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Many merchants have gotten tougher with their return policies including the one that sold me the wrong connector recently. They require the original receipt along with the product. Since it was a fairly recent purchase I knew the receipt was somewhere; just not where! Forty-five frantic minutes later I found it along with the realization that I had a problem managing receipts.

Receipts Everywhere

During the search I found at least four places that I store receipts randomly. Some of them go on my computer desk (which contributes to the disorganization there) in a stack to be dealt with later.

Others may be in the bedroom if I happened to unload pockets or packages there. Most are in the dining room where I have a drawer for miscellaneous mailers and other papers. The only logical place is a nice Gmail folder labeled “receipts” for anything I buy online.

Receipt Storage Options

One option is to create a designated space to store non-online receipts and use it. That almost seems too simple. At some points the amount of receipts will become a problem though.

Searching online brought up a lot software solutions that seem too time-intensive. They’re really geared for business use instead of receipts from daily life for groceries and gas. I don’t need to mail in receipts or enter details about them.

The best idea I found was to take pictures of the receipt with your phone and upload them to an online photo directory. Doing this at the point of purchase geotags the photo when using Picasa which is a free Google application.

Keeping Receipts Organized and Under Control

The hybrid solution we implemented was putting all paper receipts in a container on the desk. When tracking spending each week, I’ll go through the receipts. Many will be thrown away once I see the right amount debited on the credit card or checking account. These are the ones for products or services already received and used.

All the others will be scanned and the images stored on the computer. They’ll be sorted by month for easy retrieval if needed. The originals will go in a folder in the filing cabinet. On the rare occasion I need a receipt, it should be easy to find. How do you manage your receipts?

Photo Credit: eiratansey

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9 comments add your comment

  1. Well, shame on me! I don’t manage receipt so well. I too put them in 3-4 different places when I don’t simply lose them somewhere. In the purse, in the car, on the counter, on my desk and in the bedroom… That’s actually 5 places! I need to handle this too.

  2. My wife and I keep every single receipt we get. We basically turn in our receipts as we get them, then I make sure they get entered into our budgeting software, and then I place them in a drawer designated for receipts. At the end of the year, I dump all the receipts into a small box and stash them in the garage until the IRS statute of limitations passes on them, then I dispose of them.

    If we ever need to return anything, we just open the drawer, find the receipt we need, and off we go. It’s that simple!

    We have relatives and friends that don’t keep their receipts and they’ve missed out on being able to return/exchange things because of it. To us, that’s wasted money. That’s why we keep all of our receipts.

    • @Do Not Wait: Okay, you are officially worse than me with receipts.:) Hopefully, these ideas will help if you want to get them more organized.

      @ Thomas: Great job! You are right that it is wasted money if you can’t return things because of the receipt. The item I returned was $20 and change. That can buy a lot of beans and rice!

  3. I found a great service that can handle those receipts. It’s called Shoeboxed, and what they do is scan your receipts and make it available online. You can send in your receipts, they scan em for you, and you can either keep the originals or get rid of them. I think it makes the filing system a lot easier and less cluttered.

  4. Over the holidays, I saw a receipt scanner and I thought I could put my receipt online but that doesn’t solve having the original to return an item …

    I file all big ticket item in a folder just like I do with my tax receipts and such. All other receipts go in a pile and get pruned but I don’t keep all receipts. Anything I can’t really return gets thrown away.

  5. I have saved hardcopies, sorted by month. In the event I need something, I’ll dig for it. After 6 months, they’re gone. Important receipts for bigger ticket items or the like will stay with me. But smaller receipts – sorted by month, saved for a while, then purged. If it’s for a small cash purchase of a non-returnable item, it’s purged immediately, unless I’m tracking expenses (which I haven’t in a while, I like to do so periodically to “audit” myself). Haven’t yet used my smartphone for cataloging receipts, but for all of us this day might be coming in one way or another:)

    • @ 20 and Engaged: I’ve heard of them but I don’t think I would be good at mailing in the receipts — it requires follow-through. I think it’s a good option for business owners that need help.

      @ The Passive Income Earner: Sounds like you have a system that works for you. This week I threw out the receipts after totaling them up (for my spending accountability).

      @ Squirrelers: Wow! You are very organized. I think it’s a pretty good way to keep track.