“Investing is most intelligent when it is most businesslike.”- Benjamin Graham.

Warren Buffett called those words, the 9 most important words in investing.

Why is investing most intelligent when it is most businesslike? I think that, if it’s businesslike, then you will act as if you are conducting or running a business. You will act as an owner. Once you take ownership, everything changes. I think that “businesslike” describes less the investment than the investor.

If you start thinking that the only way something is going to work out is if you make the correct decisions, that if it fails, you are the only one to blame, that success and failure are for the most part controlled by the foundation you lay, the work you are willing to put in… you change the way you behave and act. When you think that to succeed you have to be better than the average person, you look at yourself differently, and you look at the work differently.

Taking responsibility for what you get is the first step towards excellence.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you find that helpful.

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Lessons from a new CPA

Don’t forget God. Thank Him for your life, for your work, for your health, for your boss, for your paycheck, for your family, for your workmates, … for the many other blessings. Pray for wisdom and guidance. Do right.

Learning never stops. Once you embrace this, you approach work with a sense of responsibility and enthusiasm. It is easier to accept your faults and mistakes, and take the necessary steps to improve.

Expectations/responsibilities are high. Everybody expects you to know a little bit more than you do, or they do. Some expect leadership and decisiveness. Some just bounce of ideas to see what you think. Humility helps so you don’t come off as a know-it-all. Proactivity helps so that you don’t shy away from your responsibility. Hard work helps to make up for shortcomings in understanding/knowledge/experience/time.

Willingness to do grunt work is a big plus. Somebody has to do it. Sometimes you don’t appreciate what it takes to bring food on the table until you go shopping (for groceries), clean your own fish, cook the food, and get it to the table.

The ability to get along with people comes in handy. You never know who will save your butt some day. You never know who talks with who. You just never know a lot of things. All you can do is make sure you have your cards right. At a minimum, treat everybody with respect.

Bosses (and most people) care about the results. You can schmoose, get along with people, etc, but at the end of the day, they look at your productivity. What is the business spending its money on you for? If you were the company, would you pay somebody else as much as they pay you to produce what you produce? It always helps me when I look back at different times during the day to see what I have accomplished. What did I do today? A week from today, will I be able to point at what I have done today, and convince myself, and/or other people, that this day was a productive day?

Anticipate, and act accordingly.

Do not procrastinate.

Prioritize work.

A clean desk is a happy desk.

Continuous Professional Education.

Plant as many good seeds in as many good soils as possible. Be the best farmer you can be.

Plan. Execute your plan.

When you have done your best, no regrets.

It is just work. It is just life. Chill out.

Life is bigger than work.

Manage your time and your money. Time is the essence of life. As we work, we give up life (energy) to earn money. By taking good care of the money, using it wisely, we show our appreciation of ourselves and our life. Good money management can be learned.

Remember those who got you to where you are today, and those who are getting you to where you will be tomorrow.

Pay it forward.

[I look forward to the lessons that the next couple of years will bring.]

Thanks for reading, and I hope you found that helpful.

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What is it like being a CPA?

What is like being a CPA? This is a loaded question depending on what one is willing to share, to accept as a comprehensive enough answer, and what the focus is. For example, are the following answers good enough?

1/ It is like winning a marathon

2/ It is like winning a Swiss Chess tournament

3/ It is like being validated

4/ It is like getting a dose of confidence

5/ It is like joining a special community of really […….] people

6/ It is like getting a huge load off your shoulder

7/ It is like people expect your to be an accounting-Superman

8/ It is like opening doors of opportunity

9/ It is like any other tough professional certification

10/ It is like nothing changed

Sometimes it is hard to answer seemingly easy questions. Sometimes it is hard to understand/accept a seemingly easy answer. Sometimes you just have to go through it to get it. Similar questions:

1/ What is it like being the President of the USA?

2/ What is it like driving a semi/truck from California to New York?

3/ What is it like being a resident (Doctor)?

4/ What is it like being the son/daughter of a famous/rich/… person?

5/ What is it like to be a slave?

6/ What is it like being God?

7/ What is like to be discriminated against?

8/ What is it like going through a hurricane/earthquake/tsunami?

9/ What is it like to wait for judgment?

10/ What is like to be a champion?

11/ What is it like to live in a place where you have no choice, no options, no opportunity, no way out?

If you ask 100 people who have gone through whatever situation you are inquiring about, you will get so many varied answer because individuals are different, their situations are unique, their motivations and interpretations are different. However, thinking and getting an idea of certain situations may help prepare you in case you end up in a similar situation, or it may help you empathise with somebody who has gone through a situation or is going through it.

Now, what is it like being a CPA for me?

I became a CPA bit by bit. When I passed an exam, I thought I was 1/4 or 1/5 of the way done. [1/4 if you exclude the Ethics exam.] Each time I passed an exam, my confidence grew. As I studied, procrastinated, recovered, prayed, waited for exams to come out, found out that I had passed or failed, checked the results, hoped, read my positive thinking note, etc, I learnt a lot about myself. So in a way, for me, being a CPA brings some self-awareness on how you deal with things, how you manage yourself. Along the way, I wondered why I wanted to be a CPA. I answered the question in my mission statement or motivational notes. I regularly try to find a reason why I am doing certain things. I have found it very helpful. I have found out that depending on who you are talking to, the CPA certification may or may not carry much weight especially when you are out of the USA. Some people give it too much weight. May be not. May be my expectations were not as high as they should be. I have since adjusted them for the sake of myself, and for the sake of the profession. So being a CPA brings a lot of responsibility.  You don’t want to be the one that makes people say, “these new CPAs are up to no good”. I found that being a CPA has opened doors that otherwise would not have been open, or as open. I have found that I reviewed a lot of material as I was preparing for the exams that it becomes handy at unexpected times. I have also found out that I have forgotten a lot of material.  I have found out that if I had known the benefits of being a CPA way back when, I could have taken the exam earlier, I could have studied harder, I could have complained less,  and may be, I could have wished the exam was a little harder. I have found that if I were to live my life again, and I was asked whether I wanted to go through the CPA exams, I would say yes in a heartbeat. I have found that knowledge and experience are not the same thing, nor do they give you the same result all the time; preferably, you want to have a lot of both, and find a way to get them to talk to each other so that you can be more effective. It is great to be a CPA. I would like to say I haven’t changed much, but I also know I have changed much. I am still me for the most part, but I am a little bit changed, for the better (I would like to think), because of my experiences studying for the CPA exams and also being a CPA.

If you are a CPA or a certified somebody/something, what is it like?

If you want to be a CPA or certified somebody/something, why do you want to be that? What do you think it is like being a CPA or a certified somebody/something?

Thanks for reading, and I hope you found that helpful.

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Answering tough questions

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago, and it was titled, 3 things. The questions were not the toughest in the world, but they were not easy either. They required some soul-searching and a discovery of the value you attach to certain things (including people).

I believe that taking time to answer tough questions benefits a person in so many ways. For example, previously unanswered questions now get answers; some people get a sense of direction; others change their ways for the better; other people may come up with mission statements; fear may be dispersed; courage may be developed; etc.

It is hard to answer tough questions when you have not mastered the basics.

What would be your response to the following question?

What are the three things you cannot do without?

My response, which is not necessarily the best one or correct one, would be something like this: Air/Oxygen, water, and good health.

What would your response be?

Thanks for reading, and I hope you found that helpful.

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What shall you give the Lord to bless?

I know that I prayed quite a bit while I was preparing for the CPA exams, and I believe that at least before one of the exams, I said a quick prayer. [Of course, you don’t want to say such a long prayer that you time out!] I prayed before I started studying for the exams, when I studied, before the exams, during the exams [at least once], and obviously, after the exam. Well, and after the results came out, even though I am not so sure I prayed after finding out that REG didn’t go my way the first time I took it. Today, I was reflecting on the many things I have prayed for… and wondering if my effort counted for anything, (and there have been times when I have wondered if my prayers counted for anything.) If you believe in what the Bible says, as I do, then it is fair to assume/believe that prayer counts for something. Then the question becomes, when does prayer become efficacious? What makes the Lord decide to answer your prayer and not another’s? What makes the Lord answer some of your prayers and not others? We do not know the workings of the Lord. We can only “assume” from what we read, from what we experience, from what we think… keeping in mind that He is good. However, one of the things that we “know” from reading quite a few stories in the Bible, and which I truly believe, is that the Lord cares about your worship, and/or the sacrifice that you bring to Him. So, I was wondering what kind of sacrifice you could bring to the Lord as you work towards your CPA, and which you would ask Him to bless. One of the possible answers is your work/preparation/qualification. I think it is respectful/honorable, to bring only that which we think is worthy of the Lord’s blessings. Of course, we have read and been taught that we are not worthy to come before the Lord, thus we could extrapolate to say even our works are not worthy of the Lord. At the same time, we have been taught that the Lord is merciful, and he welcomes the humble and the meek,… and thereby, if we humbly and faithfully do our work, and meekly and confidently bring it before Him to bless, He shall do so.

I am not a good student, but I can be a good student. I try to be one. It is a struggle sometimes. Luckily, the struggle is not intellectual. It is discipline. I am not a good Christian. I sin all the time. I make efforts, once in a while to be a good person. I am saying this just to share the fact that I am not good or perfect, but along the way, I have picked up on what works. Effort works. Not giving up helps. Hope helps. Goals help. God answers prayer. God is just. God is merciful. God sees your heart.

So, as you prepare for the exam, and as you know that some day, as you wait for the results to come out you will say a prayer, you can keep in mind that you should put forth effort that when you ask the Lord to help you pass the exam, you have no doubts that may be you didn’t do a good enough job preparing.

What shall you give to the Lord to bless?

Good luck! Thanks for reading, and I hope you found that helpful.

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How would you use your $55?

I used to be obsessed with being a millionaire at some point in my life. I thought that if I had a million dollars, I would never have to worry about money ever again, and I would be able to tithe, help out, travel, etc. things that I was not able to do because I didn’t have enough money. Along the way, I have changed the way I look at money. I suspect that if I had a $1 million, I would continue living the way I live now, for the most part. What would I change? I would pay off a few things. I would travel to see my family. I would give part of it away. I would simplify enough – mostly getting rid of things that suck money and energy out. Anyway, that’s not the point of this post. I was looking at how long $1 million would last. Well, there are so many variables, so I decided, what if I start with a figure [i.e. number of years], and then work backwards to how much I would spend per day, without earning any interest on the remainder, to get to a point where all the money was used up. Say, 50 years. Then I would have to spend about $55 [$54.79 on a 365 day year]. Now, that’s where the $55 question came up. If you asked a people at random: Would you rather get $55/day for the next 50 years, or get $1 million today, and never receive another cent, ever? [Well, the $1 million, is actually $1,003,750.] I wonder what the tallied results would look like.

How would you use your $55 that you got on each day?

For example, if you rented a house that you had to pay $550 per month, then you would have to save $18.33 of your $55 each day, so that you can pay rent. If you had utilities that cost a total of $50.10 per month, you would have to save another $1.67 for your utilities, so each day, you would have to save $20 of your $55 daily pay to cover rent and utilities. How would you use the remaining $35? How much would you spend on breakfast, lunch, dinner? How about transportation, haircut, toothpaste, etc? Of course, this brings up interesting points. If you have the $1 million at once, then you don’t really have to worry about scraping through your savings to make rent and other big one time payments that last a relatively long time [well, longer than one day, at least.] However, I suspect that getting the $1 million upfront, versus getting it in bits of $55, would take away some wonderful thinking time, time to develop discipline to plan and save and figure things out for yourself.

As a side note, if you make $385/week, and you work for 50 years, you will have made $1 million in 50 years. No raises, no taxes. How do you intend to use your $55/day or $1 million/50 years?

How would you use your $55/day if:

1/ there were no emergencies?

2/ there would be a few life threatening emergencies, but you just didn’t know when they would show up?

3/ you had a car, car payment, etc?

4/ you didn’t have a car, car payment, etc?

5/ you had a mortgage/rent payment of $550 or more?

6/ you had a mortgage/rent payment of $225 or less?

7/ you had a hot date in 10 days and you would be paying for the expenses on your date?

8/ your significant other’s birthday was coming up in 10 days, or 100 days?

9/ you didn’t know if the payments would stop or continue?

10/ you didn’t know how stable prices would be in the future?

11/ you could control your reliance on these pay checks?

For the people who are not getting $55/day for free, but are making just as much by working,… this brings up an important point… the need to even be more “careful” with the money. Much more careful than the free money as you are giving up part of your life to have access/rights to that money.

I have not resolved my dependency on money, but I know that $1 million is no longer my goal. I do not need that much money to be happy or survive/prevail. My goal is to figure out a way to use as little $/day as I can. Need less money and things. Make money and things last longer.

I would like to use only a small portion of that $55. $5 or less would be ideal, especially if I could do it by choice. Then I could have 10 other people use the rest.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you found that helpful.

This post was inspired by the writings of Jacob, at early retirement extreme.

Posted in Goals, Happiness, Money - DIMMS? | Leave a comment

The Book of Awesome is out!

During my preparation for the CPA exams, there were times when I didn’t want to study, think, work, or study. I just needed a break, something that would cheer/freshen me up quickly, or just sooth my mind, heart and soul. There were times when all I wanted was to go to bed with a smile, and there was not much that could do that [to me]… During those days, I would just rush to 1000 awesome things and read a few posts, and by the end of it all, I would be happy that I was alive, and I looked forward to tomorrow. It made me realize, again and again, that there was more to life… that I could choose what to focus on… that in the world of galaxies, the micro and the nano matter. So, here is a shout out to Neil! His book has been out a couple of weeks now… so if you have a moment, go take a look at his site, and if you share my feeling, grab the book of awesome!

Here is one of the posts that I remember reading way back when and I laughed my heart out.

Here is one of the posts that made me … swallow hard.

Here is one of my many favorites.

Posted in CPA, CPA Exam Tips, CPA stories, Fun (Jokes etc), Happiness, Meditation | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment