Organize Your Receipts Before Tax Time and Beyond

When I started my business almost 11 years ago, as part of the Accounting section of my filing system, I had a folder for each vendor I spent money with regularly (e.g., gas, light, Office Depot, etc.). 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.

Here is a simple solution that works for me.

  • Create a home for all receipts for each month. This can be a file folder, tray, basket, or whatever works for you. I have a drawer for Accounting and keep everything nice, neat, and out of sight.
  • Create a home for all pay stubs from clients. For all checks you receive for the month, keep these pay stubs separately and in the front of the folder for that month.
  • 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. When I reconcile for that month, I put a big R so I’ll know it’s done.

This system is simple so it’s easy to maintain.

One thing though, I had to figure out a way to quickly find receipts for higher-priced products in case I needed repair, etc. I created a contact in Outlook called “Big Ticket Items.” In the text area of the contact I have a 2-column table that is similar to the one below. If I ever need to find a receipt, I’ll know which month/year bank statement to pull.

Date Purchased Description
5/15/2008 HP Laptop, Best Buy
5/29/2008 Office Telephone, Office Depot – ATT
8/6/2008 Luggage at TJ Maxx
8/23/2008 Headset for ATT phone, Office Depot
8/29/2008 Took iPhone back and got BlackBerry, AT&T

What system have you developed that works for you? Let me know. If you’d like more training on how to get organized, visit my Website. I also have a before/after organizing story and a page of records retention suggestions on how long you should keep files before destroying.

PEACE.

Peggy Duncan, personal productivity expert