Inside: Tips for how to organize and store receipts in file folders and digitally; how to log receipts for tax time; how to keep receipts from fading and a simple at-home file management system.
I’ll admit it, this isn’t the sexiest of posts LOL but figuring out how to handle all the receipts and files that come with running a digital business was life changing for me. Let me be totally honest, when I launched my blog as a business, it was sort of accidental and because of that I had ZERO organization and was very stressed about figuring it all out. Luckily with the guidance of a couple professionals and some dedicated time to learning what needed to be done and what didn’t need to be done, I’m two years in and completely organized. Since tax time is coming up, I figured I share with you how to organize your receipts so the paperwork doesn’t creep up on you!
Sorting Your Receipts
Anyone else have a shoebox full of rumpled receipts? *hands fly into the air* That totally used to be me. Now, I have a loose sorting system that I use regularly that is a couple steps above the old shoe box method. I don’t sort my receipts right away. When I buy something that is related to my business, I pop the receipt into a specific folder in my wallet and then on Fridays I will add them to a file folder on my office shelf. I don’t buy many things from retail stores, so the pile is never unruly.
The file folder is always labeled by month; so for e.g. October 2018 and any receipt with an October date goes in that file.
That is the extent of my sorting. I found trying to categorize the receipts as they were coming in was too much brain work and it is best left to either the end of the month or to a digital system.
Why Your Inbox is Crucial to Organizing Receipts
For most businesses these days, we are given the option of having receipts EMAILED to us. This is a fabulous advancement in digital file management if you ask me. So beyond having a folder for literal receipts on my shelf, I also use a really basic inbox sorting system that works beautifully.
It serves two basic purposes – it sorts and organizes receipts and business expenses and it also creates a digital redundancy of about 80% of my business expenses in case I ever need to regenerate the receipts.
You know I’m a huge fan of folder systems, right? I mean I’m obsessed with this new way I’ve organized the apps on my phone and I also use a simple computer desktop organizer to keep those digital files organized too. Plus, I’ve been a major cheerleader of the Konmari method and ever since going through that process, I’ve been fairly disciplined with sorting and managing almost everything in the house.
I use a basic Gmail account, but this process can be duplicated in Outlook if you use that. I create a folder titled RECEIPTS 2018 (for example) and on the first day of every month I create another folder called 10-OCTOBER-2018-RECEIPTS. To be clear, that’s the number of the month, the name of the month, the year and then receipts.
Every time I log a digital receipt or a PDF version of a receipt or invoice lands in my inbox, I pay it if it’s outstanding and then I plop the email into the current month folder and I don’t think about it again…
Until the last day of each month.
Setting a Monthly Accounting Date
I have a running date with myself for 60 minutes on the last business day of each month to go through the file folder on my shelf and the digital folder in my inbox. Here’s what that looks like in terms of file and receipt organization.
- I create a Google Drive Folder for the year labeled 2018 Receipts
- Within that folder I have folders for each month; 01-2018, 02-2018 and so on
- The last day of each month, I digitize all my retail receipts with a scanner and put them in G-Drive for that month
- I move all emailed and PDF version receipts from my email folder into the G-Drive folder for the corresponding month
- I label all the digital files clearly with what the expense was and what category it falls into
- I log all the expenses using Wave Apps on my computer
*Note you can do this same process using Dropbox and another accounting app like Quickbooks or Freshbooks. The point is the process and the dedication to monthly sorting and organizing.
The end. This process, when done on the last day of the month, takes me no longer than an hour and it means at tax time, all I have to do is give my accountant access to my Wave account and send her a copy of the scanned digital files.
Using a Receipt Scanner and a Printer
For scanning my receipts, I use the Canon Pixma TS6120. I picked this printer/scanner because it is compact and small and it has wireless compatibilities. I also really like that it comes in white, so it doesn’t look like a big black box in my office.
Using Apps to Capture your Monthly Receipts
There are lots of mobile apps you can use to capture your receipt data on the go and I use them frequently if I’m traveling for business. For some reason, when travelling, I find it a lot harder to remember to keep and track my spending.
For apps Wave Apps has a good one that is very easy to use and it sends you a PDF version of the receipt or it can add it directly to your Wave account if you’re using it for your overall business accounting.
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