In the fall of 2014 a news cast reported the forecast of a serious increase in beef prices. I opted to do my ostrich impression and waited and waited and waited on a good beef sale so that I could stock my freezer. “Sales” appeared in the store ads weekly, but in my penny-pinching world $4.99/lb is NO sale. Since ours is a household of carnivores, I needed to find an alternative. Enter pigs! I noticed that pork prices were at least half those of beef. There are as many varieties of pork as there are beef. So if you are finding that purchasing beef is breaking your budget consider buying more pork. The cows will thank you!
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It’s no secret that cash registers make mistakes. Items ring up at the wrong price. Sale discounts are not always applied. You may have selected an item that you thought was on sale but isn’t actually included. And the list goes on… For all of these reasons, I like to keep my eye on the screen as the cashier is working. Admittedly, even though I really try to pay attention, it can be hard to keep up. Seasoned cashiers work at lightening speeds, so the screen is scrolling at a pace of one line per nanosecond. Different stores display sale prices differently – some right below the item; others show all discounts at the end of the transaction. And you might as well forget it if someone you know walks by and says a quick hello. Just because you can’t keep up during the scanning process doesn’t mean that you can’t make sure that you are paying accurate prices. The ultimate safety net? Know your total before you get to the checkout.
Always having a detailed shopping list is a good first step. After completing your list, calculate the total (after all sales and coupons) for all items you expect to buy. Jot this down at the bottom of your list. You may have to make an adjustment once you are in the store for any out-of-stock items that you could not purchase (Don’t forget to ask for a raincheck!) or the occasional shiny object that you just couldn’t pass up. Take a moment before you get in line to recalculate your total. When the cashier has finished ringing up your purchases, compare the total on the register screen to the one on your list. If there is a discrepancy, figure out why before paying. Once you pay you cannot correct mistakes without doing a full return then ringing all the items again. I shop regularly at CVS and Walgreens. The cashiers know how hard I work to stretch my pennies as far as possible. Because they are some of my BFFs (best frugal friends), they finish scanning my items then ask, “Is that the right total?” At other stores the cashiers are not so helpful and, as mentioned at the outset, it is easy to get distracted or flustered so that we find ourselves taking the receipt from the cashier without really knowing how much we just paid. Don’t fret, my penny-pinching pets! There is a safety net for your safety net. Before leaving the store (The polite thing is to pull over out of everyone’s way.) check the total on your receipt. If there is a discrepancy, use your shopping list to find the mistake. Take your receipt to the customer service desk (In some stores, like drug stores, this means going back to the cashier. If this is the case, get back in line. Don’t expect to cut in front of somebody just because you were just there.) before you leave the store and have them make any necessary adjustments. Vigilance is vital for penny-pinching success!
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