I’ve noticed that one of the biggest challenges people face is keeping track of where their money goes. They receive their paycheck and deposit it in the bank, and then a few weeks later it’s somehow mysteriously disappeared (again). For all they know it’s being consumed by the black hole in the financial universe.

To make matters worse, they still have necessities to pay for: groceries, gas and utility bills, not to mention credit card payments. Somehow they still manage to be surprised when once again there isn’t enough money to cover the necessities.

So, they turn to the good ole’ handy dandy credit cards or take out loans from friends and family to make up the difference. They heave a sigh of relief and say, “Thank goodness we made it through another month.” But in truth, they haven’t really made it. They’ve only acquired more debt that will have to be paid off in the future—more debt that continues to quietly whittle away at the hard-earned paycheck they bring home each month.

“That’s not me,” you say, “I don’t borrow money from friends or family, and besides I pay my credit card bill off in full each month.” Wonderful, great, bravo… but I have to ask you, “Is your money going towards important things like your retirement, emergency savings or saving up for your big-dream goals? If you are like many people, I would guess that it probably isn’t. I’m willing to bet that the majority of your income is going towards supporting your current level of lifestyle.

You know what I’m talking about here: purchases that make us feel good in the moment. Maybe it’s clothes, personal care, massages, books, equipment or tools. And if you do manage to put money into your savings account, are you one of those people that ends up having to dip into it each month, after discovering that you don’t have enough money to make it through the rest of the month?

Many of us walk around in what I call “blissful, unfortunate ignorance.” Another appropriate word for this is denial.

But not to worry, there is hope. I’m going to give you a few extremely simple steps that you can DO TODAY, RIGHT NOW. I want to inspire you to take action, instead of pausing for a few seconds while you read this article to say to yourself, “Great idea, I should do that someday.”

So here’s what I want you to do. I am going to challenge you with this very SIMPLE activity. Are you ready?

For the next month I challenge you to balance your checkbook each day. Yes, it’s that simple.

Trust me, this comes from personal experience. Here’s my confession: last summer I realized that I had gotten away from the habit of balancing my checkbook since I was able to view my account balances online. I noticed that I felt anxious as I impatiently waited for my account balances to appear online. Inspiration came to me after a participant in one of my classes confided that she had gotten away from the habit of balancing her checkbook and had been suffering from overdraft fees.

Up-to-date knowledge is power my friends.

Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to change ANY of your so-called “bad” money behaviors. All I’m asking is for you to stay on top of what’s coming in and going out of your checkbook, each and every day. You can still spend as much money as you wish. I just want you to do it while remaining conscious of your checkbook balance.

Here are some simple steps you can take:

1. Keep a pen in your checkbook, purse or wallet so you can immediately record all transactions.

2. Keep your debit card with your checkbook. This way if you use your debit card you can immediately record the transaction in your checkbook register.

3. If you share a checkbook with your spouse talk to each other and come up with a system for how you can keep your checkbook balanced between the two of you. You might ask him or her to save daily receipts. You could take turns balancing the checkbook each night and then updating your partner on the remaining balance. One couple decided that they would save their debit card receipts throughout the day. At the end of the day they would place their receipts in a clay bowl near their doorway, and each night before going to bed they would record their transactions in the checkbook and then discuss them.

4. Go online once a day to check your balances and see which transactions have cleared. Place a check mark beside any debit card transactions or checks that have been processed. This way you can tell at a glance which checks and transactions are still pending.

5. Stop relying on credit cards. Or, at least stop using them for one month. Leave them at home and don’t carry them around in your wallet or purse.

The purpose of keeping an accurate daily checkbook balance is to give you feedback about where you’re “at” so you can make educated money decisions before it’s too late.

Take the “Balance your Checkbook - ReclaimYour Life Challenge.” Think of your updated checkbook register as a map that lets you know exactly where you are on any given day. Armed with this map you can figure out how to arrive safely at your destination (making it through to the end of the month, without having to work overtime or relying on credit or loans).

Balancing your checkbook will give you a huge return on a very small investment of time. You’ll find this only takes a few minutes a day to complete and it will empower you for a lifetime.

Author's Bio: 

Leslie Cunningham specializes in working with women entrepreneurs who experience fear and self-doubt in their ability to consistently make more money in their business. The end result that women achieve through following Leslie's advice and expertise is that they are able to permanently get off the emotional financial roller coaster ride and break into six-figures and beyond. http://impactandprofits.com/