A Quick & Easy Way to Organize ALL Your Cash & Credit Card Receipts
Since it is January and it is the time of year when everyone starts thinking about gathering their paperwork so they can prepare their income taxes, I thought it would be a great time to let you in on a quick and easy way to handle all of your monthly receipts.
Jen, of I Heart Organizing blogspot, has a wonderful challenge this month called Project Paper and she has some wonderful ideas on how to tackle ALL of your filing needs. She is a fellow Label Queen and I love that about her ;) So please hop on over and and join in on her challenge and find out more about what you need to keep and what can be tossed...Jen has provided some wonderful links for determining just what we NEED to keep for tax purposes.
Today however, I'm just going to share with you what Works-for-Me this Wednesday and every other day of the month and year for managing all those pesky receipts ;)
First thing to do whenever you are trying to get organized is to assign a task zone...which simply means...assign a place where you are going to gather all of your receipts. For me that would me my mail zone here next to my kitchen counter and the most important tool...the trash bin!
The function of this mail zone is so that whenever I bring mail, packages or shopping bags into the Love Shack, I open them in this area. Everyday when the mail comes I open in up here and immediately throw out all the junk mail, place my coupons near the coupon caddy in the kitchen (just behind the counter here) and put my bills in my bill payment file. It also sits right behind my studio desk and next to my printer so that when I'm when I need to mail something out, all my envelopes, postage stamps and mailing labels are handy...as well as my ink cartridges ;)
Directly behind this mail caddy, I place a new envelope every month so that when I come home from shopping I can immediately place all the receipts from my shopping bags and from my wallet inside the monthly receipt envelope.
At the end of every month I reconcile my bank statement on-line and then when the actual paper statement (with my canceled checks) arrives I pull my receipts envelope and place my reconciliation summary report inside my bank statement and file both away in a designated drawer in my bedroom. I guess you could call this the Receipts Zone ;)
Please tell me that you all reconcile your checkbooks...please ;} Most people do now with on-line banking and it is the first and foremost way to stop bank fraud. However, on-line banking does not automatically reconcile your check register for you! For years I have used Quickbooks and many people use Quicken or Peachtree as well to manage their finances...and all of these programs make reconciling your checkbook, in conjunction with on-line banking, a less than 5-minute process. However, you do not need any accounting program to reconcile...what you do need is a good habit of reconciling! NOW that would be a wonderful resolution for anyone to make and stick to!
Inside the receipt envelopes I place ALL cash and debit card receipts, credit card purchases receipts and/or any shipping/packing receipts for anything received that month. Currently we do not have a lot of credit cards, but in years past we have had several and I use to try to match-up and place every individual receipts inside each monthly credit card statement....ahhhh! CAN you say...PAIN in my A@@! Then one day I had a light-bulb moment and since I had always had a PENDING RECEIPTS FILE in my bill payment bin I decided to stop the insanity.
Think about it...where is the first place you go and look for a receipt when a bill comes in or you want to return something? To your PENDING RECEIPTS FILE...which is now my receipt envelopes ;) The reality was/is that, I always recognized my purchases when I checked my credit card statements so, I do not need to file the physical receipts with the actual credit card statements. ALSO if I were ever audited and needed to find a physical receipt, I would already be looking at the credit card statements first (with the supposed auditor) so, I'd simply pull the relative monthly receipt envelopeto look for the physical receipt. PLUS alot of my statements are on-line only now in an effort to be green;) Like I said...stop the insanity...OCD behavior already!
At then end of every year, I simply scoup up the reconciled bank statement and monthly receipt envelopes and place them in a storage box in my garage/storage facility. A regular office file box holds up to three years of receipts and I keep mine for ten years (for tax purposes) and then shred them.
Now that I've given you the LONG version I'm going to give you the SKINNY, simple one:
- On a daily basis, file ALL receipts in your monthly receipt envelope.
- On a monthly basis, reconcile your bank statement.
- On a monthly basis, file away your bank statements and receipt envelopes.
- On a yearly basis place all of your bank statements and receipts in storage.
This system takes up less space and time and most of us need more of both! How about you all...what works-for-you when handling all that paper? Inquiring minds need to know ;)