6 Steps for a Financial Health Checkup

Can you believe November is almost gone? It seems like just yesterday summer was approaching, and now here we are about to face the end of another year.

The time between Thanksgiving and the holidays is perfect for a financial health check-up. Spend some time before life gets too crazy to access how your money situation has changed over the past year. I find that when I take a proactive step to access where I am BEFORE the end of the time frame I am measuring, I feel ahead of the game in improving any situation.

Here are a few thoughts to get clear about your 2011 financial happenings.

  1. Compare your net worth to where you were at the beginning of the year.  Has it increased or decreased, and why? What steps can you take to lay the foundation for improvement in 2012?
  2. Did your income grow in 2011?
  3. Did after tax income increase? If you made more money, but kept less of that money, then your nest egg did not grow.
  4. Was your cash flow positive consistently during the year?
  5. How did you choose to spend your money in 2011? Did you have clarity and focus with your spending? Did your spending reflect your priorities?
  6. Have you taken steps this year that will give you a pay-off in 2012? Maybe the numbers reflected above are the same, or even a little worse than 2010, but you’ve laid the foundation for more potential income in 2012. This may be reflected by greater spending incurred for increasing your skills, implementing a new financial strategy, or starting your own business.

Whatever your numbers reveal, give yourself a pat on the back for taking a brave look at your finances. (You may even want to throw in a glass of wine or a pedicure!) Embrace the empowerment that comes with your clarity about your current situation. Remember, the best way to improve a situation is to assess your current reality and then be proactive about changing it to get the results you want.

And before November gets away from us once again, take a minute to have gratitude for everything that you do have right now. For many, this may include some tough lessons learned from bad money decisions, along with a continued challenging job market and economy. Try to be grateful for those lessons, too, and know that you will be all the wiser for having experienced them.

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