It’s the end of another year, which means it’s time for most of us to reflect on what happened in 2011, and where we’d like to go in 2012. I had a good year — though not without a few bumps along the way — but I’m eager to face the future too.

As I always do at the end of the year, I spent some time yesterday poking through the statistics to see what people came to read over the past twelve months. GRS had 11.5 million visits during 2011 from over seven million unique visitors. That’s a lot of readers, and a big increase over 2010. Most of those folks came to explore pages in the site’s archives (we’ll see which pages in a moment).

But regular readers — you folks — are what keep the site running every day, and what keep me enthused about this project. And it’s the regular readers that determine the day-to-day popularity of individual articles. Based on the stats, these were your favorite articles of 2011:

  • How to learn a foreign language without spending a cent by guest Benny Lewis: “I’m here to tell you that money has nothing to do with learning a language. In this article, I’ll give you several steps to learn your target language and reach a good spoken level — maybe even fluency — without spending a cent.”
  • How to cheat on your taxes (legally) by guest Richard Close: “When people learn I used to work for the IRS, they want in on the secret. What’s the silver bullet that will help you save the most when you file your taxes? We all know about tax deductions, but which ones are worth the trouble? In my opinion, you should look at all of them.”
  • What are the differences between the rich and the poor?: “I think both authors are too quick to dismiss systemic causes of poverty. And perhaps neither of them has ever actually been poor. Some of their criticisms make sense, but some are grounded in a mindset of wealth.”
  • Is an MBA worth it? by guest Gal Josefberg: ” As the holder of not one but two MBAs (it’s a long story), I have a somewhat negative view of the degree. An MBA often costs a lot of money and provides very little return.”
  • How to save on your cell phone plan with secret no-contract deals by guest Laura Roeder: “Secret phone plans? No contracts? Unadvertised payment plans with no interest? These are all available. But you’ll never know until you ask.”
  • Consumer Reports auto issue: Best and worst cars for 2011: “This year, the Consumer Reports website — even the part that’s not behind a paywall — has more useful information than in past years. In fact, there are video reports on each of the magazine’s top cars, plus other video content scattered around the auto section. Nice!”
  • Why I hate “new, unique” money tips: “I get a lot of requests from reporters who want quotes for their stories about personal finance. That’s fine. I’m happy to help when possible. What bugs me, though, is that nearly every single reporter pitches her story with the same caveat: ‘I need tips about saving, but I don’t want the same old stuff. I need new, unique ways to save money.’”
  • How to lend money to friends without ruining the relationship by April: “Lending money to friends and family is a generous act — one that could easily backfire and even ruin your relationship. But when it’s someone you care about, logic only plays one role in the decision-making process.”
  • Tax prep costs: How much will it cost to get your taxes done? by guest Richard Barrington: “One of the basic choices you’ll face is whether to use an online service or visit a tax preparer for some in-person advice. In each case, costs vary greatly. But as you’ll see, online services are often a lot cheaper.”
  • Hourly vs. salary: Which is better? by April: “In short, don’t assume that salary pay is necessarily better. Every job and every employee’s personal situation is different, so crunch the numbers and weigh the benefits for yourself.”
  • The lottery: An investment for fools (with bonus lottery simulator!): “There’s no question: Playing the lottery as a strategy to gain money is a fool’s game. Play the lottery for fun if you want, but don’t do it because you think it’s going to help your financial situation.”
  • Reader story: How I learned about frugality from de-cluttering by guest Claire Brown: “I’m writing to you today from sunny London about how I learned frugality by throwing things away. This may sound counter-intuitive; if being frugal is about economy and not wasting things, then throwing things away could be seen as a big admission of defeat.”
  • Ask the readers: How much do you spend on food?: “What does your family spend on food in a month? How much of this is for groceries? How much for dining out? Do you make an effort to control food spending, or do you simply buy what you feel like? Do you use coupons? Do you grow your own food? Is eating organic important to you? What other considerations do you make when spending on food?”
  • Reader story: How I built my house without a mortgage by guest Ian: “Most of the financial advice out there is geared towards building up a big account to retire on. I figured that I would enjoy taking a different route — reducing the total income I needed to live on. With a significant reduction in expenses, it becomes feasible to live very comfortably on a part-time income, or even just income from hobbies. How do you reduce your expenses that much? Live off the grid.”

I wish there were an easy way for me to collate re-tweets and Facebook likes — those would be another way for me to gauge which articles resonate with people.

Blasts from the past
Out of curiosity, I also checked the stats to see which posts from prior years remain popular. These are articles that continue to see tens of thousands of visits every year. Here’s what keeps people coming back to this site:

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

Notice a theme there? Long-term, the most popular articles at Get Rich Slowly tend to be about how to do things or where to find the best financial options (savings accounts, credit cards, CD rates, whatever). Though I like that Get Rich Slowly has a behavioral and psychological focus, I’m always wishing that I (and my writing staff) were writing more hands-on stuff. But I always worry about repeating myself. Ah, the dilemmas of a blogger…

Further reading
If you’re looking for more money-saving goodness, check out the greatest hits from the first five years of this site:

Which are your favorite Get Rich Slowly stories from the past year? (Or of all time?) Your feedback will help us improve this site.

Happy new year, everybody!

GRS is committed to helping our readers save and achieve their financial goals. Savings interest rates may be low, but that is all the more reason to shop for the best rate. Find the highest savings interest rates and CD rates from Synchrony Bank, Ally Bank, GE Capital Bank, and more.