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Your Top 3 Financial Changes from 2011
Old 12-28-2011, 01:02 PM   #1
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Your Top 3 Financial Changes from 2011

I am curious what the most productive financial changes are others have made over the past year. My top 3 are:
1. We will close on a mortgage refinance Friday, reducing expected interest costs by about 50% over the next 10 years.

2. My wife was promoted significantly and I got minor raise, increasing our household income by about 18%.

3. With dozens, if not hundreds of hours of painstaking effort, our recurring household expenses were reduced by about $2500. The bulk of this was from lowering food costs, taking the bus to work and dumping ATT as our cell provider.
As financially productive as it feels, being frugal really has hit the point of diminishing returns for my household. Short of moving or taking on a boarder, trying to improve our financial defense has become a game of chasing scraps.

Given this, next year, the time I spent trying to become more frugal will be focused on relationships instead. I believe investing time with family, friends and coworkers will yield greater rewards, both financially and personally.

Looking into an employer funded MBA program and learning to better understand my investments is also in the hopper, but I doubt either will yield significant returns during 2012.
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Old 12-28-2011, 01:12 PM   #2
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I read about and fully implemented an indexing approach to investing.

Also threw a small amount of Mad Money at Prosper.com. Reamins to be seen whether or not that was a productive change...
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Old 12-28-2011, 01:19 PM   #3
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Retiring in late 2012 and starting to draw down my retirement accounts. What a change from 40+ years of building them up.
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Old 12-28-2011, 01:25 PM   #4
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1. Sold one of two houses which added to the nestegg and will reduce our expenses
2. Decided to ER
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Old 12-28-2011, 01:27 PM   #5
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Sl;owly getting rid of my 4-6k dividend income(DRIP widows and orphans stocks) as age 68 approaches mandatory 70 1/2 RMD and expect tax icreases in the future on div.'s.

Buying Vanguard Total World Index ETF, VT with my medicine (aka mad money to keep hormones in check).

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heh heh heh - football and a few good stocks - and popcorn. Retirement is life cycle VG Target Retirement.
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Old 12-28-2011, 01:31 PM   #6
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Shift cash to short-term bond funds and stable value funds.
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Old 12-28-2011, 01:45 PM   #7
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1. Picking up the pace of Roth conversions.

2. Increasing the percentage of the portfolio that I actively trade from 5% to 10%.

3. Upping the WR to account for some additional travel and recreation.
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Old 12-28-2011, 02:05 PM   #8
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1. Started ER in April this year. ( Most significant event in recent years. )

2. Started up brokerage accounts for DD and managing it for her.

3. Shifted into Preferred Shares and Corporate Bonds in taxable accounts, reduced % of common equities.
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Old 12-28-2011, 02:15 PM   #9
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1. Lowered my cash buffer last March, due to our decision not to move after all. Bought Total Bond Index, so more dividends.

2. Can't think of anything else...
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Old 12-28-2011, 02:31 PM   #10
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1. Wife went back to work after 7 years.
2. Wifes younger twin sisters (24), finished Nursing program and will start working next month.
3. Did I mention DW went back to work! Actually at a private clinic and the Doctors have told her they will treat the family for free! My 6 y/o son is going in for a checkup (in 30 min), Carn't wait to see the expression on their faces when they get a load of me!
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Old 12-28-2011, 02:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
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1. Lowered my cash buffer last March, due to our decision not to move after all. Bought Total Bond Index, so more dividends.

2. Can't think of anything else...
Is the real estate moving very slow down there? Might be a good money move since the houses in MO are cheaper anyways.
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Old 12-28-2011, 02:43 PM   #12
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My wife is much closer to obtaining a ministry position which she's been training for in the last couple of years. If all goes well, we think there will be a congregation for her to lead in the next 2-3 months. That's really all I can say on the matter for now.

Other than that, really little has changed between 2010 and 2011 (certainly not our income). I guess I could say our savings has grown by another 3-4 months of living expenses if nothing else.
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Old 12-28-2011, 02:44 PM   #13
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1. Retired end of June
2. Increased cash holdings from about 6 months worth to 3 years, and changed AA from 60:40 to 50:50 (both approx)
3. Further reduced spending by almost 20% (sold boat mostly) without reducing quality of life
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Old 12-28-2011, 03:47 PM   #14
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1. Paid off the mortgage (for us, so awesome not to send that payment every month; others' mileage will vary).
2. Started taking the dividends instead of having them reinvested.
3. Bit my tongue and didn't say a word when DH decided to keep a small inheritance with Edward Jones (didn't point out that those dividends will in essence be paid to EJ).
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Old 12-28-2011, 04:02 PM   #15
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1. Reduced portfolio withdrawals due to DW starting SS benefits. Our combined SS benefits will now fund approximately 40% of our expenses.
2. Reduced health insurance premiums $200/mo by me becoming Medicare eligible.
3. Switched internet service providers - $23/mo less, faster download speed and no contract.
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Old 12-28-2011, 04:09 PM   #16
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1. refinanced house
2. paid off all non-mortgage debt to eliminate monthly payments
3. Retired and started pension and 401k withdrawals
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Old 12-28-2011, 04:12 PM   #17
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1. Stopped my cell phone and now use a Trac phone for emergencies only.
2. Called Direct TV and they lowered our bill without changing any of our service.
3. I have a part-time job that pays very little. I was eligible for the 401K in 07/11 and now have 90% of my pay go to the 401K, so that I don't have to pay taxes on those earnings.
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Old 12-28-2011, 05:58 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamer
1. Stopped my cell phone and now use a Trac phone for emergencies only.
2. Called Direct TV and they lowered our bill without changing any of our service.
3. I have a part-time job that pays very little. I was eligible for the 401K in 07/11 and now have 90% of my pay go to the 401K, so that I don't have to pay taxes on those earnings.
Ok Dreamer, tell me what you said to get Direct Tv to come down and how much did you get them down?. I got them to lower my NFL package, but nothing else. My 2 year commitment expires in 2 months so I will get to negotiate from strength then, even though I dont want to change providers.
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Old 12-28-2011, 06:08 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
1. Sold one of two houses which added to the nestegg and will reduce our expenses
2. Decided to ER
Thought of one more.
3. Dumped land line ($35+/month per line) and went to Ooma ($13.50/mo for two lines)
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Old 12-28-2011, 06:11 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mulligan View Post
Ok Dreamer, tell me what you said to get Direct Tv to come down and how much did you get them down?. I got them to lower my NFL package, but nothing else. My 2 year commitment expires in 2 months so I will get to negotiate from strength then, even though I dont want to change providers.
I got the NFL package free this year. I told them I wasn't happy that they didn't sell the "Red Zone Channel" alone like other providers do and such. At first they offered the NFL package for basically half price and I held my ground -- pretty soon they *gave* it to me for this year.

A great place to talk about stuff like this is in the DirecTV forums at http://dbstalk.com -- in the DirecTV forums they often talk about the "CSR Roulette" you need to play to get these deals through the retention department. You learn the "magic words" to get the deal you want, and it often really does work.

And yes, when your contract expires, you WILL have a lot more leverage. I've been a customer with them since 1997 and that has become abundantly obvious to me.
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