Watching  Your Money

 So you’ve just bought a few things at the local supermarket or department store,  made your way to the  checkout and  hand the cashier a large bill and wait for your change.

The cashier hands you a fistful of change and some paper money and you stick it into your pocket, your purse or your wallet without thinking AND without counting it.

Do you ever do that? Does that ever happen to you?

I used to do that all the time! Not so much any more and I am going to tell you why.

I never used to think  too much about stopping to count  the change I was given back while shopping and paying cash. Surely the cashier was trained to know what I was supposed to get back in change? Why would I count it?  It has to be right doesn’t it?…the cash register even shows the clerk what they need to give you back in change!

At the restaurant, do we take a close look at the bill  after having our meal?  Most often we don’t  check it and calculate what the final tally should be. We pay the tab, tip the server and off we go, not thinking about checking the bill to make sure it was right. Surely the server is trained to know what they are doing? After all, it is their job to get it right…right?

You are at the bank. You pay some bills, need to cash a few cheques and withdraw a bit of money for the weekend. You chitchat with the teller and talk about the weather or your upcoming plans for the weekend. After all, you do not go into the bank that often anymore and visiting with the bank staff is something you enjoy doing. You finish all of your transactions. The teller hands you your change, a handful of bills , some loose coins, your receipt , and you mindlessly stick them into your wallet, your purse or your pocket. Off you go without really counting anything or checking to see if all is in order .

Were you really paying attention to what was happening with your financial transaction? Did you get the right amount of bills and the correct change back? Did the bank employee pay the right bill? You were somewhat engaged and distracted, so you were not really keeping track of everything going on there. You hope that everything was done properly and accurately!

In today’s world, you would hope that things like going to the store, eating out or going to the bank would be easy, uncomplicated and pretty straightforward and that things would be done right? You trust that the people taking care of you in these places would be efficient, trustworthy, accurate and honest?

Well, one would hope for that to be true in a perfect world, but I have news for you my friends…it isn’t!

I pay closer attention now than ever before after having had too many bad experiences in the last several years when it comes to MY money!

And if you have not been paying attention, perhaps it is time that you did!

My new rule is….pay attention when it comes to all financial transactions wherever I go…after all, it is MY money!

This rule  applies to any place  where I may be travelling to!  When dealing with people and money, errors can and WILL happen !   Mistakes happen anywhere in the world….some places more so than others!

Never be ashamed to stand right there and count your change. Whether you are grabbing a coffee at your local coffee joint,  buying a burger at the drive through, cashing a cheque at the bank, or paying for things at the grocery store, big or small, errors are being made daily, mistakes are happening and YOU, the customer are the victim of these errors. And while travelling, it is no different. Sometimes you are being shortchanged and most often, you do not even notice it!

By not paying attention, you could be losing out on some “spare change”, or worse, some serious cash!!

It might be an oversight and  it may be an honest mistake, but it is up to you to pay close attention to your transactions, your orders, your bills, receipts and purchases …..and YOUR CHANGE.

 Unfortunately, thinking that everyone has your best interest in mind is not always the case!

When dealing with any kind of financial transactions anywhere and with people, there is room for HUMAN error.  Errors happen for many reasons….tellers have bad days and are distracted, cashiers have sleepless nights and are tired, waitresses or waiters are not trained properly and  places are short staffed. Mistakes happen, some honestly and some on purpose!

 The reality is that the person you thought you could trust may be dipping into the cash register to feed a gambling problem or an addiction of some sort!

You count your change at the store and realize you have been shorted anything from a few cents to a few dollars, what to do? Your bill at the restaurant is incorrect and you are being overcharged , 3 meals instead of 2 and there are a few extra drinks on the bill that you did not drink! Now what?

It is important to check your bill /receipt when you are standing with the cashier or salesperson at a store, or the bank or before paying at a restaurant.  Count your change right then and there before you leave!

No matter how much of a hurry she or he is in or how long the lineup is behind you….count your change right then and there! Make sure your transaction is correct. Even if the error is a small amount…perhaps a nickel, a peso, a centavo or any amount, you need to ask for your  correct change right then before you leave! Insist on it!

Did you know that a cashier that serves 100 customers a day who shortchanges each customer a few cents or a few dollars a day can earn an extra salary in one year just from these small “errors”? Those extra coins make it into their pocket, and out of yours!

Check your receipts and bank statements when you get them! Check your credit card bills when they come in the mail and cross reference them to your receipts.

More importantly, always pay attention when you are conducting ANY cash transaction!   Whether you are in Edmonton, Rome or any place in between, paying your bills or making any kind of financial transactions, pay attention, stay alert and count your change! You will be surprised with your “windfalls”.

It’s your money!