Which receipts do you keep?

marylizFebruary 10, 2008

I have saved every single credit card receipt over the years, but I don't want to keep them all. After comparing the receipts with the monthly statement, which can I safely throw out and never miss?

Perhaps some of you might be rolling your eyes. ;-P Well if it's such a no-brainer for you, please clue me in. If you have a set of criteria that tells you whether to keep or toss a given receipt, please enlighten me.

And then, where do you keep those receipts? I figure, you'd keep the receipt from a major appliance in the folder with the user manual and warranty. I have done at least that much. Oh, and I keep track of the medical expenses for the flexible spending for health insurance.

But there is a vast, gray area between the receipts that I'm sure I won't need again (groceries) and those I'm sure I'll need again (durable goods).

What major categories of receipts do you save, and where/how do you save them, in case you need to look up a particular receipt in the future?

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A year ago, I began putting all of the store receipts that I might need again in a 12-part letter-sized accordian type folder similar to the link below. I labeled each part with the type of store such as department store, hardware store, etc. and I used one of the sections for my flexben. I also kept a section for supermarkets because there were the few times I'd return something I'd purchased that I hadn't realized the date had expired.

After years of never finding a receipt, this system is practically foolproof as long as you file the receipts in a timely manner.

Here is a link that might be useful: File Folder

    Bookmark   February 10, 2008 at 3:46PM
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I keep all my receipts from Christnas shopping. Somehow, always at least one gift lays an egg. I save all appliance receipts. In the last year, I've had to return an IPod, a Phillips TV, a VCR player, and a DVDE recorder. Needed receipts.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2008 at 6:00PM
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The tax code is our guide. Because we put everything possible on the credit card, we do keep those statements. We label each charge if it is something we can use on our return.

I save store receipts until I know the item (clothing, etc.) fits and doesn't fall apart in the wash. Then I pitch the receipt. I have a folder for donation type receipts. One for medical stuff. That's all I keep.

I really don't compare the receipts to the charge statement. I'm not willing to hang onto grocery store receipts for a month. Or gas. Or....whatever the items might be. Maybe there has been mistakes, but I just review the charges to make sure something odd doesn't show up.


    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 3:18AM
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Keep appliance (or similar) receipts til the warranty's void, at which time there wouldn't seem to be much point in keeping them longer. Everyday things (like gas or food, Quiltglo) are also only good til the food's either gone, or gone bad prior to the expected date (and you do take it back) and just storing things like receipts for a pair of shoes bought last year is also pretty pointless. Tax people can't and don't want to deal with infinite cash slips like those without some serious reason, so if you know that your finances are otherwise in good shape (and you're not pulling fast ones on a routine basis anywhere), then just keep the kinds of things that really could be questioned long term, or that someone else (i.e. a potential house buyer who wants to look at heating bills) might ever care about.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 6:19AM
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My criteria is, "will I really want it again?"

And if I want it, I store it somewhere else.

Here's the stuff I've "wanted' again:

-possible warranty purchases: new faucet, major appliance, minor appliance, contractor's work, etc.
I staple the receipt (sometimes a photocopy if it's a thermal receipt that will fade) to the inside of the front cover of the instruction booklet/warranty, and file it w/ the household stuff. (I have a file for "minor appliance" type purchases, and a separate one that I'd leave for someone who bought my apt)

-tax-related things: expenses for my DH's freelance work, mostly. There are very few purchases that would be tax related. Maybe "capital improvements" to my home in case I solid it some day, but honestly the limit on those is so high, it doesn't matter.
I file these with the tax folder, along w/ the W-2's etc.

There have been several threads on this site; do a searchon "receipts" and see what you get.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 12:30PM
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i keep all of my receipts apart from grocery. Any receipts that relate to work done on the house - we are just finishing a huge remodeling project - i put into a box, actually it was used for storing photos, and label with the year. Then when we come to sell the house i have everything i need for tax purposes in year order. Boxes look pretty too. Only keep the current year in my home office, rest go into the attic in a filing cabinet i have there. Receipts for appliances, electronic etc go into a file marked receipts in my filing cabinet. I try and attach any warranties to the receipts. All other receipts go on a 'spike' in the office. At the end of the year i look to see what i have, might need to keep and ditch the rest.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2008 at 7:00AM
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I certainly don't want to be one of those people who saves everything, even though it is useless. Thanks for all the great ideas. I appreciate your input.

Thanks for the tip about searching this forum for "receipts." Duh! I found many useful threads.

Today I went through all the receipts from 2007. Saved the ones I needed, shredded the rest. Perhaps I shredded one or two I wanted to keep, but that whittles it down nicely so that I can deal with the rest.

My criteria are:
* Is this something I might want to return? If so, save. (Some stores have a 90 day return policy, so that answered the question in some cases.)
* Is this an expense I am supposed to track for taxes or health insurance? If so, save.
* Is this a receipt for fabric or sewing supplies? (This is a major hobby of mine, so I am tracking expenses in case of a fire or other loss, for replacement value.)
* Do I want to track this expense category for some reason, such as a remodeling project? If so, save.
* Otherwise, feel free to shred and compost!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 2:12PM
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Hi, Here's a list of what to keep from Clark Howard's website. He's a no nonsense all around money guy. His radio show and website are filled with valuable info on what papers to keep, as well as many other money issues. This doesn't cover receipts in general, but is a great help for that other related stuff. There are probably ideas for receipts too if you do a search there.

As far as receipts for everyday purchases, if I think it may be needed later, I take a fat Sharpie pen and write what the item is in large print on the receipt so it's easily read, and just put wherever my current papers are piled or filed. Receipts for large purchases are with the other info on the item, in a ziploc bag, taped to the item. If it's a kitchen appliance, it's taped on the back. Water heater is right on front, along with a business card from my plumber. Furniture receipts can be stapled to the bottom of most pieces.

There are lots of good tips on this thread. If receipts are being saved in case of fire or other disaster, remember that with the stuff also goes the receipts. I would add to make sure you have everything important, especially pictures, backed up away from your home. Computers make that very easy now, even though it can be time consuming.


Here is a link that might be useful: Clark Howard's what to keep

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 5:17PM
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stuff I buy that I might want to return:

I let it float in my wallet. Every now and then, I clean out my wallet, and put over-the-counter drug receipts in the "file for reimbursement" folder, and toss others, and keep any that go w/ something I still might want to return.

That way, i don't have a SECOND place they go (one of my mantras: "no summer homes.") And if I think I get a shot at returning the item, I only have to remember the ITEM.

Good point, Linda, about those receipts going up in smoke, along w/ the stuff they're supposed to document!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 5:54PM
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All along, I have been planning that the sewing receipts get stored somewhere else. But where? Maybe JPG files stored in my ISP's filespace is the best.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 3:08PM
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My DH will enter the receipts into the computer using neat receipts. It is a small long scanner that will scan your receipts into your computer. It will make a copy and also enter all the information. It is great. We are able to throw away about 90% of our receipts. We still keep receipts for large purchases, eventhough, neat receipts allows you to copy the scanned receipt. Look up neat receipts online. I do not work for the company. I bought it as a christmas gift for my husband and he loves it.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 11:54AM
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Over the years I've employed many of the aforementioned suggestions only to occasionally find myself without a receipt I needed for one reason or another (e.g. taxes, refunds, rebates, warranty claims).

Then a few years ago I purchased a 'Neat Receipts' scanner and stopped worrying about which receipts I should keep because I have a copy of them all. And they're all catorgorized for easy access.

Here is a link that might be useful: Neat Receipts

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 5:32PM
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This topic has been kicked around a few times.

No filing, no sorting here. I am still tossing them ALL in a shoebox open and high on a shelf in my study. They are in temporal order, sort of : the older the deeper, and it takes just a minute to root one out. If I need it. And how often does that happen really? So I've decided rooting takes less time than sorting or filing.

Used to take me 6-8 months to fill a shoebox but I've been consuming less so the 2007 box lasted the year. The boxes have accumulated over the last 5 years. But what is a couple cubic feet? System works for me.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 1:56AM
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The boxes have accumulated over the last 5 years.

In my home that "couple of cubic feet" would be precious. Other than major appliances, I can't imagine any receipts I'd need more than 2 years later. (and major-appliance receipts should be stapled to the inside of the cover of the owner's manual, or something).

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 9:45AM
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