I opened up a box filled with receipts for the last year and sighed. The entire year, each time I had balanced my checkbook I threw all of my receipts into a box. This way if I needed them because a product stopped working, a shirt I bought for one of my children didn’t fit or the bank had the item recorded incorrectly I would have physical proof of the purchase.
The problem with this method is that it becomes overwhelming during the first week of the New Year when I need to go through the hundreds of receipts I have in the box. At this point, I am looking at each one to make sure we didn’t buy an extended warranty for the item and that my entire bank account information isn’t on the receipt which means I need to shred it instead of just tossing it into the trash.
I am always looking for ways to simplify things and a couple of years ago, I saw on the Internet (I’m not sure which website) a method where you keep only 2 months worth of receipts at a time. Here’s how it works. First take 2 large mason jars and then put tags on each one. I used chalkboard tags and tied them on with twine but you could use any other kind of tag and tie it on with ribbon or just glue the tags on the jars. One tag says “current month” and one says, “previous month.” Each time I am finished with balancing my checkbook, I don’t even bother to look at the receipts. I just put all of the ones for the current month in the “current month” jar.
At the beginning of each month I go through all of the receipts in the “previous month” jar. I look for anything that might be a larger ticket item or anything we bought an extended warranty on. If you deduct business or charitable expenses on your taxes, you will want to make sure and keep these receipts as well. The receipts that need to be kept go into a file folder labeled, “receipts.” The rest of them get tossed in the trash or shredded. I then move the current months receipts into the “previous month” jar and start filling up the “current month” jar with the new month’s receipts.
This has saved me so much time because I am looking at my receipts each month instead of once per year. Then, in January, I can go through my “receipts” folder and instead of there being hundreds of receipts there are usually only a handful. This system has worked well for me for two years and is quick and easy to implement!
If you want to purchase any of the products needed to create this system, here are the links for what you will need. These are affiliate links.