Holidays, Distractions and Managing Your Receipts

by Chris Bjorklund

Photo: Creative Commons CC0 ©2019

At the end of a recent road trip, my husband and I turned in our rental car without taking a close look at the final bill. Yes, we were distracted because we were running late and didn’t want to miss our flight. The attendant handed me a printed receipt and I stuffed it into my handbag.

A couple of days later, I cleaned out my purse and read the receipt more carefully. I found an unexpected $50 charge on top of the expected $50 drop-off fee. I had extended my rental by a few days and remembered being quoted a different total. Fortunately, the rental car agency responded quickly, reviewed the records and agreed they had made a mistake. My refund arrived within three business days.

How often do you ask for your receipts and then look them over again? In restaurants, for example, it’s easy to just add the tip and sign without making sure you were charged for the right drinks and food items. I remember my dad religiously examining restaurant receipts every time we went out. I have that habit, too. I’ve found mistakes many times, and the servers are always happy to make corrections. Occasionally, I’ve noticed discrepancies a few days later—maybe an error on the tip or not adding things correctly. Most times the problem is easily resolved, but you have to call it out.

Many of you are probably getting receipts by email these days, which is a great way to track holiday spending. It also makes it easier to retain the receipts in case you have to make a return after the holidays. I still like to get paper receipts, too—I save them in a folder until I know the gifts are keepers.