Overseas money orders and bank drafts can sometimes take several days to clear. Make sure such a deposit has been credited to your account before you write a check for this money. To write checks in stores, you need a Tennessee ID card or driver's license. You may obtain a Tennessee ID at any Driver’s License Office (in the Hickory Ridge Mall—renewal of license and issuance of ID only; at 6340 Summer Avenue; or 3200 E. Shelby Drive). For directions, go to Mapquest.
A checking account is necessary in order for you to be able to pay your bills; sending a check through the mail is the usual way to pay bills in the U.S.
Credit cards are good for building up a credit record, and as another form of identification. Beware, credit cards can also be your doom. You should always try to pay off the entire bill each month. If you don't, you will start paying an incredible interest rate, some of which reach over 20%. Also beware of paying for phone orders by giving your credit card number over the phone unless YOU called to place an order. NEVER give out your credit card number to someone who calls you on the phone. Sometimes people will take your number and charge things to your account. If this happens, call the credit card company immediately.
A lease is what you sign when you rent an apartment or a house. It is a binding contract and is very hard to cancel. If you sign a 1-year lease, you are responsible for paying the rent for one year. Always be sure to read the entire contract before signing your name. If you are not comfortable with or don't understand the wording of the contract, have someone else read the contract with you. You should always read and understand any contract before you sign. You will also have to pay a deposit that will be returned when the lease runs out.
Tips (gratuities) are a fact of life in the U.S. Most waiters and waitresses are paid low wages because they are expected to make tips. 15-20% of the bill is a standard tip. You can tip more if the service was excellent or less if it was not. Tips are not expected in fast food and carry-out restaurants. Tips are either left on the table or added to the total on the credit card receipt by you. Also tip: delivery people (e.g. for items such as pizza [10-20%]), hair stylists (20%), cab drivers (10-20%), sky caps at airport ($1 a bag).
Sales tax in Tennessee is presently 9.25% of your purchase. Anything you buy will have sales tax added when you make the purchase. For instance, if you buy something priced $1.00, you actually pay $1.09 at the cash register.
"Dutch Treat" means that each person pays for him- or herself when going out to dinner, movies, clubs, etc. with friends. It is wise to be prepared to pay for your own meal whenever you go out.
Coupons can be used to get price reductions on certain goods. For example, you might have a coupon which gives a $0.50 discount on a 275 gram box of Frosted Flakes cereal. Coupons can be obtained in various places, including the local Sunday newspaper, the Commercial Appeal. Often grocery stores such as Schnucks and Kroger give double value on coupons up to $0.60, so that you would get a $1.00 discount by using a $0.50 coupon for Frosted Flakes, for example.
Receipts can save you money. A receipt is the little slip of paper given to you whenever you pay for something. Whenever you buy clothes, books, or other expensive items or whenever you pay any fees or bills, always keep your receipt. If you want to return items for a refund, you must have the receipt.