Would You Like a Receipt with That?
By Michelle P. Sharrow, MBA – Family Finance and Budget – Standing in line during a recent lunch outing, I couldn’t help but notice that, when asked, most of the patrons declined their receipts.
Not only were they saving the restaurant register tape while lining their pockets with money for the overpriced meals, but they were also forgoing their right to check their receipts for accuracy. Upon further reflection, I thought about all the things that were wrong with that scenario and why.
For anyone trying to adhere to a budget, this small effortless move can be deadly. First, are you serious about staying on budget? If so, then you need that receipt so that you can record the transaction. Just because you are paying cash or using a debit or credit card, doesn’t mean that you don’t need to record the transaction and check it against your account statement. Are you really going to remember that transaction on tomorrow? Probably not. Secondly, have you considered that just maybe you have exceeded your daily or weekly lunch budget after just two days? If you knew that, would you stop?
Yes, everyone deserves a treat at lunch time; especially considering on the job stresses and family stresses that seem never ending. For many, lunch is the highlight of the day. I’m not disputing that. But, if you behave this way during your lunch excursions every single day of the week, stop and think about what that really means for your long term goals? Will they ever be attainable? Whether you admit it or not, this passive behavior is further delaying the goals and dreams that you have for your family and your future.
So, what can you do? Don’t decline the receipt. Then go a step further and look at it at the end of the day. Doing so will help you reign in and control your spending before it wrecks havoc on your plan. Then if you really are serious about reaching your goals, you can choose lower cost menu items to keep your total lunch cost down. This will allow you to continue to experience the joy and pleasure that comes from eating out, without blowing your budget. Additionally, think long and hard about all of the dining out and consider replacing some of those excursions with meals from home or the grocery store. Making a sandwich or salad at home or purchasing soup or readymade salads will save you time and money. If you feel pressured to eat out because your coworkers invite you to go along, consider tagging along and bringing your lunch. If that is too much for you, switch up your routine by inviting them out for a morning cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich as breakfast tends to be much less expensivethan lunch.
It is not hard to stay on budget if you are really serious about it. If you really took time to consider whether those everyday purchases are putting you closer to your dreams of taking a family vacation, being debt free, or paying for child’s education you wouldn’t act so quickly and carelessly. Don’t ignore your purchases by forgoing your receipt. The next time a cashier asks you if you want a receipt, your answer should be yes. Yes, I do.
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