The past few years have seen more and more stores move to less customer-friendly return policies. Thus, it’s more important than ever to keep track of your receipts. But do you know what? I’m really bad at this. No matter what I try, I just can’t seem to consistently save receipts in an organized way that allows me to actually find a certain one when I need it. In short, my current “system” goes something like this:
(1) Make purchase
(2a) Stick receipt in my pocket, or
(2b) Stick receipt in my wallet, or
(2c) Stick receipt on the front seat of my car
(3a) Move receipt to a basket of mail and paperwork to be filed on the kitchen counter, or
(3b) Lose track of it entirely
(4) Never really get around to filing it, and eventually lose track of it or throw it away
(5) Curse myself for not having done something better with it when I need it
(6) Find it again (sometimes) after it’s too late
Obviously, this isn’t very efficient. I’ve tried keeping an accordion folder up in the office, sorted by store, but there are some problems with this. The first is self-discipline, and making sure that receipts actually make it into the folder. The second is that they eventually build up to a point where I have to go through and purge them out. I’d much prefer to deal with them en masse.
Here’s an alternative that I was recently thinking about… Keep an envelope labelled with the current month on the kitchen counter and stuff all receipts into that when I come home. At the end of the month, put the envelope in a box and then start a new one. That way I could find things when I need them, but would also be able to pitch them out entire envelopes after a safe period of time has passed (say, a few years). There are still some weaknesses here (like making sure that the receipts get from the car or my pocket to the envelope in the kitchen), but this seems like a step in the right direction.
So… How do you keep track of your receipts?