Friday, March 4, 2011

How to Organize Receipts

Photo Credit: Account Angel

Before you keep a receipt, ask yourself if you really need to. Many people keep WAY too many receipts because they think they may need them in the future. Here are some reasons to keep a receipt:
  • Tax purposes. If the purchase has a tax implication, keep it. Talk to your CPA or tax preparer for more information on those items.
  • Warranty or insurance purposes. Be sure to staple the receipt and warranty information together. I keep all of these in my manuals folder (with the manual) and not in a receipt folder. You do what works for you.
  • Possible returns. If you think you may need to return or exchange the item, keep the receipt.
Check out these website for more information on what records you should keep:

1. Bankrate.com
2. Irs.gov


Options for organizing receipts:

1. Digital. Scan those babies in! There are many programs you can buy that organize the scanned receipts for you. Just be sure to know the store's return policy - some will only accept the original receipt and not a scanned copy.

2. Sort by categories in hanging file folders. Think about all the receipts that you need to keep and then make file folders that correspond to those categories. Some category examples include: food, car maintenance, doctor visits, furniture, MORE... Then start filing the receipts into the correct file. Make sure to look at the date...if the receipt is from another year, take it out and either toss it if you don't need it anymore or file it by year if you do. You don't want receipts from 2004 with the ones from 2011.

3. Sort by date in a big envelope. If you don't have that many receipts that you keep, you may want to organize them by date and not category. Get one of those big manilla envelopes and write the year on the outside. Each time you get a receipt you want to keep, add it to the envelope.

4. Sort by categories in an accordion check file. Same idea as the hanging file folders. Good for those who don't have a filing cabinet or who need it to be more portable.

Remember:
  • Many retail stores can now look your receipt up if you used your debit or credit card to make your purchase. Target is one of them. For this reason, I NEVER keep receipts from Target. 

  • You rarely need to keep grocery store receipts. However, some people will need them for tax purposes (some medically necessary foods can be tax exempt).
  • Transfer the receipts as soon as you get home. Don't let them pile up in your wallet, purse, or desk until it's too overwhelming. 
  • Restaurant charges - if you left the tip on your debit/credit card, keep this receipt until you can look at your bank statement to make sure they entered the total amount correctly. My husband and I just went out to dinner and they charged our card twice the amount of tip that we actually left. Luckily, we had the receipt still and could dispute the charge.
  • If you use hanging file folders, be sure to get some with sides so the receipts don't fall out and get lost in the great filing cabinet abyss.

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