Archive for the ‘Frugal Living’ category

Not Interested

February 25, 2010

If the interest rate on my student loans was in the 1% range, I’d maybe think twice about paying them off at a much accelerated rate.

But 6.8% makes the decision easy.

And the grace period is up, which means that 6.8% is no longer just a number. It’s a monster:

“Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies; it never goes to the hospital; it works on Sundays and holidays; it never takes a vacation; it never visits nor travels; it takes no pleasure; it is never laid off work nor discharged from employment; it never works on reduced hours. . . . Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you.” (J. Reuben Clark)

In all, we took out $33,500 of student loans.

In November, we paid off $11k.

This month we paid off another $6k.

And next month, we plan to pay another $8k or so.

That will leave only $8,500, which we plan to eliminate by May or June.

Getting rid of our high interest student loans is our financial priority #1. We’ve limited our spending in almost every way conceivable. From what we eat to what we buy, to what we do on the weekends, we’ve been trying not to spend money unnecessarily.

TheFieryOne and I don’t want money working against us, but FOR us. And now that the grace period is up, and that rabid, persistent thing called interest has been let out of its cage, we’re that much more dedicated to paying off these student loans asap.

CPA Score Report – 3/4 Passed!

August 20, 2009

I passed REG and BEC (sections 2 and 3 of the CPA exam)! It was a huge relief to find that out since I had serious questions as to whether I passed REG.

Now I just have a month to wait for my AUD score. I’m fairly confident I passed, which would mean that I’m just a few months away from being a Certified Public Accountant.

Updated Score Report (Predictions are based on how I felt coming out of the test, not subject matter)

FAR – Prediction: 85, Actual: 95

REG – Prediction: 75, Actual: 83

BEC – Prediction: 95, Actual: 88 (I think the absence of simulations actually brought my score down from what it might have otherwise been since they seem to be my strongest area)

AUD – Prediction: 82, Actual: Still waiting (’til mid-September)

BEC – More like B-EZ

July 21, 2009

I took BEC the other day. After feeling crushed by REG, I had studied night and day for this one so I wouldn’t risk feeling similary beaten.

And I emerged victorious (at least that’s how it felt)! I was shocked at how simple and straightforward most of the questions were for BEC. I’m not saying I would have passed without studying, because I probably wouldn’t have. But, having studied quite a bit, the answers seemed to jump right out at me.

Of course, I don’t really know if I passed yet since my score won’t be available until at least next month, and possibly not until September. But I CAN say that I FELT like it was much easier than FAR or REG. Which was a very welcome feeling.

I have one more section of the CPA exam to go, friends, assuming that I receive a passing score on REG and BEC (which very well may not be the case for REG). Up to this point, I’ve finished 2 of 5 Becker lessons for AUD, and so far it seems fairly straight forward. I’m really glad I saved it for last because it’s soon going to be the most applicable to my day-to-day life. It’s really starting to sink in that I’m going to be an auditor next month at a “Big Four” firm, and I’m truly excited about it!

Apartment Hunting

July 11, 2009

TheFieryOne and I have been discussing what we want in an apartment when we move next month. The questions we ask ourselves include

1 – How much extra is it worth paying per month for laundry facilities inside our apartment?

2 – Are we willing to sacrifice how nice the apartment is for a couple hundred dollars of savings per month?

3 – How far should we really be from public transportation, knowing that we’ll use it more than our car?

4 – Is it worth it to purchase renter’s insurance?

5 – Are we willing to get rid of some of our furniture to be able to fit into something small?

Our answers have made it clear that we’re willing to make some sacrifices to save money on an apartment. Certainly, we don’t want to live in a hole, but we’re willing to live without a dishwasher or a washer and dryer. It’s likely that the apartment we choose will be either a house or a small complex. The bigger apt. complexes seem to be charging a premium that the smaller, one-off units don’t charge. Fortunately, craigslist makes finding the latter possible.

In the end, we want to live a comfortable, happy life, but we also want to save money where we can. If that means doing a little extra work up-front to find the right place, and sacrificing a few conveniences, that’s okay. We can think of a lot of good uses for the $2400-$3600 we’ll save. Namely, paying off student debt. Or perhaps European vacations. We’ll see.

REG Is A BEAST!

July 1, 2009

Many people say that FAR is the most difficult section of the CPA exam. For me – whose academic focus has been financial reporting and assurance – that was not the case. I walked out of FAR feeling like I had passed it. And, thankfully, I had.

But when I walked out of REG today, I had no such feeling. Not even close. I mean, I may have passed, but if I did, it won’t have been with flying colors. Not even close.

That’s okay, though! All I need is a 75! Come on 75! Big money, big money, big money . . . (apparently, in my mind, it’s a lot like gambling, which, btw, is includable in gross income while gambling losses are only deductible as a miscellaneous itemized deduction up to the amount of the winnings, but I digress).

The one thing I feel comforted by, having just begun studying for BEC today, is that there seems to be some overlap of the things I studied for REG on BEC. And like I always say, any overlap is good overlap.

I’d complain about the long wait time for my REG score, but considering all the other things I have going on (selling my house, finding a new apartment, finishing classes, studying for BEC and then AUD, etc.), I probably won’t worry about it too much. If I have to retake the beast, I’ll retake it.

[My actual inner dialogue? “Please, oh please, be a 75! Don’t make me take the beast known as REG again!”]

I Passed FAR!!!

June 25, 2009

Couldn’t be happier about it!

REG has me worried, though, and I’m taking it in 6 days! No time for worries — back to the books and practice problems I go.

Wish me luck!

FAR Down, AUD, REG, and BEC to Go!

June 11, 2009

At least I hope so. I don’t actually get the FAR (Financial Accounting and Reporting) results for something like a month, which seems like quite a long time to me. But that’s not as long as CFA takers have to wait (more like three months, so I’m told) for their results, so I won’t complain.

I’m not supposed to say anything about the test content, but I can say it didn’t seem incredibly difficult. I studied quite a bit, went through all of the Becker Review materials, memorized the flash cards, and did a healthy portion of the practice problems – many of them multiple times. So I felt prepared, went in there swinging, and came out feeling like I passed. We’ll see relatively soon if that truly was the case.

In the meantime, I’m taking my last few classes before graduating, and I’m also studying for REG, which is a bit shorter than FAR, and not quite as all-encompassing. Then again, it has a bunch of regulatory material that I’m less familiar with since I’ve only taken one business law class back in the day. Fortunately, Becker has come to my aid again by organizing and presenting the material in an easy-to-digest format. I promise I’m not a Becker marketing guy, I’m just really grateful to have review materials to guide my studies and make my review more effective and focused. Plus, you can’t beat FREE stuff. Many thanks to my future Big Four employer for footing the bill.

There is one thing I’ll mention about studying: It’s often difficult for me to stay focused and to keep pushing through review materials. After a few hours of studying (sometimes after only an hour), I get tired of it and want to stop and do other things. But I take courage in knowing that passing all four of the exam sections this summer will be a huge blessing to my future self’s life, and I’ll kick myself if I don’t take full advantage of the time I have now to prepare thoroughly for each section. I doubt I’ll ever have as much “free time” to study like this, and I know I won’t feel like studying after long days at work in the future.

So now is the time to push through the material and pass these exams (I’ll watch the 5th DVD lecture for REG as soon as I publish this post). Best wishes to any others out there studying! Here’s an excerpt from CPAreviewforFREE that strongly resonated with me (I like to dream, but I also recognize that real work is what accomplishes goals and makes dreams come true):

“There is something exciting about planning to win. There is something stimulating about envisioning the winning score and the glory of being the champion. However, at some point, you have to switch over from dreams to reality. That usually means doing some hard work and doing it on a very consistent basis.

Dreams are fun. Hard work can be tedious.
Dreams feel good. Hard work can be very uncomfortable.
Dreams can get you excited. Hard work is best done at a slow and meticulous pace.

But, dreams alone GET YOU NOTHING.

I love dreams and I always encourage everyone to dream. At some point, though, dreams can be addictive and lead to nothing. You have to break through and push yourself to actually achieve success.”