Think of the last time you shopped groceries and checked your bill.
If we think of one money habit that was conspicuous among the older generation (no matter the geography), it would be their due diligence before making a purchase and paying for it.
You paid the grocery bill, but did you check it? Growing up in the 80s, I remember my father scrutinising bills before paying through cash (plastic wasn’t popular until the late 90s in India). Talk of restaurants, grocery stores, telephone bills or other utilities, all the invoices were scrutinised and vetted before payments were made.
But how many of us do that now? Think of the last time you shopped groceries and checked your bill. Most of us won’t even remember doing it once. Some of us are happy to tally the number of items in the trolley with the number of items mentioned on the grocery bill. In a poll run by Khaleej Times, almost 40 per cent of our readers said they do not read the bill before paying.
“In the last three months, my bills were incorrect twice. Once it happened at a small grocery store near my house. We bought one litre of mustard oil, but were charged for a two-litre bottle of vegetable oil, which was actually Dh15 more. Second time, I was charged more for a pack of chocolates at a major supermarket in Dubai. I contacted the customer service after noticing the difference in the bill, they checked the bar code and agreed that information was not updated on the system. They refunded the money,” says Satinder K., a retired teacher.
Satinder was able to save more than Dh20 on two occasions just because she vetted the bill. She is not alone in highlighting such instances. “Sometimes there is price difference in what is mentioned at the shelves and what is charged by the systems at the till. Mostly, this happens at stores that have high stock movement and the only to be sure that you are not charged more is by being mindful of the price displayed and price charged,” says Damodhar Mata, a financial advisor based in Dubai.
The same is true when we dine out. Don’t just dish out your plastic to pay, vet the cheque. Before paying for the utilities, scrutinise the bill. “We know rentals have fallen in the UAE. Now there is a component called the Municipality Fee in our Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) bills which is linked to the rent we pay. If our rent has come down, this fee should also be less. However, if the information is not updated in Dewa system we will be charged the same amount. If we check our bills on time, we can save paying extra money,” adds Mata.
The key is to be mindful of every fil that makes its way in and out of the wallet.
Missing payments can hurt credit scores
Missed payments say lot more about our riskiness than regular on-time payments do.
Living in a data-driven world, our behaviour, in this case financial behaviour, is often objectively interpreted in a binary fashion. Missed payments or late payments not only force us to cough up more but also dent our credit scores.
The Al Etihad Credit Bureau in the UAE diligently keeps a tab on all the payments we make and use it among other parameters to arrive at a credit score. The credit score is increasingly being used by banks and financial institutions to assess the credit worthiness of a person and decide whether to extend the loan to the person or not.
Keeping a tab on payments can be tough but it is an essential skill to learn. Falling behind on payments can potentially push us into debt, affect our credit ratings and even stop us from realising some of cherished dreams like buying a house. Be mindful of where you spend and when you pay.