Keeping receipts in line can appear like a scary and exhausting task, especially if you’re someone like me who lacks good organizational skills.
I’ve come to learn that there’s no right or wrong way to organize your receipts, so you can try a bunch of organizational methods and see what works for you.
For instance, binders work for me, but I also realized that digital filing ensures convenience. Below, I will discuss both methods along with their pros and cons.
I will also teach you how to organize your receipts in a binder for easier access and how to store receipts digitally, so let’s get started right away.
How To Organize Receipts In Binders?
In my opinion, utilizing binders is likely the most convenient way to organize your receipts. If you opt for this method, you will be able to sort out that disorganized mess in your drawers very quickly.
Known as school supply staples, binders can be very beneficial in your work area, too! They’re incredible for organizing receipts in larger businesses where the number of receipts keeps piling up daily.
If you run out of space, don’t fret. Just add new binders instead. They’re storable, stackable, and you can easily move them around your work area without losing, damaging, or destroying the receipts.
- Start with a single binder and build your way up!
- Utilize a separate binder for each year if you’re organizing chronologically. If you’re organizing alphabetically, a separate binder for different expense receipts makes a great decision.
- Consider utilizing a durable check binder with zippered pocket inserts to keep your receipts safe.
- Label each category properly. For instance, if organizing alphabetically, name each folder with a category and set them up alphabetically. If you’re organizing chronologically, make 12 labels for every month of the year.
- Then, collect your receipts and start inserting them into the selected category.
- Keep the same process when organizing receipts in the future.
Extra Tips for Organizing Receipts
There’s a difference between organizing and collecting. Therefore, note that you don’t need to organize every receipt you come across, even if you decide to store them aside for a while.
Organize receipts that you will likely need in the future such as receipts for taxes, returning products, or just standard receipts that will help you keep track of your home/business expenses.
Other receipts you need to organize include receipts for budget planning, home improvements, resales, etc. The following tips can help you collect/organize different household or business receipts even further.
Throw away paper receipts you don’t need anymore
Throwing away anything that you no longer need will save you a lot of time and trouble! You can do the same with receipts that you can easily access online.
Have a plastic bin for all the “trash files”
Throwing receipts is a way to organize them too! Therefore, I suggest buying a plastic can and placing it over your receipt files.
That way, whenever you’re uncertain if you should throw away something, just place it in the plastic bin. In case you need any of those receipts in the future, you can just take them out.
It’s far easier than organizing trash files that you’re not sure if they’re necessary or useful but you’re also not sure if they’re useless.
Rules for collecting and organizing paper receipts
Going through receipts regularly can help you prevent a mess. Therefore, once a week/month, sort your receipts and throw away anything you don’t need anymore or place it in the plastic bin.
I highly suggest that you keep any medical bills, bank statements, credit card statements, and other basic bills for around 1 year. Keep loan filings, account statements, and tax returns for longer.
Invest in filing cabinets or binders
If you don’t have a bunch of receipts, invest in a binder for easier access. First, fill your binder with sheet protectors. Then, add your receipts into the sheet protectors.
In case you have a lot of receipts, a filing cabinet makes a far better investment than a binder. The best part? You can also add labeled tab dividers for extra organization.
If your household isn’t that big, opt for a 1-1 1/2-inch binder. However, if you work for a company, buy a 3-inch binder. If you opt for a filing cabinet, use labeled dividers.
Organize all your receipts chronologically
You can utilize a labeling system that will help you organize receipts by date. For instance, label your tab dividers or folders with different dates for easier access.
If you don’t have a large number of receipts, you can organize your files just by year. If you’re a business owner or work for someone, arrange them by week or month.
For example, if you’re utilizing a binder, you could sort your tab dividers by year. And if you have a filing cabinet, use separate folders for each month of each year.
Organize all your receipts by category
Organize receipts by category before placing them into folders or sheet protectors, so you can have a clear idea of how much you spend on specific items.
Once you’ve organized your receipts, arrange and move them to their spots. You can use categories like clothing, business expenses, gas money, groceries, and other necessities.
If you’re a business owner or work for a company, you could sort receipts by different categories such as credit accounts, banking, insurance payments, etc.
Organize all your receipts alphabetically
If you’re someone who likes organization by a good old alphabetical order, sort your receipts by name. Use different groups or categories that make the most sense to you.
For instance, if you run a larger household or project for a company, you might have a much easier time organizing receipts by the names of your family members or teammates.
Organize your receipts alphabetically within a big folder. For instance, if you had a category called “Food Receipts”, you could sort them like this: McDonald’s, Burger King, etc.
Pros And Cons Of Using Binders
With binders that have index cards to divide receipt types, you can find what you need with great ease. This system makes a great choice for people who revisit their receipts very often because you can easily flip back and forth to different parts. The binder keeps all the receipts in order.
I use this system for sorting out different receipts such as regular reports on expenses, income, bills, and other things I consider useful. What I like most about binders is that they’re easy to store on a bookshelf or just anywhere in your home or office but organizing everything can take time.
How To Organize Receipts Digitally?
The same rules apply to digital receipts. Again, there’s a difference between collecting and organizing, so you don’t need to upload every receipt digitally if you decide to keep it for a while.
You can upload important receipts for returning items, taxes, or receipts that will help you keep track of your spending and expenses. If you opt for a digital organization, follow these steps.
Scan your older receipts
I would recommend that you purchase a small scanner. That way, you can run your old receipts through. Then, you can create a weekly or monthly schedule for scanning and uploading your receipts to a digital interface. Don’t throw away receipts until you’ve scanned them to your laptop or PC.
If you don’t own a scanner, download a scanning app to your smartphone, instead. Then, utilize the app to scan your receipts. Good scanning apps include Genius, Cam Scanner, Scanner Pro, Scannable, etc. I would also suggest converting all your scans into a PDF file format for easier access.
Make folders with clear labels
Once you scan your receipts, sort them into electronic folders and subfolders. Make folders with concise labels. If you have a chronological filing system, make folders labeled by year or month.
However, if you prefer alphabetical sorting, consider creating folders based on letters. Within these big folders, make more specific subfolders that can help you organize your receipts in more detail.
For example, if you utilize a categorical filling system, name one of your folders as “Food Receipts” and within this general folder, make subfolders for receipts for different stores, items, returns, etc.
If you utilize a chronological filing system, name one of your folders as “2020”. Within this folder, make subfolders named “January, February, etc”. Labels like these ensure much easier access.
Why do clear labels matter in a digital filing system?
Think of clear labels as shortcuts that will make it easier for you to locate receipts in the future.
Therefore, if you prefer a chronological filing system, put the year, followed by a specific date. However, if you like categorical filing, label your receipts with the name of shops, items, and date of purchase.
I highly recommend that you take the matter into your own hands and experiment with labels until you find a filing system for organizing receipts that work better for you and your business or household.
Finally, let’s talk about backup and how you can protect your computer so your scans stay safe.
Backup your computer
When dealing with digital copies, I suggest that you make a backup on your laptop or computer to keep your data safe. Grab a new or old USB stick and import it into your device. Then, use your cursor to copy and paste your folders from the desktop to the USB stick.
Another important thing to remember is to update your USB stick every few months. That way, you will have a fresh up-to-date backup of your electronic receipts.
You can also use an external hard drive instead of a USB stick. If you don’t want to use your PC or laptop, you can also download a receipt scanning app on your phone.
Look for mobile apps with a scanning option that also stores uploaded receipts within the app. That way, you can scan and organize your receipts anywhere, anytime.
Popular and good scanning apps for receipts include Quickbooks, ABUKAI Expenses, Expensify, Receipts by Wave, and Certify Expensive. Share other apps below!
Pros And Cons Of Digital Filing
One of the biggest advantages of digital filing is simple to access. Also, there’s no paper mess to worry about. You can print out only certain receipts and keep records as long as you want.
Additionally, online receipt organization takes less time and resources. The only disadvantage is the risk of meltdown. Other than that, a digital filing is one of the most convenient options.
What Is The Best Way To Keep Track Of Receipts?
You can notice that this article took a turn. I’ve started with binders and cabinets and shifted towards a more modern and reliable way of organizing receipts.
The reason why is that I’m starting to go paperless. I still use binders and filing cabinets. However, with a lot of stores that provide email receipts instead of paper ones, I find it easier to organize my receipts on my computer. I also scan receipts that aren’t electronic.
If you think of going paperless as well, remember that you still need to organize your electronic files for better access. The first mistake I made when I started scanning my receipts was putting all my receipts into a single file. Later, I couldn’t find anything with ease.
Therefore, you can learn from my mistakes and spend some time making folders, subfolders, and giving them proper labels, so you can easily find certain receipts.
Computer malfunctions, viruses, and meltdowns can mess up your receipts. Therefore, always keep your receipts in cloud storage or some type of external storage space.
If you’re using binders or filing cabinets, don’t forget to use sheet protectors and tab dividers for simpler identification and safety. What’s your opinion? Would you go paperless in the future?
Or will you stick to the old-fashioned binders forever? Perhaps you prefer both for extra security. Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments! Let’s continue the discussion below!
Also, share this article where you see fit and help other small business owners or workers or just people who want to improve their organizational skills, find solutions.