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You might wonder why anyone would buy a Toronto Blue Jays’ pen asanother lame duck baseball season ends. But sometimes need overwhelmsgood sense.

You might wonder why anyone would buy a Toronto Blue Jays’ pen as another lame duck baseball season ends. But sometimes need overwhelms good sense.

My 23-year-old daughter, who happens to be deaf, wanted to write a note to a companion during a recent and rare Jays’ win. No one had a pen so she dashed to the concession. Afterwards she noticed that she’d been charged $9 for the $3 pen. Fortunately, she easily got a refund. But if she had waited until after the game to check, it might have been, well, game over.

Now, think about all the receipts you acquire in a week. Do you read each one to ensure you were charged the right amount and received the correct change? Small mistakes can mount up to serious dollars over time.

Even with today’s swipe systems, mistakes are made, particularly with sale prices and deals such as two-for-one or buy one get the second at 50 per cent off. A couple of months ago I took advantage of a clothing sale. The cashier missed one of the discounts when she entered them manually. The difference was $14, not chump change.

You should be especially vigilant in grocery stores or anywhere you might purchase multiple items. It is very easy to overlook an error among 20 or more different things.

I dislike the trend to bag your own and swipe your own purchases at checkouts because it is difficult to monitor prices at the same time. Think Saturday afternoon at the grocery store with a toddler in your arms and an impatient line up behind. Pressure!

I guarantee that mistakes are made in the course of your consumer life. So, follow these three steps to put money back in your pocket: Watch, Compare and Question. 1. Watch the checkout display. 2. Compare the charge or sales price to what you recall on the shelf or label. 3. Question anything you think is wrong.

Checking your receipts and doing a bit of mental math is a habit that will pay you back — literally.

Alison’s Money Rule:

Check your change and your receipts. Small transaction errors add up to big bucks lost.

– Alison Griffiths is a financial journalist, author and host of Maxed Out on the W Network. Write to her at alison@alisongriffiths.ca.

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