Balance: Building Accountability in Your Life

By FELICIA TRUONG

I have dedicated my stretch experience to exploring the accounting profession. For those of you who are not familiar with basic accounting principles, accounting is built around the double entry system. This is a fancy way of saying that money is conserved, kind of like that first law of thermodynamics you all learned in high school physics (and maybe first year too).

As a simple example, let’s say you want to buy a car. You have to give $20,000 to the dealership, AND you have to take that same $20,000 out of your bank account as well. There is a cost and benefit to every transaction you do. By doing a double entry for every transaction, you ensure that you are keeping track of where money comes from and where it goes.

In a more general sense, I have learned that the principle of double entry accounting provides a useful framework for thinking about commitments that we take on in life. Every time you decide to do something, you have to devote resources to gain some benefit, and by not keeping track of both costs and benefits, you quickly lose track of the larger picture. When the numbers do not balance, accountants know something is wrong – because this means that something has not been accounted for. This is a problem because when you don’t have an accurate picture of your finances you cannot make well-informed business decisions. Similarly, whenever you make a decision to take on a commitment in your personal life, it is important to think about what you are gaining and what you are giving up, otherwise your life can quickly fall out of balance.

At the beginning of the summer, I took stock of my life’s “debits and credits” as I tried to decide on my stretch experience. What I found was that, for all my extra-curricular activities, I was sorely lacking in accounting related experience. I had already secured a student accountant job at TRIO – Translational Research in Oncology, but to fulfill my stretch experience requirements and satisfy my deficit of accounting experience, I sought out other opportunities. I was fortunate enough to have found my mentor Matthew Semaka who not only a Chartered Accountant, but also a Controller for Norseman Group and has his own Proprietorship. Under his guidance, I am currently performing accounting services for local start-up business in Edmonton. It has been challenging to balance this stretch experience work with my full-time position at TRIO. While it has been difficult, I take deep satisfaction in knowing that this hard work is being debited into the start of my accounting career.

I invite you all to count YOUR life’s “debits and credits” this week. It could really make a difference in your life.

Stay accountable out there, folks!

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