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Archive for February, 2010

Absolutely ELATED

February 28th, 2010 at 11:56 am

I passed! I passed!

I wasn't even expecting my results to be out since I thought I was in the 2nd wave of test scores.

I got a 78 (75 is passing)

But I am just sooo elated passing the first time around. I used both Becker's regular course and the final review.

Couldn't have done it without that program and here I thought I wasn't ready and was preparing to retake it

There are some things...

February 24th, 2010 at 12:57 pm

There are some things as a parent that I'm just extremely grateful for...

- "Free" healthcare (It's not really free, any active duty service member knows that) but we don't pay a deductible or copay for it

- Living just down the street from a hospital with an ER that has virtually NO wait

- FANTASTIC neighbors

The elementary school called me and told me to take my son to the doctor. He had fallen and cut his eyebrow. So I grabbed the baby, let my boss and coworkers know that if I wasn't around - it was because I was taking my son to the ER. This was at 10:40/11:00 am.

By 11:15, my son was in the car and we were on the way to the hospital. I hadn't taken off the bandage since I had remained fairly calm and composed, I didn't want exposing the wound and seeing what was REALLY going on to suddenly cause me to panic.

I quickly parked and walked right in to the receptionist to check my son in. No one was in the waiting room and directly from there, they triaged us, and then immediately gave us a room.

The doctor was in shortly after and said that he'd need three stitches. Getting to see my son's wound at the hospital made me realize it wasn't so bad, the blood on his shirt, chin, and seeing it soak through the bandage made me think it was worse than it was (Hence, the apprehension to unveil the wound prior to getting to the hospital).

I've never seen anyone get stitches before so I didn't know how he would react. As a precaution they wrapped him in a blanket and told him it was so he wouldn't get his clothes bloody. I wanted to cry right there with him when they put the needle in to numb the area. It looked painful as the medicine was injected causing it to puff up the area.

Keep in mind, during all this, my 2 y/o is in the same room but is just sitting there so quietly in her chair looking at her stickers. You wouldn't have even known she was there. Honestly, how did I get blessed with such great kids?

Three stitches later, we were quickly discharged and in the car by noon. Two hours later my neighbor calls to see how he is doing. Our kids are in the same class and her & another classmate that was having a playdate over there were so concerned because DS went to the nurse after a bloody scene at the playground... and never came back.

They came over bearing gifts of cards and sweets. It was so adorable that the two girls cared so much to bring those over for him & see how he was doing.

So to say the least, today was an eventful day. To top it off - I did at least get some stuff accomplished. I finished listening to the lectures for the 2nd Auditing module and put in a few hours for work.

So after I make dinner and finish 100 M/C questions to study for Auditing... I'll be sooo ready to relax. Nevertheless, I'm so grateful to be blessed with the above three things. I can only imagine how much more stressful something like this would have been if I didn't have such wonderful insurance, availability to quality urgent care, and having such caring neighbors.

When the time comes

February 17th, 2010 at 07:18 am

When the time comes that I do leave my company, I think I'm going to seek out a career in auditing.

I've discovered that my interests are primarily related around auditing & discovering how the internet affects the way companies do business.

Virtual businesses pop up everywhere nowadays. It started with virtual e-tailers like Amazon & Blue Nile. But those places still have a main headquarters.

However, now we have work-at-home companies that have outgrown their "home" and are now completely virtual.

I'm interested in learning more about how accountants and auditors handle those challenges. Where people nowadays send contracts virtually through PDF files in email along with credit apps.

I'm also learning the challenge of trying to communicate to marketers that revenue retention is just as important if not more so than revenue generation.

There's a lot to learn out there and the internet has changed the way we do business & I'm completely curious to see how the accounting and legal field has adapted to those changes.

Ridiculous

February 15th, 2010 at 05:46 pm

So I was planning on taking a week off of this CPA stuff

Come Monday I soon discovered that I had all this energy & free time, that by 8 pm I was bored. I had put in 8 hours at work, made dinner, did dishes, and watched a movie.

Then once the kids hit bedtime... I went back to the books and began studying Auditing.

Tell me how the plan to take 1 week off became just 2 days?

Oh well, I think I'm actually going to like auditing and hopefully its easier. Most of my graduate courses were on auditing & I like finding other people's errors... also have an interest in interrogation & fraud examination.... so I may actually like this one.

We'll see, I'm just in the first section.

Teaching personal responsibility & accountability

February 15th, 2010 at 05:43 am

DD just called me from school to remind ME to sign her Wednesday folder when she gets home. My response "You do know its YOUR responsibility to bring that to me, right?"

"Yes"

"So bring it to me when you get home"

In fact its all of the kids' responsibility to manage their own paperwork. With four kids, work, and studying and trying to keep up with DH's crazy schedule - I can't keep up without their cooperation.

I also make them follow a budget. They had been doing well with it for months, $20 at the start of every month for school lunches at $2/lunch. They'd sit down at the beginning of the month and plan out which days they would buy and which they'd make lunch.

Well, they didn't do that for February and just started buying whenever they felt like it. I got into them today and said they need to have a budget otherwise they are spending money they don't know if they have & then when they run out they'll have to owe the cafeteria money (since I know they won't let them go hungry).

I was tempted to force them to draw up a budget before spending, but then thought... What if I let them fail this time? If they learned the lesson now of what it would be like to owe money and not have any - maybe they wouldn't make the bigger mistakes later in life? If I didn't rescue them when it comes to a $2/lunch - maybe that would be a better lesson.

I swear, if my kids do nothing else... I will be soooo proud of them if they can learn independence, responsibility, and accountability. Because I know if they have those skills, they'll succeed in whatever they put their mind to in life. Of course I'll also teach them about doing things for the benefit of the family & community, but its just soo important to me for them to want more out of life and demand more of themselves.

BTW, this is my 9, soon to be 10, year old. Oddly enough, my 8 year old is more fiscally responsible and can manage her paperwork. Which is surprising because my 9 year old is more conscientious and my 8 year old is more absent-minded. However, the 9 y/o wants to be a fashion designer... the 8 y/o a veterinarian. So I think my 8 y/o developed this philosophy because we tell her all the time that vet school costs a lot of money. Meanwhile, my daughter who wants to be a fashion designer just sees so many things she wants to buy because she loves fashion.

My 5 y/o isn't held to these standards yet. But he's pretty down-to-earth and wants to be a police officer. At this rate, I feel like my 2 y/o could do anything. She's musically inclined and loves animals.

Epiphany

February 14th, 2010 at 08:35 am

Ok, so after the exam I went over to a coworker's house that recently joined our team.

The day before I talked to our CFO about additional opportunities to move further towards accounting.

Well, at the coworker's house I discovered that she discovered an affiliate fraud ring within the customer service department and thats how she progressed so quickly.

And I kept thinking about this... WE (as a company) should have caught that sooner. Why did we not?

The answer came to me today. We already have "accounting roles" but we are so separated throughout the company that the right hand isn't talking to the left.

When she started seeing chargebacks go up, we should have also been seeing that in our department (which is similar to purchasing because we make the contracts and spend the money). We also look at profitability anaylsis... so we should have been seeing delinquency rates per advertising partner. But we don't see that, delinquencies are the customer service side of things.

I also help with the budget to help our treasurer project cash flows.

Seems to me that what is currently being done in customer service is receivables, my department is purchasing/payables, and then the CFO and Treasurer are the executive management.

SO I emailed the CFO today (he wanted to know how I felt about the test) and I told him, what if we were able to create an official internal accounting department to enhance our communication, focus, and be able to detect frauds sooner, reduce the redundancy, and probably create further progress through this improved communication?

Its a shot. But I think thats the problem, I just hope the CFO is receptive to the idea that we really could have our own department without taking away from the people who actually receive the invoices and sign the checks. There is so much we could improve on that could still be done virtually.. improving our internal controls, budget planning, and purchasing functions.

I have been jaded the past few years cause I was continuously told "No, we don't have the resources" or "I don't want to take anything away from the payables people we already have." But maybe we don't have to take away from them... they can keep doing what they are doing & we can become better organized to help management?

It just took someone "new" to the team to re-inspire me to present these ideas again.

An all day affair

February 12th, 2010 at 03:58 pm

Well now its just a waiting game. I think DH wasn't prepared for it to be an all day affair, by 4 pm he was calling me like crazy and I didn't answer cause I was on my way home and couldn't hear the phone.

I left the house at 7:30 and got to the place by 8:30... I didn't know what traffic would be like and its 40-50 miles away so I figured it'd be better to be on the safe side.

I don't know when I started the test, my appointment was at 10 but I went early and was back in my car by 1:30. I finished with just 5 minutes to spare and I just hope I passed.

I didn't anticipate being crunched for time but towards the end I saw that I had only a 50 minutes for 2 simulations, so I went as fast as I could through them to make sure that I answered everything (I figured it was better to answer everything vs leaving some stuff unanswered).

Only part I really question is the one simulation part... just one of the tabs... but I hope I at least did well enough on everything else that I still pass.

After that, I drove to my co-worker's house. I had never met her before but she lived really close to the testing center, so I spent about an hour and a half there.

Then left her house at 3:30 pm and didn't get home till 5:15 or so cause DH wanted me to pick up milk.

Of course at this time since I didn't call, he's freaking out asking why I never called. But really, as soon as I got back in my car I programmed my Garmin to take me home and just went cause I wanted to miss rush hour traffic.

Plus its a stick shift & I'm not confident about driving while talking on the phone with a standard.

So I'm just now starting to relax, but I feel like it went okay. I tried my best so whether I pass or fail, I did my best.

That said, the questions were soooo different than what I saw on Becker. I kept seeing the screens and thinking... is this next module easier? harder? To gauge how I was doing (the test is supposed to give you an easier testlet if you aren't doing well on the previous one)... and I really couldn't tell. They all seemed the same.

Just about to head out

February 12th, 2010 at 03:59 am

I keep trying to remind myself that I already know this stuff... if I don't pass then its because I panicked. I know this stuff, its now just a matter of trying to get my brain to properly recall the information when I need it to.

I've got anything related to the income statement & comprehensive income down. Marketable securities, depreciable assets, and such should be good to go.

Not even going to discuss my weaknesses because even with my weaknesses, I know the "basics". So we'll see how it goes.

Here is hoping I pass =)

What's better?

February 11th, 2010 at 06:29 am

To pay something small OFF or put your money where it'll make the most difference based on the numbers

I'm seriously debating this because I'm paying off my $7K card today but I have about $1250 left over to pay down on another card.

What we have remaining is:
$9500 at 1.99% till July
$27500 at 7.75% (no special promotion, thats the normal card rate)

The minimum amount that I pay is $154 and $468/mo, respectively.

I could POSSIBLY pay off the smaller card if I take my inheritance and apply it to the card... but that leaves little for contingencies that will happen from moving & traveling this summer.

DH and I are still in a holding pattern regarding whether or not we are visiting his family while driving back. We're going to be doing the cross country move driving and have 4 kids and 2 pets (one really big golden retriever at that and the cat will have a litter box) during this move so I'm not exactly thrilled.

Dh wants to stay a week, and I don't get that much time off. But we also see his family maybe once every 2-3 years USUALLY, we just saw them last March though so this would be the shortest amount of time we went in between visits if we see them.

I told him we could do a couple things:

1) Stay longer but I just won't get paid that week since I won't have PTO

or visit some other time. His Dad isn't in the best health but he's not dying either so after losing my Dad I'm hesitant to tell him to wait to see family.

So I don't know. I have my inheritance of $10000 plus our $1000 EF... an upcoming move and credit cards to pay off. And I have no idea what I want to do with the money.

On the upside I talked to my CFO again and with us moving out to Nevada he said it wouldn't be a big deal for me to travel out to Los Angeles so I could finally meet the accounting team & what they do. He's really been my sounding board in trying to help me get to where I want to be professionally & has told me that if I'm in commuting distance from Reno, he may be able to help me get more connected to something that could help me get my CPA license.

I will probably be just outside of commuting distance unless I want to be like DH and travel 1 hr to work everyday. So we'll see. But I feel fortunate that although my growth in the company may be limited so long as I'm not in Los Angeles, the CFO has my back.

Learning through osmosis

February 9th, 2010 at 07:37 pm

I finally reached a point where I was NOT learning anything else on governmental or not-for-profit accounting, so I resorted to my fail-proof method of studying... napping while listening to the lectures.

I don't quite know WHY it works, but it does. I don't really fall asleep, but I think its a form of self-induced hypnosis and the results speak for themselves.

Prior to the "nap" - I scored a 55% on governmental accounting

After the "nap" - I scored an 84% and "knowing" which one was the right answer almost seemed intuitive

I think this method works through in two ways:

1) It allows my brain to rest while my body still takes in the information. Ever fall asleep with the TV on and dream about what's on TV? Yes, that's what I do - CONSTANTLY

2) It keeps me from over-thinking while I'm "learning". With my eyes closed, focused on relaxing & taking in my surroundings (including what I'm listening to on the lectures) I'm able to take the information in without second guessing myself or over-thinking the situation.

Definitely an unconventional way to learn but something that has been a critical study habit of mine. In fact, I used it when studying for my controllership class. I had recorded the lectures on my Livescribe pen & when my mind had turned to mush on variances - I plugged the headphones in and fell asleep to the lecture.

Now, if only it wasn't insulting to fall asleep during a meeting/lecture in person. LOL I'd have a hard time explaining to someone THEN "No, No, I retain all the information better this way"

But of course, I only recommend this if you find your brain turning to mush, you're over-thinking the situation, and your mind just needs to rest but you still need to study.

Feeling a little more confident

February 7th, 2010 at 07:43 pm

I started doing Becker's Final Review course over the weekend and I think that course is like a godsend to me. I feel a bit more confident now about some of the material, especially the simulations.

I can say that I'm fairly confident about depreciation, the income statement, comprehensive income, and a few other topics. I think I have accounting for installment sales, percentage of completion, completed contract, and cost recovery down.

What has me sweating is consolidations, pensions, and government & not-for-profit accounting. But I haven't covered that in the final review course yet.

I am getting a little more confident on bonds, and the whole amortization and effective interest rate stuff. I was making a lot of silly mistakes before.

By now I'm sure I've lost most of you because all this will sound like greek unless you're in the accounting/finance world. Yet, I'm glad I didn't reschedule my test.

I'm not sure what it is about Becker's ACTUAL course that makes my eyes glaze over and I feel like I'm not retaining anything. Maybe cause there is soooo much? I mean, the book alone is over 1000 pages. It's overwhelming in itself.

The final review course is much more condensed and the lectures are now more than an hour at a time, some as little as 8 minutes. The focus there is more on showing you HOW to do the problems instead of the concepts (the course focuses more on the concepts).

Sure concepts are important, but I need to know how to do the problems to let the concepts REALLY sink in for me.

So we'll see how it goes. My panic is a bit more subdued and I'm feeling like I can actually do this after all.

Now, I'm just hoping I pass.

Stress and Professional Exams

February 6th, 2010 at 07:55 pm

I take the Financial Part of the CPA exam on Friday and I'm stressed. Incredibly so, I have no idea if I'll pass. I wish I was more confident, but in the meantime I'm just trying to study as much as I can.

I took a simulated exam last night and only got a 61% on the multiple choice. Immediately I wanted to reschedule my test but two problems with that

1) My DH is leaving sometime this month (not sure when) and Friday is my only FOR SURE GUARANTEED date I know I'll be able to take it this month

2) If I push it back till April (can't take it in March cause the testing window is closed) then I'll be doubling up on tests which will probably be more stressful since we'll also be showing the house that month for prospective tenants.

DH calmly reassured me I have about a week left to study and to just give it my best. It sucks that I have about $225 riding on this exam but I'm going to try my best and see where I go from there.

I'm also taking Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday off from work so I can focus on the exam. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed that by some miracle I can pass or Becker's CPA Final Review course will magically help get me through this.

I hope.

I hope.