Patricia Lovett-Reid

Start 2010 off right with a plan to get your finances fit.

Not sure where to start? Think about financial planning the same way you approach your physical fitness. I'm no personal trainer but I would bet most Canadians would like to lose some weight, keep their hearts and lungs healthy, get strong and regain the flexibility they had in their youth.

* Bing: Find a financial planner

Okay, grab a fruit smoothie and let's begin.

I use a personal trainer when I work out for a number of reasons. She helps me set goals and can develop the best program to reach these goals. She'll challenge me, identify my weaknesses, motivate me and track my progress.

Sounds a lot like a financial advisor.

We can set goals with our advisor and he or she will develop a plan and a portfolio to help reach these goals. They'll track our portfolio performance and make the necessary adjustments. They can also spot weaknesses like a lack of an estate plan, or inadequate insurance coverage.

If you're really serious, you'll likely have a team to help you reach a goal you never thought possible. I know people that use personal trainers, nutritionists, yoga instructors and so on in the name of fitness. From a personal finance point of view, using tax, accounting, and legal experts can help you become financially lean and mean.

* Video: Dress to impress for less

Most physical fitness programs feature some sort of cardiovascular conditioning. Your heart and lungs get a work out in two distinct ways: Long, moderately paced workouts like bike rides and jogging - and shorter, more intense bursts of exercise like sprints or spinning classes.

Incorporating both types of training will help you sprint to your gate at the airport and enjoy that long hike in the woods. Your portfolio needs the same type of stimulation. Slow, steady and more reliable investments (think fixed income or dividend stocks) that will make sure your portfolio doesn't run out of gas in 20 years. A smaller portion can be devoted to riskier investments like those in emerging markets for a potentially larger return over a shorter time horizon.