The CFA program and when life calls

Hi all, Long time reader, not so frequent poster. Sat for and passed level 1 in June; up until this time I stressed the importance of the exam to my girlfriend. She eventually grew tired of my negligence but we’ve been together for nearly 5 years and are accustomed to the highs and lows of a long term relationship. As we draw closer to the level 2 exam this obviously requires elaborate planning. My question is: How do you make good on/avoid other engagements when they may interfere with your next exam. Or more generally, how do you handle the demands that life often calls? We’re supposed to go to Thailand for a wedding weeks before the exam and due to scheduling conflicts are limited to extended vacations in Decemeber/March. Honestly, I’m not sure how candidates with families do it… Appreciate any insight.

Start early.

Bring your books to Thailand – you’ll have plenty of down-time for study.

In my view, it all comes down to how much do you want something in life. If you really really want something, I am sure you’ll be able to put what it takes. There’s this say “action determines priorities”. In my case, I prepared level I whilst on maternity leave of my elder daughter and level II on maternity leave on my younger daughter ( for level II, I had only Feb-May, so I studied for 10 hours per day whilst caring for the baby, very stressfull all in all). I prepared level III this year (passed in June 2013), working full time with my children aged 4 and 1 years old respectively.

For level III, I started studying on August 4, I studied Monday to Sunday, I took only about 10 days off between August and June 1. I used to wake up two hours earlier Monday to Friday to do the daily study before work. As for the weekends, my husband would look after the children and I would study about 6 hours a day each day. In my case, in order to make up for the needed time to study (about 500 hours), I decided to reduce family gatherings, social events, give up on my hobbies and also, try to be more efficient at work and whilst doing house chores. It has been a great sacrifice but when something requires a big effort it is worth more. To me, this is by far the most valuable I have achieved, if only because of the sacrifice it has required. The CFA, besides all the knowledge acquired, has made me more efficient and a more resilient person, physically and mentally.

I would also say that this is also a test of how strong a relationship is, as you can see to what extent your partner/spouse will help you achieve your dream/objective. In my case, I am really proud of my partner, as he has had to give up on many things too and look after of our kids. I feel now that we are a stronger team and that a good part of the CFA award belongs to him.

Good luck!

When I am reading posts like this I realize how much a weak person I am.

NFP respect!!!

I can’t add much beyond the excellent advice that Nfp said above. Bottom line is that your actions really do determine your priorities. You gotta learn to say no (politely) to a lot of things. And you also have to come to terms with the fact that the people around you aren’t going to like that.

It’s fantastic if you have a great support system of a partner and/or family who can pick up the slack like Nfp does. It’s not so great if they’re not supportive because you can’t really convince them into it. However their lack of support for your efforts is a really a big sign of who they are, and may lead you to re-evaluate your relationship with these people. No matter what, it’s not easy. The big thing, I think, is not to let anyone make you feel guilty for how you’re choosing to spend your time.

That’s some serious motivation. Congratulations and thanks!

Hit the nail right on the head.

Sometimes you just have to walk away if they are not supportive of you bettering yourself. Appreciate the insight

I posted my study schedule in a dif. thread, but here is how I did ~400 hours 16 weeks out. That put my starting point around late Feb, early March. I knew I had no commitments and was able to do this. If you know ahead of time you need a week off here, or two weeks there, factor in accordingly (start that many weeks earlier). Honesty, I think the break would give you a good mental rest to recharge the engines and hit the books even harder when you return.

The hardest part isn’t finding the time… (getting up an hour earlier, If you take a lunch at work use it to study… it adds up) the hard part is keeping consistant. I was literally burned out by the time I was done (to the point I developed Sciatica I was sitting at a desk so much)… my whole life was CFA. My only saving grace was I purposefully scheduled in Saturday nights off to keep my sanity. SOOOO many nights I wanted to not crack open a book, and so many Saturdays I wanted to do ANYTHING but study… but you stick to your guns and it pays off.

You have plenty of time from now to the test to not only come up with a plan that fits your life/commitments, but also execute and make this exam your bitch come June.

I would say right now, try to make a realistic schedule… If you know you have family commitments during the week or what not, factor it in. Be brutally honest. If you can study 20 hours a week, awesome. If you can do 5, awesome…you’ll just need to start that much earlier to meet your goal.

I get up at 5:20am, and am out the door by 6am for my 1.5 hour commute. At work at 7:30ish, work till 7:30ish, then have 1.5 hour ride home. Walk in the door at 9ish, workout (home gym), eat, shower. That takes me to about 10:30pm.

When I was studing, I would aim for a minimum 1hr each night (sometimes I got caught up or didn’t want to stop mid-section and go a little longer). 11:30 I’m in bed. (replace study with reading/TV/girlfriend now that study is over) Still getting just shy of 6 hours of sleep a night.

Weekends my goal was 10 hours each day, Sat and Sun. Even “sleeping in” I natually get up at 7am ish, so after a nice breakfast I would bulldog through material till about 6-7pm. That still let me enjoy the nights with girlfriend/friends without feeling guilty.

25 hours of study per week (minimum). I started 16 weeks out. 25x16=400 hours. Sure there were days where I would be exhausted and only do 30 mins, or felt ill and went to bed. But I figure those were made up with a random day-off here and there (ex. memorial day) where I would leasurely do ~10 hours throughout the day.

The work-week was pretty rough, stress wise. But the weekend nightlife made it tolerable.

As bad as you think Level 1 was, double it. That’s what you’re facing for Level 2. And Level 3 is even harder. The exam will take its toll on you. As much as you don’t want to hear it, you might have to think about what you’ll say if/when she says, “It’s either the CFA exam or me.” Is it worth a relationship? Trust me–I understand. My wife was pregnant when I did Level 2. I failed. So we had a newborn baby while I did Level 2. I passed. Then she got pregnant again while I was doing Level 3. Thank God I passed, because I don’t have the fortitude to do it again. -------------------------- I posted this in another thread, and it sparked a fight.

Before you jump right in and re-register for Level 1, read some of the posts from those who are studying for Level 3 and see how much it has consumed their life. You start fighting with your spouses all the time, because you spend so much time studying. You don’t get to see your kids. You get stressed out easily. You stop working out and start eating a bunch of unhealthy crap. You can’t enjoy any time off–if you’re lucky enough to get any time off. You start drinking waaay too much to try and relax. You can’t focus on anything but the test, and you start wondering if you’re getting enough study time in. You focus too much on the test and not enough on your job, so your job performance suffers. You take vacation days off–then spend the whole time studying.

All in all–there are worse things in the world than failing the CFA Level 1. What could be worse? Well, passing Level 1, then taking Level 2 three times and failing three times is worse. Or passing on the third time, then failing Level 3 three times. Or passing the exam at the expense of your job and your family.

Anyhow, if you do decide to keep pursuing the CFA Charter, good luck to you. And if you think it’s just not for you, that’s okay too. Giving up 1000 hours of your free time is not a decision to take lightly.

You’ve got to push. Quality time is the better approach than quantity time, when it comes to either CFA studying or family. If you want to balance both, you need to go all out.

I passed Level III this year. I’m no supergenius, I’ve failed Level 1 and Level 2 in the past. This year was a gong show for me as well. I got married, one of my immediate family was hospitalized with a life threatening illness, I moved into a new house that required a lot of work (landscraping, renos). I managed this all. But I didn’t have much downtime.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t do anything fun. Like I said, I got married, went on a week long honeymoon and I play team sports twice a week. But every second of my day was productive. Very limited TV, no going out to the pub, nothing like that from December on.

My weeks were pretty much:

MON: Work 6am-4pm, make dinner with wife & eat together/spend time 4:30pm-7pm, study 7pm-11pm

TUE: Work 6am-4pm, make dinner with wife & eat together/spend time 4:30pm-7pm, study 7pm-11pm

WED: Work 6am-4pm, make dinner with wife & eat together/spend time4:30pm-7pm, sports 7:30pm-10pm

THUR: Work 6am-4pm, make dinner with wife & eat together/spend time 4:30pm-7pm, study 7pm-11pm

FRI: Work 6am-4pm, make dinner with wife & eat together/spend time 4:30pm-7pm, sports 7:30pm-10pm

SAT: Housework 6am-noon, Study noon-6pm, dinner and time out with wife 6pm-11pm

SUN: Housework 6am-noon, Study noon-6pm, dinner and time out with wife 6pm-11pm

That’s 50 hours at work, 12 hours of housework, 24 hours of studying and 22.5 hours of quality time with my wife. I did that from November on with a few week long breaks (wedding, honeymoon, hospital time) in there and the occasional Saturday off to spend more family time (like Christmas, Easter, etc.).

I started in November/December so I easily got in enough studying. If you start in April, then obviously 24 hours a week probably isn’t enough. So despite studying, I probably spent more quality time with my wife than most do anyway. It’s easy to do if you go at it.

That’s not time watching junkyard pickers or whatever reality show is on TV. You can’t be doing stuff like that if you want to pass the exam and maintain a relationship. That’s not quality time. Many take the quantity over quality because they can afford being lazy. If stuff like that is a higher priority than your relationship or the program, that’s fine, but then accept it and quit one or the other. If you spend two nights out with your sig other and have a real dinner together every weeknight, you’re golden. If she’s more demanding than that and can’t understand the importance of this exam to you, well, then it comes down to priorities… :slight_smile:

So it’s all possible if you want it. It’s all about drive. Get it done. If you feel like you can’t, then prioritize and cut out stuff you feel is less important. Doing everything half @$$ will result in you accomplishing nothing and losing it all. Go all in on what matters. Maybe that’s everything, maybe it’s not. Up to you. But it’s possible.

I’m now enjoying some much deserved downtime. Woohoo. Feels good to have worked hard and earned the time than doing everything half gas like I did when I failed Lev 1 and Lev 2 in the past.

Mind you - if I hadn’t have passed, I was done at this point. This was already long enough of a road for me.

  1. Plan a vacation ahead of time, pass or fail, make a vacation plan in June or July so she has something to look forward to (plan the visits, hotels, etc. to keep her mind off things). Even if it’s just a weekend trip.

  2. Make a scheduled time for her, at least ONE meal together out of the week (you have to eat too), or one hour to do whatever she wants, just to make her feel that you are including her in your life as well

  3. Phone her every night, even if you are studying in the library or lock yourself up in a cave, at least make the effort to do ONE PHONE CALL a day, it doesn’t take more than a few minutes, honestly, you can afford to do so.

  4. if she is unhappy even with the 3 suggestions above, leave her!!! SHE IS TOO SELFISH AND DESERVE TO BE SINGLE AND WORRY ABOUT NOT FINDING A MAN EVER AGAIN!!!



Sorry for such a belated response- I haven’t actually signed into my account on here for some time. I greatly appreciate all the insight; everyone here has endured the bumps in the road and persevered. Thanks again.

Now back to enjoying life before studying consumes.

Plan a nice vacation the week after the exam and keep hyping it up so that your GF cuts you some slack for studying so much.

Break up with her. The BSD CFA Charterholder is single and has many girls.

Also, you will save a lot of money.

I am sure the flight is a long haul flight from the US to Thailand. You have enough hours on the plane to devote to the material with almost no interruption…everyone is usually sleeping…and Im positive your significant other would be too. I used to do it all the time. Its a very productive time and you have a flight attendant at your disposal come to think of it…tea, coffee, water…all available at the touch of a button :). Look at the positives…

However, how old are you and your GF?