Introducing NINJA CPA Blogger Sean

20 May 2013


Sean is a new NINJA CPA Blogger.

This is going to sound like confession: it's been about one and a half years since I studied for the CPA Exam. I'm actually okay with that. The story is as follows.

At about age 32, I finally figured out what I wanted to do. I'd previously attended college for 3 years at the local state university, but dropped out when my son got sick and needed me home more. I was tired of school, anyways.

My wife and I moved out of university housing and worked alternate schedules because daycare did not work for my son and his new set of challenges.

This type of schedule tended to work well with jobs like construction, landscaping, warehouse and other part time work, usually working 2 – 3 jobs to both make ends meet and pick up the kids from school and coordinate other scheduling issues.

The kids were now teenagers and I had decided I was going to get a full time day job at a retirement or other financial planning firm. A brief stint with an insurance and investment company had shown me I was good with the numbers and explanations, but not so much the sales.

I still remember the day I sat in my cubicle and decided I was going to pursue the CPA licensing process. Little did I know what that really entailed. After finishing my undergraduate degree in accounting, and then completing the MAcc, I thought the testing would be a snap.

I had always been really good at tests, but didn’t realize that didn’t necessarily help all that much on the CPA Exam. Not only did I go into the process with slightly unrealistic expectations, I now had a family, mortgage, dogs, the usual household chaos, and two jobs.

Besides working for the retirement firm, I had also started a tax and accounting firm while in school, in order to gain experience and even some mentoring from a local CPA I subcontracted for. It had been serving just a few clients for a few years, but eventually became an overwhelmingly busy small firm.

My wife says I need to be cloned, as I always try to take on too much, and need more than one of me to accomplish it all. I finished the MAcc program in October, sat for and passed REG the first week of January. This made me a little overconfident, and I did not pass any of the next 3 exams (BEC was close at 74).

I had signed up for all of the exams at once, not really realizing that they could expire, and this wasn’t your typical college exam. My problem is definitely quality study time, with rest, or at least a little less chaos and stress, mixed in for good measure.

I plan this go around to take time off, especially Sundays, since I believe that day should be without work anyways, take it a little slower, and actually study the material not like I’m in a hurry, but really practice concepts and formulae as if I was explaining them to a client or presenting to a board of directors.

I just turned 40. I really need to learn to take things more slowly, and life a little less seriously. I visited Costa Rica for a friend’s wedding a few years ago, and the slow pace of life was so shocking to me.

The local Ticos, as they’re called, have a saying “tengo de tiempo.” It means “I’ve got time,” their version of “no worries” or whatever other similar sayings. I’d never been so relaxed as during that trip.

I’m not saying I’m going to go at a snail’s pace, but at least a snail eventually gets somewhere. I plan to finish testing within the next 12 months, a relatively long time frame for me, but should be a more realistic goal. Tough lessons that I’m happy to learn, as long as that takes me somewhere.

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