One More Simple Way to Save

posted by Andrea | 11/21/2016
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simple way to save

A few years ago, I shared one of my simplest tips to save money on every purchase by taking 1 minute to quickly look over my receipt before I leave the store.

I still do this every time I buy anything (especially groceries) and I’m always amazed how many mistakes and overcharges I catch on a monthly basis. In fact, just last week I found almost $5 of overcharges on my grocery receipt; and the week before that I was refunded almost $8 after I noticed a certain item didn’t ring up Buy-One-Get-One-Free like it was advertized.

It’s amazing how much money I save each year by simply checking my receipt each time I shop. 

Cluttered-Reciepts

One other thing I do every time I buy anything is mentally add up how much I’m spending so I know approximately how much my bill should be.

I don’t do this when I’m buying huge amounts of groceries — but everything else is mentally calculated (with any coupons, discounts, and tax) before I checkout. This way, I know approximately what the total should be and I can question the cashier if the sales total seems off.

A few examples from the past month:

I stopped by Target to use a $5 Off Any Purchase coupon. My goal was to spend at least $5, but not much more. I found 2 pairs of leggings for Nora for $2.49 each and then bought 2 suckers for Nora and Simon. I knew the after-coupon-total was going to be less than $1 (even with tax) so when she said my total was almost $4, I immediately paused and looked at her computer screen. I noticed she had accidentally scanned 3 pairs of leggings instead of 2, and once she removed the extra pair, my total came in at less than $1 like I expected.

Similarly, we ordered pizza last week when we had my family over for dinner. I had a coupon and there was a sale, but I had mentally calculated that even with tax, the total would be less than $17. When the girl asked me for $19.63, I almost just handed over my $20 bill… but then I paused and said, I think it should be less than $17. She punched it in again and then asked for $16.96.

I used 2 freebie coupons to order Christmas gifts from Shutterfly last week… and I ALMOST clicked “submit” to make my purchase without noticing the total. However, once I realized my total was $23 (for 2 “free” items) I quickly went back to review my shopping cart. Apparently I had selected one item that wasn’t covered under the free offer and would have paid full price. Thankfully, I caught my error in time and was able to get both freebie items for only the $6 shipping fee.

It’s honestly amazing how many times I catch small overcharges when I’m prepared and have a rough estimate of how much my bill should come to.

As I mentioned above, I do NOT do this when I get a cart full of groceries, but I DO thoroughly look over my receipt before I leave the store, and I usually catch any mistakes or overages at that time.

money

It really adds up!

It might not seem like a big deal to lose out on a few bucks here and there, but it really does add up over time.

In my 3 examples above, I saved myself about $23 just by paying attention. If I did that every month, I would save $276 a year… and if I did that every week, I’d save an extra $1196 each year!

Not too shabby!

As you do your holiday shopping (and as you shop all year long) take a few moments to mentally calculate how much you think your total should come to and pay attention when the cashier gives you the total. You could even use the calculator on your phone to help you keep track of larger purchases.

Do you mentally calculate your totals?

If so, have you found mistakes and overcharges on a regular basis?

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photo source 1, 2

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19 comments

  1. Emma {Emma's Little Kitchen}

    11/26/2016

    So timely! I never bothered checking my receipts until last week… my grocery bill just seemed way too high. Turns out, I’d been charged $38 for 3 avocados!! Now I will ALWAYS CHECK!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    what! wow, that’s crazy!

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  2. Gloria

    11/21/2016

    This philosophy holds true for money paid for work as well.
    I worked at my local county election office prior to and after the recent election. I noticed the most recent paycheck included 55 hours that I did not work. I took the check in and explained the problem. It was the right thing to do. Now I wait for the corrected check to arrive.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes! and wow, I’m sure they appreciate your honesty!

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  3. Meghan

    11/21/2016

    Great post and great reminder. Many times I have checked my receipts at home and found errors but because I live at least 20 minutes from any store, by the time I get back there I’ve forgotten I need a refund or I don’t have the patience to stand in customer service. I need to check the receipt before I leave the cashier (even though I am desperate to get my toddler out of the store).

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    Andrea Reply:

    I know what you mean with the whole toddler situation. I have had times when I just NEEDED To get out of the store ASAP, but for the most part, I do try to stop and check my receipt before walking out (even if the kids are freaking out). Our grocery store has a horse the kids can ride for $0.01 so I usually let them ride that while I look over my receipt.

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  4. Karen

    11/21/2016

    I actually do keep a running tally when grocery shopping. I just round every item up to the nearest dollar to make sure I don’t spend more than I have. Then I watch the screen while things go through. I was recently going to buy a $49 replacement iron on clearance because it was the last one and there was no box. Shelf price said $9.99, rang through as $19.99. I was able to have the price checked while the rest of my order was rung up, which also saved time. It didn’t come home with me. Stopped at the thrift store on the way home and got an older model for $5 which works really well. Can’t decide if I saved $5, $14 or $44. Most important is that I only spent $5.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I love it when I find just what I’m looking for at a thrift store!

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  5. Melissa

    11/21/2016

    Yes! Just yesterday at Whole Foods I was buying a pound of smoked chicken from their smoked meat counter. The guy labeled my food, and as he was handing it to me said he accidentally typed it in as brisket, but not to worry because it really was the chicken I asked for. I paused and looked at the package and realized brisket is $15 a pound, not $7 a pound like the chicken. I politely pointed this out and asked him to relabel it correctly.

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh good grief — I can totally relate to crazy deli stories too!

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  6. Chris

    11/21/2016

    Great tip! I was going to buy two huge bags of almonds at CVS the other day, regular $9.99, on sale for 2/$5. When I saw they rang up regular price, I told her. She even went over to the shelf and saw the tag and then took it off the shelf because it was the wrong price. Needless to say, I didn’t buy them. I thought that low price was QUITE the sale! lol

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’m surprised they didn’t give it to you for that price since the tag was still on the shelf. Usually if it’s advertised that way, they have to give you that price. Oh well, at least you didn’t spend $20 on almonds!

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    Chris Reply:

    They didn’t even apologize. lol However, the lady who waited on me is very friendly and kind. 🙂

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    Chris Reply:

    Wow! I just went to CVS last night after this post. I bought two large containers of Lysol wipes that were $6.79. They were marked 2/5 so I got 2. They also rang up full price and the cashier had to go look at the sign. It was wrong also, but this time they gave them to me for that price. I’ll have to start checking my receipts better. These two times, I didn’t buy as much stuff. That’s probably why I caught it. Interestingly, they were wrongly marked with the same price. Hmm

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    Andrea Reply:

    OK that’s crazy — maybe you need to find a new CVS!

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  7. Mrs. W

    11/21/2016

    Yes, I do that too! I can’t tell you how many times the cashier was off and I saved myself money by knowing my total. I was just at Lands End a few days ago and I was suppose to get the 30% off plus an extra 10% off for showing my receipt for a return. I had calculated in my head what the total was suppose to be and sure enough the cashier only gave me the 30% off. I saved a few more dollars when he entered the other 10%. This happens to me ALL the time- saving money by knowing what my total should be. Especially when using coupons or discounts. Those always get goofed up and it is never in my favor, lol!

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    Andrea Reply:

    good for you for sticking up for yourself. I know too many people who are too shy to say anything (which just seems crazy to me) it’s our money after all!

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    Melinda Reply:

    Do you have any idea what the percentage of times it is that your purchase is actually rung up in your favor?

    I’ve often wondered if it’s intentional when you point out an item is ringing up wrong in the store’s favor, and they still don’t change the price, although I hate to assume the worst. When it happens over & over though you do start wondering.

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    Chris Reply:

    Melinda, I have had produce ring up for the wrong price several times at my local Wal-Mart. I’ve told the cashier and they don’t say anything about changing the price. On a side note, my husband works at this store and he has suggested to the managers a different way of ringing up the half-price clearance food because the cashiers can’t do the math and charge the wrong price. My husband will tell them the correct price. The managers do not care if the store is losing money. They may not care if things are ringing up wrong, also. I don’t know.

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