<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Archive: December, 2009
 

Archive for December, 2009

I doubt many other people were doing this on Christmas Eve

December 25th, 2009 at 02:51 am

I have something sort of embarrassing to admit, especially considering my background.

I've been operating my rental property as a sole proprietorship but have not taken the effort to actually put any specific "business" things in.

Yes, me, an accountant, has kept my own personal business things in essentially a "shoebox" compiled somewhere between a folder I label for "taxes" and our general "rental property folder" with income and expenses flowing through our personal checking account.

So, in an attempt to get things right. I spent much of the day sorting through the mess & getting all of my 2007 stuff together. It took me awhile because, to be honest, when we started renting out the house - I had no idea what we had. Just that we were losing money on it so I didn't see a point in really "caring" about the loss beyond the fact that the loss reduced our personal taxable income.

Yeah, I know - dumb. Normally I'm supposed to be helping OTHER people make sense out of shoebox chaos - not myself.

But on the other hand, I also figured getting my own house in order is a pre-requisite to any potential I may have at starting my own bookkeeping service.

So I had to do a lot of investigating to figure out what we were really working with. But once I knew what assets I brought into the rental property, everything seemed to flow easily from there.

I'm going to try and work on 2008 & 2009 over the weekend. The biggest challenge I had was just sorting out the beginning balances, what amount was personal & business.

I downloaded Peachtree to get this all started. More so because I also want to gain experience using different accounting software programs & I feel better about trying something out with my own company before someone else's.

My boss is supposed to let me know about Quickbooks access this coming week, so if that all works out I can add both software programs to my resume as I figure all this out.

So yes, thats what I was doing on Christmas eve... spending about 6 hours going back all the way to 2007 to get my "books" for my rental right.

I figure from now on it should be easier & now I have firsthand experience of knowing what to do should someone come up to me with a bunch of invoices, receipts, escrow statements, etc.

The good news though is, once I had it all laid out in front of me. The rental wasn't really doing as bad as I had thought. It was nice to see an "Owner's Equity" account w/a balance in there. From my end, I usually just see the investment that I put into the property.

Oh but I did end up getting everything ready for Christmas... but like I said, the first 6 hours of the day was getting my books right to get everything into Peachtree. Which I doubt too many other people were doing today.

What are the chances?

December 23rd, 2009 at 07:01 pm

So yesterday I posted about how I completely forgot about my graduation mug that I had purchased in September.

I JUST remembered it last night. Called the company this morning & they said it was sent to me this month.

It arrived in the mail today.

Talk about coincidence. The mug completely leaves my mind for 3 months & I don't remember it till the NIGHT before I receive it.

Disappointment

December 23rd, 2009 at 03:05 pm

I keep studying for this CPA exam and keep finding that I'm struggling. I keep making silly mistakes, or I do the calculations & I can narrow my choice down to two... but I end up picking the wrong one.

I wish I knew what I was doing wrong.

Right now I'm studying exchanges in the second section of the financial portion of Becker's review course. And I keep wondering, how do I know when the exam asks a question - whether its an exchange lacking commercial substance or not?

The questions I'm looking at state a fair value for the other asset, so I assume it has commercial substance - but then I get the answer wrong because it lacks commercial substance.

I hope this is normal... to take an exam on these prep things & feel like even after studying for 4-6 hours everyday - you know nothing. Then when I do pass the section I wonder if its only because I've stared at the same questions over and over that I've memorized the answers w/o really learning.

I did find out I have till December 2010 to take all four parts of the CPA exam... so if I don't know the material as well as I'd like by January/February - I'm going to take my time. Its more important for me to PASS the exam than to simply take it. But wow, this stuff is tough & just when I think I have a concept down, I take a quiz to test that info & I get 40-60% correct even though I got 80-90%'s on the homework quizzes.

Things slip through the cracks

December 23rd, 2009 at 03:33 am

Things slip through the cracks when you're dealing with a loss.

I forgot until today that in September, I wrote a check to the University's bookstore for a specialized graduation cup with my name on it for $44.09.

The check was cashed 9/21

I still have yet to receive a mug and the thought didn't even occur to me until I drank hot chocolate tonight in my high school graduation cup & DH asked why my cup was bigger than his.

So I emailed the bookstore, hopefully something can be done. I'm not sure when I should have received the mug or if they are mailed after graduation.

Its been three months though... but I know why I didn't realize it till just now. Towards the end of September, all I could focus on was my Dad... the month of October was like a fog, and things have been in such a rush since then related to graduation that I just NOW realized it.

But as I said, hopefully I can still get the cup or they get my money back. I can't believe this went unnoticed for so long.

Hard work will pay off

December 22nd, 2009 at 01:51 pm

I truly believe in the end, if you stay true to your purpose - regardless of the circumstances you are given, hard work will pay off.

Not knowing where we are going to live in 6 months is unnerving. Especially as I'm preparing to take the CPA exam in a state that I may very well not be living in. However, this is where we are now... there are no residency requirements for me to be CPA licensed in this state & I've already achieved my master's degree which seems to be a standard requirement.

So I've decided that regardless of what happens in the future, I'm going to try to be licensed in this state. I want my CPA license bad enough that if I end up being licensed in 2 or 3 states in this process of DH being in the Navy & me wanting to maintain an active CPA license... well, that's better than having no license at all IMO.

But of course I have to pass the exam first.

As I attended my graduation on Saturday, it was surreal. The day before, I kept checking online to see if grades posted just to make sure. I knew I'd had to have bombed the exams to NOT pass, but a part of it didn't feel real till I had that final confirmation. In the end, I graduated with a final GPA of 3.53 for the program. Which is better than the 3.34 I had in undergrad.

I was nervous about DH & him being there alone with the four kids. But they ALL behaved. The older two were excited and my youngest just chomped away at the snacks I had put in the diaper bag for her. She hadn't napped so I tried to do whatever I could to set DH up for success.

In 2003, when I got my associates degree, he sat there with a 1 & 2 year old and at the end of it, he was MISERABLE. I didn't want a repeat.

But I had to explain yesterday to my daughter why, although I graduated and I'm done with school, I'm still stuck in books preparing for a test. Thankfully she is 9 and managed to get the general idea.

Anyhow, so that is where I currently stand. Preparing for the exam & contemplating which state(s) to get licensed in.

If we go to the West Coast, then I'll probably be less stressed about the whole process. But if we go to the border of California & Nevada, I probably will. Primarily because the town we'd be moving to has NO CPAs within an hour's drive (sometimes through a seasonally impassable road) unless I cross the border to Nevada.

All that stuff is unknown though & I'm not going to wait forever on DH's career to get my license. Hence, why I plan to pursue a license in my current state regardless of where we end up stationed.

Maybe its all silly, and I'm making stupid moves trying to get licensed here and wherever we end up - but I used that rationale when I graduated from school in 2004. I didn't take the CPA exam because I didn't know where we'd be, then they sent us back to this state where - had I taken the CPA exam back then - I'd be a CPA now because I would have been grandfathered under the old rules. I could have gotten a job at a CPA firm & gotten my masters degree still.

So I don't believe in waiting because of that. It didn't work last time & I'm not going to wait for my situation to tell me what to do. I plan to make my own path in life.

Day 1 of Studying for the CPA exam

December 18th, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Yesterday was my first day studying for the CPA exam. I hope it was just a bad first day (I'm taking the self study Becker course).

I got through all the lectures for the F1 section. I have 8 left to go.

I started later than I should have which only gives me a month to prepare for the exam INCLUDING to do the final review.

Today I have to do my best to rework the homework, try to memorize the material and do the flashcards. Not sure how the simulations work. It'd be nice if someone could grade them. I always hated that part of exams. I can do multiple choice easily, essays & such - thats more difficult to me.

Tomorrow I need to try to get through F2's lectures. Yes, on my graduation/commencement day - I will be trying to fit in time for those lectures. At the very least I need to try to get through this material in about 2 weeks & give myself 2 weeks for the final review.

Crazy.

If I ever have to do this again, I'm giving myself more time. But then again I'm not sure how well that would work.

I thrive off of tight deadlines and stress. If I don't have some sort of rigorous structure, I get complacent, waste time, etc. I struggle finding that happy medium between complete relaxation and being so stressed out my hair is falling out (Well, it literally is but I think a huge part of that is related to nutrition since its been faltering because of stress)

Well, off to make the kids' breakfast. Today is my son's Christmas party & I had to provide the cheese platter so I also have to drop that off at the school today & turn in the budget review for our company.

I just hope I end up passing all four parts the first time... but I also know only 10% of people do. So although I know its not likely, I'm going to try my best and see what happens from there.

My experience knowing a Retired Big 4 Accounting Firm Partner

December 17th, 2009 at 02:57 am

I feel really lucky to have gotten to know a retired a Big 4 Accounting partner over the past year in a very unique way.

I met her in the Spring and her background was unknown to me at the time. She was in my legal and controllership courses. The first day of class, she made an impression on me because she was much older than most of us but also well put together. She didn't seem like the "usual" 50 something masters student. She was very aware of what she wanted to do, confident, eloquent, and came into the class very professionally.

She also had etiquette skills and a way of relating to anybody that I WISH I had or could develop that skill one day.

Most of the other 50 something masters students that I know do it to pass the time, say they've been out of school so long that they are struggling... No, not her.

We had a mutual friend in the legal course introduce us, which was how I found out that she already knew all this stuff and had the experience those of us in class could only dream of.

Regardless, she wanted to teach in her retirement and without a master's degree - she couldn't. So back to school she went. She finished it in record time too. She started in January and is graduating with me on Saturday.

Anyhow,

Most of the professors knew her because of the firm's affiliation with the university, but one professor was new to campus that year. She wanted to be treated like other students so she didn't let up to the new professor what her background was. It was comical at times listening to the new professor, arrogant as he was, tell her "Now, when YOU are a CPA...." and she never let on that she was coming from one of the Big Four public accounting firms as a partner.

Our mutual friend did warn me though that although she is sweet as ever, she's a tough boss so I'm also well aware that underneath her very personable self - as our mutual friend says "She's a bulldog."

But anyhow, knowing her as a classmate this past year has been a unique privilege. And I took the opportunity this evening to tell her my dilemma with scheduling the CPA exam.

It was reassuring to hear from her that although stressful, she told me to just go for it... reminded me that I'm a good student & with my study habits I should be able to do well. But to make sure I focus in order to pass.

I hope to keep in touch with her in some capacity over the years. She has such a wealth of knowledge that I find it extremely admirable she went back to get her masters to teach in her retirement.

There aren't a lot of people that I meet in everyday life that take me aback where I just say 'wow' in amazement and can identify what a privilege it is to know someone. And its not purely because of her professional background, she has personal skills that I could only hope to one day have. I may not aspire to be a 'Big 4' partner but I can say that she is an accounting role model of mine.

Another step completed

December 16th, 2009 at 07:52 pm

I paid the testing fees today for the CPA exam. $890.50.

I made a mistake when applying with the state & I put all four parts at once. So I have to take all four parts of the exam by June 2010.

I guess its not too bad though. I have my Becker Review materials & right now my plan is to take:

Financial - January
Auditing - February
Regulation - April
Business - May

So June should give me enough time. The plan is for me to start studying next week.

All the while I'm sure some CPA is reading this and laughing at me like I'm blind-folded walking off a cliff.

But I figure I have to do this, if we end up moving in July - I want this behind me, so I'm going to give it my best shot and see what happens from there. I have good study habits, my 3.5 GPA is a testament to that - now I guess I just have to take those study habits and put them on steroids for the next 5 months.

Considering a new venture

December 16th, 2009 at 03:53 pm

Since I'll be graduating soon and getting my CPA license is high on my priority list... I'm considering trying to find a way to get the experience I need.

With DH in the Navy, moving is always a challenge. So I'm considering looking into what it would take to open up my own bookkeeping business on the side from my current job.

Since moving is a consideration, I'm thinking I'd probably want to cater towards clients who also conduct online transactions.

But there are start-up costs. Software, postage, simply FINDING clients. And regardless, I still need a mentor.

Right now I work pretty closely with our own company's bookkeeping service, so I'm sure I could talk to her as a sounding board - but on that same note, I want to be careful so that she knows I'm not trying to compete with her... just trying to gain experience & make sure I'm doing this right.

But what other things should I consider? I don't foresee this being a forever thing... or maybe I do. However, it won't be my main source of income till I ended up finding enough clients to do so & earned a reputation.

So we'll see. The thought came to me yesterday as I was talking to a classmate in an impromptu study group... I told her I work from home and she asked if I did bookkeeping. Instead I told her I'm an accountant for the marketing department, which is sort of an oxymoron, and figuring out how to spin that during a job interview will be interesting.

Thus I began thinking about what I could do in accounting to eventually get me to where I'm no longer doing a job title that I refer to as an oxymoron.

Maybe doing bookkeeping from home, or even finding a partner/friend to do this with me would be good. Yet I know I need a mentor, so somehow I'm going to have to find someone to guide me on this - at least till I can get started enough to do this on my own.

Unclaimed Property Searches

December 14th, 2009 at 04:43 pm

Last night I was bored so I did an unclaimed property search for myself and anyone I could think of.

I found unclaimed property for 5 of my relatives ranging in amounts from $0.01 to $1300. Then I found three of DH's military friends, and a friend's parent on there... all from just ONE state.

From other states, I found something for my step-dad and a few other friends.

SO even if you think you don't have unclaimed property, I really encourage everyone to go to various state websites (don't go to a site you have to pay) and search for yourself. DH and I didn't think we had any missing money last year... but we did.

Usually its small amounts but hey, money is money.

I'll be able to participate after all

December 14th, 2009 at 02:12 pm

I'm so excited. Ecstatic really.

I managed to register & get the amount of tickets I needed after all. I was soooo worried, I had a hard time focusing on studying because of it.

This is the end of a long road & it is soo important to me. Its a huge accomplishment but even more so because this marks the end of my academic education. When I got pregnant during my freshman year of undergraduate school (at 18), so many people told me I'd never get my degree - let alone my master's degree at 28.

I also wanted my older kids to see the graduation so they could see what they have to look forward to.

I'm just so relieved right now. I can't express how happy I am over this. Some people may think its silly cause I know some who are graduating that are just like "Just give me my diploma and leave"... but I didn't get to walk for my bachelor's degree because of the Navy. Knowing this was my last graduation, I wanted to be there.

My forgetfulness never ceases to amaze me

December 13th, 2009 at 02:25 am

Its been a hectic semester and with graduation ONE WEEK away, I thought I had everything done.

No, despite losing my Dad, going to Hawaii twice, working, dealing with family life and whatever else... I managed to register for graduation, apply to take the CPA exam... but I forgot ONE thing

To register for commencement

I had even bought my academic regalia.

I may be able to still walk, but I'm doubtful I'd be able to get the four tickets I need for my family to attend. They could still view it from an auxillary room though.

I now wonder if its worth the hassle. My poor husband in a room off to the side managing the four kids during a 2 hour ceremony in a busy room.

I always told myself that since I missed my bachelor's degree graduation thanks to the Navy, that I would attend my master's degree... and thanks to my forgetfulness, I may not even be able to.

I emailed the college to see, but if not... I guess I can just take a picture of myself in the regalia w/the kids so the $100 I spent on it doesn't COMPLETELY go to waste. I really only wanted to go because of them since they made their fair share of sacrifices along the way in this endeavor.

Still yet, I'm bummed. I thought I had everything taken care of, I didn't realize I also had to register for commencement (since I didn't go to my bachelor's degree graduation either).

The Homestretch

December 12th, 2009 at 11:30 pm

Well I'm in the homestretch... just have to take the final exams (or as the case with one of my classes, turn in the take-home final)

So I've been studying process costing, activity-based costing, variances, transfer pricing, and I think the other topics that I have to go over are budgeting & performance management.

But in a week from now, I will have my master's degree!!!!

I already have my CPA review course materials and start the prep course January 4th. Then on Saturdays I will volunteer for 2hrs at VITA from Feb-April.

I can hardly believe this is all really happening.

I am nervous about the CPA exam though. I hear so many people fail it the first time, and with a possible impending move - I wonder how that will all play into things.

We did get a pleasant surprise today though... DH got a check for $75.98 from the bank. I guess its sort of like a shareholder's account, so I am going to deposit that and use it to pay down our debt.

Amazing really... I thought this month would be really tight and somehow we are finding extra money. I also got a $30 rebate check in the mail the other day from when I bought my mixer.

Security System Costs

December 11th, 2009 at 07:01 pm

This whole door situation is turning out to be a big pain.

We had to replace it, took the alarm door sensor off then put it back EXACTLY how it was. But now its saying that its not working.

Our security system company will come for a charge of $25 for the trip $94 for the first 30 minutes, and $20 for every 15 minutes after.

To put this into perspective, we pay $25/mo with them for monitoring. We've also been customers for 4 years and had the system upgraded in our old house. We've spent quite a bit of money with them over the past 4 years.

Add onto this, we may be moving to the West Coast in 6 months. So I'm not going to buy new sensors and renew a contract that I'm going to have to break.

So I'm considering canceling.

I'd LIKE to keep the service and have my sensor fixed, but not at $120+ when we may be moving in 6 months.

I'm not opposed to paying a fee, but $120 when all the tech will probably have to do is show up and enter in some codes... no.

So I called the company to cancel & they offered me a $75 credit to offset the costs. Which is much more reasonable IMO

But DH wants me to cancel still.

Homemade Christmas Cards

December 7th, 2009 at 12:20 am

Just before my Dad passed, he gave me his camera. A Canon Digital Rebel XS.

Its been a long time since we've taken family pictures. We had formal family pics done in 2001, 2004, 2005, none in 2006, we had a renewal of vows pic in 2007, none in 2008... but this year, I wanted to be different but not spend an arm and a leg.

I also wanted to send Christmas cards this year. I never really saw a point in them - nobody actually keeps those things do they? But for some reason this year I look at it as an opportunity to show the ones we love that we are thinking of them & wishing them well.

So I bought the kids red, white, and black turtlenecks from Target. DH had his white dress shirt & I had a red silk blouse with a black cardigan.

Used Dad's camera, posed in front of the tree and we got some wonderful pictures.

Uploaded the pics to a photo website where I was able to create my own Christmas cards and voila... for about $60 (kids' clothes was about $30 and cost of the stationary was $30) - I had family pictures AND Christmas cards.

Considering that whenever I used to go to the PicturePeople I would spend around $200... that is a HUGE improvement without having to skimp on a family portrait.

Fondue at Home

December 6th, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Well, after debating what to do for our anniversary. DH and I just decided to do fondue at home. We were going to go to "The Melting Pot" but with the trouble of finding a sitter (no relatives in the area and because I've been so focused on my education and my daughter's occupational therapy... my social life has no friends)

And since we made that decision, I feel a lot more relaxed... even when I brought it up to DH he said "Well, it would be cheaper."

I really think slowly but surely our behavior is changing so that when we are finally out of debt we will stay out.

So no big fanfare. We'll buy the wine and everything we need at the grocery store for cheese & chocolate fondue. We have a fondue set so we might as well use it Smile

Still not sure what I'm going to do for him for Christmas & his birthday this month. I redeemed some of our "points" with our debit card so I got a $50 Target card so I'll have to go at some point to see what he likes. Thinking of it now I should have gotten it for Brookstone instead since we got a catalog yesterday and he was pointing out a lot of things he would like.

Reaching a huge milestone and no money to celebrate

December 5th, 2009 at 04:46 pm

DH and I are reaching our 10th anniversary in less than a week and we currently don't have ANY plans.

With fixing the house and Christmas, we don't have money from our EF. I projected our finances out till February, and after February we should be good. I already figured out that from our Federal return it should be $8K+ which will allow me to pay off one credit card, my oldest DD's braces, and put an extra $1000 on the other CC.

But in the meantime, I'm graduating with my master's degree and we have our 10 year anniversary - but no money to celebrate. Our budget is VERY tight this month.

So I don't really know what to do. I don't want to put anything on a CC. I still want to celebrate it though.

That leads me to the only money I do have available... The life insurance proceeds still sitting in my own savings account.

There is $6298 in there. If DH and I went out to dinner & paid for a babysitter, it could easily be covered in the $298 or less. Plus I haven't even gotten him anything for Christmas yet (well, aside from us planning to get him tint on his car). So the $298 could be used to help get him something for Xmas too.

But I don't know, I'd really like to not touch it but that seems like my only options. Or to not celebrate at all... but these feel like huge enough milestones that to let them go by completely un-celebrated doesn't feel right either.

So I'm not sure. We're not in the red with our budget but we don't exactly have any leeway either. I've even pushed off our allowance so even though he gets $50/mo - this month we're just pushing it off so he gets $100 next month and nothing this month.

Omens

December 3rd, 2009 at 01:25 pm

This isn't finance related but just something that has crossed my mind.

Back in July, a lot of things were happening with birds and me.

A dead cardinal was found on our doorstep & I took it and disposed of it

Then on my way to class, a crow flew into my windshield and I was certain that I killed it as I was traveling 55 mph

I remember then wondering if it was a bad omen. Stuff like that had never happened to me before.

August my Dad was hospitalized, September it was confirmed it was terminal and he died on the first day of October.

Omen? I have no idea... but if dead birds start showing back up in my life I can at least say I will be nervous.

Priorities

December 2nd, 2009 at 11:20 pm

So I figured out how to pay for the door without putting us in the red this month.

BUT for January 2010, I have a couple of issues:

As part of my 2010 goal, I want to max out my Roth IRA. Then DH and I will BOTH be saving 15% of our income towards retirement.

But if I pay for the door & our other expenses AND start putting $416/mo away for retirement for me - then we end up $447 in the red.

My youngest's birthday is in January so I allocated $100 for that (pictures, cake, and a present). I'm considering holding back one of her Christmas gifts for her birthday so then I just have to pay for pictures and her cake with the $100.

My allowance money will have accumulated to $150, and DH's to $121.17

I really don't like the idea of having to forego another month of saving for my retirement. So something is going to have to give.

I'll probably forgo some of my allowance money for the time being and push back my retirement savings to February when we have our tax return.

So we'll see... I have a month to plan for this and see how I'll adjust. I'm estimating our tax return (State and Federal) will be around $10K next year so I plan on paying off one of my CCs.

Helping Family

December 2nd, 2009 at 01:21 pm

DH talked to his parents yesterday and for those that don't know - he is the 9th of 10 kids. They live on welfare and we try to distance ourselves from the siblings from his mom cause they are just bad news... arrests, poor decisions, and drugs.

There are two kids from his Dad's prior marriage that are really well off.

So anyhow, after the phone call DH was talking about the $140 he should get from this trip and sending it to his parents. He was going to use it on tint for his car as a Christmas present. I guess his parents need the money to fix their cars (but they didn't ask for it, just said that it cost $90 cause their cars broke. They drive paid off junkers.)

I was less than agreeable to the idea. I literally said:

"I'm against it for 2 main reasons. One, if your siblings see your parents with any sort of money - they just take it from them because your parents enable them. And 2), we owe $40K+ in credit card debt - I don't think we are in a position to help your parents" (Especially when we don't have the cash on hand to fix our own house).

DH wasn't thrilled with that idea but that is just how I feel. His parents are constantly giving his siblings money cause they make dumb decisions.

His other well-off siblings send money to his parents, that should be enough. I know its Christmas and all... but when he owes $27K on his credit card and I owe $17K on mine... we just aren't in the position to "help" without it being to our detriment.

But I told him he could forfeit his allowance money if its that important to him.

Finally got the door estimate

December 1st, 2009 at 05:44 pm

We got the estimate to replace the door today

$1074

Our EF is currently at around $911. So we're a bit short and it would deplete our EF.

I have the $6298 in my savings but as I told DH... I want to save that money for the type of situation I'd go to my Dad in tears over. This just isn't it.

I did tell him we could both forfeit our allowances to make up the difference (we have about $171 accumulated between both of our allowances for Nov & Dec) or wait till February when we get our tax return.

Going back, there are things I wish I had held off on which would have made the purchase of the doors easier.

I don't regret using the $300 to pay for Christmas presents for the kids. But earlier in November I wrote a check for $173.25 for my Master's Degree diploma frame.

I have nowhere to actually HANG my diploma & my other diploma just sits in the closet. And there are a few other things - taking my daughter to the movies in November ($16.25) then buying DH beer as my bribe for us going to the movies ($19)

Those things alone would have put the door purchase more in reach.

Oh well, you live and learn. Just have to see what DH thinks as well. I'm willing to forfeit my allowance or wait... but I would like to see what he is more open to before making a final decision.