Don’t Let These Small Financial Mistakes Go Uncorrected

We’ve all made an effort to get through a situation or two without causing any trouble, even if it meant suffering a loss. Whether it was being short-changed at the register, or getting home to find a missing food item, it’s easier to let the small things go. That is, until you realize how much money you’re losing.

Some small things don’t matter, but sometimes it’s appropriate to correct small mistakes. Not because you want to be nit-picky, but because it’s your money and you have every right to (politely) correct mistakes that affect your wallet.

Small mistakes add up to big losses. You should be scrutinizing the way you handle everything from incorrect change at McDonald’s to bigger issues like insurance settlement offers.

Mistake #1: not counting your change when it’s given 

Cashiers are human and make mistakes counting back change. Always count your change when you receive it so you can catch any mistakes in front of the cashier. Don’t worry about the change as much as the bills.

Sometimes cashiers share drawers, and there’s a chance someone may have put a five in the ten spot earlier. The new cashier may give you that five thinking they’ve given you a ten.

Counting your change immediately makes your story more believable, and gets you through the line faster. It’s a hassle to have to give the manager your phone number so they can contact you after they’ve counted all the drawers for the night. You’ll also waste more money in gas coming back to pick up your five bucks.

Mistake #2: Accepting a payment out of desperation

When you need money, it’s hard to turn down an offer for cash, especially when it’s owed to you. For example, if you’re running a business, a late-paying client might offer you half of what they owe for services rendered. You might be tempted to accept their offer, thinking it’s all you’re going to get. If you accept their half payment without a contract stating the remaining balance is still due, you could end up sacrificing your legal right to collect the rest later on.

Instead of accepting a partial payment, negotiate an official payment plan with the client and get it in writing. Charge them interest, too.

Likewise, if you’re negotiating an insurance settlement after a car accident, the insurance company will lowball you with an offer they’re hoping you’ll take. At the time, if you’re struggling to get your car fixed and make your medical appointments, any amount of money can sound good. Don’t take it without consulting with a lawyer. Lawyers often settle injury claims for a higher amount than insurance companies offer. They understand that medical bills can pile up fast when long-term treatment becomes necessary.

Mistake #3: Not checking your bank account for final amounts

Leaving a tip on your credit card receipt is convenient, but you need to watch your bank account closely. At first, you’ll see the regular charge approved. Then, a few days to a week later, you’ll see the adjusted amount with the tip reflected.

How much did you tip that waitress at the steakhouse? Was it ten bucks, or twelve? Tips have to be entered into the system manually, and while some wait staff make genuine mistakes, some engage in dishonesty. Wait staff have been caught and fired for adding one or two dollars to a customer’s tip, thinking they won’t get caught. Imagine if this happens at every restaurant you visit, that money will add up quickly – in someone else’s pocket. 

Mistake #4: Keeping items you should return

Who hasn’t bought an item that seemed like more of an inconvenience to return, than to shove in a corner? That’s a bad habit to develop. You don’t have to rush back to the store, though. Check the store’s return policy and plan to return the item when you’re conveniently passing by on other errands.

Mistake #5: Pay attention during a return

A return at customer service requires the cashier to put the register into return mode before they can process your return. Sometimes they don’t activate the return mode, and accidentally process your return as a purchase. Most will notice their mistake when a sales slip prints out, but make sure you pay attention, too.

Read all receipts to make sure you see the minus sign in front of your total. The return receipt should also look different than a sales slip. Finally, make sure to check all returns against your bank statement.

Author: Oliver Curtis

Hi there. I’m Oliver. I’m just a young boy from the outskirts of… Okay, that’s a lie, I’m not a young boy anymore, although I certainly feel that way at heart.

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