good long-term move.

Interviews

December 15th, 2010 at 06:31 am

Finished a 2nd interview with a private insurance company. I'd be the accountant managing 10-13 self-insured groups. I'm one of 4 applicants for 2 positions there. I told the Director of Operations there the only thing holding me back from the position is that it isn't public accounting, but if I can network with other CPAs to get the auditing hours I need - and I can still get my license. We can hopefully work something out. It's in both of our best interests if I have my CPA license anyway.

They were encouraging to helping out since their CPA firm sends people their way a lot and they have a lot of CPAs internally that they can send me out there if need be.

Interview tomorrow in another town as well. But the commute is an hour so I would like to avoid it if possible. But we'll see.

Keeping fingers crossed. I really like the insurance administrator company.... I know I'll be challenged there.

In the meantime, the local CPA guy who owns a small firm here - he gave one of his auditors my name & I'm going to be helping her out do an audit for an HOA (sending out confirmations, analytical procedures, and reviewing internal controls). Nice part with that firm is that I can do a lot of it remotely, plus it is a good networking opportunity.

Been awhile

December 7th, 2010 at 09:10 am

Still no job in public accounting.... still with my current company, just had my review and for the 4th year... still no raise despite another stellar review. The excuse this time was that although I've taken on a LOT in the past year and improved a lot of processes, I need to get into marketing and account management to get a raise. The company just doesn't value accountants - which is no surprise, I knew that all along.

Out of desperation I emailed the nearest public accounting firm and told him that I'd be willing to volunteer my expertise on a part-time basis to gain experience since everybody seems to want experience.

He wrote back instantly.

DH wasn't thrilled, still isn't. And of course, I would rather have a paid position - but even a $50K salary is a paycut compared to a $33K salary that doesn't have to pay childcare for 4 kids... at least volunteering gives me more control over my hours.

I've been applying to other accountant jobs. Have an interview with an insurance administrator company that is looking for an accountant. I'd be interviewing with the HR Director, CFO, and Director of Ops. It isn't public accounting, but it gets me closer to my goal.

I'm meeting with the nearest CPA firm on Thursday.

and I had also applied to another CPA firm in the next town that I'm following up on.

I'm also taking CPE courses that I can find for free. So far I've taken 20 CPE credits on Quickbooks, Lacerte, and ProSeries. I have 15 more to go and then I need to find 5 more to meet my goal.

Nice thing with my current job is that it is easy... so finding the time to fit in CPEs is not challenging.

The other thing I wonder about it salary... is $50K as a salary requirement low? high? average? for someone with no experience but has a master's in accounting and passed the CPA exam? I see all sorts of salary numbers ranging from $40K to $60K

But anyhow. Things are doing well.... just trying to find a solution to the job front. There is no growth in my current position and will never be... I know where I want to be. Work with a public firm and then in 10 years either be a partner, start my own firm, or get into consulting. The cornerstone of my career would be centered around technology and how accountants & business owners respond to its changing environment.

So we'll see. The strategy for 2011 is to get a paid position, but if I can't... I'll do whatever I can to stay current and gain experience in the meantime.

On a more personal note, I'm excited that my husband takes vacation starting Thursday... we celebrate our 11th anniversary this month.

Education as a Priority

September 4th, 2010 at 01:53 pm

I've submitted the application to put my son in an online virtual academy (charter school). It's extremely daunting for me... doing so means "Yes, this means you cannot find a job in public accounting for at least one year."

But on the other hand, I feel strongly compelled to do this for my kids.

With my son, the 1st grader, there are no other opportunities for him till he gets to 2nd grade. He's already testing at mid-year but because other kids don't have the foundation he has, he has to be held back till they catch up.

I'm sorry - I did not spend $8000 over two years to send him to preschool to make sure he could read so he could wait for the neighbor's kid down the street to recognize the words "a" and "at".

The state has a virtual academy that uses a K12 curriculum that I'm familiar with. When we lived in Virginia, there was a Navy SEAL's wife who lived down the street and used that program for her girls. The oldest was homeschooled for a little bit and was able to skip a grade & then be placed in the city's "gifted" middle school after that. All of her kids are very smart so I know the curriculum is good.

It's always just been making that leap to homeschool/virtual academy that has held me back. But I showed the kids' the state rankings in education... How Virginia was a +8.31 and Nevada is a -11. I've been teaching them integers and showed them that the difference is almost 20 pts.

My sister also recently graduated from the school system so I asked her what her thoughts were. And she told me if our mom could have afforded private school, she would have wanted that because she wanted to be challenged but instead got passed along... and because of that she feels like she got cheated out of an education.

She got straight A's in high school and yet SOMEHOW still had to take remedial English when she got to college.

Me, I went to so many different schools between Hawaii, Nevada, and Michigan that I remained flexible wherever I went. But I DO remember writing an article during my senior year in journalism about how I was appalled that Hawaii was teaching material in their senior year that I learned during my sophomore year in Michigan.

And I know it hasn't gotten better in the 10 years since I graduated.

But anyhow, back to DS, if he's just sitting in class bored - it's not really something that makes me feel good either. From what I understand with the K12 program for grades K-8, it should take about 4-5 hours a day. Considering that I get up at 5:30 in the morning and work with the kids when they get home from 3:30 to 5:30 everyday, I'm sure I can fit in 4-5 hours during the day and still work from home. Then in a year, I'll re-evaluate.

I'm 100% certain I want to do this for my son... would also want to do this for my second daughter but with my working from home, I don't want to take on more than I can handle. I've never homeschooled before, could I really teach 2 kids at once?

My oldest daughter is one that I think I'll just continue to supplement her education & when she gets to high school look into private school. She is very headstrong and I cannot teach her, it would just cause bitterness between her and I. But my middle daughter & son, I could likely succeed in doing so.

The program is 100% free, the school even provides a computer, printer/scanner, and there is teacher support. So hopefully this can work.

Again though, it is daunting to come to the realization that by doing this - I am fully committing myself to not pursuing my dream of being a CPA for one year.

Oh well, I'm sure when the time is right - something will come up. But if I let my kids' education fail, that'll weigh much heavier on me than anything else. In the meantime I'll just try to find volunteer opportunities & what not... one day I will find my niche.

Till then, I need to make sure my kids stay up to the standards we first established for them. DD #2 wants to be a vet & go to Cornell, DD#1 wants to be a Marine Biologist, and DS wants to be in the Criminal Justice field like his uncle & grandfather.... but it's DD #2 that has me the most motivated to make sure she has a stable foundation to fulfill her dream cause I know Cornell won't be cheap or easy, but it's the #1 vet school in the country.

And yes, should she change her dream that is completely okay too....

Getting Financially Settled

August 23rd, 2010 at 07:12 am

I did the finances for September last night and sat there wondering "How are we doing financially better here than when we lived in the home we owned?" Especially when the rentals are operating at a loss.

I'll never be able to figure it out. But once we pay off DH's car and my credit card, things will really be relaxed compared to what we are used to. Right now it looks like we'll have $1500 left over after September bills. I'm also saving $60/week for emergencies that I didn't include in that amount. To put that into perspective, we are used to a couple hundred left over.

ALTHOUGH, once you figure in DH's ticket, that he might need his tire fixed, and our current fight with the HOA on our old house about CLEANING the roof (not that we are against it, but I don't want to risk damage to the roof for mild rain staining)... we may be back to what we are used to.

So depending if we need to clean the roof or not, how much DH's ticket, and if he needs a new tire or it just needs to be patched... we'll see.

However, with paying off my card (I pay $283/month - not the minimum, just the amount I like to pay) and DH's car ($475/mo) - things should be more and more relaxed.

This weekend we also went out on a date... sort of. We went to a wedding. But it was nice, DH and I had a blast and got to really hit it off with another couple because we had similar interests and likes.

So all in all, besides the whole economy situation (and occasional family issues), I'm starting to really like it here.

NOW, if only I could find a job in public accounting but all the firms around here aren't hiring. I'm not sure how much time I have before my CPA exam expires but if I can't find anything soon, I'm going to talk to my CFO if he is fine with me going down to part-time or I can adjust my work schedule so I can volunteer my time SOMEWHERE so I can get the experience I need.

I don't think he'd be opposed to it. He'd probably prefer it instead of my leaving. Our work doesn't have a provision for part-time work, but with the value I've brought to the company & having earned a reputation for one of the company's "A" players - I'm sure we could figure something out, even if it was considered like "Consulting" for the next couple years.

So I'm done

August 19th, 2010 at 06:34 am

With the CPA exam.

Final score
FAR 78
REG 78
AUD 84
BEC 77

I'm so relieved... now I just need to find a job.

I think all in all my interview went well with the 3 managers but I think if I messed up anywhere it was with the partner. Hopefully not too terribly.

The partner did spend 20 minutes talking with me and the 3 managers talked to me for about 40 minutes. Talking with the managers went great. There was some laughter so the mood was relaxed & I think the one manager liked that I was able to clearly define the deficiencies I saw on the volunteer audit that I did. But they are interviewing 2 other people who are just coming from a firm when we talked about retention in other firms being high (He said "We just interviewed two other people coming from a firm that turns over its entire staff every 2 years) although he did say they were short staffed and looking to add someone in 2-3 months.

I don't know... I'll drive myself nuts if I over-analyze the situation. Main thing is... I'M DONE WITH THE CPA EXAM!

I've got one thing out of the way, now just need to find a job. I think I'm going to go ahead and call some of the firms I sent resumes out to today.