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Sorry to be late to this thread, my Mom was visiting for the holidays and I ignored TMF for a while.

We hit about 27% of gross last year after including a combined 401(k) match of 5% and cash balance pension credit of 4%. These big savings benefits are a reason I remain in a less than ideal job at Big Bank employer. I was offered two positions at other financial institutions offering far less generous retirement benefits and turned them down largely because of this. I have mixed feelings about the decision, but from a FIRE perspective, it was exactly the right thing to do.

While 27% is way below some of the others here, I am pretty happy with it and generally comfortable with our goal of FIRE just before age 50. My wife and I are now 38 and have three young kids, ages 7, 8 & 10.

We're pretty happy with this result because I was unemployed from 11/13/02 through 5/18/03. My wife earns a very small wage working one day a week at a preschool, so the loss of my pay check was a huge income hit. The generous retirement benefits were because the bank that laid me off 11/13 re-hired me 5/18 and bridged my service for benefits purposes. This was a huge positive.

Someone mentioned building up a taxable account so they could fully fund Roths in January. We are looking to try and do this as well. We will be dropping our savings percentage a bit early in the year to clean up the last of our holiday debt (gone in Jan.04). We had been in the habit of fully funding Roths around 04/15 after receiving our tax refunds. It has been hard trying to accelerate that process. The extra 15 1/12 months of compounding for the Roths should be significant over time if we can get this set up on automatic pilot (suddenly I hear strains of "To Dream the impossible Dream").

We are also looking hard at a big kitchen remodel and auto purchase some time around Jan.05 if the used car gods smile on our 1987 Chevy Caprice station wagon and allow it to keep running for another year. A new roof is probably in our future this spring too We have almost $15k set aside for the kitchen remodel, which is theoretically my wife's budget, but there is little extra set aside for the roof or new to us used car. The kitchen remodel is is a potential money pit, so we'll have to be careful.

Happy New Year all,

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