Friday, June 20, 2008
I've gone through home offices overflowing with receipts, most of them pretty useless. If you struggle with receipts, you might want to follow Scott Crawford's very sensible system. (Posted to the Getting Things Done Yahoo group, and quoted by permission.)
If you're stuck on the idea of paper receipts because of returns, you may want to consider a variation of how I deal with that issue.
When I enter a receipt in Quicken, if it's for a consumable like groceries or gasoline I toss it immediately into my "to shred" bucket. If it's something that I think could possibly need to be returned, I put the receipt in a manila envelope I keep in my desk drawer. In fact, I have 3 manila envelopes:
- This Month,
- Last Month, and
- The Month Before That.
Around the first of every month, I take the oldest envelope and dump it into my "to shred" bucket. (If I haven't needed to dig up the receipt in 90 days, I don't need to keep it.) That envelope becomes the new "This Month" and the other two envelopes shift back one slot.
That way, I always keep a rotating set of 90 days worth of receipts, with a very minimal time investment. (Of course, any receipts that I need to keep for tax reasons are scanned and/or filed immediately and don't fall into the 90-day waiting-for-the-shred-bucket queue.)
I find that only a couple of times per year do I need to dig through a month's receipt folder to find a specific receipt. The time savings of not filing any of those receipts more than makes up for the occasional dig through the envelope.
Pretty low tech (and I tend to be a high tech kind of guy), but I'm quite certain I'm saving time in the long run.
[photo by red5standingby / simon]