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January 12, 2012

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I downsized to a house where I no longer have a mortgage so my monthly living expenses are much less. I doubled my pension contributions last year and did so again at the end of 2011. I'm anxiously waiting to see the longer-term results of these actions I took last year.

In 2011 we:
- increased discretionary spending modestly
- increased giving to church and charity
- increased monthly savings

Investing strategy remained unchanged. It was our best year yet (though at our age, each year will likely be our best year yet for a while).

As with FMF, in 2011 I stayed on the same course that I have been on since the end of 2007, which was to invest 100% in CDs, Corporate and Muni Bonds. 2011 was another prosperous year and no changes of any kind are planned for the twentieth year of our retirement. We're on cruise control!

I mostly stayed on course, but I did do a few in 2011:

- Refinanced the mortgage
- Increased the nonretirement savings (by amount saved in refi)
- Updated Will

It is a good checklist for ideas.

-Rick Francis

I stayed the course on just about everything except paying down the mortgage.

I was VERY aggressive in paying down the mortgage and will have it paid off this year.

2011 was a big year for us with the purchase of our first house.

- Increased retirement savings
- Increased taxable investment savings
- Tithed for a full year for the first time ever.

It's unfortunate to see giving less to charity on the above list.

I am also doing the same that I have done for the last several years. My 401K is maxed out every year and I have these funds invested all in index funds. I save another 25% of my income and invest 80% of those funds in Growth/Dividend funds, which performed very nicely. The other 20% goes into various bonds (I buy individual bonds and hold them versus going with bond funds). I hold one year's worth of expenses in money market/short term bonds for a potential emergency as well as to keep a bit liquid in case I can take advantage of any market drops. Separate from all this, I have three years of laddered CD's that were originally put in place as I moved out of certain funds and set them up for college expenses for my children. As we have been able to cash flow college expenses up to this point, I have not needed the funds. I have kept the ladder going and will probably move more into dividend funds, but will also take advantage of market opportunities. As I also have a good pension program, I have not felt the need to invest any heavier in bonds at this point.

I cut spending (downsized to a smaller place).
Increased retirement savings (hadn't been contributing before).
Paid down student loan debt.

I hope to pay off my student loans entirely this year!

Mostly stayed course.
- Paid off mortgage.
- Invested big chunk in 529s.
- Increased charitable giving.

FMF - it does feel great with no mortgage. I am still amazed at your spending/savings %s.

In 2011, we paid off the car, and both of our student loans. We've only got the credit card and the mortgage - the credit card will be paid off this year. Overall, increased our net worth by 25% - going to stay that course. :)

Just did more of the same except I turned 50 so I increased my 401K contribution to the max allowable.

I found a steady job which helped me to tithe, save and give more consistently. Thank you Lord!

This is a great checklist. We managed to cut back on spending - used a lot more coupons, discussed with the kids the virtues of a debt-free lifestyle as well as a simple lifestyle. We also paid down credit card debt, refinanced our mortgage, and switched to a more cost-effective health insurance plan. Wish we could have done more, but in this economy, we are counting every single blessing.

I increased my income by 10.5% by finding a new job. With my first paycheck, I paid off 2 credit cards and increased my E- savings to 12% (I plan to bump it to 1/4 of take-home pay) once the rest of the credit card debt is paid. Other than that, I'm still doing all of the same things.

Why isn't "earned more" on this list? I increased multiple streams of income, both passive and active. Also improved skills, which allowed higher billings.

I think the hardest part for most people will be cutting down on dinner and lunch outs – I know it has been, and still sometimes is, for me. This usually is a big chunk of money, that can easily be saved. I generally take advantage of those credit card reward points though, those are too good to pass up.

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