By Kendal Perez
Next time you leave the store, take a glance in the trash can on your way out. Likely it’s filled with receipts carelessly tossed by shoppers who figured their bill of sale isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.
However, the receipt is much more than an itemized list of your total purchase; it’s a versatile, invaluable tool that offers more savings opportunities than your average coupon.
Don’t let your next receipt become a crumpled mess at the bottom of your purse or the floor of your car. Instead, treat it with the respect it deserves and use it in one or more of the following ways to help you save money.
1. Easy Returns
Receipts cure buyer’s remorse and allow you access to a full refund when a purchase doesn’t work out. Granted, some retailers like Walmart don’t require a receipt for select returns, but ultimately the process goes more smoothly with proof of purchase.
2. Missed Discounts
I recently purchased art from Bed Bath & Beyond and failed to bring a coupon offering 20-percent off. After blogging about my experience, a reader advised me to bring in my receipt with the coupon to receive a credit. Who knew? Though not all retailers have this policy, it makes receipts all the more valuable for those that do.
3. Price Adjustments
There’s nothing worse than purchasing something and finding it on sale a couple weeks later. Thankfully, most retailers have a price adjustment policy that provides credit in the amount of the discount if your purchase goes on sale within a specified time frame. Monitor deal sites like FreeShipping.org for sales and discounts once you’ve made your purchase, and return to the store immediately when you see a price drop.
4. Customer Surveys
Your eyes may glaze a bit when the cashier explains a customer survey opportunity, but pay attention. These automated surveys take less than five minutes to complete and result in great savings opportunities. I took two surveys last weekend and now have $20 of free money to spend at my favorite stores.
5. Local Coupons
Some receipts have coupons and special offers printed on the front or back side of the printout. Before cramming the proof of purchase in your bag, be sure to review it for potential discounts. Most offers are for local products and services.
6. Accurate Records
Maintenance records ensure you don’t get charged for something covered under warranty, and also help you avoid redundant services by sneaky mechanics. Additionally, accurate records of regular tune-ups and tire purchases are essential in getting the best price when it’s time to trade up. For more reasons to keep your maintenance receipts, check out this article from ShopSmart.
7. Catching Errors
Cashiers are busy people, hurriedly checking out the masses while feigning interest in your day. They’re bound to make a mistake — whether it’s scanning something twice or failing to notice your stack of coupons — and the receipt is the only proof to show you were overcharged. Similarly, you make mistakes, too; During a recent trip to the store, my husband and I returned a pack of golf balls we thought were $6 but actually rang up for $20.
Have you ever tried to get a rebate without a receipt? It’s not possible. In order to get money back on that pricey laptop or smartphone, you’ll need the original receipt, barcode cut-out and your first born. Do yourself a favor and complete the rebate forms the moment you get home to avoid losing the receipt and ensure prompt payment.
9. Itemized Deductions
If you work from home or are otherwise self-employed, receipts are your ticket to important deductions come tax time. Create a file in which you can immediately place all business-related receipts — like dining, supplies and mileage — so you’re not scrambling a few days before April 15 to find what you need. Consult this IRS article for a list of eligible deductions.
10. Employee Reimbursements
For those of us still tethered to a boss, receipts are our proof of purchasing something on behalf of the company. While most managers will be reasonable if you misplace a receipt for last week’s birthday cake, you make it much easier on the accounting department by keeping track of it.
Has keeping your receipts saved you money?
About the Author:
Kendal Perez is a frugal fashionista and bargain shopper who helps fellow shopaholics find hassle-free ways to save money. As the deals expert for FreeShipping.org, Kendal has the resources to be an extreme couponer but prefers a less complicated approach to staying in-budget.
Kendal has been quoted in such media outlets as CNN Money, TIME Monelaynd, FOX, ABC, NPR and Kiplinger Personal Finance. For savings tips and more information, visit HassleFreeSavings.com
Photo Credit: comedy_nose