Another Step Down the Road

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 received some excellent news this week.  I have somehow, after eight years of part-time school work managed to complete my course of studies for the Certified General Accountant’s program.  Completing this program means that all I need to do to complete the designation and be able to use some letters after my name is get the approval of my work portfolio.  The work experience part of the designation is dependent on time that I was already going to be working, so far by completing the school part I have gained around 20 – 30 hours per week that I was studying.

In the end, after 8 years of specialized training I know quite a bit about accounting and business.  In a general sense, this is a tremendous pool of knowledge to own, something that cost thousands of dollars as well as probably hundreds of hours of work on my part.

The reason I decided on an accounting designation was to provide some job security.  When I began school, a goal of early retirement wasn’t part of my future plans.  What I knew at the time was that I would prefer to have income coming in, and I was hoping that the extra letters after my name may make me more employable if the job I was in ended or I felt like going to a different company.

With my goal of early retirement, I am hoping that the accounting designation (once attained) will ensure that my income stays relatively steady over the working period of my life and that the income it  provides will finance the savings I’ll need in retirement.

With my early retirement goal in mind, the associated work and time I was giving up on evenings and weekends, as well as approximately 1/3 of my vacation days to study for and write exams seems worth it now.  There were periods over past few years where missing out on a family event or something fun (like the last 2 NFL seasons) made me think of quitting, especially after I failed a course and had to spend a summer that I thought I would have off sitting around and relearning the wonderful subject of Management Accounting.

I’m not out to make 7 figures in the workforce, I have no dreams of climbing the corporate ladder – I would simply like to ensure that I make a salary large enough to allow me to do what I want to do now, and save enough for my future so that I don’t have to work.  I have achieved part of this goal now, and readers of this blog will definitely find out when I have completed the rest of the requirements to attain the full designation.

I’m curious – how many people out there are taking courses in their spare time?  Have you started a program of study and found it just wasn’t worth the trade – off of time?

9 thoughts on “Another Step Down the Road”

  1. Thanks Dave! I needed that post! I have 6 courses left for the CGA and it seems like forever to go. When do you start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel?

  2. I’ve always taken courses while working, either for certifications or for another degree. I just started my current job a few months ago, and I’ll be starting some courses this September (paid for by the employer of course).

    I try not to take too many courses at once. The time trade-off for me is worth it because in each case, I’ve made myself more valuable and better educated using someone else’s money. Besides, I’m one of those lifelong learner people – I actually enjoy it. 🙂

  3. I’m pretty much studying for fun, and not to enhance my job/career. I enjoy Khan Academy and will be looking at other free learning courses online.

  4. Congratulations! You bet it’s a tough road, which makes it oh so sweet to finish. I got my CGA 20 years ago, and have never spent a moment with regret. The great thing with a financial designation is that you’re continually learning. As much as you know now, just wait!

    Hang in there Kevin, and everyone else who’s still in study mode. It’ll be over before you know.

  5. great post! I would probably be doing exactly the same thing, except I feel I have a huge current opportunity in software with only a 4-year degree … so I put my extra time (not spent learning about politics and finance) into that (on track to be financially independent by 30).

    I think very much like you do, Dave, but am planning to put off more education until after financial independence and then earning enough to pre-pay the cost after that. I personally view this as something that will both keep me learning and make me more robust against changes in employment markets (although I shouldn’t need a job for too long anyways =P)

  6. Congratulations. It sounds like a long slog but well worth it. You’ll be able to set your own (0-?) hours for life. Are you planning to specialize?

    Wish we had a personal financial adviser we could trust. I can put all our numbers down but don’t get the summarized information from them that I want.

  7. Congratulations. Not only great for the reasons you mentioned, but take it from me, if you choose to dabble in a little work from time to time when you are retired, this is an excellent field to dabble in. You will always have opportunities to pick and choose from (or not!) You’ve just bought even more flexibility.

  8. @ Kevin – Honestly, the courses just kept getting harder…..there was no real light to see, just more consolidations and inane tax laws to see. I don’t think that it’s set in with my wife or I yet that I’m finally done. Maybe next month, when I would normally be starting again?

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