Thursday, April 9, 2009

get control of your receipts

I bought a pair of boots some time ago. They looked very cute but turned out to be very uncomfortable! I decided to return them and within a minute or two, had retrieved the receipt from FOUR months ago. I could find the receipt easily because I do a few specific things to keep my receipts organized and in order.

I get a lot of questions about paper…and receipts are a form of paper clutter that really add up. Sometimes we should just get rid of receipts, but other times, we need to hold onto them for tax purposes, to validate a warranty or just so we can return an item later…like my boots! However, it seems like many people just give up and are stuck paying the price (literally) for items they don’t want but can’t return because they can’t find their receipt.

So how can you get your receipts organized? It’s simple…and here’s how to get started.

Have a specific place just for receipts

Actually you could have several different locations for different types of receipts…just be sure you have some type of system.

Here is how I do things:

· Grocery/Drug-store Receipts: I keep a labeled, manila folder in one of my filing cabinets at home. Every time I come home from the store, the new receipt(s) go in the back of this folder. I have them on file in case I need to return something or validate my credit card statements.

· Clothes/Shoes/Books Receipts: I use a small wallet-like folder in my purse for receipts. Any time I buy something of this nature I put my receipt in the back of that folder. Then I know they are always with me incase I need to swing by the mall for a quick return or exchange.

· Service/Repairs Receipts: I keep a small accordion folder with categories such as home, auto, yard, medical, misc., etc. and file any receipts from oil changes, car or home repairs, dentist and doctor’s appointments, etc. I keep this in the same filing drawer as the grocery receipts and it is neatly divided into the various categories I need and I can be sure everything will stay in place

Dedicate a regular time to clear out your receipts

If you shop a lot, you may have to do this every day or two. I don’t shop much so I only have to do this once a month or so. Simply go through your receipts and remove any that are for items you have already used, worn, given as gifts or are past the return deadline. Shred or recycle them as necessary. If your receipts are still out of control but you know you can not get rid of them yet, simply group them together by categories (listed above) and put a rubber band around them, label them by date and put them in a shoe box on a shelf. Then at least they won’t be clogging up your purse or your filing cabinets.

As with everything, organizing your receipts just takes a little work up-front and then some maintenance here and there. It will save you tons of time and probably some money as well…so YES, it is worth it!

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