Okay so here’s the deal. You know when you’re in a checkout line and you have items in your shopping cart that require both money from your cash envelope system and from money from a debit card? It’s kind of an awkward experience for the cashier, as they’re not accustomed to financially savvy savers like you. What are you to do in such situations?
A Nightmarishly Awkward Checkout Scenario
If you’re a cash envelope system newbie, the following scenario might occur . . . .
You say hello to the cashier and put your items in one big pile on the conveyer belt–a fatal mistake that you should have avoided.
“Hi, how are you doing today?” The cashier is unaware anything awkward is going to happen at this point and is asking you how you’re doing. You’re polite and say, “I’m doing great and yourself?”
You look at the grocery bags to avoid eye contact, because any more eye contact would just be plain creepy. They start scanning your items and get about halfway through your pile when you realize that they’ve mixed your household supplies (to be purchased with a debit card) with your veggies and potato chips (to be purchased with your Grocery envelope money). “Uh, excuse me, could you remove that mango, those tomatoes, the box of raisins, and the chips from this transaction? Sorry, I know that’s weird, but I have to do two different transactions here.”
Enter a raised eyebrow from the cashier and frowns from the three people in the line behind you.
Because the cashier is new, they start hitting some buttons on the register (much like a 93-year-old trying to type on a computer keyboard) they aren’t supposed to. Oops. Time for a manager to override the whole system.
Manager approaches, enters in some codes, smiles heroically as if they saved the day, and you finally get to swipe your cash back debit card. A moment of relief.
But wait, now comes your cash transaction. You pull out your wallet but because of that pesky hole in the bottom (why they don’t make wallets to ensure they don’t drop coins out I’ll never know) you drop a penny, a dime, and perhaps one more dime for good measure. That last dime decided to book it for Vegas, and it’s rolling at a rate you can’t keep up with. Thankfully, a good samaritan in line helps you out and picks up your change for you as you pay the cashier.
There seems to be an audible sigh of relief as you grab all your things and head for the door. How embarrassing. Oh wait, you forgot your receipts so you could track everything in your budget! Too scared to go back out of fear you might be punched in the face, you decide that you’ll figure out everything later. Good luck.
Sound familiar? Here’s a few tips on how to make the trip a success and keep everyone smiling . . . .
How to Avoid Cash Envelope System Awkwardness
1. Separate your items on the conveyor belt.
This is the most important tip. Visibly separate out your items by payment type. This will get you about 90% there.
If you’re shopping with your spouse, you can each be responsible for one of the piles. This makes it even more clear to the cashier what you’re doing (although they’ll probably think you keep your finances separate, which might require an explanation, right? After all, you’re a joint account kind of couple).
2. The second thing out of your mouth to the cashier should be a brief explanation of what you’re doing.
After you say hi, say something like, “I’m going to be doing two different transactions today. This one (pointing to your first pile) is the first.” It’s really as easy as that. You might be thinking, “Do I really need to say this so quickly?” YES. YOU DO. After all, most cashiers will grab your stuff pretty quickly to get through their line of customers so they can take a coffee break or whatever they do in their spare time.
3. Have your cash ready beforehand.
Cash, and especially coins, are difficult to handle. After all, you have to:
- Count out your money instead of handing the cashier one piece of plastic.
- Make sure you hand it to them in a fashion so they don’t drop it.
- Count your change to make sure they gave you the correct amount back.
Spending one minute to think through how much money you’re going to hand the cashier and have it ready in your pocket or purse is a huge timesaver.
You don’t have to have awkward moments at the checkout. Be intentional. Think before you act. And remember, cashiers don’t understand people like you–so explain what you’re doing right up front!
Have you had awkward checkout line moments? Do tell in the comments!