Here’s an amusing email I received that gave a great example of the need to be aware of hidden costs when you’re out shopping. The email was as follows:

I was shopping and noticed a little old lady following me around. I stopped, she stopped. Furthermore, she kept staring at me.

She finally overtook me at the checkout, and she turned to me and said,  “I hope I haven’t made you feel ill at ease, it’s just that you look so much like my late son.”

I answered, “That’s okay.”

“I know it’s silly, but if you’d call out ‘Goodbye Mom’, as I leave the store, it would make me feel so happy.”

She then went through the checkout, and as she was on her way out of the store, I called out, “Goodbye Mom.”  The little old lady smiled and waved back at me. Pleased that I had brought a little sunshine into someone’s day, I went to pay for my groceries.

“That comes to $121.85,” said the clerk.

Shocked, I asked, “How come so much!? I only bought five items.”

The clerk replied, “Yeah, but your Mom said you’d be paying for her things too”

The moral of the story is to be aware of what you are paying for with each purchase. Know ahead of time what to expect to pay and what are any and all possible hidden costs. One to usually expect is taxes.

When I do any shopping, I try to do a rough tally in my head as I’m shopping so I know what to expect to pay when I get to the checkout (also helps me stay in budget). I watch as the cashier scans each item so I can catch any costs that weren’t as I expected. Also, a subtotal comes up on the screen as each item is scanned so I know exactly when I reach my budgeted amount.

What have you done to be fully prepared for your purchases of any size?