As a minimalist, I’m prone to something my semi-hoarding hub loathes. I toss stuff out. I’m not just talking garbage, but, like, mail before I even open it. Oh, I know it’s junk, but he doesn’t think it is. He saves EVERTHING – even the envelopes after he open’s something. If I didn’t toss stuff out behind his back our home would be a candidate for Hoarders.
And, until last summer, I had been the same with receipts. Whether I paid cash, debit or credit, once I had the merchandise home, unbagged and stored the receipt got tossed. The only receipts that got a longer life expectancy were for clothing purchases because I don’t try on stuff at the store. But once I got home, put it on, give it the okay, rip off the tags and hang it up the receipt is history. But that has all changed as I’m beginning to treat these precious little pieces of paper as a monitor of not only my spending habits, but to track past pricing and even take advantage of the little Easter eggs they provide waaaay at the bottom.
I began a Discretionary Spending page in the back of my planner. Here I record any spending that is not a routine, monthly household bill. By making myself accountable for the $2 coffee stop at Dunkin’ Donuts or the $23 debit purchase at Rite Aid for vitamins, mascara and string cheese (they were 2/$1.00), I’m forced to keep the receipts. Rather than tossing them into the bag (or having the cashier do it), I make sure it goes into my hand where I deposit it right into my planner. Once (or twice) a week I process my inbox to purge receipts ( or anything else that winds up there) and record them on my Discretionary Spending page. I was amazed (no, appalled) at how much those little lunch-time jaunts to the grocery store, pharmacy, Starbucks, Subway, B&N, etc. added up to.
But aside from ‘receipt shaming’ I found savings at the end of the rainbow….er…..receipt. Now that I have to really look at the receipt, I notice things I hadn’t before. Additional coupon savings, rebate information for money back, website information to log in and register to win money, point accumulation on reward cards that equal actual cash. I’m a bookkeeper. I track the finances of other people’s money, yet I was so flippant with my own habits. Pardon me for a moment while I hang my head in shame.
And we’re back!
The intro photo is the receipt that spit out of the register after those three measly purchases. And not just a receipt – but in-store coupon goodness:
Coupons for Garnier, make-up, Aleve and razors – all which we use and can be further stacked with manufacturer’s coupons for even more savings! And a $6.00 off $30 purchase! Rite Aid has some pretty decent sales. I can match these up to my MFQ AND get another $6.00 off. Six dollars is nothing to sneeze at. I spent more than that on lunch last week because I had no time to pack it in the morning.
Onto rebates. This was especially beneficial when I purchased Capzasin which is a boon to hubs’ arthritis. But the stuff is expensive – a 1.5 oz. tube is $16.99! Every so often, Walgreens has it (secretly) on sale for $9.99. I scoop up 4-5 because Chattem (the company that makes it) was offering $5 – $10 rebates depending on the # of products purchased. I tore off the rebate forms, brought them home, filled them out, copied everything then mailed the originals out. Two weeks later, a check came in the mail. And we’re well stocked for the next six months or so
Then there’s restaurant receipts. One in particular had a website link at the bottom to log into and review our most recent service experience in exchange for a free dessert upon the next visit. I never paid attention to these – even resisted at all costs – because you have to give an email address. But since embarking on my not-so-extreme-couponing quest last summer, I created an email address just for coupons, rewards and such so I can get coupons, sales alerts and free stuff without have to worry about spam littering my inbox. So I logged in, reviewed and was instantly emailed a coupon for a free dessert.
There’s sometimes special codes at the bottom of certain receipts where you have to go to their website and plug it in. The Rite Aid one above has a code to enter to take a store survey for a chance to win $1.000. It also calculates the number of points I’ve accumulated. When I had reached 5,000 points on my Walgreens Rewards card, it amounted to $10 off (which I had used to purchase two double-sets of Frixion pens at $3.68 per pack. Four pens…..free!!) Sometimes there are codes at the bottom to enter into the stores reward site for free stuff in my area like a free personal training session, magazine subscription, etc. I had a sudden urge to weep over all missed opportunity for potential free stuff from years of carelessly tossing receipts.
Suffice to say, I am now not just a receipt saver, but a receipt scrutinizer, recorder and action-taker on any savings, money back and free stuff they’re offering in the fine print and willing to send my way.