Playing the Odds

This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any.  Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.

I read what I consider one of the most inspiring blogs over the past week.  After  reading Trent’s Simple Dollar post , I dug in and checked it out, and I was completely hooked.  Sometimes I find myself thinking that the Internet is nothing but a huge time-suck, then there are stories like The Dan Plan that provide inspiration and entertainment.

In a nutshell, “The Dan Plan” is one 30 year-old guy’s plan to make the PGA tour as a pro golfer, starting with basically no golf experience.  Dan is following the hypothesis put forth by Malcolm Gladwell in “Outliers” and is going to spend the prescribed 10,000 hours training over a 5 year period, with the intention of going through “Q-School” (the PGA tour’s qualification tournament) in 2015.  He started in March of 2010 and so far is around 1,500 hours into his practice schedule.

I found the story very inspiring – this guy is essentially taking a leap of faith that he will succeed.  He quit his job with approximately 2 of the 5 years worth of capital necessary, hoping (I think) to pick up a sponsor over the two year period.  In a similar, but more planned fashion, my goal of exiting the workforce at 45 (13.5 years from now) is taking a similar leap, which is perhaps why I connected so much with Dan’s story.

I would love to quit my job and golf right now – I may even have a bit of a leg up given my 20 years of golf experience, but for me, this would definitely be an “outside the box” adventure – quitting my job in the hunt for a fortune found via professional sports – I live a life that is significantly more planned.  I am a gambler, but I don’t really have enough faith in my athletic skill to do this.  I do have faith in my ability to amass enough money to (hopefully) allow me to retire early and have enough money to live off of for around 55 years.

While I don’t think I’d leave my job for the off chance of making millions, what I have been contemplating lately is leaving my government job to expand my skill-set through a private sector accounting job.  Initially, I would more than likely have to take a pay cut, but I believe that eventually my earnings would be significantly higher than they currently are – my own small-scale “Dan Plan”.

I am very interested to vicariously live through someone my own age carrying out what would be my ultimate dream, to golf every day and eventually make money doing it.

Have you ever taken a significant risk that other people would think was somewhat crazy, but did it anyway?  Would you quit your job to try to make a dream like Dan’s goal of making the PGA tour, or something more small-scale like my accounting-job plan?

7 thoughts on “Playing the Odds”

  1. Before you take the leap into becoming an accountant, I would suggest really taking a deep look into what you’re contemplating and meeting with a bunch of accountants in corporate positions.

    I am one – and while I enjoy my life, had I known what I knew about being an accountant when I started I never would have become one. I now work in Project Management, and I enjoy this much more. To each his own, but the real accounting vets can provide some great perspective… find those who’s opinions you can trust.

  2. Dave – Why do you think your income would go DOWN if you go into the public sector for accounting – unless you’re referring to working at a CA / CGA firm?

    So much of accounting depends on what floats your boat since there’s so many directions you can go in. If I were to keep doing it longer, I’d go into forensic accounting myself (I think) – and if I had the benefit of hindsight, I would have gone into consulting / contracting much earlier with more of a specialization than I have.

    Having said that, being a generalist and having worked at A LOT of companies gives me the benefit of being able to work almost anywhere, doing almost anything…. tax, IFRS, SOX, consolidations, taking companies public, system config, audit, working with companies in bankruptcy, lending… all of which only means that it seems very easy for me to find a quick contract job if I want one. So maybe look at what kind of lifestyle you think you want in a couple of years?

    Thanks for the link to the danplan – nice to see someone working for mastery in real time.

  3. @ Alex: I would say your tolerance for risk is significantly higher than my own – I’m glad that some of the risks you took panned out.

    Hi Eclectic Indulgence: I am almost done the school part of accounting (an exam in a month and 2 more courses in the fall/spring next year). I started going for an accounting designation in order to increase my employability. My job experience thus far has been working for a crown agency in Ontario as essentially an analyst. Although my current job is rewarding, I would like to expand my skillset somewhat, which is why I’m contemplating a change.

    I will definitely talk it over with a few accounting vets prior to doing anything.

    @ Jacq: I’m pretty sure it would go down because I’d basically be starting at the bottom of a CGA/CA firm with minimal experience in tax / financial statement accounting. I fairly high salary right now for what I’ve been doing simply for hanging around a government job long enough and the few accountants I’ve talked to have given the impression that the first few years are pretty lean.

    I would like to be a generalist, but require some more on-the-job training that I think I would be more likely to get from a firm over my current job.

    I appreciate your comments, thank you for taking the time to write!

  4. Yes, I see – if you want the generalist experience, I’d definitely go for a smaller firm. And yeah, unfortunately, the income would probably go down, but you really only need to stick it out for 18 months – 2 years or so to get the experience you want.

    Something to consider – at a company I used to work for, we’d hire analysts into the financial reporting group starting at around $75-$80k or so (not sure of the market where you live). That’s definitely an area that’s always hiring since there’s high turnover with staff (lots of people don’t like giving up their lives for year-ends and quarter-ends). And there’s exposure to pretty much everything in that kind of group if it’s a bigger public company. The public accounting background is definitely good to have though, you can’t go wrong with that.

  5. My husband and I are selling our 3800 sq foot house and moving to a 600 sq foot townhouse (where the development takes care of the maintenance). Drastic change. Oh, and I am retiring in June at 53. Am I nervous? Yes. Am I excited? Yes. We are done with the mowing, trimming, cleaning, repairs, etc. Our goals are to be closer to family and travel more. We THINK this will be a good change for us but we can’t know until we are on the other side.

  6. I believe quiting my well-paid government job with attractive pension and emigrate to Canada is one of my biggest decisions in life. After working for about 2 years in a big firm in Canada, I decided to quit my stable job again and go self-employed – I am pessimistic about climbing the corporate ladder with my poor English so I instead opt for earning more money (hourly pay is much higher as a contractor) with my husband’s job covering my medical and dental expenses. I agree taking risks is awesome in life!

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