Saving Money, Shopping

How Checking Receipts Can Save Money


From time to time, things get the best of me and I let various forms of paperwork pile up, putting off today what I can do tomorrow. I become the Bizzaro Ben Franklin. This pile can end up filling a paper box or two before I tackle it.

This pile continues to grow larger until I eventually force myself to go through it for an hour or more on a weekend. Recently I completed such a task and found, to my horror, I missed a number of money saving opportunities while discovering ones I still could take advantage.

My first find was a Chili’s receipt. I found I could have completed an online survey for a chance to win $1000. Unfortunately, you had to do this within two days of receiving the receipt. While disappointed, I only missed a chance to win.

My next find was a Kmart receipt. It read I could save $5 on my next $25 dollar purchase between August 19 and August 26. As of the time of this writing, that is this weekend. Phew, I can still take advantage.

Next was an insert in my electric bill. I can sign up for automatic billing and get a $10 credit. This was a limited time offer. This was from a bill 2 months ago, which I paid, but never looked at the insert. Unfortunately, the offer expired.

Next was a TGI Friday’s receipt. I could have taken their survey for a $4 off coupon, but again, I missed the time limit.

Last was a Target receipt. Sometimes Target has surveys to win a big screen TVs, vacations, or money. I know this because for some reason I never fail to complete those. Go figure. However, this Target receipt was different. Target has started to list health items separately to make it easier to distinguish deductible health items for my medical FSA. For those who don’t know, this account allows me to put away money with pretax dollars for medical expenditures not covered by insurance. Since I had not claimed the items listed, I was glad the receipt did not end up in the trash.

So now that I have eliminated my pile and am still motivated to change my ways, what can I start doing?

Put the receipts in my wallet. The cashiers usually ask if I want the receipt with me or in the bag. I usually take a few seconds to answer before opting for the bag. These receipts are usually found when we unload the bags, which is not always right when we get home, and placed in the “the pile” to deal with later.

Take care of all paperwork daily. This may seem extreme for me, but I think it is best. If I find this is too big a step, I can pick one day a week to go through paperwork. This is still a better alternative to my sometimes-once-a-month routine.

Take time to read everything. In the case of restaurant receipts, I throw a lot of them away, so who knows how many opportunities I have lost here. As for bills and the ads that accompany them, I know most are crap, but sometimes there are money saving opportunities.

Wikipedia tells me procrastination has more to do with anxiety than laziness, which makes sense to me. I hate doing bills and paperwork. I would rather be doing something, anything, else. But I definitely don’t want to lose out on any savings either, so I think I’ll end it here and get started before another pile begins.

Image courtesy of lhl

4 thoughts on “How Checking Receipts Can Save Money

  1. Nice post. You could also save by discovering that an item was rung twice, or something that you thought was on a discount was not sold as such, sometimes the teller needs to manually enter a code for the discount to count. It is easier to dispute/claim these charges the same day/week than months later.

  2. Lately, I have just been dropping any receipt that I have in a folder and putting it into the file cabinet, otherwise that can get lost. I try to go through the folder in a week, to file what I need away. I have always kept grocery receipts separately into the bank envelopes. You never know when there is a recall and you can check your receipts.

  3. I put all the receipts I get during the day in my pocket. When I get home, I empty them out on my desk. I make sure I enter them in the checkbook and keep them there until they clear the bank. That way, I can verify all the amounts match.

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