Frequently Asked Questions

The questions that we hear most often have been divided into the following categories:

General Information:

Why is this web site called an “Accounting Program”? A program has more than one or two elements that make up its whole. The Real Life Accounting “program” consists of four elements: (1) Two accounting courses (2) Instructor assistance (3) Supplementary reading (4) A guide to other valuable accounting resources. The idea is to provide the student with a menu of accounting resources that support and augment what is learned in the accounting courses.

What does “real life” mean from an accounting standpoint? The term is meant to differentiate “academic” learning from “hands-on” learning. The two courses, The HEART of Accounting, and Accounting for Non-Accountants, simulate the conditions one would normally find in an actual small business accounting environment.

The Real Life accounting courses only focus on topics that are generally found in all small businesses, instead of wasting time learning topics that you may never need to know about. Topics such as FIFO, LIFO, weighted average inventory measurement systems, manufacturing inventory control systems, sum-of-the-digits depreciation method, construction contracts, contingencies, depletion, special purpose funds, disclosure reporting, statements of retained earnings, and on and on.

Once a student learns the basics as to how a financial statement is organized, prepared and analyzed, he/she can use this foundation as a springboard to furthering his/her accounting knowledge in whatever direction is required.

How do I find out what information is covered in the courses? A list of all the study sections is provided for each of the six phases of the online Accounting for Non-Accountants course. A content page is also provided that gives you a synopsis of what you can learn in each phase. You can also preview the course by taking the first study section free of charge.

For The HEART of Accounting™, you can download the Table of Contents and preview the Introduction and first study chapter.

How do I know if either of these courses are for me? Take the Accounting Training Evaluation. This quick survey should help you decide which course to take (or both). If you still have questions after completing the survey you can contact John Day directly.

How do I find out what others have to say about the courses? You can read the Accounting for Non-Accountants course testimonials. You can also read them for The HEART of Accounting and The Journal Entry Newsletter.

How do the two courses, Accounting for Non-Accountants and The HEART of Accounting differ? The HEART of Accounting is a short 4-hour introductory course that teaches the essentials of double-entry accounting. This means learning the framework and structure of a basic accounting system, how debits and credits work, a six-step method on how to write general journal entries, and preparing a mini-financial statement. It is a gentle, step-by-step approach that helps the beginner grasp the full accounting cycle.

The 20-hour online course covers these same topics but does not have the six-step method on how to write journal entries included in it. There is some redundancy between the two courses, but it reinforces what you have learned which is helpful. However, the online course is much more comprehensive in that it teaches accounting principles, depreciation, accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, bank reconciliations, goodwill, etc. It also includes a toolbox of forms and templates, and tips and techniques used by accountants. It has a lengthy practice section that exposes you to the accounting activity of a sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation. In addition, you learn how to close a set of books at the end of the year. The last phase of the online course is a brief description on how to analyze financial statements using some common techniques and tools.

The two courses should be viewed as companion courses. Students who have taken Heart of Accounting before or after taking Accounting for Non-Accountants have found either way helpful.

Are these courses bookkeeping or accounting courses? These courses teach you how to prepare financial statements. Therefore, they should be considered “accounting” courses. A bookkeeping course would also include a financial statement preparation element. However, bookkeeping functions usually include preparing receipts and invoices, filing, writing checks, posting to subsidiary journals to summarize the information necessary to prepare the financial statements. This level of bookkeeping activity is not taught in the courses offered. A “full-charge” bookkeeper is someone who performs both bookkeeping and accounting functions.

Are these two courses applicable in other countries, such as Canada? Hundreds of Canadians have taken the courses. Real Life Online Seminars has several Canadian affiliates that sell the Accounting for Non-Accountants online course, such as, World Wide Learn, The Canadian Bookkeepers Association, Bookkeepers List and Cascade Business Service Center. Some of the Canadian nomenclature is slightly different from the U.S., but the general rules of accounting are very similar.

The main purpose of both courses is to teach double-entry accounting and those rules are universal. Once you have mastered that basic information it should not be difficult to adapt to the terminology of your country. We have yet to hear from a single student that this is a problem.

What does “write-up” mean in terms of preparing financial statements? The term “write-up” is used in accounting circles and means the process of preparing routine financial statements. Instead of the accountant gathering all the specific information from the client, the client summarizes the pertinent information and forwards it to the accountant. This would be information such as a current bank statement, check register, deposit or sales register, payroll reports, and any other information that pertains to the period activity. The accountant, scans the information, organizes it into the required journals and general ledger and issues a complete set of financial statements.

The online Accounting for Non-Accountants course teaches the student how to do a write-up in the Phase V practice section.

Why should I pay for these courses when there are free accounting courses on the Internet? Keep in mind that you get what you pay for. If you look closely at some of these courses you will find that they are short, not explained well, nor are organized in a sequential learning format. The knowledge base is not built on what is learned before and you are left with having to piece the segments together and fill in the missing gaps. Our courses took years to develop and carefully organize into logical next steps to make learning accounting interesting and as easy as possible to understand.

Do you offer any discounts? If you choose to purchase both courses we can give you a $30.00 discount. For instance, if you purchase Accounting for-Non Accountants and The HEART of Accounting e-book the cost would normally be $153.00. With the discount the cost would be $123.00. If you decided on the spiral-bound workbook rather than the e-book, the cost would normally be $164.00. With the discount the cost would be $134.00.

Are these courses guaranteed? Yes. Upon completion of either course, if you are not 100% satisfied and feel you did not get your money’s worth, we will provide a full refund with no questions asked.

Can I pay by check or money order? Yes, we accept payment by check, payable in US$, for any of our products. Please make payable to "Real Life Online Seminars" and send payment to:

John W. Day
20235 Sommette Drive
Sonora, CA 95370

Please indicate which product(s) you are purchasing. Download instructions and online course access codes will be delivered to you by email.

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Available Courses:

Accounting for Non-Accountants 20-hr online course

What is the design of the online course? There are two main design features. First, the course is written as a dialogue between an accounting teacher and seven students, you being the seventh. The other students are virtual students that typify the general public in terms of accounting background. It is written in a dialogue because the discussions are more lively and easier to follow in a question/answer format. Plus, certain concepts need explanation from various points of view. The question/answer format facilitates the teacher’s ability to zero-in on a concept from different angles making it less likely to be misunderstood. A dynamic interface between students and a teacher is much more interesting than having to read long blocks of text where by yourself, you can become bogged down and confused.

The second feature compares the process of building a house with the process of learning accounting. Building a house is a concrete example that most people can identify with. When compared to the process of learning accounting, which is more abstract, it helps you more clearly see the reasoning behind “why” you are learning certain concepts, and what stage you are at in the learning process.

Can I access the course from any computer at anytime of the day? Yes, as long as the computer you are using is connected to the Internet. It is 24/7 availability. All you need is your username and password.

Is there a live teacher for the online sessions? No. The online course is a self-paced tutorial that you alone participate in. You do not go online at a specific time and interact with a live teacher and other students.

Will I need a textbook? No textbook is needed. However, it is highly recommended that you access the articles section of the web site for supplementary reading as you work your way through the course. Articles are organized by theme so you can pick and choose what topic you are interested in.

Is there a final test? An optional mid-term and final test is available for an additional fee of $50.00 for testing and grading. The mid-term test is taken after completing Phases I - IV of the course and is based on accounting theory. The final test is taken after completing Phase VI and is based on accounting practice. When you notify us that you are ready for testing, the test will be sent via e-mail attachment. After completing the test it should be returned to us via fax (209-532-7917). The test will be graded and a grading letter will be sent via regular mail. The testing option can be found on the Course Purchase page.

Will I be issued a grade after completing the online course? You must request, complete, and submit the mid-term and final test to receive a grade. Remember, there is an extra charge of $50.00 for testing and grading services.

Can it take more or less than 20 hours to complete the online course? Twenty hours represents an average amount of time it took our beta-testers to complete the course. A few students have completed the course in less than 20 hours, however, it is unlikely they have realized the full benefit of the course. It is highly recommended that you take as much time as you need. You should fully learn each concept before moving on, as many concepts build on ones previously presented.

How much does the online Accounting for Non-Accountants course cost? You can purchase a one-year subscription for $99.00. If you would like to renew for another year the fee is only $9.95.

Can I renew the course after my subscription date expires? You must renew the course before your current subscription expires. However, if you forget to renew you can always contact John Day and he will reset subscription expiration date for a few days so you can renew.

Can you print out the complete online Accounting for Non-Accountants course in PDF? No. The online course is, by design, configured in such a way as to make that impossible. Each study section is followed by a short quiz that you must pass in order to advance to the next study section. This prevents students from jumping ahead and getting confused. It also assures us that a student has completed the course. This makes it possible for us to issue a Certificate of Completion.

Is this course accredited or certified? No. Both courses are offered as accelerated information resources for those entering or already in the workplace. Neither course leads to an academic degree in college accounting. They are not “certified” by a national bookkeeping association because normally those courses require months of study and attendance at class.

Is a Certificate of Completion issued when the online course is completed? Yes, when you finish the last study section of the course you can request a certificate of completion. You will receive the certificate as an email attachment. Or, you can specifically request a copy to be mailed directly to you for a shipping and handling fee of $14.95.

Can I see a sample of the Certificate of Completion? Yes, click on the link below.

After purchasing the online course, how soon can I get started? Immediately after completing your purchase, you will see a confirmation page that includes your Course Access Code (this code will also be emailed to you). Copy this number to a safe place and proceed to the Course Registration page. Complete all of the information on this page and you will be able to begin the course immediately.

Can I review material I have previously covered in the online course? Yes, even though you cannot go forward in the course until you have passed the study section quiz, you can review any material previously covered without having to retake the quiz. This is done via a “progress” page. This page lists each study section you have completed. Therefore, you can skip around and click on any study section you would like to review. When you leave the course the progress page returns you to the last study section completed.

What do I do if the answer page from the quiz locks up or doesn't seem to work properly? This is an infrequent occurrence and is normally caused by using your browser back and forward arrow instead of the course arrows. It can also occur from flipping back and forth from page to page too quickly, or by trying the wrong answer too many times. The system becomes electronically confused which requires a restart. To restart only requires going completely out of the system and coming back in again. This usually clears things up. If not, contact us directly.

Can I access the online course when I am finished with it? When you purchase the course you are purchasing a one year subscription. Therefore, you will have access to the course until your subscription expires. We will send you an email one month in advance of the expiration date so that you can renew for another year if you choose to do so. The renewal price is only $9.95.

The HEART of Accounting 4-hour Workbook

Can you really complete The HEART of Accounting course in four hours? Yes you can. It is very doable if you are not interrupted. There is nothing sacred about 4 hours though. Take as long as you like. Keep in mind that completing the bonus section of 100 practice journal entries is not including in the 4 hour estimate.

How much does The HEART of Accounting workbook cost? That depends on which format you choose. It you choose the E-book format (PDF) and have the capability of printing 109 pages the cost is $54.00. If you prefer to receive a printed spiral-bound version the cost is $59.00 plus $6.00 shipping. Both versions contain the bonus section of 100 practice journal entries.

Is a Certificate of Completion available for the Heart of Accounting course? No, because it is presented in PDF format or a spiral-bound workbook and we have no way to determine whether you have completed the course.

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Instructor Assistance:

Can I ask John Day a question directly? For questions regarding courses you can contact John. Please keep the questions relatively short. He won’t do your homework nor become your free accountant.

Can I hire John to consult with me on accounting issues for my business? Yes. Go to John’s contact page to submit a request and review the fee schedule. John’s associate, Barbara Aue, CPA and he will review the request to determine which one can provide appropriate assistance to you. One of them will contact you to for further discussion.

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Accounting Articles:

Where do I find the supplemental reading? The supplemental reading is found in the articles section.

Who writes the articles? John Day, author of the two courses, writes the articles. Each is organized by theme and includes feature article, question, and an accounting tip. There are currently over 120 articles available for your review.

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Valuable Accounting Resources:

The Journal Entry monthly newsletter

How do I access the archives to The Journal Entry newsletter? We no longer keep archives of the complete newsletters. However, you can access all of John Day’s newsletter articles by clicking on Articles by John Day.

Free e-books

How do I download your free e-book Dream or Nightmare: Four Must-Do’s Before Starting a Small Business? All you have to do is take the preview for the 20-hr online Accounting for Non-Accountants course. You will see the link for the download when you complete the preview. This popular e-book has been downloaded over 100,000 times and is our gift to you for taking the preview.

Where are your two e-books “Accounting Solutions for Small Business: A Compendium Volume I & II? Those two e-books have been discontinued. However, the same articles contained in the two volumes can be found on the Articles by John Day page.

Affiliate Program

What is an affiliate and how do I become one? An affiliate is someone with a related web site that is interested in earning a commission by selling the Real Life Accounting courses through his/her web site Visit our page about the program for more information about joining the program.

Volume Discounts

Where do I find out about educational institution and corporate training discounts? If you are interested in volume discounts for corporate employee training programs or accounting education classes be sure to visit our Group Discount page.

Other Accounting Resources

Where can I find a template of the debit and credit “Accounting Model”? You can click this link.

Why would you refer me to another accounting site that is free? The courses offered on the Real Life Accounting web site are unique in the way they are formatted and explained. The Real Life Accounting (RLA) program offers two “sequential learning” accounting courses. This means they are designed to teach accounting in a step-by-step manner. Each concept is presented in context and builds on the previous concepts just learned. Other accounting resources we recommend will help broaden a student’s accounting knowledge base, not compete with our products.

For instance, The Accounting Coach web site has useful information about accounting, some of which is not found on this web site Mr. Averkamp, CPA does not offer full accounting courses. He offers questions and answers, topical discussions, crossword puzzles, some exams, and a dictionary of accounting terms. It is another accounting resource that can augment your accounting knowledge. But it does not teach the sequence of steps required to prepare a complete set of financial statements.