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Relaxed, Rejuvenated, Recharged

28 Jul

This post is being brought to you by the new and improved Calm Carrie just coming off of a ridiculously relaxing vacation.

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Lloyd and I just spent a week in the infamous retirement town of Boca Raton, Florida.  We stayed at a recently renovated resort that was located right on the beach and was the perfect spot for our post-CPA/engagement celebration/summer vacation that I’ve been anticipating for a loooooooooong time.  (Side note: We did attempt to visit the Del Boca Vista Phase III, but, unfortunately, we were unable to locate it.)

In case you hadn’t noticed by my numerous complaints and rants on the blog, the CPA took a lot out of me.  More than I ever expected.  In college – to put it simply – I owned.  I plowed through 18 hours of Accounting, Business, and Spanish classes each semester with internships and a busy social scene on the side without so much as a second thought of it all.  School had always come very easy to me.

But, when I started studying for the CPA, something didn’t click.  I struggled from the beginning.  I lost sleep from the first night I cracked the books (Which, by the way, had never ever been a problem for me before.  Prior to the CPA, I could have come away from the Sleep Olympics with gold medals in endurance, strength, and skill if there was such a thing.).  I had trouble balancing the new 25 hours per week recommended study schedule and spent many nights lying awake in bed considering giving up the entire ordeal.

But I didn’t.  I pushed through despite all my struggles.  Physically and mentally, I haven’t felt completely relaxed since I started the process.  Even after I passed, I still felt rushed and stressed.  On top of that, I got engaged and started planning a wedding.

Anyway, I knew I needed to get away.  I knew I needed to turn off my phones, computer, e-mail, twitter, mailbox, and blog, and recharge myself to my pre-CPA capacity.

Low-key, slow-moving Boca Raton was the perfect answer.

We spent an entire week eating, snoozing, sunbathing, reading books for pleasure, and playing and frolicking in the waves of the Atlantic.  With each passing day, I felt more and more of the CPA anxiety that had engrained itself into me slowly seep out of my body.  By the end of the trip, I’d wrung my body almost completely dry of that stress.  The test finally started to seem like a distant memory. (Side note: The CPA Exam process was totally and completely worth it.  I wouldn’t have changed a thing.  Yes, it was grueling; but, it has made me stronger and better.  Nothing wrong with that.)

It was, hands-down, the most relaxing week of my life.  Well, at least since I became an adult, because, let’s face it, age 6 is pretty relaxing when all you have to worry about are dollies and popsicles.

I’m back.  I’m relaxed, rejuvenated, recharged, and, most of all, happy.

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Carrie, CPA

24 Jun

I’m a CPA!

Woooohoooooooooo!

After all the hard work, long days, and sleepless nights, I FINALLY got a passing score for the last test this week!  (See more of my CPA journey here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.  The last one is my favorite.)

This is how it went down:

  • BEC Test: May 2009 – 80 (Pass)
  • AUD Test: August 2009 – 81 (Pass)
  • REG Test: March 2010 – 90 (Pass)
  • FAR Test: May 2010 – 80 (PASS and DONE!)

I honestly have no idea how I got that score on the FAR test.  All that praying really must have worked.  Yes, I worked my tail off, but that test was killer.  Oh well, who cares!  All that matters is that I passed!

FAQs:

So…are you done?  For the most part, yes.  I am done with the actual CPA Exam.  However, I still have to take an ethics exam (08/04/2010 update: Ethics exam, passed!) have a CPA vouch for my work experience, get my initial license form notarized, and send it off to the state board.  But, really, the hard part is O-V-E-R!

Was it worth it? Yes.

What now?  Losing the 8-10 pounds I put on during the CPA exam (actually only about 6 left to go until I’m back at my steady weight).  Enjoying my evenings and weekends.  Doing things I love that I had to put off during the year of the CPA.

Are you going to get a raise?  Not right away.  In my line of work, CPAs are few and far between so it should be …. helpful.

Can you call yourself a CPA?  Not technically.  To my friends and my blog readers, I can.  But I can’t use it professionally until all my admin stuff is completed.  This will take months.  I’ll probably be a full-fledged CPA with bells on sometime in October.

What did you learn?  Work your a$$ off.  When you think you’ve reached your limit, do more.

What’s your new project?  Setting up my new blog, wedding planning, leading a healthy/fit life, and enjoying my favorite peeps.

A Little Less Studying, A Little More Fun

28 May

Let’s recap the test day events, shall we?

  • Successfully took the epically brutal Financial CPA test on Wednesday.
  • The test is 4 hours long.  I left with 1 minute and 45 seconds to spare.
  • The first 3 sections of the test are 30 multiple choice questions each.  Rumor has it that the first section is always medium difficulty.  If you do well, your next section will bump to hard difficulty.  If you do bad, it will just stay with medium difficulty.  This is how my multiple choice sections went:  medium>>hard>>medium  So, I did good on the first section, got owned on the second section, and did okay on the third section.  When I saw the questions go back to medium on the third section, I felt like an idiot.  I almost felt like the test was mocking me.  Whatevs, CPA exam.  (For the record, on my last exam, I was so outrageously prepared, that my sections went medium>>hard>>HARDEST.  And I killed it.  Which is why I was awarded with a 90.  Booyah.)
  • The last two sections are simulations which are comprised of about 6-8 mini-sections of calculations (think completing a trial balance, foreign currency translations, journal entries, statements of stockholders’ equity calculations, etc.), 2 written memos to clients, and 2 research questions.  I hate to put it this way, but the last two sections basically mind-rape you.  I literally buried my head in my hands during the last 30 minutes and wanted to cry.  The fact that my neighboring test-taker was stinking up the room didn’t help matters much.
  • I am 100% certain that I did not do as well on this test as I did on the last three tests.  But I worked my butt off for 4 hours straight, so I’m happy with myself.
  • If I pass, it will be a barely passing score.  That’s okay. I just want a 75 and to move on with my life.  I do NOT want to re-live those 240 minutes of torture ever again.

What’s next? 

  • Letting my brain decompress by enjoying a little mindless entertainment in the form of these two things:

lauren-conrad-sweet-little-lies sex-and-the-city-2-movie-poster

source                         source

  • Operation get my booty back in shape.  I’m hovering around the 140 pound mark right now.  Not cool.  I like to hover around the 133 pound mark.  That’s my goal for mid-July when our beach vacay rolls around.  Have I not blogged about that?  Shame on me.  I’ll post about our beach vacay very soon.
  • Fun, fun, fun.  I’ve requested from Lloyd that we do nothing but have fun (and work out) over the three days.  Saturday, Sunday, Monday will be nothing but fun.  Tomorrow Lloyd is taking me out (what a guy), on Sunday we are having a birthday bash/BBQ for Lloyd’s 31st birthday, and Monday we might go to the pool!  Woohoo!!!!!
  • Operation organize my life.  My apartment has become a warzone during the final throes of my studying escapade.  I did a ton of work on it yesterday.  It’s slowly but surely starting to look normal again.  I am a bit of a neat freak and am not okay with living in clutter for very long.  Watch your back, messiness!  I’m coming after you!
  • Blog more.  ‘Nuff said.
  • Bask in the glory of not having a dark CPA cloud hanging over my head at all times.  Yesterday (the first day of no studying in over a year) was literally one of the best. days. EVER!!!!!

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Back-Up Plan: If Today Is An Epic Fail

26 May

In about 3 hours, I’ll be heading across state lines to take the test.  I know, I know.  How could I possible have anymore to say concerning this dreaded test?  Well, I do.

There’s a strong possibility that I could fail this test today.  This test is a beast.  The three tests prior to this test aren’t even on the same level as this test.

So, I’ve got a back-up plan.

I’ll take the test today.  I’ll put my blood, sweat, and tears into the questions for four straight hours.  (Only breaking to inhale a Clif bar and maybe have a mild panic attack.)

After that, I’ll return to my normal life that I enjoyed pre-CPA exam which consisted of:

  • working out 6 days/week (oh, how I miss this schedule)
  • eating/cooking healthy meals most nights
  • living in an organized/clean apartment
  • having a social life
  • generally enjoying the good life

However, I’ll still keep my CPA books close at hand.  I’ll brush up on materials once a week or so until I get my score in late June (June 22-June 28ish).

IF I receive a failing score in late June, I’ll pick up where I left off and study for 2 weeks.  I’ll still be fresh, so at that point, I’ll just be nailing all the information down, organizing it in my brain, and clearing the dust away.  This is how I should feel today, but that’s neither here nor there.

So, if I fail, I’ll pay the $300 to re-take the damn test for the second time, at which point I will pass.  This is not a question of IF I can pass this silly test, it’s merely a question of WHEN I’ll be prepared enough to pass.  If that time is not today, then it will be in the first couple days of July.  No biggie.

Of course, best cased scenario would be that I just pass the dang test today and be done with it.  But the back-up plan isn’t so bad either.

In Need Of A Miracle

25 May

Test is tomorrow.  Using today to do the following.  Sorry for the to-do list.  I’m usually not one for these kinds of posts:

  • Bond Payable/Amortization
  • Present Value of Leases
  • Pension Accounting
  • Government Accounting
  • Not For Profit Accounting
  • Basic Financials
  • Derivative Basics
  • Foreign Currency Translation
  • Partnership Accounting
  • Stockholders’ Equity
  • Pray
  • Pray
  • Pray

Yeah, those are the things I’m weak in.  What am I strong in right now?  Hmmm… investments, business combinations, financial statements….  Yeah, that’s about it.

I have recited the Lord’s Prayer so many times that I think He is starting to get sick of me. 😉

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…

The Key To Fruitful Study Sessions…

17 May

….is to change the scenery.

I just re-positioned the recliner in my bedroom (yeah, there’s a recliner in my bedroom) to have it awkwardly facing my open window.  My feet are propped up on the sill, the breeze is cooling my cheeks, and I’m hammering out government accounting rules like they’re the most interesting thing since, well, the most interesting man in the world.

Other changes of scenery I’ve been trying out lately:

  • sitting on floor between coffee table/couch
  • sitting on couch pillow on floor between coffee table/couch
  • laying on stomach on floor in living room
  • laying on stomach on bed facing the aforementioned window (and being momentarily distracted by the little girl on the balcony directly across from me pointing to a puppy walking by and repeatedly shouting “poopy! poopy!”)
  • library study rooms
  • sitting on table in library study rooms (totally works)
  • glaring at noisy kids from library study rooms through the little glass window in the door
  • deck chairs (until nasty pigeons took over and left “poopy” everywhere)
  • in my car driving to work….whoopsies.  (only at red lights, promise)
  • conference rooms at work are excellent for hi-jacking over lunch and on breaks and after work

Is anyone still awake out theretheretherethere?

(Funny how my writing is flowing like an oil spill after giving up twitter and really focusing on my studies.  Perhaps studying hardcore really gets those creative juices flowing?)

Snap Out Of It, Woman!

13 May

Here’s the dealio:  my next (and last, whoop whoop) CPA exam is in just under 2 weeks.

I’m totally not ready for it and that makes me LOL.

You see, I’ve been studying for the exams since March 16, 2009.   Yeah, I remember the day.  Wouldn’t you remember the day you got locked up without committing a crime?

After almost 15 months of studying, my eyes have started to glaze over with every multiple choice question I skim through and I insanely giggle at every mnemonic that Peter Olinto lovingly tells me to remember.  (Peter is my hot, Italian instructor that I spend most mornings with.  He may be coming at me from a pre-taped compact disc, but he delivers a Generally Accepted Accounting Principal like nobody’s business.)

So, yep.  I’m totally half-assing my studying right now.  Wait, scratch that.  I’m giving it everything I’ve got, but after over a year of this bullshiz accounting mumbo jumbo, I ain’t got much left.

But I’m not complaining.  I got myself into this mess.  Sometimes when I’m feeling really low about the whole situation, I’ll try to blame it all on Lloyd.  I’ll say he forced me into it against my will.  Then, he’ll grab me by my shoulders, give me a couple good shakes, and tell me to “snap out of it, woman, you’re almost done”.  (He really doesn’t do that, it just sounded good.  In truth, he tells me every day how proud of me he is and how I’m thisclose to being done and getting my life back.  He’s awesome.)

But seriously, I’m not complaining.  This is my deal.  I’ve gotta get this done.  I’ve gotta sprint to the finish line.  I’ve gotta grab this damned CPA exam by the horns and ride it into the sunset.  I’ve gotta analyze each word and each number in each ridiculous multiple choice question and answer A, B, C, or D with reckless abandon.  I’ve gotta show this beyotch who’s boss!!  And that’s me!

So, that’s what I’ll do. Take this CPA exam and own it.  Just like I did with its brothers and sisters.

See you guys on the flip side (in about 2 weeks).

-Carrie

I’d Rather Be At “The Fat Pelican”

2 Apr

TGIF!  Humor me while I ramble on about life….

I’ve been tossing around ideas for Lloyd and I’s summer vacay this year.  We usually go somewhere once a year (last year we broke even in Vegas and the year before that we spent a week in a strange little beach town in North Carolina where we discovered our favorite little hole-in-the-wall bar, quaintly named “The Fat Pelican”…but I digress).

fat-pelican

I’m tossing around the ideas of Miami, Mexico, or Los Angeles.  I’ve got a little obsession with celebrity gossip (who I’m I kidding, Perez Hilton is my homepage) and would love to see if I could spot Lauren Conrad in a tiff with Franken-Heidi Heidi Montag on the streets of L.A.  However, the beaches of Miami and Mexico are calling my name as well.  Stick a cool beverage in my hand on a sunny beach and I’ll be happy for a week.

So…I ask you readers, where would you go for summer vacation this year if you were me?

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My finances?  The finances are doing good.  I’ve recently started experiencing some good ole Catholic guilt (as Lloyd calls it) with my tithing amounts.  I’d love to tithe 10%, but what exactly is 10%?  10% before or after taxes?  Or 10% after all necessary expenses?  I’m going to start donating more to the church until I feel a light stretch.  Maybe then I’ll know how much is right?

I also started a Roth IRA, but some weird part of me feels sad that the money isn’t going directly into my 401K account anymore.  I guess I liked having my office do all the work for me. 😉  Better work on automating that IRA contribution.

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The CPA?  Still taking over my life.  My study schedule is….going.  I am having trouble motivating myself to study every night when the weather is so glorious outside, but I know I just have to do it.  My plan is to take the last test the day before the next Sex & The City movie comes out (May 28, 2010 if you guys are wondering….these kinds of dates are what I plan my life around).  Anyways, I’m like 1/5 of the way through the book – Woot!  Only 4/5 more to go….!

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Lloyd and I are looking forward to Easter this weekend.  It’s gonna be a great weekend with all of our church friends and family and hopefully on Monday morn I’ll feel pretty darn holy. 😉  Any of you hitting up church this weekend?

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Oh – since my last post, I’ve been hitting up the gym like I used to!  My bod is thanking me and I’m thanking myself because my, er, work pants were starting to feel a little snug.  They feel much better now.  Me + sweat, we make a good team.

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So, I know my posting has been rather lack-luster lately.  When I get the time to write after everything else, I find myself just wanting to sit around and watch that crazy Kardashian show relax instead.  I could start posting less about finance and more about life type things until the CPA is over with and I have more time to focus on drumming out outrageously fabulous personal finance articles (exaggeration…sort of).

Are you guys wanting more life postings or are you okay with the (mostly) dead air until the CPA is over with?  Lemme know!

And…I’m out!

Have a great Easter weekend, readers!

Another One Bites The Dust

24 Mar

In case you didn’t catch my announcement on twitter

I passed the 3rd section of the CPA Exam!

Actually, I didn’t just pass it…I owned it.  Check the score:

REG Score

I couldn’t believe it when I saw a 90 pop up on my screen!  I received an 80 and an 81 on the first two tests, so this was a pleasant surprise!

ONE MORE TEST TO GO!!!

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Things to look forward to:  after the tests, I will move this blog over to a new blog with a different blog name so I don’t have to live by the pen name of “Carrie” forever.  Back in January, I said I was going to reveal myself and I probably will, but I’m still debating that issue.  I’m also going to be starting up a weight lifting/healthy living blog after the tests as well!  <rant> Although, I’m still maintaining my workouts, they are not at the frequency, length, or quality that they were before the CPA took over.  I’ve gained about 5 –8 pounds.  It doesn’t seem like much, but my pants are starting to get snug and I do NOT enjoy that feeling.  I cannot wait to get back to normalcy in my workouts after this damn test is over with!  </end rant>

Big changes are comin’!

Life, Goals, Study Plan, and Q&As

7 Mar

Hey guys!

I just wanted to do a quick update on how my exam went on Friday.  The good news?  I’m pretty sure I passed!  The bad news?  Wow, that exam was KILLER!  I was so tense for the three hours of the exam, that I left and my leg muscles were sore!

That was by far the hardest CPA test I’ve taken out of the 3.  We were only allotted three hours and we really should have been given closer to 4 hours.  There are 5 “testlets” or sections in the exam.  The first three are multiple choice and the last two are “simulations”.  The simulations are killer and involve 5-6 tabs of writing memos, filling out tax forms, complex calculations & analysis, and researching professional literature.  I OWNED the multiple choice sections, but my simulations were TORTURE!  My first simulation was pretty straightforward, but the calculations killed me.  My second simulation was beyond hard and just ridiculous.  I laughed out loud and almost cried when I saw what they were asking of me.  Luckily, I finished with 45 seconds left, but I don’t think I did very well on the last section!

Hopefully that test is behind me…for GOOD.  That night, Lloyd and I went out for fondue to celebrate.  Yum!

If I passed that test, that will mean that the NEXT test I take will be my LAST test!!!  *happy dance!*  Please keep your fingers crossed for me!  I should get the results in mid to late March!

Moving on…

So, here’s the new study schedule for my next test:

Disclaimer: this is an INTENSE study schedule.  I’ve taken 2-3 months to prepare for the last two tests and they encompassed half of the information on this upcoming test.  However, I am SUPER  motivated since it’s my last test.  I want my life back!  With this study schedule, I will be studying everyday over lunch (~45 minutes), 2-4 hours per night (OMG, *cries*), and 4-5 hours on Saturday and Sunday.  There is a chance that I might start this study plan and not be able to keep up and have to extend my test into July (since we can’t test in June).  Fingers crossed I can stay super focused over the next two months (which means less posting…)!

FAR Study Schedule

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Ask Me Anything!

Keep those questions coming over on my formspring account.  I love answering them!  I think there is a question sitting in my inbox right now, but I’m trying to figure out how to respond, so sorry for the delay!

Here are some fun questions:

Do you invest in the stock market (outside of retirement accounts)? Do you have an IRA (Roth or Traditional?)

Heh. I suck at investing. I don’t understand it and actually don’t care to. Isn’t that sad? It is the one area of personal finance that I could care LESS about. I just started a Roth IRA this year and have no idea how to invest it. I’m gonna have to do some research. LOL.

You’re so lucky that you can save so much money each month! What do you have in mind for your savings goals after your current ones are met?

Hmmm, well after we buy our house, we want to build a home gym and buy a doggie ASAP. So I’ll start saving for those things after I have the down payment for the house.  After that, we will throw every extra penny towards our house. Savings goals after that? Probably kids and retirement for the most part. As you can see, I think of more of the “big picture”. I guess I could say I’m going to save for a new computer, but that just doesn’t work for me. (That is TOTALLY how Lloyd saves though…so we’ll have to mesh at some point.)
LOL, I’m very blessed at this point in my life to make good money and not have any dependents. I say if you want to make a lot of money, go into accounting or medicine or architecture, or something like that. Or pro-sports. Now, those guys can probably save a lot of money. 😛

Do you have any other savings accounts aside from the ones posted on your blog? (Like for travel)

Nope. If I end up booking a trip to Mexico over the next several months, I’ll just use my paycheck to fund it and I won’t save any money that month. I know that lots of bloggers have various funds, but it doesn’t work for me. It’s all one big pot of money and I don’t really want to separate it out unless it’s a huge goal (like 20,000).

That is a lot of personal information you have put out on the net, do you ever worry about it?

The only information I have on my blog that I wouldn’t tell my friends or family is some stats about my net worth and my savings accounts. I don’t think I’ve ever even listed where I save my money at….so, no, I’m not worried. I have written a couple posts about friends that I ended up taking down because I wouldn’t want to ruin friendships over my blog.

How often do you get your hair cut?

Hmmm…truthfully, only when it starts to get split-ends, feel unhealthy, or look bad. My last hair cut was 3 months ago. I normally have really long hair and got it cut above my shoulders in December and I’m enjoying not having to get it cut as much. 🙂 I also used to highlight my hair a lot, but sort of stopped because it’s hard to maintain and expensive. But that doesn’t mean I’ll stop forever… 🙂

I’ve been hearing about a lot of accountants who have terrible debt and awful personal finance habits. As somebody who chooses a profession related to finance, doesn’t this seed odd? But, you had some debt of your own. Any insight?

Hmm, that’s sort of like seeing a doctor who’s overweight or a smoker, huh? Yeah, I never got that.
To be honest, true accounting has nothing to do with finances. So I think those regular old accountants (and there are a lot and I’m one of them right now) really get a “bye”. Those types of accountants don’t have clients that are looking at their finances and wondering if they want this guy doing their taxes. However…if you’re a CPA or other financial expert, in my humble opinion, you better have your finances together – especially if you want to keep your clients.
As far as my situation, I came out of college as a staff accountant at a big company and I didn’t have clients (still don’t). “Personal Finance” is not in the college curriculum for accounting, so I had to teach myself the ways of PF after college. But, I think having knowledge of business and accounting does make PF that much easier for me to understand.
Success in personal finance is more about self-control than it is about knowledge.

What will passing all the CPA exams mean for your career? A promotion, raise, or finding a new job?

I decided to take the CPA Exam for a jazillion reasons (it’s a word, ha):
– I truly love my current FT job. However, my brain has been stagnant at work for several years. I haven’t learned anything new. At first, this was great. My job was on cruise control. But then, I started to get worried. An idle mind is never a good thing. I want to stimulate my brain so I didn’t become, well, an idiot and I wanted to obtain more skills to set me apart from others.
– With an accounting degree, there are many options for you in your career. With a CPA + an accounting degree, the options are truly ENDLESS. I wanted more options in case I needed them.
– Job security.
– To be better than those entry level accountants around me.
– Possible promotions.
– Possibility of being my own boss.
– Personal challenge.
I wanted to get this done before I was married and had kids, too. I am SO happy I am doing this. I am ALREADY seeing doors open for me and I’m only halfway through the tests. I highly recommend getting your CPA right out of college if you’re an accounting major.

Go HERE to ask me anything!

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Don’t forget – I’m still posting weekly over at Money Under 30.  Make sure to check out those posts and consider adding Money Under 30 to your feed reader!  I’ll be posting weekly until it gets close to my next test and will probably take another two weeks off during that time.

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Have a great week, guys!