*ranked from the Accounting Today Top 100 #10: BDO Wayne Berson has done wonderful things […]
Caleb and I had a talk last night and it made me think about this whole Occupy Wall Street thing. More importantly, it made me think about what I am and am not doing to support it. I haven’t been to a rally, even to take pictures (last time I tried to do that, I was the only one out in front of the Federal Reserve Board at 6 in the morning except for the lone Fed cop patrolling the perimeter).
I get that people are pissed off. I’m pissed off too. I’ve been pissed off, don’t tell me about being pissed off. I was lugging around a Fed sign made on top of “Ron Paul ’08” acrylic three years ago, you don’t have to tell me about being pissed off. (Here I am in 2009 on SF Citizen in a “Bernanke 00%” t-shirt at an anti-Iraq war rally)
And I get that for some people, all there is to do is go downtown with a drum and some poorly-written signs on cardboard ripped from your mom’s Costco packages in the recycle bin. That’s totally fine, everyone has their own way of sticking it to the man.
For a lot of Going Concern readers, sticking it to the man means showing up every day in business casual pretending to give a fuck about COSO but actually knowing that it’s all a lie. They work you to the bone until you leave or submit and get promoted to manager. Partner if you’re lucky. Run on that hamster wheel, here have this bonus, keep going and one day you can beat your own subordinates into submission. Go, go, go… Many of you get that this is bullshit but keep showing up every day anyway, and to me, you are your own special kind of protester. Same as last year, motherfucker, it’s the ultimate form of rebellion.
Point being, everyone has their own way of screwing the establishment. Francine does it railing against the Big 4. Bill Sheridan and Tom Hood do it at the MACPA with professionalism. Tom Selling does it by riling up fellow academics. Professor Dave Albrecht does it by being seen in public canoodling with known incendiaries like yours truly.
I do it by ripping on the IASB as often as I am allowed to, infiltrating the Hill to sniff out what’s the latest in CPA lobbying efforts and getting in as many F bombs as I can on the dry subject of accounting. That’s all I can do. I can’t abandon my day job to hang out in Manhattan eating vegan paninis. I can make and distribute offensive Bernanke fridge magnets.
I completely understand why people are attracted to Occupy Wall Street; the part I’m struggling with is why so many of the 99 Percenters seem obsessed with this thing called “fairness” that does not, in fact, exist. Is it fair that any of us have to drag our asses to work every day and do what we do? Is it fair that Becker costs $3,000 and doesn’t pass the CPA exam for you? Is it fair that many of you are drowning in student loan debt and seemingly forced to get Master’s degrees just to work in your field? Is it fair that Caleb gets listed in all the accounting publications and I’m stuck as the sidekick hack who always manages to piss people off? This world is unfair, sorry to be the bearer of bad news. I have to write about accounting every day of my life, it’s un-fucking-fair, we get it.
In my view (for whatever that is worth, which is probably not more than our company pays me to write this post), the ultimate rebellion is assimilating and infiltrating the establishment to enact real change from the inside. Are partners scared as shit of this website? Yes. If they’re threatening you with termination if you even dare to write us for advice, we’re doing something right. And I didn’t even have to not shave my armpits to accomplish that (but Caleb probably shaved his).
Are any of you going to independently revolutionize the accounting industry? Probably not. But collectively, you have scared the pants off of lazy ass recruiters and partners across this country who thought you didn’t have it in you. They read us because they feel like they have to or else they’ll lose touch with what you guys are thinking, and it scares the living shit out of them. In my mind, that’s a far more effective message to send the The Establishment, whoever the hell they are.
I fully support the fundamental sentiment of Occupy Wall Street but much prefer fulfilling my incendiary duties here trying to get accounting kids riled up and questioning why they put up with the shit they do. Working mothers in public accounting should be allowed to have children. Interns should be allowed to ask questions (even dumb ones). Auditors should be expected to question last year’s logic. It’s not complicated but it’s important work that a lot of you do, and I hope that you get that.
It is not your fault that we’re here. Many of you just followed the rules.
Thanks for letting me be a part of that. Beats standing around with a fucking sign, that’s for sure.
If you’ve recently inherited a little money from a deceased relative, please accept our condolences. Then accept our advice, which might help you navigate this tricky area without ending up in the IRS penalty box and/or screwing yourself later on down the road.
Special thanks due to Allen DeLeon, CPA, PFS of DeLeon and Stang, who gave me good advice when I found myself in this situation with no clue how to handle it and some pointers for this article. If you are in Maryland and need an expert to help with your inheritance (Fluffy Mattress, CPA is not taking on new clients at this time), hit up the firm and they’ll be happy to help. The following is not presented as tax advice and is not meant as a substitute for a professional assessment of your personal situation.
First, you might be a CPA but that doesn’t mean you are an expert in personal financial planning, estate rules and tax law. So unless you happen to be a partner with 20 years experience handling inherited IRAs and pension plans, find yourself a qualified CPA from whom you can get a little advice. Maybe there is a partner in your office who you trust that knows a thing or two about this area but absent that, check with your state society of CPAs to see if they have a recommendation. It shouldn’t be hard to find someone in your state.
Second, get any real estate or other property valued and save all documentation. You aren’t taxed on the receipt of property, so if your grandma leaves you her house, you don’t have $200,000 in income to claim but you will have a gain (or loss) to report later (should you sell this property) that is based on its value at the time of the owner’s death. If you end up never valuing it and renting it out for a decade and then want to sell it, you’ll be ass out if you don’t have a baseline value. This goes for stocks too but you should have no problem figuring out what those are worth.
On the federal level, the only initial tax you have to worry about is on inherited IRAs and pension plans, which are taxed as income (meaning at your normal tax rate – be wary of a large sum changing your tax bracket). If you cash these out, you can elect to have the tax withheld or pay it directly to the IRS yourself after distribution but keep in mind there could be penalties associated with that option.
Currently, most inheritance is not subject to income tax. The second Congress reads this article, however, that could change so again, talk to someone who actually knows the rules and keeps us with any changes if you are at all unsure how to proceed.
It’s been quite some time since we brought you Five Questions as we’ve already asked just about everyone worth asking to participate. But we’ve got a serious bacon fetish and a penchant for saving our pennies, so when we got the chance to interrogate Feed the Pig’s Benjamin Bankes, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
In case you aren’t familiar with his work, BB is th��������������������f the AICPA’s Feed the Pig campaign, inspiring saving across the country through PSAs, tweets and other similar awareness campaigns. His people got in touch with us and sent his official bio thusly:
Although he comes from a long line of investment piggy bankers, Benjamin once toyed with the idea of playing professional football (he wanted to be the ball in a Super Bowl game). Once he realized he would have no life with that career, the idea quickly boared him. Then, he discovered the alarming state of personal finances in this country and Benjamin realized his true life’s mission.
Bankes attended Sowthwestern University, where this little piggy went to marketing classes. Though he has never been known as a party animal, he does enjoy the occasional mudslide. In addition to his sharp business sense, Benjamin is also a very talented fiction writer who goes under the pig-pen name of H.W. Hogfellow. Other interests include: long trots on the beach, watching television (his favorite show is Squeel of Fortune), viewing movies (favorite movie is Martin Boarsese’s epic, The Hogfather), and listening to music (favorite song is “Pigs Don’t Lie” by Shoatkira). Benjamin currently resides in the minds of 25 – 34 year-olds everywhere who need proper financial guidance.
Feed the Pig’s hard work is definitely working. According to a survey conducted by The Advertising Council:
Respondents who recalled seeing or hearing the Feed the Pig PSAs were more likely to claim they always take certain actions to save money, such as:
o Keeping a budget of their expenses (33% vs. 19%)
o Saving for long-term financial goals such as education, a house or retirement (30 vs. 18%)
o Bringing a bagged lunch to work and/or eat leftover meals (29% vs. 21%)
o Comparison shopping for the purchase of most items (49% vs. 23%)
o Increasing savings when they receive a salary increase (27% vs. 16%)
Respondents who recalled seeing or hearing the Feed the Pig PSAs were more likely than those who had not to report that in the past six months, they have taken action to learn more about managing their finances. Reported activities include:
o Discussing ways to save money with friends and family (84% vs. 67%)
o Visiting a website to get more information about how to save money (62% vs. 34%)
o Calling a toll-free number to get more information (32% vs. 4%)
Side note: this interviewer slipped an extra $20 in her piggy bank after writing this piece.
We’d like to say we sat down with Benjamin but good bacon would have gotten hurt in the process, so instead we caught up with him via email and asked all the sizzling questions we could come up with.
AG: Does it hurt having that slot in your head?
BB: Only when it’s empty.
AG: When we think of financial literacy we think of you but what are some other resources for those interested in learning how and why to save?
BB: Of course I recommend my website, www.feedthepig.org as well as another financial literacy website from AICPA, www.360financialliteracy.org. In addition the state CPA societies have wonderful financial literacy sites and offer programs in their communities. Here’s a sampling:
Texas Society of CPAs: http://www.valueyourmoney.org/
California Society of CPAs: http://www.calcpa.org/Content/Financial_Literacy.aspx
Virginia Society of CPAs: http://www.vscpa.com/Content/financial_fitness/default.aspx
AG: Do you read any accounting blogs and if so, which do you like?
BB: Do I sense a leading question? You’ve got to get up pretty early in the morning to pull one over on Benjamin Bankes.
AG: Fine, we won’t send you a FREE I heart Jr Deputy Accountant bumper sticker then. Moving on, even though financial literacy is important, we all deserve a splurge every now and then, especially if we are being diligent about saving our money. How do you splurge?
BB: I put ice cubes in my tap water.
AG: Sounds like you missed your calling, you would make a great CPA. Lastly, are you going to be visiting Capitol Hill any time soon? Seems like America as a whole has really embraced your message but Washington could really use your help. You can stay at my house to save a few bucks on a hotel room.
BB: I don’t have any trips planned right now, high gas prices and all, but follow me on Twitter (@feedthepig) and I’ll let you know when I’m there.
Back in the day, there was really only one CPA exam blogger and it was Jeff at Another71 who chronicled his adventures (read: failures) while amassing a large audience of loyal followers who shared in his triumphs and defeats. Over time, Jeff transformed his humble little website from just a soap box for him to complain to an actual career, blowing off the idea of a day job for the somewhat lucrative but always entertaining world of blogging. By all appearances this has worked out for him and it may be no small coincidence that a storm of CPA exam bloggers have followed in his footsteps, including his own team of CPA exam bloggers writing for him at Another71.
The only other longstanding CPA exam blog we can think of is the New Jersey Society of CPAs’ Exam Cram, which has featured a revolving cast of characters over the years, all of whom share their individual CPA exam stories with NJSCPA members and the Internet at large. Who says blogs are dead?
One CPA exam blogger we haven’t seen in quite some time:
The Cooking Accountant has been at this for awhile now and appears to have allowed a BEC failure to keep her from her blog since June of 2010. Once active in documenting her journey, her last entry reads “It hurts twice as much to learn you have to re-take two parts because you failed one. This is reminiscent of when a little girl riding her bicycle hits a raised chunk of sidewalk and goes flying off her bike, landing on the hard cement. But this time, not only does she scrape and bruise her knee and elbow so bad she can barely get up, but the doll she had in the bike basket is now sitting in the gutter.”
But many other CPA exam bloggers are alive and well and blogging every dirty detail of their lives as CPA exam candidates, at least when it comes to disappointments and annoying coughing girls at Prometric.
The list goes on and on and if I missed any good ones, do let me know.
Here’s my concern: while it’s certainly healthy to form a community of miserable bastards who can share in the joy and misery of the CPA exam experience together, at what point does blogging become a distraction? If you notice, each one of these blogging candidates commit well thought-out, carefully written, decent length posts, something a lot of “other” bloggers don’t always do. So is there an element of procrastination that blogging about the exam allows?
If that’s the case, it’s probably a healthy sort of procrastination. Candidates might be taking a break from the MCQ but they are still focused on their goal of licensure by writing about, thinking about and reading about the CPA exam.
As long as they don’t start using that #twudygroup to talk about movies and their relationship problems, I don’t see the harm.
Professor Russell Lundholm may not have intended it to turn out this way but may have inadvertently revolutionized the accrual anomaly and not so incidentally points out that no one else seems to have figured this out. “It’s about the composition of earnings and what percent were due to accruals,” he said about his recent paper, published in the January/February American Accounting Association’s Accounting Review.
Think about it this way: a company with a lot of cash…has a lot of cash. It’s obvious that cold, hard cash can be used by a company at any point. Accruals, on the other hand, aren’t always as easily converted into a pile of dollar bills that can be shoved into a truck and sent to debtors or suppliers for items the company needs. Forgive me for going out on a limb here but it then seems obvious that a company low on accruals (or accounting tricks) should reasonably underperform. That’s not the point of the work, though. It’s about looking at earnings minus accruals:
Employing corporate data spanning 19 years, the authors — [Russell] Lundholm, [Nader] Hafzalla (now deceased), and Matt Van Winkle of Voyant Advisers, LLC of San Diego — compare results computed via the traditional method and via the new method for both operating accruals and total accruals. For both operating and total accruals the new method yields significantly better returns, with the sharpest difference being seen for operating accruals (net income minus cash from operations); there, the traditional model yields an annual return that is about 6.5% greater than that of a portfolio of similarly-sized firms, and the new model produces an abnormal annual return that is about 11.7% greater than that of similarly-sized firms.
People have figured out this strategy but the new bit is that Lundholm, Hafzalla and Van Winkle look at it as a new equation: is picking out a stock dud as easy as figuring out who has a bunch of accruals?
Lundholm points to examples where a high level of accruals preceded poor stock performance.
Accruals at Monsanto Co, the world’s biggest seed producer, were 58 percent of earnings for the previous four quarters when the company reported results on January 6, 2010, according to Lundholm. That was in the top 10 percent of all U.S. companies.
Since then, its shares have dropped 13 percent, while the S&P 500 index is up about 16 percent.
Recommended reading in relation to this subject, Lundholm’s paper in its entirety: Percent Accruals by Lundholm, Hafzalla and Van Winkle. We’ll take all the accounting revolutions (or revelations) we can get.
Your next IASB chairman, Hans Hoogervorst, already has a few things on his to do list (right after scratching Sir David Tweedie’s name off the door), one of which involves restoring investor confidence by redoing last year’s bank stress tests in Europe since it seems they were not really credible, “One reason for scepticism was that sovereign bonds on the banking book were deemed to retain their full value, despite the fact that many were trading at steep discounts in the market,” he said. “The fact that some Irish banks that had passed the test later turned out to be insolvent only served to reinforce the doubts in the market.”
Doubts? That’s a kind way to put it.
Speaking at the two-day European Commission financial reporting and auditing conference, Hoogervorst also wanted to make sure everyone is clear on who rules the IASB. Despite appearances that rules are made by a handful of influential Europeans who like to play with accounting regs, he insisted the IASB is a multi-national group in which everyone gets a say. Or rather, he insisted that he’ll be trying to make sure the IASB is perceived as such, “It’s very important that we develop a governance structure that is more inclusive. At all costs we should avoid the perception that IFRS is dominated by a small group of nations,” he said. He did not seem to clarify if he was more worried about the actual structure of the IASB or just the appearance, nor did he mention how many U.S. delegates will have at the IASB’S table if we were to stop dragging our feet and just adopt already.
While auditors are taking a lot of heat for failing to catch just how bad off European banks were, H-squared doesn’t seem to feel they deserve so much criticism as they were simply following the rules. “How critical will auditors be when they see that regulators consider that severely discounted securities carry no risk?” he asked, obviously rhetorically.
Also in attendance at the conference, Federal Reserve senior associate director and chief accountant Arthur Lindo, who is hopeful that we here on this side of the pond will “move diligently towards some form of IFRS in the near future.” What Lindo did not say was whether or not the Fed would also adopt these rules or continue to use their freakish hybrid of GAAP and government accounting that they make up each and every year. Perhaps convergence will mean throwing in some IFRS into their 300+ page financial accounting manual.
Looks like Hans is going to have his hands full for the foreseeable future. Veel geluk met dat!
Warning: the following is a rant and it’s nearly four years in the making. If you offend easily or think you might recognize yourself in what I’m about to rant on, maybe you should skip this post and come back Friday when I’m back to offering cuddly advice on how to pass the CPA exam. For now, I have a serious bone to pick and can hold my tongue no longer.
As many of you know, I spent my early years on the fringes of the industry in CPA review. I loved my job, mostly because I gobbled up everything I could about the exam and was able to offer that knowledge to others at a critical time in their lives. I loved being able to share in their successes (and failures) and it was a joy to work with some of our students who went out of ize what I’d brought to their experience. We all know it’s hell, and I can’t say my job was any less stressful than the exam experience itself but it was worth it to come to work every day just to hear a heart-felt “thank you” from a candidate who truly appreciated what I’d done to help them get those three all-important letters after their name.
But for every sweet student, I would have to deal with a handful of lazy, unmotivated, over-privileged pricks who expected the exam to pass itself and seemed to blame everyone except themselves when things went wrong. Somehow it was my fault that they spent the last year getting wasted and posting photographic evidence on Facebook, or my fault that they blew off studying to play WoW or [insert lame, overplayed excuse here]. And that’s exactly what they were and will continue to be: excuses. I can tell you that nothing will stand between a CPA exam candidate and their goal of licensure more than excuses. Well, maybe lack of knowledge but that’s a rant for another day.
The worst excuse of all has always been and will always be “I’m too busy.” If you’re too busy to read through the terms and conditions before you shell out a few grand for a review course (or at a minimum, call up with reasonable questions about how things work), you’re probably too busy to take the exam. If you’re too busy to dedicate two hours a day to studying, you’re again likely too busy to take the exam. If you’re too busy to sacrifice 14 hours to exam-taking and 400 hours to studying in 18 months time, you’re definitely too busy to take the exam.
It’s a pathetic excuse when you think about it because who decided to take this thing in the first place? You did and at some point I can only hope it registered in your mind before making said decision that you still have things to do and a limited amount of time to do them. But you chose to do this anyway, right?
My favorite are the parents who also work full-time and complain that they are just too busy. Listen, no one is debating the fact that they have a metric shit ton on their plate but what they seem to forget is that life is all about choices and they chose to start working, get married and have children before passing the exam. So, sorry but it’s not like life is just a random shuffled deck, each candidate getting whichever cards the dealer hands out; we’re all adults here and as such, it’s important that we recognize the impact of the choices we make. The AICPA Board of Examiners didn’t decide to start a family for you, you did.
This exam sucks for everyone and for different reasons. Stop making it suck even for people who aren’t taking it by thinking somehow you are more important than everyone else and therefore entitled to some kind of special treatment because you work 60 hours a week (who chose this line of work again? Please remind me). Somehow hundreds of thousands of equally-busy future CPAs have managed to pass this thing before you and I didn’t hear most of them complaining about how busy they are. Get over yourself or get out of public.
I can’t believe the year is over and have already gotten my 2010 CPA exam rant out of the way so the following is specifically for those of you excited to get started on the brand-spanking new (not so new) CBT-e CPA exam that launches anew on January 1 or, more specifically, January 3rd, 2011. Or maybe January 4th. Anyway…
Last year, you probably swore up and down you’d be done with all four parts AND the ethics exam (for those of you who actually have to take one) by now but life happens and your plans fell through so instead of making unrealistic resolutions only to be disappointed, let’s tackle this the conservative way.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew One part per window is reasonable unless you are going to end up fired or divorced if you don’t get your CPA in the next two months. If you want to be ambitious and take two in a window that’s fine but the easiest way to get through it is by taking it slowly and carefully. Give each section the time it needs to get embedded in your brain just long enough for you to spit it all out, pass, and move on to the next section. There are always exceptions to the rule (and I’m sure they are going to take this opportunity to remind us how exceptional they are in the comments) but odds are you aren’t the exception so don’t try to overachieve, you don’t get bonus points for most failed attempts or most parts attempted in one testing window.
Plan! I can’t say it enough: if you don’t have a plan, you’re going to bomb miserably unless you’re one of those fantastic freaks who somehow pulls it off despite all your best procrastinating. If you’ve ever made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, think of your CPA exam plan in the same way you might approach weight loss. If you don’t plan out a specific diet and exercise plan, you’ll be shoveling cookies down your pie hole within a week.
Schedule. As in right now. If you wait until the last minute to schedule your exams (you know who you are, I talk to you all the time and you’re always sort of generally scheduled to take the exam “at the end of the window”), you’re missing an important motivator that can actually encourage you to study. If you schedule early, you’ve got actual dollars invested in an exam part and a big fat carrot to dangle in front of your face when you’re in the mood to blow off studying. Not just that but you have an actual day to circle on the calendar, which will help you when you’re planning how much time to spend studying in the days before.
Hope that helps and Happy New Year to all of you, see you next year!
P.S. – Please get in touch with us after the 4th with any and all (legal) feedback on the new CPA exam format, we’re excited to hear your thoughts on the AICPA’s exam makeover!
We’ve given you plenty of tips on how not to be an ass on the Internet (sometimes causing you to get pissy with the messenger for calling you out) and also plenty of examples of those who do it wrong (some really, really wrong). So it was thrilling to see the AICPA’s This Way to CPA site take on bad behavior for job-seekers with some of the same tips we’ve been throwing out there all along in Remember your dignity (please). We were especially into this one about acting like an unrefined dolt:
THE BIGGEST DON’T OF ALL
Blab stuff online you can’t take back. It happens. From the typical drunk pic on the Facebook page to the more serious crimes like tweeting the salary you just got offered (especially smooth when the people who already work there see it and instantly pity/hate you), social media blunders are as common as they are hilarious. You heard about the girl who slammed her boss in a status update, then was reminded – by him – that she’d friended him already, right?
Social Media Manager Angela Connor has a simple suggestion to protect yourself against this kind of public blunder. “I don’t care what your privacy settings say; don’t assume anything is private.” This is, of course, the Internet we’re talking about. It’s just too easy for incriminating pictures, swear-packed rants and outright whining about your current job to slip out and become public knowledge.
Surely they aren’t referring to the sort of swear-packed rants that are a mainstay over at Jr Deputy Accountant because, well, let’s face it, that potty mouth nailed me this sweet Going Concern gig.
But if I were to go job hunting tomorrow, my big fat angry mouth would be all over the place ripping on Federal Reserve presidents and verbally bitch-slapping ne’er-do-well Congressmen and most employers aren’t so into that sort of behavior. So let this be yet one more reminder that in this day and age everything you do on the Internet can come back to bite you.
Like that Russian skin flick Caleb made in the early 00s. Google it.
Oh, and can someone please clarify “typical drunken pic on Facebook” for me? I’ve seen plenty of said drunken Facebook pics in my day and am not quite clear on what would qualify as “typical”. Anyone?
Allow me to blast right by the fluff and get straight to the meat: you know who you are and you know exactly what you’re doing so put down the apps and get back to the books, this is the CPA exam you’re studying for!
I humbly present, in no particular order of distractionness, the six biggest time wasters for CPA exam candidates.
Twitter This one is huge and I was reminded of this yesterday when I got an email from someone I know exclusively through Twitter who has been studying (on and off, I presume) for the CPA exam for almost as long as I’ve known him. He made the decision to cut his account with a promise of “I’ll be back”, something you may want to consider if you’re blowing up Twitter with status updates when you shoul ong>Facebook True story: I once got a call from a CPA exam student who gave me a huge sob story about not having enough time to study begging me to give him more time on his course as he promised up and down that he would not let unforeseen events (death in the family, car accident, job loss; you name the excuse) interfere in his studying going forward. That might have worked (oh, who are we kidding, it wouldn’t have worked on me) except for one small problem: he’d forgotten we were also Facebook friends. So while he was updating with pictures of his drunken nights out and “Which Serial Killer Are You?” quizzes, I was watching an entire year of studying (and a few thousand bucks) swirl down the drain. Stay away from Facebook and please, for the love of all that is sacred and holy, enough with the FarmVille when you should be studying.
Email Emails are great. They make us feel loved and needed and important and sometimes contain all kinds of useful information that we can even apply to studying (like a subscription to our newsletter *ahem*) but they can also be a massive time-waster. You aren’t that important and neither is your email, so shut down Outlook when you’re studying if you’re in front of your computer and even go so far as to set an out of office on weekends if you’re in the last couple weeks before exam day.
Instant messenger Oh IM, how we love thee. Gchat is great for catching up and sharing news but it can be a huge time suck if you get stuck chatting with a friend (especially when you’re dying for a distraction). Don’t cheat and change your status to “Studying for the CPA exam REALLY BUSY”, just log off and hide out for awhile. Trust me, you aren’t going to miss anything that you can’t catch up on next time you log in.
Your phone From texts to apps to mobile Twitter, your phone can be the biggest distraction in your house if you don’t count your TV on Sunday. With so many different ways to keep yourself from studying, sometimes it’s best to simply unplug or, rather, plug your device in to charge somewhere out of your reach while you are studying. Turn your phone to silent and hide it under your pillow if you have to. Checking your phone might only take a second but several checks add up to minutes and next thing you know, you’re pounding out an email response with your thumbs and totally off track.
Your girlfriend (or boyfriend) Seriously. You swear (s)he didn’t need this much attention when you first started dating but now you’re a year in and since you started studying for the exam it seems like you can’t shake her (him) off your nuts long enough to do two homework modules. If a nice talking to won’t work, why don’t you try explaining to your sweetheart that this is a professional exam and, if (s)he’ll get off your jock long enough for you to study and pass, you’ll make a whole metric shit ton more money as a result. That should work. If it doesn’t, dump her (him).
Lastly, remember that our site can be a distraction too. Shock and awe, I know! It’s one thing to swing by for CPA exam tips or to get my email address so you can ask me a question (seriously, I’m nice and sort of know what I’m talking about, wtf) but if you end up here trolling comments and whining about the bonus you didn’t get, you can easily waste plenty of good study time that could have been better applied to, oh, actually studying. Subscribe by RSS so you don’t miss your favorite articles when you have some free time and ignore us until you pass.
If you’re like most of us, you’ve been half checked out since Thanksgiving [Ed. note: like you don’t even know] and are most likely spending your December gorging yourself on cookies and getting tipsy at holiday parties. But if you’re also studying for the CPA exam, it’s critical to stick to your schedule or else you’ll end up in February wondering why you haven’t studying at all for the exam you scheduled months ago. Here are five quick and dirty ways to stick to your plan.
Turn people down Yes, we know it sucks to have to say “no” but the big key to getting through the exam is being disciplined, which sometimes means saying you’ve got to stay home and study when friends and family are begging you to come out and play. Keep your commitments to a minimum and only do the holiday activities you’ve absolutely have to without being disowned by your family. If you must attend a wild company party, make sure you don’t turn a day of partying into a week of recovering.
Take your CPA review materials with you If you’re traveling out of state to see family, it’s important to bring your review materials with you so you can keep studying while you’re sitting around hearing about your Uncle John’s aches and pains and/or third wife. Bonus: studying is a great excuse to get out of awkward family interactions and shoveling snow so break out the books and show them just how disciplined and determined you are. We guarantee it will inspire oohs and ahhs at the table and hopefully keep you on track to pass next window.
Stick to your schedule If you’ve taken our advice so far (we swear we’re qualified to dispense said advice), you already have a rock-solid study schedule that accounts for every hour of every day and has studying penciled in between work and sleep whenever you can sneak it. Don’t allow the holidays to invalidate that schedule, simply reschedule some areas accordingly. If you blow off entire chunks of your schedule to sip cider and make gingerbread houses with the nieces and nephews, you’re that much more likely to keep blowing it off come January. Adjust your schedule if you have to but be sure to stick to it!
Turn your social aversion into a study tool If you’re like most people – especially accountants – you can’t stand awkward social interactions. Since you’re studying for a professional examination with a reputation for being all-consuming, you’ve got an out when it comes to lame social activities like tree-trimming, caroling, and/or volunteering down at the homeless shelter. Screw all that, leverage your CPA exam misery to your benefit and use it as an out. It’s either that or recruit the homeless guys to help you blast through flashcard drills while you’re handing out Christmas Day turkey at the shelter.
Use days off to study… MORE! Yes I said it. You might have half days or PTO to cash in or the post holiday-party day after to lay around at home and recover but instead of taking a holiday, try squeezing in a little more study time so you’re that much more ready come next year.
And lastly, though this isn’t exactly a tip, ENJOY YOURSELF. You’ve earned a nice little break so take advantage of it, just don’t blow your entire plan in the process!