Step out of the Shoebox: Simple Tips to Organize Your Receipts
by Peggy Duncan
When I started my business 14 years ago, as part of the Accounting section of my filing system, I had a folder for each vendor I paid regularly (e.g., gas, light, office supplies). When I found myself sticking receipts in a “To Be Filed” folder, I knew my system was too tedious. I was procrastinating about filing everything, and that told me I needed to simplify it.
Here is a simple solution that worked for me:
Create a home for all receipts for each month. If you don’t create a set place for all receipts to go, they’ll end up in a pile. The best thing that’s worked for me is a set of file folders, one folder for each month.
Create a home for all pay stubs from clients. If you’re getting paid with checks, file the stub in the front of that month’s folder.
Keep everything with that month’s bank statement. When the bank statement arrives, use a jumbo paper clip to keep all receipts and pay stubs for that month behind it.
This system is simple, so it’s easy to maintain. It’s made it easier to reconcile my bank statements because all of the records for that month are together. All receipts for an entire month go in one folder, eliminating the thick “To File” folder.
I also figured out a quick way to find receipts for higher-priced items in case I needed to return or repair one of them. Since I no longer maintain receipts separately for each vendor, I created a contact in Outlook called “Big Ticket Items” (I use Outlook contacts for all kinds of things… not just for people). In the notes area of the contact, I inserted a 2-column table that is similar to the one below. When I need to find a receipt, it tells me which month/ year’s bank statement to pull.
Date Purchased Description
5/15/09 HP Laptop, Best Buy
5/29/10 Office Telephone, Staples
8/6/10 Luggage at TJ Maxx
8/23/10 Headset for ATT phone, Office Depot
8/29/10 Returned BlackBerry for iPhone, AT&T
If you find yourself drowning in clutter, you may need to purge everyday. If you spend a few minutes everyday maintaining your system, in no time, you will have created a simple system for filing and finding the things you need to keep.
Peggy Duncan is a personal productivity expert, professional speaker and author of The Time Management Memory JoggerTM. Training information, organizational advice and her books are available at www.PeggyDuncan.com.