Saturday, December 29, 2012

Merry Christmas to you to- and we have a new family member.

Figured it was about time I stopped living off the grid.  Just kidding, my parents have the kids for a week and I've been doing exactly nothing today, except watching Hart of Dixie re-runs on Netflix.

I decided it was time for a little blog update!

First things first.  This is Emma-- our new family member!  We've had her for 4 weeks now and she is just the sweetest little thing!  (Still not sleeping through the night however).

She is a chocolate golden doodle.  (no, not a labradoodle-- a golden doodle).  We really wanted a chocolate one and they are hard to come by.  But we found a breeder in Wisconsin and she miraculously had 2 chocolate puppies in her liter, so we bit the bullet.  

Lacey loves her so much and is really good with her, Miles gets her riled up constantly.  She bites everything, but other than that we have no complaints.  Pretty good on the housebreaking front, only a rare accident, and probably less than a handful since we brought her home.  However, taking her on walks when it's 10 degrees out and dark leaves something to be desired.

Which brings me to a brief interlude on that fact that I utterly despise winter.  I hate the cold, I hate the snow, and I hate the things that go along with that.  I'm constantly thinking of where I'd move.  Problem is, most places that are decent in the winter, are overwhelmingly hot in the summer.  I seriously need to become a Snowbird.  Otherwise, I can hear the west coast calling my name again in 5-10 years.  I adored Seattle- even if it had it's little quirks :)

Here are some pictures of the kids.  Proof that they exist and are doing well.  Lacey turned 5 in October.  Miles will be 4 in about 6 weeks (although the fact that he is just as tall as his sister, and will bigger feet, size 11.5, I wouldn't say anyone treats him like a 3 year old...).  Time goes fast.  Each age is my favorite and I hope I can say this at least until they are teenagers.  

Mike got me a Garmin for Christmas.  I don't know if I've posted it on here much, but I started back into running (well, if you ignore the past week and a half when I haven't done anything).  My long runs are up to 7 miles.  No races on the calendar, I just want to get through February and then I'll think about racing again.  To stay motivated I keep buying new work out clothes.  Target's C9 by Champion brand has come a long way, it's fabulous.  You know why it's good?  Because all those designers at Target know Lululemon like the back of their hand.  They are just trying to deliver.  Since I'm getting the motherload of gift cards in a couple of weeks ($1000 to Target!!!), I'll probably buy the entire line.  That will hopefully keep me motivated through February.  The gym in my building at work helps too.  Otherwise, workouts don't happen.  I know this.  I've been a mom long enough.

I have nothing else to chat about I guess.  I am heading to the store to buy a North Face vest (most likely).  Maybe I'll watch some more HOD reruns.  If you haven't watched that show, DO IT!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Homeowner = 1 year

Yesterday was our "one year anniversary" of moving into our house!  I can't believe it's been a whole year already, where has the time gone??  I am 90% sure I haven't posted any pictures of this house.  I still don't have many, and to be honest, we haven't done much (I've been studying remember??).  I'll try to change that.  Here are a few when we first moved in:

 We haven't done a ton in here:
It's now painted a whitish/blue-- not teal
The trim is now white around the window
That crazy fan is removed (still with a hole in the ceiling--the light we want is at Home Depot and is NEVER on sale).
We are debating on what to do with the cabinets.  They will certainly be painted, the color is the question.  We'll add some sort of bar or island at some point, and granite, and a viking range (but now I'm getting way ahead of myself...).

Dining Room
All the trim is white now
And the walls are a light blue/gray
We did add curtains
 Still the same tiny table, working to fix that this winter
Still the same ugly light fixture
Still nothing on the wall
and usually mail on the shelf that I don't know what to do with.  High class.

Living Room
 One of my favorite rooms with its high ceilings and skylights!
Trim is white (notice a theme?)
Walls are light gray 
I get that these pictures the colors look okay, but trust me the walls were crying for paint.  they were in pretty rough shape.
We are going to carpet this floor to cozy it up (that's laminate on the floor anyway, not real wood like the dining/kitchen/family room)
We need new curtains/blinds
New furniture of course
This will all take a long time to happen.
Here's a shot from the other side of the room.
 Look at that!  a Picture with Paint on the walls
everything you see in this photo was free- from the curb
Except the big picture on the wall that was 50% off at Ikea and Mike now HATES it, so it will be going at some point.

Other angle-  yes that desk was free.
Also, nothing in these rooms was permanent, it is not set up the same at all.

 Now painted and filled with toys.  I hate the tile and this will be carpet too at some point.  That door leads to a gross bathroom, with a NEW sauna.  The things people spend their money on!  We'll keep the sauna, but the bathroom will need a major renovation.  You guessed in, in a long while.

Family Room
 Mid Painting-
Otherwise the same

Basically we painted the trim white and the entire house that light color.  which we will change as we work on remodeling each room to how we actually like it.  right now is the first time in the past year that we've actually had the option of doing some stuff, so we'll tackle it slowly and learn as we go.

But there's a few pics for you and happy 1 year house anniversary!

The Last Hurrah- FAR Passed

After I passed REG, I just had 1 exam left.  The entire process you dream of being on your last exam.  I was sincerely hoping that I would be extremely motivated and ready to go, but the truth was, I was bored.  Some things I did to help were:

1) Get that exam scheduled a.s.a.p.  My test date was August 6th, this was 13 months from the day I took my first exam.  I figured the "6th" had served me well before, and it would serve me well again :).

2) Line up care for my kids, so that they'd be able to be away the week before this last exam.  It's not fair to anyone when they have to be around me the week before this test.  Plus, the 3 exams I had passed, they had all been away for the week before.  The 2 that i had failed, they had been home.  Trend? I think so.

3) Study-  no brainer right?  But I had to decide if I wanted to watch all 50 hours of lectures again.  I didn't want to, oh how I didn't want to, but I did anyway.

4) Run!  I started running again-  3-4 days a week, but it really clears my mind and I needed something else besides working and studying to fill my days.  This was probably the best choice I made in the exam process.

So anyway, I got down to studying.  I started June 5th and my exam was Aug 6th, so like I mentioned I gave up my entire summer.  Honestly, by this time I was just always in a study mode.  It had been over a year, and while it wasn't easy, and was certainly not fun, it was what it was, and I just was in such a groove you couldn't get me to change.  Maybe some of that last test motivation was kicking in after all.

This time I did buy Ninja notes from Another 71.  I highly recommend them.  I read 20 pages of notes every single night before going to bed, over and over and over.  I probably read the packet 20 times at least (I had it in my ibooks so it was super handy). 

The weekend before the test, I studying 17 hours.  It was tiring.  My exam was monday morning so Sunday I made sure to only study until noon, giving my head a rest for the remainder of the day.  Monday I woke up, and went to Starbucks for coffee/oatmeal and then headed to the test.

The excellent thing about this test is that it was hard.  And it stayed HARD.  It was 4 hours of 'drain your brain', but that's what I was ready to do.  The SIMS were challenging, but I felt like I knew where to go with all of them.  Almost forgot to do one of them, I thought it was finished because I had done a very small portion of it, but then when i clicked on it, with 6 minutes left, I realized it wasn't done.  EEK, Thankfully, I was able to finish it super quick!

Honestly I walked out knowing i passed.  Or at least I had the feeling of "if I didn't pass, I have no idea what the AICPA wants from me, because I did well."

I was just so happy that now was a waiting game and nothing was on the horizon to study.

The next day I went to work and got put on a new project.  A big project.  My boss later told me he almost told me about it the week before my exam, but didn't want to overwhelm me.  That seriously may have saved me.

I found out sitting in traffic on August 21st.  Mike was driving and i was checking forums at another 71.  I saw that people with NTS's that were higher than mine were getting their scores.  I was soooo nervous, but figured it's now or never.  So I got on NASBA's website and checked.  I PASSED.  and the sweet cherry on top was that it was the highest score I had gotten on any exam.  I almost threw my phone.  I was so excited!

So that was it.  No more intense studying.  Just an ethics exam (take home-  i'm almost finished with it) and an application (also in progress).  Send it all in, give them $50 and that should be it.

AND then I got a promotion at work, and a big pay bump, so as one of my co-workers put it "you've had a really good month."

Yes.  I have, and I earned it!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Regulation Retake = Pass

This is long-  I'm sorry...

After I took my FAR exam I didn’t take any time off.  I jumped into restudying REG the next day.  I wasn’t sure how to restudy…I had 5 weeks.  Do I watch all 40 hours of lecture again?  That would probably take me 2-2.5 weeks leaving me a max of 3 weeks for MCQ’s and studying.  I didn’t think that was enough time, so I decided to rewatch the tax lectures, and just plan on reviewing the business law stuff. 

First things first, I bought Wiley Test Bank.

Second things second, I gave up coffee (!!!) and deactivated my Facebook.

Giving up coffee stunk.  People always asked, “why would you give up coffee NOW?”  But my reason was simple really.  I was burnt out by the time I got home from work, so I would make coffee to get through the evening, then I wouldn’t be able to sleep, so I would get a terrible night sleep, waking up tired and needing coffee.  Vicious cycle I tell you!  It took about 2 weeks to get off caffeine, but it ultimately was worth it.  I would have one grande half-caf Americano each Sunday morning during my regular power study session. That was it.  I probably drank 48oz of green or white tea each day as a replacement. (even as I write this I have my handy dandy tea cup right next to me).  The one benefit is that when I did have caffeine my brain would go high time and I got a ton done.  Good arsenal for exam day!

Overall, studying was better the second time around, concepts I was 50/50 on before, became extremely understandable.  Overall I had a much better grasp of the material, compared to the first time around.  I still knew Regulation was going to be tough.  REG is totally tricky with all the silly little miscellaneous tax rules, but I had much more confidence the second time around.

I made my own flashcards and this helped a ton.  A few days before my test, (my mom and dad had the kids), and Mike and I walked every night for about 90 minutes and he quizzed me on flashcards.  He of course had no idea what he was asking me, but it is a great review to have to explain the answer to someone, out loud, thinking on your feet.  I really think it helped.

And then 2 days before my Regulation retake, my FAR score showed up in my inbox.  I was still debating whether or not I should look at it, or wait until after REG.  However, having it sit there in my inbox was way too tempting.  Mike was home and said he’d check for me.  When he didn’t get back to me I knew…

It was pouring rain.  I ran through the parking lot to my car after work.  Sitting there in the rain, I opened the email.  FAR:   72    FAIL.

I cried.

The next morning my work friend showed up with candy for me (she knows me too well!)  and a nice card reminding me this wouldn’t last forever. She had been through it.  She had to retake one exam twice and another 3 times.  She knew.  Friends are good.  I forced myself to write down my feelings from that day.  Here’s what I had:

I’m pissed off.  I’ve poured my heart and soul into studying and have come up just short 2 times in a row.  Twice.   I want to throw something.  I want to slap anyone who says ‘you’re not done yet?’  I want to scream.  My brain is tired, my body is worn out.  I am exhausted both physically and mentally.  I spend hours upon hours each week sacrificing time with my husband and kids, my house is a mess, projects around the house lay undone, I don’t remember what it’s like to live without a constant cloud of stress hanging over my body. 

But then I stand up. I think about my options, and I know stopping isn’t one of them. That might be the thing that pisses me off the most.  I just can’t stop.  I have to do this.  I have to sacrifice deeper, study harder, and pour more time and energy into this.

I’m doing it for them.  For my family.  For myself.  No one said it was supposed to be easy.  In fact I knew, I knew, the opposite was true.  I knew that this was going to be the hardest thing I’ve done in my life.  I knew that I’d have to cut deep, to dig down, to give every ounce of energy I have for this goal.  I underestimated the impact it would have on others.  I underestimated the sacrifice.

But I know.  I know that if I stop pushing, then I’m afraid of finishing.  My heart is still in it.  If the passion is still there, I’m not stopping. 

I’ve succumbed to the fact that people think I’m crazy,  putting myself through such torture, and they are right.  There is a little bit crazy in there.  But somewhere along the line maybe everyone has confused comfort with happiness.  I am more engaged with the pain and misery sets in.  I can do this.

And with that, one of my favorite quotes:

Most people never get there. They're afraid or unwilling to demand enough of themselves and take the easy road, the path of least resistance. But struggling and suffering, as I now saw it, were the essence of a life worth living. If you're not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you're not constantly demanding more from yourself--expanding and learning as you go--your choosing a numb existence. Your denying yourself an extraordinary trip.”

Wow.  Nothing like some serious pushing of myself.  I tear up as I read that though.  I was so open and raw.  I had 2 days to pull it together for REG. 

I did.  The test was demanding, as it should be, but I felt good about it.  And 11 days later.  I got the sweet, sweet, news that I passed.  Here is what I wrote on that sweet day:

It seem appropriate to write down my feelings after receiving a passing score, just like I did when I received a failing FAR score.  I just found out yesterday that I passed Regulation, it was my second face off.  I am thrilled, no, I am ecstatic.  You cry when you fail and you cry when you pass, that’s just how it goes.

I think the thing that I am most in awe of is this feeling of shock, like I am somehow managing to do this.  I am working full time, being a wife, a mother to 2 preschoolers, and somehow staying on top of this studying thing.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely don’t want to make it sound easy, it’s so so hard, but I’m doing itI’m doing it suddenly I  can hardly believe what I am capable of.  That is what I’m most proud of.  I’m most proud of the fact that I ‘show up’ every day.  When people (specifically those who understand the demand associated with these tests) ask me how I do it, I tell them, I.Show.Up. I SHOW UP  DANG IT!  All those lunch hours, nights, and weekends, when THE ONLY THING  I want to do is sleep, or watch TV, or do absolutely anything brainless,  paid off because I took out those books and I gave it my all. 

I have given up so much for these tests. Time with my husband and kids, I’ve given up friends, no birthday parties, picnics, weekend get-togethers.  I’ve given up Facebook, Pinterest, blogging, internet, TV, movies.  I’ve given up coffee.  I’ve been skirting by doing what absolutely is necessary.  Is it worth it?  It absolutely is. 

I have begun to understand that sometimes, the pursuit of your goal is more important than the goal itself.  Immersing yourself so deeply, and with heartfelt intensity, continually improving, and never giving up, is fulfillment.  That is success.

3 down, one more to go.

Friday, September 7, 2012


I'll get back to the CPA blog bore soon.  I had nightmares the other night that I hadn’t actually passed.  Glad it was just a dream.  Wouldn’t be messing with that exam again! 

In other more exciting news—our campus (work campus) just built a FABULOUS five star gym and it opened up this past Tuesday.  I’ve been 3 times in the past 4 days-  2 treadmill runs, and today I did a 60 minute extreme abs and interval class over lunch.  My arms feel like jello.  It.was.fabulous.

I got back into running in June, I had to in order to pass my last exam.  What?  40 hours of work + 25 hours of studying + 1 husband + 1 three year old + 1 four year old?  Add 15-20 miles a week to the mix and you find sanity.  I had to get something else going for me other than just work and study, so running it was.  And when you have been mentally challenged over the past 12 months, the mental challenges associated with running aren’t so bad.

In other ‘news’  I found out Lululemon is pronounced loo loo lemon.  I thought it was Loo loo le mon.  I like my way better.  Am I right on this?  I am trusting google here…

How do you stay sane?


I was going to dominate FAR.  Coming off of a Regulation fail, my first time not passing one of these tests, I was bound and determined that I was going to nail this test.  I even got all gutsy and purchased the Wiley Test Bank so I no longer had to do questions out of my book with a pencil and paper, I could rock through a bunch online and then follow how many I did and what areas I was strongest it. 

Oh..FAR stands for Financial Accounting and Reporting.  In short…GAAP/IFRS/Journal Entries/Financial Statements/Government/Non Profits/Investments etc. How you ‘account’ for all that.  It’s by ‘far’ the biggest exam covering the most information.  The Yeager DVD has 50 Hours of lectures.  Put that in perspective will you…if you take a class during a semester in college, it meets once a week for what 8 or 10 weeks?  Even if you meet 3 hours a week for 10 weeks that’s 30 hours in the classroom.  50 hours of lectures is a TON.  It’s almost taking a full year course.

I did 2477 multiple choice questions (they were being tracked remember?).

This is when I ‘built up’ my study habits.  What I mean is this…you know when you start running and you can only run like 2 miles but then you just force yourself to go more and more even though it sucks, and then pretty soon 2 miles is like nothing?  That’s what I did with studying at this point.  I used to watch an hour of lectures each night…during this time I was up to 3 hours.  I would go out to Starbucks for 6 hours at a time on the weekend and hardly stand up from my chair.  I had a plan, it was all tracked out, I was flying through these lectures, complete focus, no deterring me.  FAR  is a lot of information and this was the hardest part during the studying.  When you’d finish one section you forgot what you studied 4 sections ago.  Remembering what certain things were valued at was tough, remembering the differences between IFRS (International Standards) and GAAP (U.S. Standards) got swampy, but you just keep going.  I was keeping my chin up.  I decided that I was better than this exam and it wasn’t going to beat me.

I took this test April 9th at 8:00 am.  It was the day after Easter, which was sort of dumb, because my poor family didn’t have any fun while I was stressed out and studying.  I got to the exam early, again, and got in early.  I was ready.  This was a 4 hour test and my plan was 45 minutes for each testlet and then 90 minutes for the SIMS.  I got through the first testlet in 30 minutes, the second in 25, and the third in 30 again.  That was a problem.  My testlets were easy…sad but true they were not getting harder.  They were embarrassingly easy (Note: if you are taking the CPA exams and you don’t know if your testlets are getting easier—they probably aren’t.  you will know.)  Please just let me out of this exam! I tried not to think about it and went on to the SIMS.  I felt good about the SIMS, or as good as one can feel when getting beat up, no really they were okay.  Nothing about these tests are easy, so these were not any different, but I felt like I did okay with what I was given. I left the testing center feeling numb.  I just wanted to be alone, but I had a husband and 2 kids at home.  All I wanted to go do was watch Hart of Dixie reruns and eat junk food.  It didn’t happen. 

I had REG rescheduled for May 11th and had to get started on restudying that right away.  My plan was to have passed this test and then take REG in May and then still have my summer.  No studying during the summer, what a dream.  Luck would have it I would find out this FAR score 2 days before my REG retake.  To look or not to look before the test, that was the question?

Next up- REG restudy and waiting for FAR Score.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Regulation- Take 1

That’s right.  TAKE ONE.  As in I had to take this more than once.

Let’s start at the beginning. ..or the middle, or wherever we are at.

I found out I passed BEC November 1st, which also was the day I was starting my Regulation study.  (I took the month of October off to try to get settled into our house).  Being that I was half way done, and was now ‘getting’ to study Regulation, which was somewhat exciting, it was good.  REG is divided into 2 sections.  Section 1: Business Law- including things like contract law, torts, guarantors, UCC laws, bankruptcy, and 5 million other law things; and Section 2: Taxes- corporate, partnership, individual, estates, trusts, property taxation etc. 

The Yeager course consists of 40 hours of lectures, and I did about 1500 questions.

I like taxes, I thought this would be fun.  Let’s be clear, studying everyday is never fun.  I had a screw loose.

My exam was scheduled for January 19th (remember you can’t test in December).

Middle of November, I was studying at Starbucks (gold card holder…remember?), waiting for a friend to show up.  I was watching a lecture and had about 5 minutes left when she showed up.  She ended up being early so I was frantically trying to put everything away and clear off the table so she could sit down.  I closed my computer and pulled out my usb without ejecting it.  Big mistake.

Next day I try to watch another lecture and had a dead USB…bad news.  So I had to take another week off while I mailed my dead USB back to Yeager and they mailed me a replacement one.  They were really great and sent me a new one (with a friendly reminder to not do that again!).  I think part of the reason they were so accommodating is because this was the end of 2011 and I was using 2011 materials, so it’s not like I screwed up brand new 2012 materials or anything…or they were just nice and helped out a frantic “I’m in the middle of studying” CPA student.  Probably that.

Then between the holidays, and peak season at work (I work for a retailer remember…), December was a stress pot, but managed to finish my lectures over Christmas at my parents house, and maintain focus for studying.  I had about 3 weeks for final review, and I was reviewing as much as I could.  Between month end, and quarter end, work was crazy busy, and then on top of that I got sick.  I was holding it off as best I could but I could feel it coming on hard core.  Obviously, I was working 45 hours a week, studying 25, trying to be around for a husband and 2 very small kids.  Gosh, it was horrific.  I just wanted this test over with.

I went in and took REG on January 19th as planned.  It was a Tuesday, this was the only exam that I took with a noon time slot.  I arrived around 10 and got in right away.  I really didn’t know what to think about the test…the MCQ’s were not getting more difficult and the SIMS were impossible.  I left feeling defeated.  Deep down, I knew I didn’t give a performance that warranted a pass.  Sure enough, 2 weeks later, at home on a Friday night with a sinus infection, double ear infections, and pink eye (told you I was getting sick), I found out I failed.  I big fat FAIL flashed across the screen, with 72 right below.  Just 3 points off.  I was numb…it was 10 at night.  I texted mike from our bedroom, he was downstairs, told him I failed and went to bed.  A down night for sure.  I was way too sick to show any emotion.  Frankly, I was just tired.

I woke up at 6 am Saturday to go study.  That’s when I lost it.  I cried the whole way to Starbucks.  I just poured 10 weeks into studying and didn’t pass.  It royally sucks.  Digging deep enough to find the motivation to bring out the books for FAR (I had already moved on to my next section) was almost the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  I’m sitting at Starbucks, in the middle of winter, sick as a dog, depressed, and focusing on studying.  I vowed I wasn’t going to be in that position again…so what could help?  I decided I was giving up facebook and pinterest.  Because to me passing these exams was more important than someone’s status updates, and frankly I was never going to be able to decorate my house until I was done with these. 

That was it.  I decided right then and there I would POUR myself into FAR.  I would get through this.  I was beginning to realize that this test was a marathon.  It was not about who could finish first, or the fastest.  It was about who could keep going and about who could give it their all , and then give it their all again.  I refocused, more determined than ever, and plowed ahead.

Time for FAR.

Monday, August 27, 2012

BEC-- Exam #2

Business Environment & Concepts.

That's what BEC stands for and in my mind it includes a little bit of everything else.  Lots of Cost Accounting, IT, Finance, Formulas, you name it.  Book size wise it's by far the smallest of the books, which makes it fabulously less intimidating, but rest assured this one can get you like no other.  

The ugly thing about this exam is that I started studying for it right after I started my new job, and I took the exam right after we moved into our new house, so while there was a lot of studying going on, there was also a lot of learning, paperwork, packing, moving, and the like.  My mind was not excited about BEC.

In fact, the original test date was the middle of August, and 3 weeks before that date, I had to push it out to October 1st, because I just wasn't ready (No testing in September).  Of course then September was filled with moving and all the little nuances that go along with oh man, it was stressful.  I didn't get nearly the studying in that I wanted to the final 2 weeks before my test, but I probably put in about 120 hours and 1500 multiple choice questions.

Yeager does a really good job with BEC.  She explains cost accounting really well, which is nice since it seems that most people don't have a solid understanding of Cost Accounting.  Are there no good cost accounting teachers out there??  I think the lectures are only 17 hours total (a far cry from FAR...we'll get to that). 

I took this exam on a Saturday morning, my kids were with my parents again (surprise, surprise), but thats mostly because we closed on our house the prior monday, so it was easier to move without a 2 and 3 year old.  I don't remember much about the exam, i didn't think it went great, but i didn't feel horrible either, I can absolutely never tell if the exam is getting harder, which probably means it's staying the same?  One of the written communications I knew nothing about, so that kind of scared me, but I think they grade a lot on memo structure, so I focused on that.  The thing is that my parents were meeting me at the new house and the next day mike was running his marathon, so really I didn't have time to dwell on the test.  I was just happy it was over and I could take my 2 week scheduled break!

Thinking back, it was at this point in my 'exam journey' that i really did start to get a little worn out.  Laughable now, considering how intense i got during the next 9 months, but i really thought i was tough, and i thought i was intense.  I wasn't terrible though because amidst all the craziness that was my life at that moment I managed to pass.  Someone was on my side.

Halfway done!  Little did I know, it was about to get tough.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Exam #1

My first exam was AUD.  I choose to take this first because 1) Auditing bored me and 2) I had never done it, so I felt as though it was going to be one of my weaker areas.  My thought was that I would probably be much more motivated to study in the beginning of the process so I should get the one I thought would be difficult out of the way.  I chose to study with Yeager CPA Review.  Not that anyone reading probably gives two hoots about CPA review courses, but let me tell you, if you want to pass you shell out money to have someone guide you in the process.  The AICPA is as tricky as they come and you need all the help you can get to understand them.  I chose Yeager because I was paying for this OOP and they came in around $1200 for all 4 sections (at the time, now I think they are closer to $2000).  This is about mid range for review course pricing.  Yeager also got great reviews.

For AUD the Yeager course had about 20 hours of video lecture, a handout, and the Wiley textbook.  I was at a loss on how to study, I had no method whatsoever, I hadn’t figured out what worked for me.  Since I wasn’t working at the time (I was job-hunting, hoping not to do another busy season, which was actually a huge distraction), I kind of had all day to study, which was nice.  I would watch an hour or 2 of lectures during the day and then go back through the book and do a ton of MCQ’s over that section.  I don’t remember much about studying for this test, other than the fact that I probably did about 2000 MCQ’s.  I’m being 100% serious here, I did at the very least that many.  And I remember the lectures being boring with a capital “B.”  And I achieved Gold Card status at Starbucks.  It’s the little things.

2 weeks before the exam I was an interviewing machine.  I actually got my current job offer on June 30th (1 week before my test!), and I now had a job in Financial Reporting at Target Corp.  It was a happy day knowing that I was going to be finally making money again, and even happier knowing that I was going to get some work life balance. It helped me relax before my test.  The other big stressor was that my husbands brother and his family were moving to Australia and were coming say goodbye June 30-July 3rd.  It was extremelly stressful, trying to wrap up studying while also trying to be present during their last visit for probably a long time.  On July 4th, I shipped my kids off to Grandpa and Grandma’s house for the week and then spent the final 2 days prepping for my 8:00 am test.  I was SOOOO nervous.

The morning of the test went fine.  I arrived around 7:15 for my 8:00 am test and was first in line.  I'm such an overacheiver it's not even funny.  anyhow, I started the exam early.  Audit exam is 4 hours.  Of course I had to go to the bathroom like 45 minutes in (darn coffee), and while you can take breaks between sections the clock keeps running.  So you sprint to the bathroom and back.  I didn't feel the test was too bad, but you just walk out feeling, what just happened in there?  There are 90 mcq's of which 18 aren't even graded, just there to throw you off, and 7 (i think) simulations (i.e. real world problems to work through).  In other words you have no idea what your being graded on and each question is worth a certain amount of points.  you start with 0 points and work up as you go.  Harder questions are worth more, easier less.  You need 75 points to pass.  

Fast forward the 10 weeks (!!) it took to get my results.  I passed.  BEC was up next and I had about 2 weeks after I found out my audit score, so it was nice going in with one passed.  

Oh and we bought a house and were moving that week...

The beginning (of the most obnoxious year of studying ever).

Before the exam-

The CPA exams were always part of my plans, but actually being eligible to sit for the CPA exam is a process in and of itself.  There are a lot of very specific educational requirements, and additionally you are required to have an additional 30 credits of upper level course work beyond your Bachelors degree in order to receive a license.  People usually get this 1 of 2 ways, either they get a Masters in Accounting, or they went to school for something else and then decided to study accounting (me), so they had other upper level credits to count.  Being 4 credits short of the requirements to take the exams I landed an internship at a public firm during Busy Season 2011. I had a great experience at the firm. Loved the piles of work and the overall business. Didn’t like Partner’s breathing down my neck, and hated the fact that I only saw my 2 kids a handful of hours each WEEK, but I digress.  

Applying is a 6-8 week process.  I actually submitted my application in March of 2011, I finally got the “you’ve been approved by your State Board” validation the last week of April 2011.  About a week later, the first week of May, I received my Notice To Schedule (NTS).  You take the NTS and you go online to the Prometric website, and actually schedule the date and time you want to take your exam.  Prometric is a testing center and it’s where you go to take a majority of professional exams.  If you’ve taken any professional exams you’re probably familiar with Prometric.

You can only take exams during ‘testing windows.’  Two months on, 1 month off is the rotation.  My original plan was to take AUD at the very end of May, since June is a non-testing month, but by the time I received my NTS, and went online to schedule, the only seats available were early in May, and there was no way I would be ready for that, so the next available time was July.  My birthday is July 4th, so ideally I wanted to take the exam before that, because I wanted to actually ENJOY my birthday.  Turns out however, that everyone had the same idea.  The 4th was a Monday, and when I was looking at open seats for July, the 1st and 2nd were already full and they were closed Sunday the 3rd.  I scheduled AUD (Auditing and Attestation) for Wednesday July 6th.

I had no idea what I was about to get myself into.  If I know now, what I knew then would I have done this again?  Maybe.  This was step one of a seriously LONG journey.  Word to the wise:  The CPA Exam is a Marathon (Ultra-Marathon??), not a sprint.

I just teared up writing this.  Yet again, waves of relief are passing over me.  It's unreal (this is in fact my first weekend I don't have to think about studying or wonder if I passed)

Next up...Exam #1...AUD

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Oh, Hi!

Yep, it's me.  I am alive.  It's been a while...

Just wanted to say that there's the chance I'll post again in this century because


I'll probably be posting about that throughout the next few weeks, not because anyone really cares, but i do not want to forget the pain, agony, stress, dedication, and determination I went through to pass this darn thing.  It was by far the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and you'll get to relive each exam with me, as I document it out.

Once I write it out, I'll block it out of my mind forever.

(and no, I'm not licensed yet.  Take home ethics exam, probably within the next couple of weeks, and then submit application to the State Board.  Good times).

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Why I love Friday the 13th.

When I was pregnant with Miles, my due date was February 20th. As I got closer to the date of his impending arrival, I remember thinking…okay little baby, come any day you want, but please don’t come on Friday the 13th. I’m not superstitious, but was still hoping for pretty much any other day (except Valentine’s Day).

Of course I had him on the 13th.

And it turned out to be a very lucky day for us!

Lucky Example #1: We pulled into the hospital parking lot at 12:30, and I was holding my baby by 3:30.

Lucky Example #2: I left the hospital just 24 hours later and I was back in pre-pregnancy pants.

Lucky Example #3: On Sunday the 15th (less than 48 hours after Miles arrived), Mike went to work for 13 hours. Yes. I was at home with both kids for 13 hours with no help less than 2 days later. It went fine.

Lucky Example #4: No pain whatsoever with recovery. I was able to be up and chasing after Lacey nearly immediately after we got home. Probably the only thing that made example #3 possible. (I credit this to the large amounts of EPO I took in the weeks leading up to his birth...)

So Friday the 13th is a very lucky day for us!

And just to bring everything back down to reality, Miles had really bad reflux and he was up 4 times anight for the first 7 months. Not so lucky in the sleep department!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Why the CPA Exam is So Dang Hard

Q: Thayer Corporation purchased an apartment building on January 1, 2006 for $200,000. The building was depreciated using the straight-line method. On December 31, 2009 the building was sold for $220,000, when the asset balance of accumulated depreciation was $170,000. On it's 2009 tax return, Thayer should report

a. Section 1231 gain of $42,000, and ordinary income of $7,500.

b. Section 1231 gain of $44,000 and ordinary income of $6,000

c. Ordinary income of $50,000

d. Section 1231 gain of $50,000

The CPA Exam is known as "the most difficult professional designation." My understanding is that it is actually similar to taking the BAR exam, except you have to essentially take it 4 times. There are 4 sections to the CPA exam, which they recommend studying around 12 weeks, or 150, hours for each section. That's a lot of studying.

What makes it so difficult isn't sitting down to actually study the material. If you get to the point where you are actually eligible to take the exam, you know you like accounting enough to stomach the studying part. The most difficult part of the CPA exam is the sheer volume of information you are required to know.

Currently I am studying for Regulation. This is comprised of Business Law, Individual Taxation, Corporate and Partnership Taxation, and Gift and Estate Tax. Those 4 subject, are actually 3 separate classes at the college level. So I have 12 weeks, to nail down 3 classes worth of information, doing this on my own without the help of a teacher in a classroom, and no study guides, no knowledge of what are the most important things to study, and no clue on how the exam is graded. It's almost laughable because you need a 75 to pass. Not a 75%...a 75. An arbitrary number, and they don't tell you how they get to that number. Almost 25% of the MCQ's are pre-test, meaning they aren't even graded, just seeing how people do. One of the simulations is tossed, but who knows which one. You need to average about 60 seconds per multiple choice question, and when you're figuring out Like-Kind Exchanges that's a major challenge.

So I get nervous for these exams. I'm gutted. My test is next week, and I am spending almost 4 HOURS every night in the books. Just to get that elusive "75"

Are you overwhelmed yet? WAIT. Let me give you the answer to the above question:

Answer: (b) The requirement is to determine the proper treatment of the $50,000 gain on the sale of the building, which is Sec. 1250 property. Sec 1250 recaptures gain as ordinary income to the extent of "excess" depreciation (i.e. depreciation deducted in excess of straight-line). The total gain, less any recapture is Sec 1231 gain. Since straight-line depreciation was used, there is no recapture under Sec 1250. However, Sec 291 requires that the amount of ordinary income on the disposition of Sec 1250 by Corporations be increased by 20% of the additional amount that would have been ordinary income if the property had instead been Sec 1245 property. If the building had been Sec 1245 property, the amount of recapture would have been $30,000 ($200,000-170,000). Thus, the Sec 291 ordinary income is $30,000 x 20% = $6000. The remaining $44,000 is Sec. 1231 gain.

Got that? We are on the same page now right? Good.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Budget your Butt Off!

I am most likely the biggest Dave Ramsey freak you will ever, ever meet. Okay, maybe not ever, but pretty darn close! He cracks me up!

Each week at work we have a "poll" of sorts on our Intra-Company website. This week the question was "What do you want to Accomplish in the coming year?" they listed about 10 choices and a whopping 27% listed "get better control of my finances" as their item of choice for 2012.

Well, so do I! (except I put "eating healthy" as my answer)

As you may know, we follow Dave Ramsey's budget forms, but the paper forms month after month were killing me (let's face it, I still haven't unpacked my printer since we moved). So I took the liberty of taking his main forms and putting them in Excel. Now it's all calculated out for me, no more pencils and calculators!!

I've emailed the Excel file to a few co-workers and family members (with Rave reviews), and thought I would offer to email them to any of you guys as well. They are SUPER helpful, and there is no better time than the beginning of the year, so if you want to check them out tell me in the comments and I will email them to you!

Happy Budgeting!!!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 Goals

I like goals better than 'resolutions' because a goal gives me something to work towards, while a resolution is something I can only break. It's no surprise that there is no shortage of goals, but I'm going to try to nail down a few concrete ones. This isn't a list of uber amazing and inspiring goals...quite the oppose rather...but I have to put them somewhere or else I won't be accountable to anyone or anything.

1) Pay off Debt

Do you remember once upon a time, long ago, Mike and I were on this "get out of debt" kick? Actually, it wasn't a kick and we've been budgeting since then (hello? house). However, we did do things a little backwards, and now we have to get rid of my student loans. Our goal for 2012 is to pay off $20,000 of student loan debt. It's a pretty lofty goal, and you may hear a lot of debt posts this year, so bear with me.

2) Become a CPA

I have 2 exams to pass (should be studying right now actually...). Then an ethics test, finish the work requirements, and apply for the official license. I'm so ready for this.

3) Get a promotion

I'm actually already in line for an "in-role promotion," but if that doesn't happen, Target typically moves people every 18 months, so I am hoping by next Nov/Dec I'll be moving around somewhere.

4) Learn to sew

Someone is going to have to gift me a sewing machine (see #1 above), but I really want to learn how to do some very basic sewing. I have plans to recover a couple of chairs, and to sew some Roman Shades for our bedroom, and Miles' bedroom (we have heat vents below the windows, so curtains aren't a great option).

5) Blog more

Okay, this is one of those "unmeasurable" goals, but it's safe to say that I can only go up from the amount of blogging I am doing now. Having a blog is a good way to look back and remember, and I value that, so I'm going to try to do a better job in this department. I also want to add photos to most post (okay maybe A photo...). Here:

6) Learn to use my camera

Great, a have a DSLR, but use it on "auto" all the time, so I'm going to try to change that!

Do you have any goals this year?