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How We Designed Our Budget Step 9-Reading Our Bills!

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CANADIAN BUDGET BINDER 10 STEP BUDGETING SERIES-8 Reading our bills
Step #9 How We Designed Our Budget- Reading Our Bills

Review Your Bills And Handle Errors

I’m not sure why anyone would want to pay for something they did not receive.

I know I sure as heck don’t like giving away free money.

Importance of Reading your Bills

There’s more to look at the bill’s total cost.

For example

When our credit card bill would come in, we would have typically opened it and looked at 2 things.

  • The Due Date
  • How much money do we owe

We never gave a second thought to look at ;

  • Where did we spend the money we owe?
  • What did we buy?
  • Do we have the receipts to back up our purchases as proof?
  • How much was it going to cost us if we didn’t pay off the bill on time (yep, there’s that time is money” saying without saying it)

We personally like to use credit cards mainly for monthly perks and rarely use cash.

Suppose you use money and save your receipts that is your ticket to all the information you need.

At this point, you won’t be billed anything further.

The good old saying “Cash is King” stands, I suppose.

Sadly, mistakes can happen when it comes to credit card bills or any bills that you are billed for and have to pay.

Over the years I’d like to think that I was diligent in saving money for my future.

However, now I realize I could have potentially saved more if I took more time to read receipts and invoice bills.

Moving forward I read every bill that comes into my hands including receipts from the shops. 

Human Errors vs. Computer Errors

Human error is a given; we all make mistakes, but so can computers.

A simple glitch could cost you money and you won’t even know about it unless you read the bill.

For example just yesterday we used a “Spend $50 save $10 Coupon” at Shopper’s Drug Mart.

The cashier scanned our printed coupon for the discount and presented it as a “coupon” on the receipt.

When I got home, I took out the calculator and did the math.

The $10 was in fact Not deducted from the bill. I could have potentially lost $10.

Our money is hard-earned and to dish it out without reading all the details is silly.

We are also seeing more and more consumers using their Android or iPhone for mobile banking but take caution.

Also, check with your bank to see how you are protected so you understand whether you want their mobile app.

Terms and Conditions and the Fine Print

Terms and Conditions

Terms and Conditions are also very important to read when you sign up for a credit card but also when paying for anything that might have such a disclaimer.

When we started to read our credit card bills, we noticed what we owed was at the top of the bill and VERY clear.

  • New Balance $540.24
  • Balance Due $540.24
  • Minimum Due $10.00 (cough, choke, is that all? Don’t get happy it’s nothing to smile about, crikey that’s like trying to move a mule)
  • Due Date: April 30, 2012

BUT, in 2 spots one at the top the other at the bottom you will read in tiny wording like on our Canadian Tire MasterCard Bill.

The Balance Due is the amount you need to pay in order to avoid interest charges on purchases appearing on this statement for the first time.

Below is the very important minimum due that you should avoid at all costs.

Pay your credit card bill in full every month or don’t use it.

The Minimum Due is the minimum amount you need to pay to avoid your account going into default.

Understanding Repayment Calculation

Repayment Calculation (oh ya, this is the kicker, you ready for this)

If you make only the minimum payment required each month, it will take you about 4 years and 7 months to repay the balance shown on this statement which is ONLY $540.24.

Seriously are you ready to pay this credit card bill for 4 bloody years?

Think about it the next time you swipe your plastic as to whether you will pay the bill off in full or only the minimum payment.

Please don’t ignore the numbers, they don’t forget you.

This alone should shake up your financial budget and get you thinking about how to pay off a credit card as fast as you can.

We always pay our bill in full, the fine print t for those who don’t.

Every month when bills start arriving we open our Canadian Budget Binder Spreadsheet and match up any receipts we documented and to what credit card.

We make sure that every expense on the bill matches what we have on our spreadsheet.

You never know if you are billed twice, or if any other errors have occurred.

The same goes for any bank fees you are charged.

Ensure you can account for all the times you are charged to ensure everything is accurate.

However, contact your financial institution or the business that created the bill if you find a discrepancy.

How do you know if someone used your credit card to even make one purchase?

Credit Card numbers in my opinion are so easy to get hold of and fraud happens every day around the world.

Credit Card Fraud

What is Credit Card Fraud?

According to the Royal Mounted Police, credit card fraud can happen in several ways.

If your card is lost or stolen, a criminal can use that card to manufacture a new card and use it just about anywhere including shopping online or over the phone.

You can read more here about how to protect yourself.

You may think it’s only $1.00 or $5.00, but it will all add up if that keeps happening. What would you do if you found an extra charge on your bill?

You could be using this money to pay down your debt, but only if you catch the errors.

If you don’t, well, it’s money out the window! Take steps to protect your credit history and always be on the alert for scammers!

Another reason you need to read your bills is to make sure they get paid on time.

If you don’t pay your bills on time, it will tell you they may tack on an excellent percentage to the total bill if you read closely.

I remember the first tax bill we messed up as it was the first we had ever had to pay.

The city charged us $10 for being late paying the taxes as we didn’t add them into our mortgage as most people do.

I was a new home-owner in Canada and still learning the ropes so the city gave me a break.

It’s not an excuse but it was the truth so next time I planned to be informed and ready rather than having to explain myself.

Paying Off Your Hydro Bill

 Here’s another example of our Hydro Bill:

Our May 2012 Hydro Bill

  • Total Amount Due: $263.73
  • Pay by Due Date: May 11, 2012
  • Amount Due AFTER Due Date $267.68

So, if we don’t pay this bill on time we will pay a further $3.95 which is compounded monthly (19.56% per year) by 1.5%.

We were both taught to read before we sign and the same stands before paying bills.

Always read before you pay your bills to make sure they are accurate.

Discussion: Have you found any errors after reading any of your bills?
Please share your comments below. I love hearing from my readers.

Budgeting Mini-Series Continued

Just in case you missed the other 8 Steps in our Budgeting Series, here they are for you;

  1. How We Designed Our Budget Step 1Gathering All the information
  2. How We Designed Our Budget Step 2Categories
  3. How We Designed Our Budget Step 3Tracking Receipts
  4. How We Designed Our Budget Step 4- Note-taking
  5. How We Designed Our Budget Step 55S Organization
  6. How We Designed Our Budget Step 6Who Does What and When?
  7. How We Designed Our Budget Step 7Balancing Our Budget
  8. How We Designed Our Budget Step 8Knowing our Coupon Savings

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24 Comments

  1. Most people who don’t open their mail are oblivious to their debt. Opening and actually reading your statements allow you to view potential errors and acknowledges the realization that you are spending more than you earn.

    Isn’t it amazing the SMALL minimum payment due each month. The credit card system is designed to keep you in debt…forever.

    1. Most people that don’t open their mail are ignoring it because they can’t pay it or are too lazy,simple as that.. You are right the credit card system is designed to keep you in debt forever. It’s too bad some people see it as a lifesaver when I would suggest turning to other options first. Cheers and thanks for your post as always! Mr.CBB

  2. Great tips. I was horrible at putting mail on what could be roughly called a table but what was really a catch all. When I moved, I had a year of unopened mail–and so many late fees or overdraft fees.

    1. A year.. wow.. that’s crazy but glad to know that you recognized the danger of doing that and the cost for that matter.. no one likes mail unless it’s a cheque or some really great coupons or deals! Thanks for popping in and commenting.. Cheers Mr.CBB

  3. thanks for the great post, and tips:) I never use to pay much attention to my bills, either than look at the date, and amount, and pay them. Now I try to ready everything.

    1. that’s essentially what we used to do and we realize that was a big mistake. IF I can urge everyone to take a minute and read anything that someone wants you to give money for than I am doing it now! Cheers Wendy for your comments, always appreciated. Mr.CBB

  4. Very good information, because I have a home daycare I need to keep track of all receipts and always check them, to make sure theres no errors and pay all credit on TIME :))

  5. Thanks Mr. CBB for that information…….opened my eyes to a lot of new things to look for on my bills…….Great information!

  6. I ALWAYS check my bills very carefully!!! I actually get a knot in my stomach when the Bell bill comes because I have to call them for errors almost every month! I even look over my chequing acct to make sure those are all legit transactions to make sure nobody has hacked my acct.

    1. Well it sounds like you have a system in place. Too bad you have to call Bell every month. I’m usually that way with Rogers after I renegotiate it takes about 3-4 months to sort it out every year. I also linked to a post that you might like it was about using your cell phone to pay for your bills etc.. did you happen to read it? Mr.CBB

  7. Thanks for the post. I’m usually pretty good at examining my bills. There is one I examine with a fine tooth comb as it is usually incorrect most months. You posted about your credit card bill and how many years it would take to repay just makiing minimum payments. Well I just looked at mine, I won’t tell you what I owe (it’s just too sad) but if I make the minimum payments it will take me 85 years and 5 months…I’ll be long gone before then…lol.

    1. You never know Linda what will happen between now and then, keep the faith and it is possible to get out of debt.. make a budget and stick to it until the end! Cheers and thanks for commenting Linda! Mr.CBB

  8. Thanks for another great post Mr.CBB,I normally don’t go over my receipts but maybe it’s time I started eh!

  9. Thanks once again for the great tips. I have always been one to examine my bills carefully. The same advice can be used towards bank statements. Last year I had written a cheque that when came out of my account was for more than I had written it for (caught the error on my statement). Called the bank to inquire, was informed that if I was in error I would have to pay a fee for checking it out. Sure enough it was an entry error which was quickly corrected and didn’t cost me anything as it was the banks error.

    1. That’s true, anything that you have to pay for ‘read’ and read again if necessary. I hate to imagine the amount of potential money people are loosing due to errors like the one you described and some of the ones I have. Thanks for your comments as always Joanna! Mr.CBB

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