photo credit: Andres RuedaDo you review your credit card statement every month? What about your grocery bill or other store receipts? If you don’t, you are probably not alone – but you should make it a practice to start. I say this because about a year ago I started putting together my family’s monthly budget. As part of that practice, I began reviewing each of our credit card statements to see exactly what we were buying so I could categorize each expense. Don’t get me wrong – I had always reviewed our credit card statements to make sure everything seemed to be in order. However, I never took a detailed view of our expenses. On my first detailed review of our monthly credit card statement – I realized that we were paying $10 every month for some rewards club that I had joined several months before. This was a legitimate expense, but for something I never used and had forgotten about. I immediately canceled the membership to the club and removed that monthly expense. Too bad I hadn’t realized it sooner – it could have saved us over $100!
In today’s tough economic climate, I think it is so important to pay attention to the fine details of your credit card statement, grocery bills, and even your utility bills. A few months ago, we received a higher than normal water bill. I took a look at the information on the monthly statement and assumed that it was legitimate since it was from the city we lived in. Plus, we had been watering outside a little more to bring in some new grass seed. What I didn’t catch was that the water usage for the month was consistent with previous month, but the bill was almost doubled. The city had upgraded to a new software package and had a glitch in sending out the first set of bills. They took care of the problem and notified their customers on the next bill. The important thing is that the information was right in front of me. We had been charged almost double for the bill and I didn’t catch it. I didn’t pay attention to the fine details of the monthly statement.
One area that my wife and I specialize in paying attention to detail is when we are grocery shopping. Cashiers are human and tend to make mistakes. When my wife and I go grocery shopping we have a plan. One of us watches the prices of the products when they are scanned to make sure it comes up at the correct price. The other one pays attention to the cashier to make sure there are no double scans. Once we check out and have paid, we scan the grocery receipt in fine detail to make sure that everything looks accurate. I can’t tell you the number of times we have caught a .50 cent overcharge or double scan at the store. I figure most people don’t care about .50 cents here or there – but overtime that can add up.
The point of these examples is that there are little buckets of money that you could be saving here and there. Sure – an overcharge of .50 cents at the grocery store doesn’t seem like much. But I can tell you that it will happen to you again. Is it worth your time to pay attention to the details on your receipts and monthly statements to save money? I believe that it is. Even if you save $5 every month – it is worth it (to me).
Another benefit of paying attention to the detail of your expenses is that it puts everything you purchased right in front of you. Several months ago, I had a bad habit of buying a 20 oz. Diet Coke for lunch everyday at work for $1. Sure that $1 every day seemed insignificant. But when you look at that charge on our monthly credit card statement – it looks a lot different. When I see that $1 charge come up on my statement 5 days per week and over 20 times per month – it seems a lot different. Simply paying attention to that detail forced me to cut that expense out. I have since saved over $20 per month just by paying attention to detail. I always knew how much it cost making these purchases. I just started seeing it in a different way when I paid attention to the details.
I believe that paying attention to these fine details will also help you address areas of your budget that you can cut. It gives you direction on expenses you can work on eliminating or at least cutting back on. If we spent $1,000 per month on groceries and wanted to cut it to $750 – I can take all of our receipts and lump them together. At that point I can identify certain areas were we can cut back. This approach may not work for everyone as there is added time involved – but it has worked for my family and added up to some significant savings.
How detailed do you get with reviewing your finances?
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