On Saturday, I spent the day with an old friend. Getting together doesn’t happen as often as we’d like it to, considering that we only live 15 minutes apart. So, when we do make plans, we tend to go all out. This time, what was supposed to be a simple lunch date turned into a mini road trip.

After driving the 110 km it takes to get to Nanaimo, we stopped at Woodgrove Centre and perused through Bath & Body Works. From there, we searched for a pub to watch the rest of the Canucks game at. After eating and watching the boys comeback at the end and win in a shootout, we asked for our cheques. Because I bought her breakfast that morning, she offered to buy my salad, so all I had to pay for was my drink. My total: $7.00 even.

But… that’s what the price was on the menu. Does that include the taxes? Yes! And, while I didn’t bore my friend with it, that simple total really got me thinking… Can you imagine if every price tag included the taxes? If your morning coffee at Starbucks, dinner at a restaurant or clothing from a store, told you what the full price was going to be upfront? Do you think it would change your spending habits?

Personally, I think it would save me every time. Think about it: how many times do you say that something is only $15 when it was really $15.95 + tax? Or $20 when it was really $22.38 after tax? Probably every time. If you only have $110 to spend each week, like I do, imagine how fast those few extra dollars add up. But if you saw that your Starbucks order was going to cost $5.32, or that lunch was going to be $11.20, would you change my mind about making the purchase?

Other than this experience at Longwood Brewpub in Nanaimo, I’ve only come across one other business that does this: Noodle Box. There, you know that when you order a box for pickup, it’s going to cost exactly what the menu said it would. And I love that. If I know I only have $10 on me, I’ll stick with a Chili Plum box. However, if I have a few extra dollars to spare, I’m ordering the Singapore Cashew Curry.

Sure, at anywhere else, you could whip out a calculator to find out what something is really going to cost you, but it could get to a point where you look and feel like a crazy person. Either way, I’m curious to know what you think…

At the end of each month, do the hidden numbers kill your budget? Or do the unknown taxes stop you from buying things you’re not sure you can afford?