Hope for your financial life and beyond

How to Pass the CPA Exam On the First Try

Earlier this year, I wrote a post about how to tackle a huge looming project. Back in the summer of 2012 I was dealing with the biggest professional project of my life – studying for the CPA Exam. I’m happy to say that I now have my CPA license because I learned how to pass the CPA exam on the first try. Today I’m going to show you what I did.

Learning How to Pass the CPA Exam

how to pass the cpa examI read a ton about the CPA Exam itself before I started and while I was in the middle of it (and not at all after I was done). You have got to learn everything you can about it in order to pass. It’s important to learn from both the official source, but also from blogs and forums where people who are also taking the exam are chatting.

You’ll find out great little tips but also you’ll get the motivation to carry on when you get tired. Some places I looked at included:

[Read more…]

5 Life Changing Moments That Lead to Lifestyle Inflation

In simplest terms the concept of lifestyle inflation refers to a person’s spending going up as their income goes up.

lifestyle inflationSome lifestyle inflation may be unavoidable but it’s a good thing to keep it in check as much as possible. Otherwise you end up living paycheck to paycheck and having little or no money let over to pay down debt, save for retirement and use for other investments.

When a person is at that point, with no money left to create a cushion, life gets really stressful.

Moments of Lifestyle Inflation

We can be drawn to increase our lifestyle at any point in life. As I see it though, there are five instances when we are most susceptible to increasing our spending. Here’s how it often works.

1. After college graduation at the first real job

[Read more…]

Your Best Investment Ever Won’t Be In The Stock Market

best investmentWhat is the best investment you could ever make? Historical analysis suggests an investor in the U.S. stock market can reasonably count on an average annual return of 8-10%. To get that, I’ll have to weather down periods in the market. It’s would be worth it knowing the good years will balance out the lean years to achieve that return.

While the stock market is a great creator of wealth, it’s not the best investment we can ever make. Nor is it land, rental properties, CDs, bonds, or commodities. None of those will bring the level of return needed to really succeed in our life, in our career and with our finances.

There is one investment that outshines them all in terms of total lifetime return. That’s the investment you make in yourself. Nothing will move you forward quicker, push you farther and have more lasting impact than the time and money spent on oneself.

Why Investing In Yourself Is the Best Investment

[Read more…]

Why I’m Quitting My Job To Be A Stay At Home Dad

stay at home dadYou read that right. It’s not a misprint or a trick to get attention. As of Friday, May 23rd 2014, I will no longer be formally employed. I’m becoming a stay at home dad.

After 17 years in education serving as a principal, teacher, coach and mentor, I’m quitting my job to be a stay at home dad.

Those are the most exciting words I’ve ever typed on this blog! I’m starting a new journey.

They are also the scariest words I’ve ever typed on this blog because I’m starting a new journey.

I’ve waited a long time to share this news and start talking about what has brought our family here. It hardly seems real even after formally declaring my intentions. Maybe my new life as a stay at home dad will me next week as I start to clear out my classroom. My guess is I won’t feel it’s full impact until sometime next fall, probably on the first day of the new school year.

The decision to be a stay at home dad appears to have come out of nowhere to those in my circle of influence. Obviously the students were surprised last week when I shared the news with them. I hadn’t hinted at this at all, even though I’ve known for some time this was going to be my final year. What appears to those outside to be a surprise, is actually the culmination of a multi-year prayer journey.

That’s right…I don’t make decisions quickly. Especially when it comes to leaving a place to which I’ve committed my entire adult working life.

I can’t unpack all there is to share about this move in one single post. So if you came here looking for a step-by-step tutorial on how to become a stay at home dad or the financial challenges associated with it, that’s coming later.

For now, I’d simply like to focus on “the why.”

Following Through On the Stay at Home Dad Desire

Life is a series of choices. Sometimes those choices collide and cause friction no matter which option is chosen. Regardless of the situation, we can never say we don’t have a choice. There are always options.

[Read more…]

10 Clues That Help Reveal When to Change Jobs

when to change jobs

How many times will the average person change jobs have in their lifetime? I have to admit being somewhat amazed when I went looking for the answer.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics published a report in July of 2012 that tracked baby boomers born between 1957 and 1964. The report states that from the ages of 18 to 46, these individuals held an average of 11.3 jobs, a job being defined as an uninterrupted period of work with an employer. Men held slightly more jobs (11.4), while women held slightly less (10.7).

The news gets even more staggering for Millennials (those born between 1977-1997). A Forbes article published in 2012 states 91% of those surveyed expect to stay at a job for less than three years. That would put their job total between 15 and 20 during their adult working life.

I certainly don’t fit into either of these molds, having only worked three jobs in my post-college adult life: 1) one year as a construction worker; 2) one year as a sporting goods sales associate; and 3) 16 years in education as a teacher and principal. So my average job length is six years, but you can see that figure is a bit misleading when trying to determine what career has been most important in my life.

I’ve always been a creature of habit, so figuring out when to change jobs has always been a challenge. I shudder to think about making the “should-I-take-a-new-job” decision 10+ times in my life. Because I don’t like change simply for change sake, something would really have to motivate me to look at a new job offer.

Reasons That Reveal When to Change Jobs

Here are 10 such circumstances that might help you decide when to change jobs:

1. When there would be a significant upward change in salary and benefits.

[Read more…]

“HELP WANTED!” This Company Really Understands the Hiring Process

Help Wanted

Is your business hiring the right kind of people?

The hiring of new employees can be one of the most frustrating and stressful facets of running your own business. Every hire is an unknown and a potential risk as one can learn only so much about an applicant through the interview process. Companies routinely foul up the hiring of employees by failing to cast vision, by conducting shoddy interviews, and neglecting to check references or do background checks.

This lack of due diligence leaves them with employees who are mismatched to the company’s goals and objectives. Once these individuals are hired, the company will be forced to manage the poor behavior and deal with the inefficient production that comes from an employee who is not 100% sold out on the job.

I ran across this Help Wanted ad the other day on Facebook. It’s from C and C Fence Company located in McDonough, GA, a suburb of Atlanta. It’s clear they know who they are, what the job entails and what type of employee would be a fit. Based on it’s content, I can’t help but think their hiring process runs smoother than many other companies.

Check out their ad below, with special attention to Parts 2 and 3.

Part 1: The Job Details

This is where they express the urgency of the need, list the specific position and share the major particulars about the job:

[Read more…]

How to Choose a Career: 6 Tips For Making the Right Choice

how to choose a career“So what’s going to be your major when you go to college?” The question annoyed and frustrated me as an 18-yr. old high school senior. I had no idea how to choose a career at that age. Nothing had ever seemed to jump out at me.

So, when asked, I’d sheepishly throw out a few ideas.  Then say I was just going to take the required core classes my freshman year of college to get those out of the way. Everyone seemed to think that was a good idea.

College did indeed open up a new world of vocational options for me – careers that I had never considered before. My first two quarters were spent getting adjusted to school and meeting new friends. Still nothing overly intrigued me. Business management? Optometry? Finance? Ministry? What direction should I go?

Then, to satisfy a general ed requirement, I took Intro to Psychology in the spring quarter.

I was hooked.

Learning about the intricacies of the human mind fascinated me – how it functions and how we interact with other people. “Plus, I’m a good listener,” I thought. “That should come in handy in that field, right?” So by fall quarter of my sophomore year I was a full-fledged Psych major with a dual emphasis in counseling and child and family studies.

Just to be clear in case you missed that – I made that decision based on one class and the fact that I was a good listener.

But was it the right decision?

[Read more…]