Michael Caine’s Peace Of Mind Tip: Stop Obsessively Checking The Bill

Michael Caine’s Peace Of Mind Tip: Stop Obsessively Checking The Bill

No one likes getting ripped off. It’s natural to want to double and triple check the paper work every time money changes hands. As Michael Caine suggests, sometimes it’s OK to just let the small things go.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Speaking to Esquire magazine, the actor now famous for being in every Christopher Nolan film after Insomnia suggested that sometimes counting every cent you’re owed doesn’t help you live a better life.

Most of the time, the bill at a restaurant will be correct. Your utility bill may be off by a few dollars, but tracking it down may not be worth your time. Just as no one on their death bed wishes they spent more time working, no one’s going to regret that they didn’t spend more time double-checking their bills for minor inaccuracies:

In the restaurant, my wife always says, “You didn’t look at the bill.” I say, “I don’t want to worry myself by looking at the bill and asking, Who had the onion rings? or They overcharged me for chips.” Because those moments all add up to years. And how much money would you pay for another year?

That’s not to say you should never look at paperwork or make sure you’re not paying more than you should. An occasional audit of your finances is healthy and it can help take care of you in the long run. However, learning to let the minor errors go can do more for your happiness than a few dollars in the bank will.

Michael Caine: What I’ve Learned [Esquire via Man Made DIY]


  • Well I’ve also noticed being undercharged at restaurants before and let them know, if it was good food, a good venue, and good service, I don’t want to rip them off because they forgot to add an item or drink to our bill.

  • It’s a food reminder that we should find ways to ensure we don’t have to actually think about something. The more things we have to think about the less time and energy we have for the things that matter. My big suggestions here are:-
    – Automate as much of the regular and menial things as you can.
    – Trust those around you do do their part – if your partner looks after the bills – let them look after them. Check them every 6 months or so as an internal audit but otherwise let them get on with it. This takes the stress out of the action and builds trust in the relationship.

  • This is true for spending. But for earning, the price of a solid financial future is eternal vigilance. Don’t 100% trust people who are working to grow your money.

  • its alright for people that have a 1 followed by 7 or 8 zeros in their bank account to say dont worry about checking the bill, but when you are counting every penny then you need to account for every cent

    • Mixing your currencies! But a valid point. As a single income family with children, mortgage and normal costs the only time we eat out is when I can guarantee the cost will match the budget we’ve allowed. So yeah we will be checking the bill. I get Michaels intention – don’t sweat the small things, but sometimes it is necessary.

  • Your utility bill may be off by a few dollars, but tracking it down may not be worth your time.

    That’s probably what your provider wants you to think. “Oh, it’s just a few dollars, I won’t worry about it”. Then they keep overcharging you and that few dollars turns into something a lot larger. You gotta track that stuff down.

    • They don’t even have to increase the overcharge into something a lot larger. If they overcharged a million customers by a few dollars, and they all have the attitude of “It’s only a few dollars, it doesn’t matter”, then that’s a whole lot of extra unearned money going into the provider’s pockets.

      • I was more referring to them continuing to charge you that few extra dollars on each bill, not necessarily increasing it each time, but over time that few dollars per bill can add up to a lot of money.

        But you have a good point too.

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