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Earlier this week, I wrote about our income streams and big expenses in 2010.

It was fun to look back and see where our money came from and where we directed it towards.

Being conscious of your finances can be a big step in improving them. I wanted to continue on the topic and look at areas in which we could improve for 2011.

I think it's bit easier to just organize this by topic and then highlight some things we've could've done better with in regards to our finances.

Checking & Savings

What Went Well

We're been increasing our savings and when we have to use it to buy another car, we were able to replenish it fairly quickly.

We're staying with ING Direct based on their service and interest rates. While they're not the highest, they're better than our brick and mortar bank right now.

Need Improvement

I think we're going to have to step it up with savings for the car replacement fund.

We weren't expecting to replace my husband's car so soon, but I'm glad we did.

Sharing a car between the two of us was not sustainable. It means that our timetable is a bit shifted to compensate.

Instead of getting a car in 2011, we'll probably be looking at the beginning of 2012.

We're looking to buy 2006-2007 sedan. To help with that I'm increasing monthly deposits to $400/month until we reach our target of about $7,500.

We're keeping it simple with buying cars and we want to keep it with cash.

Retirement Accounts

What Went Well

The balances are increasing, both due to our contributions and the portfolios going up in value. Overall, it's been a good year with them.

Automating our contributions has made it painless and we're happy to being on track.

Need Improvement

We should put at least 5% of our bonus, tax rebate, small windfalls, etc into our portfolios.

Compound interest is on our side and it will pay off in the long run.

I don't think we're planning on increasing our recurring contributions until we meet some other financial goals.

Student Loans

What Went Well

We consolidated the student loan and we've cut the interest quite a bit.

It's good to have the balance decrease every month – again automatic payments make it easy.

Need Improvement

Part of me thinks we should pay this down more aggressively.

It's the last of our non-mortgage debt and it would feel good to get that eliminated sooner rather than later to reduce our monthly expenses in the long term.

Thoughts on 2010 Finances

I'd to hear from you about your progress this year. How well did you do with your finances?

What worked well and what could you improve on in 2011?

About Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..

5 comments add your comment

  1. Good work with your student loans! I used to think that I would just have mine for as long as possible (which it has been years already) since the interest rate is only 2.65%. But now, with savings at 0.1-0.5%, I think I’ll start attacking them and write a post about it.

    For some reason, the easiest thing for me is finances, but the hardest thing for me is doing everything else i.e. meeting new people, guitar, singing, cooking, etc. So hard, yet I try.

    Have a good NY!

  2. Looks like you are doing great this year.
    We did pretty well in general, but we didn’t really set any goals for 2010.
    The total net worth improved quite a bit due to the market recovery. 2010 was a good year and hopefully 2011 will be even better.

  3. What went well: getting great salaried jobs and the start of building up savings!
    What didn’t go well: credit card debt

  4. It all sounds good, Elle – you guys are very proactive and intentional about what you’re doing!

    The student loan thing is probably the largest financial burden facing our (and future) generations of twenty- and thirty-somethings. Those taking out loans as the interest rates go back up are going to be in for a bruising welcome to the real world. It’s nice you can take advantage of lower rates as an opportunity to throw some extra cash at the principal.

    Would it be worth it to hold back on your mortgage acceleration plan to pay the additional money to your student loans?

    For the doctors and lawyers out there with the six-figure loans, it’s hard not to treat them like a second mortgage.

  5. I’m thinking of potentially going carless when the lease ends in a few months, and to use the expense reduction to accelerate my savings. I only use the car on the weekends these days, and some of those trips could be done without a car. I like cars and I like driving, but given I’m paying for a car that’s just sitting in the garage most of the time, a car-sharing program might be a reasonable substitute. I don’t know… it would certainly be a big jump.