Posted by: LYF | January 7, 2010

When does accounting get better?

I think that’s a good question.  I hated accounting at first.  I absolutely hated it.  Nothing made sense to me.  No one told me what I was doing, or why I was doing it.  And when I questioned anything I got that tense feeling of crossing some invisible line.  That invisible line that’s been sketched into the ground through years of office social norms, which lands you in awkward territory if it’s every disregarded.  The, “oh, we know it doesn’t make sense, but we don’t like to talk about it” territory.  I wasn’t very receptive to this and I ended up yelling at  lot of people and calling many things “stupid” straight out of university.

A few weeks ago I went to a pd course at the institute.  I was by far the youngest there.  It didn’t seem right.  The CICA places a mandate on the minimum amount of professional development hours you need each year.  And most firms “advise” you on which courses you should take.  It’s a weird situation where most people fall short of the minimum standard in such a way that they’re still within the CICA requirements.  They get their minimum hours, but they don’t choose courses they find personally relevant.  They’re taking courses but not necessarily learning, which is the actual point of having the pd requirement.

I ended up sitting next to a guy who looked maybe a a few years older than me at lunch.  Now I should have mentioned earlier that during the class I started explaining how I use narratives when preparing some of my working papers.  The teacher loved the idea.  He went on about it, which singled me out in the class and made me feel awkward the rest of the day.  Probably because of that incident the guy beside me started asking about my firm.  And likewise I started asking him about his.  It was pretty average stuff.

Then we got onto the subject of what to do after we qualified.  This guy had no clue.  More than that, he was qualified and he had no clue.  It wasn’t like he had a year to qualify and was actively thinking about it.  He was hoping something would happen.  Some light bulb would go off and an idea would present itself to him.  Unfortunately, that’s not how things work.  He was also medium on accounting.  He didn’t hate it, but it definitely wasn’t something he got excited about.

Accounting gets better whenever you want it to get better.  That’s it.  And the more creative you are the better it is.  I’ve been at my new firm for 3 months.  In that time I’ve managed to develop enough credit to be put on a few good projects.  First, I’m part of a small team to completely overhaul our audit methodology, which will be taught to the rest of the firm as a PD course this Friday.  I convinced my manager that we need to go to New York next year to perform a certain not-for-profit audit.  I’m being put on some of the more complicated engagements by the end of January.  And I’m doing an audit of a service organization at the end of the month.

It’s all creativity and shaping things to your advantage.  I get in at 8 every morning so I can leave anywhere between 4 and 5.  Coming in at 8 is one of the most underrated things in the professional world.  You know who comes in to an office early?  The people who run the office – managers, partners, senior managers.  Showing up when they show up puts you front and center in their mind.  It also gives you an hour to play with.  And if you work through lunch there’s two hours to play with.  I’ve also been toying with the idea of coming in on Saturday mornings.  The fewer people in the office the more productive you are.  That makes a 3 hour stint on a Saturday roughly equal to 5 hours during the week.  It’s a net of 2 hours.  That makes sense to me.


I’ve been working really hard in my spare time on what I like to call “lifestyle design.”  Here are some things I’ve been doing.

  • Buying all my groceries and prepping them on the same day.  By prepping I mean cutting up all my vegetables and putting them into tupperware containers.  Talking all the nuts I buy and bagging them in ziplock bags for the week – I snack on nuts like a furry woodland animal.  And repackaging all my meat into portion sizes.  This is tedious work but it’s so worth it.  I save an immense amount of time.
  • Automating my finances.  All my utility bills are emailed to me now and paid automatically.  I don’t think about them anymore.  I also set up an ING account to manage my savings.  I have automatic withdrawals on the 15th of the month to two different categories – house and trip.  The house is obviously to buy a home and the “trip” is a Muai Thai vacation to Thailand this fall.
  • Taking advantage of technology I already have.  I never bothered watching video on my ipod.  My god was that stupid.  Think about how often you use your ipod.  Now think about all the movies/tv shows you download.  Why wouldn’t you combine the two?  I spend roughly an hour and 45min on the subway everyday.  I can get through all most two episodes of The Wire (best cop drama ever conceived) each day.

That’s it for now.  I’m still reading.  I’m just reading really hard books – The Wealth of Nations & Inifinite Jest – so the reading posts have been lacking lately.

Anyway, you guys may see some more lifestyle design posts in the future.  I think they’ll be pretty interesting.

Happy new years everyone.  Here’s to kicking ass and taking names in 2010.


Last thing.  Everyone needs to start listening to Wale (wall-eh).

And this remix is ridiculous.



  1. […] See the original post here:  When does accounting get better? « “Look at last year's file” […]

  2. […] unknown wrote an interesting post today. Here’s a quick excerptI hated baccounting/b at first. I absolutely hated it. Nothing made sense to me. No one told me what I was doing, or why I was doing it. And when I questioned anything I got that tense feeling of crossing some invisible line. … […]

  3. Congrats on setting up things to automate your life. I’m waiting on my copy of the Updated version of The 4 hour Workweek and plan to be putting some things into motion this year. I had the ING account going, but then I lost lost my job and had nothing to put in. Life is grand. Now I have the opportunity to build something.

  4. Happy new year! Thank you for the new post, I have been patiently waiting. FYI Rachel Ray is also a big fan of prepping all of her food the way you have described.

    Do you use Quicken for money managing? – it’s like Quickbooks, but for people.

    • I hate the way she says E.V.O.O., but food prep is a solid idea.

      I honestly just use excel. It’s simple and gets the job done. The first column is the date of the transaction. The second is the amount. The third is the category – i.e. meals, LCBO, clothes etc. And the last column is discretionary/fixed.

      Then I use the sort function to group things together, which allows me to make a mock income statement for each month. And by classifying things by fixed/discretionary I can see what % of my income goes to fun stuff vs. necessities.

      I’ve gone through many iterations when it comes to personal finance. This one’s been the best so far.

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