For a long time in my life, paperwork was so irrelevant to me. Bills went into a pile and I paid them eventually. Receipts went in the trash. Paystubs were ignored.
I shudder to think how much money I could have saved, during a time when I was really struggling. Now I’m not struggling any longer, but I understand the power of every dollar — and the frequency of human error. So I try and take that extra time to double-check charges I receive.
I’m not perfect about it; sometimes (a lot of times) apathy wins out. But here are a few of the things I’ve caught that have saved me money just the past year or two:
- Spousal insurance surcharge on my paycheck when he isn’t actually on my insurance. Savings: $50 per month.
- Jacket that scanned at a higher price than what was listed on the tag. Savings: $10.
- Well-child checkups that were never submitted to insurance, resulting in a bill instead of being free. Savings: $300+.
- Food item getting double-scanned at store. Savings: about $3.
- Dental bill sent out before costs were submitted to insurance, because of dumb new dental office policy. Savings: $250.
- Old mishandled worker’s comp claim becoming reactivated after an unrelated clinic visit. Savings (once I get a refund, because my husband fell for it and mistakenly paid the bill): $142.
As you can see, most of my woes have been medical-bill-related. Those are the places you can really save some money, because medical coding is rife with human error, and there are two potential openings for mistakes: at the doctor/dentist office and once it gets to your insurance company. But paychecks are also manually entered by humans at some point, even if it all seems automated. And the scanner system at stores isn’t foolproof.
Other ways you can save money by being organized: If you suffer a rare late fee or overdraft charge with your bank or credit card, call them up. Your past spotless record may convince them to waive the charge. Same with auto-charges for things you didn’t realize you’d signed up for. Once I killed two birds with one stone: I missed a charge on what I thought was a dormant credit card because of an auto-charge coming from a subscription I thought I’d canceled, which also triggered a late fee when I didn’t pay the credit card bill. I called the company the subscription was with and got them to refund the charge, and I called my credit card to explain and got them to waive the late fee. Savings: $80 + $25.
And this is without being very vigilant at all. (OK, I take a VERY hard look at all medical and dental bills now, but other than that …) I probably could have prevented even more money lost to frivolous and accidental charges if I tried harder. But every bit I save is a small victory, so I just do what I can.
Do you have any other tips to check others’ work and potentially save some money?