FIRE.170 Certified! / Certifiable?

Am I certifiable?  Or am I chartered?  Is there a classification for me that’s applicable?

In November I was thinking it would be interesting and fun to sign up for the CRPC Chartered Retirement Professional Counselor program.


I know a couple of people who’ve gone through the program, studied for the exam, and earned their designation.  They are both extremely intelligent so that caused me some concern about using my brain capacity for such an endeavor.


I checked on the program and found it was pretty spendy ($1350), but I had some playcheck money I was required to spend so I went into frugal mode and contacted the College for Financial Planning to see if they had any discounts or scholarships for “retired people just interesting in learning more, with no intent to become a practicing professional.”  It turns out that I was able to get a 10% off scholarship through Wake Forest University ($1215). 


I then researched the commitment more thoroughly: 9 modules, 85 questions/3 hours exam, with four months to complete.   That sounded like a significant amount of work.  Possible, but still, did I want to undertake that for fun?

Important:  I reasoned if I learned some good knowledge applicable to our FIRE plan, and/or information that would apply to my mom and/or mother-in-law, then it would be a smart “investment” to learn the material, regardless of the exam/designation.


Through research, I found the 9 modules of knowledge:

Then somewhere along that way (near the end of my journey) I found the details of the lessons / modules:

1Retirement Planning – An Introduction
1Retirement Planning Calculations
2Investment Strategies
2Asset Allocation Strategies
3Introduction to Social Security
3Social Security, Military, and Government Benefits
4Making IRA Contributions
4Other Sources of Retirement Income
5Planning for Healthcare Needs in Retirement
6Transitioning to Retirement
7Designing Income Streams
8Income Tax Strategies for the Retiree
8Fundamentals of Estate Planning
9Ethics and the Fiduciary Standard


I passed my final exam about two weeks before my 4-month time limit expired.

I took all 9 quizzes, TWICE.  I took the practice exam for 2 hours, and I banged and banged and banged on my HP 10bII calculator.  I now understand a LOT about N,xN/YR, I/YR,PV,PMT,P/YR ,FV,Beg,End,Shift Clr All, level payments, inflation-adjusted payments, etc.  Though, I do find the questions strangely confusing to this day.  Honestly, who’s not going to use internet tools to calculate much of this?

I was just finishing my studying to prepare for the exam in a few minutes when I received a call from the university to remind me that I had 2 weeks left to complete my program.  Strange how it was minutes before my exam.

So now that I decided to take the exam, and pass it.  Now that I have read hundreds and hundreds of pages, listened to the worst video professor I have ever encountered, listened to the modules on a text-to-speech app, and contemplated what I went through, I can honestly say that learning finance concepts for the past 40 years, researching and building our plan in great detail since 2005, absolutely prepared me to know approximately 70% of the information in the course before I began.

There were items that I had a cursory understanding of military pensions, Federal government pensions, Annuities, the “other” retirement/deferred account types, the details of phase-outs, and active plan participation.  It was “interesting” to learn those details. 

Overly Detailed Exam Intricacies

The test questions that seemed ridiculous were “2015 white house report…” the “details of a RAND study,” SGLI/VGLI, MOC crosswalk, etc, etc.  They were clearly designed to dig very deep into the book and hammer students (i.e. professionals).

This was definitely a Master’s level course in information and exam intricacy. I can’t even imagine the pain of a full CFP exam if this was only 1/3 of material subset.

So my thoughts now are, yes, it was “interesting,” but it was NOT “fun.”

I’m too retired for this.   WAY too retired for this!!!   

But I’m now officially certified.

*** Nothing in this article is to be construed as financial advice.  I am not a financial planner, nor do I pretend to be.  You should always consult your own professional when seeking advice. This post is not a piece of literary mastery, just a random thought I had.

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