Building Wealth Takes This One Habit

There are as many different ways to get rich as there are to lose a fortune. Virtually everyone who's amassed wealth the slow way (i.e., not discovering pirate's treasure or robbing a bank) has followed one simple principle: Know what your money is doing. If you're not tracking your finances, you're using guesswork when you could be playing it smart.

Writing for The Motley Fool, consultant Kimberly Schrant lays out four clear-cut reasons why everyone should keep tabs on spending and earning in a clear and organized way. If the very thought of a budget spreadsheet makes your palms sweaty, take a breath. Everyone starts somewhere, and it's never too late to start, even if you've tried and lost the thread before. The simple act of watching for patterns in how you use and earn money will increase your exposure to personal finance concepts, demystifying the process and giving you the confidence to do more.

Professionals from pilots to surgeons rely heavily on lists to help them get through their jobs. The simplest way to start taking control of your financial future is to observe it for a little while. You will probably discover that you're buying things that you ultimately regret, and also that it's worth it to you to stick with some small luxuries. Tracking your spending can help you reset your money habits and even climb out of being broke.

Whether you use an app, an Excel file, or the occasional bit of liquid courage, giving yourself all the hard facts will help you chart your own course. Pretty soon, you might surprise yourself by how much you're killing it at this whole money-and-adulting thing.