This past January, Financial Advisor Steven Girard, President of Northstar Financial Companies, Inc., gave the LIES That Limit™ community 9 outstanding, easy-to-follow tips for getting into financial shape.  It was the start of the new year when everyone’s mind was squarely on how they were going to improve their life in 2011!  As we approach the 6-month mark, how are you doing?

If you committed to make some changes, as we revisit the checklist, you’ll likely find that you’ve accomplished portions – if not all – of what you set out to do.  Congratulations!  You’ve started a journey that will only serve you well.

If you look back on the first half of 2011 and decide, “I can do better,” there’s still time to go for it!  Today is just as good as January 1st when it comes to starting new habits.

Let’s revisit those nine tips and see how we’re doing.

1.) Get Moving! Did you make the commitment to be more involved in your financial life rather than being a financial couch potato?  Did you take more notice of what comes in vs. what goes out?  If you still need to jump on that, the 3-part series Steve wrote on managing your personal finances continues to be a wonderful place to start.  Here are quick links so you don’t have to go fishing.

2.) Go On A Financial Diet. Have you seen the Spring surge of diet and gym advertising?  Summer means the chance to show off the new body, but it’s also a time when spending increases.  Vacations and the call of costly outdoor activities like al fresco dining, sporting events, concerts and festivals – all designed to separate you from your hard-earned money. Get to know your spending habits and budget through pre-planning.  Steve’s suggestions: “Go through your checkbook and ATM receipts for the last few months.  What have you spent money on?  Write these expenses down.”  Some banks and credit card companies are now categorizing your purchases or allowing you to do so – separating your fixed monthly expenses like heat, electricity, rent or mortgage from the added ones like going out to eat, entertainment and one time purchases?  Steve suggests setting “the fixed expenses aside and focus on the added financial calories.”

3.) Get Leaner. Cutting expenses doesn’t have to mean doing without.  Where’s the fat in your financial plan?  Maybe another insurance agency can save you money through bundling your coverage.  Maybe your cable TV package can be scaled back – afterall, you’ll be spending more time out of the house this coming summer.  When’s the last time someone called you on that landline?  And does that cell phone plan still serve your needs or are you always paying for extra minutes?  These questions can help you lose the fat and keep it off.

Steven Girard

4.) Build A Plan. Have you established your goals?  Have you taken the time to determine where you really want to be in 5, 10, 15 years?  Or at what age you want to retire?  Or what college for your kids is likely to cost?  Once you have the end in mind, you can develop your personal plan.  If that’s a step you still need to take, here’s Steve’s recommended roadmap.

5.) Build MuscleSo for some, steps 1 through 4 were nothing!  For those folks, Steve has provided a healthy financial workout that will help you build muscle – in other words, “build up enough cash to cover 3-6 months of your leaner monthly expenditures.”  Only then does he recommend that you start to save and invest with longer term, future goals in mind.

6.) Hire A Trainer. Or in this case, a financial advisor.  According to Steve, a good place to start is by interviewing a handful to find the one that best meets your needs and personality.  Ask your friends for referrals.  Ask for references.  Do your due diligence.  Taking the time and care to do this step right can help you avoid future setbacks.

7.) Stay Educated. Maybe reading the Wall Street Journal just isn’t your cup of tea.  There are so many ways to get information and stay up to date about big financial news, that you can have your pick.  You can even follow some trusted financial news sources on Facebook.  Can’t promise that the information on Facebook or Twitter will make you a financial superstar, but what I am suggesting is that you find the information sources and delivery methods that work for you.  Steve’s suggestions are available in “9 Steps to Financial Fitness in 2011.”

8.) Stay Balanced. Steve’s advice to his clients: “We must plan for tomorrow, plan for the ongoing risks around us, but we are alive and breathing today. So live for today as well.”  Just like in dieting, starving yourself will only serve you in the short term.  “Don’t cut yourself off from the things that bring you joy.  A solid financial life, which is part of a life well led, is all about balance.”

9.) Buy A New Belt. If you’re out shopping for a new belt because you’ve trimmed the fat and are financially fit, I wholeheartedly commend you!  Share your story with others here at  Your success is another person’s inspiration.  If you’re still working your way through tips one through eight, congratulate yourself for your successes to date, and take the next step. One foot in front of the other.  That’s how you climb any mountain!

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