Monday, January 19, 2009

Unusual or Infrequent Items

If you're not an accountant or frequent user of financial statements, you probably just looked at my subject line and said Wha...? It's a phrase that cost me at least an hour of confusion Sunday night, because of two nearly identical questions in a CPA review module in which I missed the fact that one said "unusual or infrequent" and the other said "unusual and infrequent," and my unfamiliarity with the way the module shows you where you went wrong. If it's both unusual and infrequent, it's called an "extraordinary item." If it's only one or the other, by GAAP criteria, it's not extraordinary.

By those standards, I guess today wasn't extraordinary.

Starting this entry with the above is what's known in an entirely different profession as "burying the lede." But I have my reasons.

I got a job today. I wish I were more happy about it.

As per my usual ethical stance on discussing my job online, I'm not going to say too much about it. I can tell you that it's a seasonal position doing income taxes, something I haven't been applying for because my only income tax experience consists of one class 3 1/2 years ago, doing my own taxes using TurboTax, messing around with TaxCut, and doing my mom's 1040EZ exactly once circa 2001. I figured I wasn't qualified, not without some training, at least.

I start this job at ten o'clock MST tomorrow morning, pretty much the exact time Barack Obama starts his new job on the East Coast. I may or may not get some training when I arrive at work. Otherwise, I'll have to refer people to another location or ask them to come back later in the week or something. Don't worry; I won't do anyone's taxes tomorrow morning on unfamiliar software while someone sits at my desk. Probably. The good news is that I'm very good at learning new software, the venue is expected to have mostly people with very simple returns, and I'll be referring anything tricky to a CPA offsite.

The money isn't terribly good, but it beats the heck out of McDonald's or unemployment payments. And tax accounting is a good skill to pick up for future employability.

Why am I not thrilled to finally get a job? One is that I'll be paid a lower wage than I would have considered four months ago. Two is that it's another temp thing, so I'm still not secure. Three I'm not prepared to discuss. I'm hoping that it will all be worth it, though, good experience and a good bridge to a better job when the economy starts recovering.

Meanwhile, it's led me to a decision I hadn't even considered until about half an hour ago. As you may know, I've been spending many hours at this computer the last few days, struggling through an assignment for an online seminar. The first assignment, emailed Saturday night at 11PM MST, was to complete all the reading and get a score of at least 90% on all the online tests for the following modules:

  1. Environment of Financial Accounting
  2. Financial Accounting
  3. FASB's Conceptual Framework 1
  4. FASB's Conceptual Framework 2
  5. The Balance Sheet and Disclosures
  6. Related Party and Subsequent Events
  7. Income Statement
  8. Discontinued Operations
  9. Extraordinary Items
  10. Comprehensive Income
  11. Earnings Per Share 1
  12. Earnings Per Share 2
  13. Statement of Cash Flows 1
  14. Statement of Cash Flows 2
  15. Statement of Cash Flows 3

I had already done the first two when the email arrived, but that left me with 13 more to do in approximately two days. Since the grading is Tuesday and no time was listed, I was shooting for having it all done by 9AM Tuesday, which would leave me all day to watch the inauguration, visit my 103-year-old friend Eva, give blood, and get a jump on the next assignment before it arrived.

I have started using my old textbook to help with concepts I've forgotten.

Only I'll now be working 10-7 tomorrow. And as of tonight, after hours or struggle with Earnings Per Share I, I still have four modules to get through by morning, none of which have anything to do with reviewing personal income tax concepts. I'm taking much longer than the average student on many of these things, probably because my original coursework was in 2003 and 2004 and I'm getting a little distracted at times. (A little? Ha!) I could get it all done by tomorrow morning, but only if I start a new job on three or four hours of sleep. And how do I complete another 15 modules every two or three days once I'm working full time?

Dug out my income tax textbook, too!

Fortunately, I have an alternative. The course is set up so that I can add or drop a seminar at any time. So I just dropped the January 18, 41-day seminar, and picked up the 61-day one that starts January 29. This means I've already put a dent in the coursework for the later course, which will give me a little time to get even farther ahead, and see if there are any modules that will help me develop a better conceptual basis for the new job.

I kind of feel as though I've been defeated by the 41-day course, and I'm being a quitter. But I know better. I'm basically adding 11+15=26 days to my preparation time for an exam I haven't even applied to take yet. And it gives me a much more rational schedule to accomplish things in, given my unusual or infrequent (but not both) new job circumstance. I can even use the lag time to get through more modules of the AUD (Auditing) course, which is 8% completed already.

But for tonight, I'm saying goodbye to earnings per share. I'm going to look up info on the tax software I'll be using, study income tax in general a little bit, watch a little Doctor Who, and try for a good night's sleep.

My last weekday sunset at the dog park for a while.

Yeah. I feel better already.



Mike said...

Good luck on your first day of the new job!

Every module title sounds scary. I took two accounting classes in college and didn't understand either of them. :)

just me said...

Good luck on your new job.

Bea said...

Just reading that list gives me a headache... I'm not good with numbers. I say that in much the same way people tell me they can't draw a straight line or stick people. I enjoy math as long as I have time to work at my own pace, and I don't have to add up long columns of numbers. I nearly flunked bookkeeping in high school: I would get so confused. Good luck to you, though... and I do hope that what you want comes through for you.