Day - to - Day Receipts

Maura63July 7, 2006

In another thread, someone wrote:

"I keep almost no receipts. Everything you buy is itemized at the end of the month and you know exactly where you money goes."

The above statement about not keeping receipts is a practice I've considered. Although I want to abandon receipts, I'm not sure I'm ready to. I'm talking about the credit card receipts for day-to-day purchases: gas, grocery stores, haircuts, that sort.

(I should add that one of my VISA credit cards is a debit card in disguise - the funds are deducted directly from my checking account so it is similar to writing a check.)

I keep all of these receipts and enter them into Microsoft Money until the statement arrives. Then I cross-reference them for accuracy.

The receipts take over my wallet or handbag until I tuck them in an envelope on my desk before entering them into the MS Money register. Then when the statement arrives I spend the time to go over each entry and match it with the receipt and then it gets shredded.

Logically I know I'm devoting too much time to this process. And some months I tend to let the receipts accumulate until the statement arrives and then I do the entering and cross-referencing. In all these years, the only errors found have been in my favor.(i.e. Made a purchase at a store that was closing and it never collected from my bank.) This has happened maybe three times in 20 years.

Am I to understand that the original poster gets rid of the receipt basically the same day of purchase? I know my Dad no longer saves his receipts....just pays the bill when it comes.

Except for items that may need to be returned, is there any good reason to hold on to these day-to-day receipts -- or should I just have faith in the bank statements that arrive each month?

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I think you should keep receipts long enough to reconcile with the bank statement. I have no more -- or less -- faith in my bank than I do in any other vendor. After reconciling, you can choose to keep the receipts or toss them. If you need proof of purchase for something, keep the receipt. If you don't and you're entering it into some other ledger system, you can recycle it (or, better, shred it and then recycle it).

    Bookmark   July 7, 2006 at 11:14AM
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I don't bother reconciling anything with my bank. I scan the statement to be sure it looks reasonable, and leave it at that. I guess I mostly trust my bank, and I also figure that if anything is wrong, it'll be small enough that I'd rather lose the money than lose the time to reconcile.

I also don't use Quicken or anything else.

I keep the receipt, but only for a very short while, and mostly because I think I might want to return it, or else general nervousness, and not wanting to have to decide at the moment of purchase. (sometimes I know I don't want it, and will stick it in the bag to be thrown out when I unpack the purchase.)

I buy a wallet w/ two bill compartments, and put money in one, receipts in the other. And every now and then, I sort through all the receipts, and either toss, file, or submit to the insurance/flex-spending plan.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2006 at 11:33AM
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I save receipts for large non-typical purchases and for things I think I might want to return (especially home decor items and things from Target!).

I do not (and never have) kept receipts from grocery stores and such. At a restaurant I make sure there is no CC# on the bill, scratch out my name, the signature line or other info and leave it there on the table as trash. I do not get receipts when I buy gas.

I use a credit card for almost all purchases. I look at my bill. Occasionally I have seen an item that I don't recognize - a quick call to the CC company will get you more information about the name and location of the store. I've called maybe 4 times in the last 8 years - and every purchase I called about really was mine, it just came up under a parent-company name or somesuch that I didn't recognize.

My husband is a receipt keeper. Paid $3 in cash for a snack at the grocery? He has a receipt. Sadly he doesn't even try to reconcile them with his bank or CC statement, he just doesn't seem to throw them away right away! He tries to change, but can't seem to help it. I gave him a small basket for his nightstand and he empties his pockets into each night, including the receipts. When the basket gets so full it won't hold his wallet, he cleans it out and tosses the receipts. This has worked pretty well for the last year and keeps the number of receipts down.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2006 at 11:48AM
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I only save receipts for those large products that should be under warrenty. I mostly use a debit card and those purchases show up on-line almost before I can get home!

I recognize cc purchases on my statement and a receipt would never prove I did not buy something!

We have too much paper in our lives as it is.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2006 at 12:01PM
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I usually end up saving all receipts, but just for a short period of time. I keep them all in a file folder and once every month or so, I sort through them. Any of them that are for large purchases or for something that I might be thinking of returning, go back in the folder. The rest are shredded. Most of my purchases are with a credit card, which I pay in full, monthly, so I scan the bill to see if there are any purchases I don't recognize.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2006 at 12:42PM
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For something which can't be returned (like gas and groceries) I just look at them at the time of purchase and then pitch them in the trash. I have a separate zipped pocket in my purse for items like clothing and I keep it there until I know the purchase is OK and won't need to be returned.

Why not record your debit purchases in a check register, just the same as if you were writing a check? You can then use that to reconcile your monthly account and won't need to keep those receipts for the number.

One of the reasons we have gone to a total CC system is that it allows us to only have to write 3-5 checks a month. We check over the CC statement, highlight anything for tax purposes and we're done. Bonelady, you don't have to prove you didn't purchase something on a CC, just notify the company of a problem. We like to use AMEX because we have found them to be the most responsive. Most of us shop the same places over and over and it's pretty easy to see if something is amiss.

I am not a good debit card person. Unlike the checks, I never wrote anything down. Too easy for me to pull money from a cash machine and then, poof! it was just gone. Using just CC my impulse buys are way down. No need to run in and buy and candy bar and cup of coffee when I buy gas since I can just pay at the pump and go.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2006 at 1:50PM
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Fori is not pleased

I keep receipts for for warranties or possible returns--nothing else.

If you want to keep them until you get your statement, that makes sense (though probably extra-cautious!), but why enter them in MS Money? Can you just check them directly when you get the statement and skip the middle step? Using a check register for debit card purchases is a good idea if you need to keep a running tally on that.

Unless you're really trying to keep track of what you spend where, you don't need those receipts. But if you can't bear to part with them, put them in a ziplock baggie just in case something inconceivable happens and you need them. But don't waste time sorting them!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2006 at 2:27PM
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I have not balanced my bank statement in so long....

The transations that you make are automatically done via computers and there is almost no chance that errors will be made, if you check the receipt immediately at the time of purchase.

I scan the bank statement and cc statement. That's about all I do. I find that my time is too valuable to devote to the reconcilliation of the statement to the penny. I do not balance my check book. I pay more attention to the deposits than to the withdrawals. I have never had problems with withdrawals.

The errors are made when there is human entry of data. I have had several occasions in the past ten years where the deposits sent via mail never showed up on our account and we had to track them. It takes time, but they find them or we have to have them reissue the check. We no longer deposit via mail. We go to the bank.... What a pain.

In the past I have had to return things that broke within the warrantee period. When you go back to the store that you bought it from and give them the credit card number, they will reproduce the receipt for you. My digital camera broke. I scanned the credit card statements until i found the time and place that looked promising, and at Best Buy, they reproduced the receipt with the cc number, and i was able to send it in for warrantee repair.

I have returned things to The Gap, for example, without receipts and was able to get the full amount back. All major stores will take things back without receipt if you are willing to credit your account. They will not give you cash.

I also charge my charitable contribution on CC and highlight the statement when I get it. At tax time, I know exactly how much and where the tax deductible amount went.

VISA card a diguise as a debit card: When you use VISA as a CC, they are loaning you money free of charge for thirty days. Many VISA cards allow you to earn air miles also. If you use a debit card, money is coming out of your account immediately. If you are good at managing money, you can actually make a few dollars each month from the interest in the money that is NOT deducted from your account immediately. Just a thought... We earn enough miles on our VISA to take trip for our entire family each year. I even put our utilities, cell phone etc on it. I called the mortgage company to ask if we could put it on visa and they said no.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2006 at 3:06PM
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Interesting topic...

Receipts here pile up by the kitchen phone, in wallets or pockets. I gather them to a spot on my desk, then enter into Quicken when the urge strikes to update that or to balance checkbooks.

Then I stand, pivot and drop the handful of receipts up into an open shoebox high on a bookshelf. When that shoebox starts to overflow, maybe after 9 months or so, I put the lid on, date the outside and set it on the closet shelf.

Knowing the approximate date of purchase, I usually have been able to find a receipt in a minute or two.

Yes, I am using up 2 or 3 cubic feet for a couple shoeboxes. But it is a pretty simple system that works smoothly and effortlessly for me.

But this thread has me realizing I pretty much never have had to go into the back couple shoe boxes in the closet. I should be dumping those much sooner. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 10:48PM
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I don't wait for statements to arrive in the mail-I've got almost all my banking/bill paying set up online including the credit card and bank statements. I keep receipts for possibly-returnable items, but otherwise I just check every week or so online to see what my CC and bank statements are showing. If I've returned items I keep the receipts till I can ensure the credit is recorded. I don't need to balance a checkbook with online banking as everything is automatically up to date and right there to see.

We charge almost all our household expenses on our 'house' credit card that offers a mileage reward, then I pay the entire bill monthly via online debit to my checking account. So easy. I pay all my other bills online too-including electricity and store accounts. Almost everything lets you set up online payment these days. The phone accounts and insurance (homeowners and auto) are charged to the family credit card, to get those mileage points. I've got all our insurance coverage with a firm that prorates the premiums on a monthly basis with no finance charge then bills it to the credit card automatically, no need to even remember when premiums are due anymore. I generally prefer to pay the bills myself rather than autopay, but I do use autopay for the electric bill.

I refuse to pay a penny extra to do the online banking. I've set up all my accounts directly with the billers or via our credit card, so I don't have to pay a monthly fee to the credit union (they have a bill payer service but they charge for it). And the credit card is a no-annual fee as well.

I only rarely have to write a check to pay a bill. This month I had to pay my kids' tuition so I sent checks. Otherwise, 99.9% of my banking and money management is online.

I won't ever go back to the old fashioned way of doing all this :). I used to dread sitting down at the end of the month for an entire evening with my checkbook, calculator, stamps etc. Now the bill paying is done in one session of 10 minutes tops with probably another 5 minutes online review weekly.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 8:03PM
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I do not keep receipts for items unless I think I may possibly return them.

After having been a victim of online credit card/identity theft 3 times, I do no online banking or bill paying.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 9:27PM
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Postum, that's scary!!

If I could ask, in your situations was it the classic someone-hacks-your-credit card-info? Now you've got me worried my totally automated system will turn into a nightmare.

And not to highjack the topic too badly-has anyone else had receipts misused, or that type of malfeasance?

I've only ever had one problem with using my credit cards. Noticed a strange charge once, called and it was explained that there had been a 'system error' and the money had already been recredited to my account. It was on the order of $25 so not a big problem anyway.


    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 8:37AM
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I just this weekend read a story about the rise in identity theft as it is tied to meth addiction. I don't remember now where that was, but it was in something this weekend. The Times, maybe?

Anyway, apparently meth addicts in many communities turn to this crime instead of to the violence that crack addicts turned to. And many of them got the info on their victims OUT OF THE MAILBOX, especially from people who paid their bills by mail and set the envelopes (containing the checks) in the mailbox to be picked up by the mailman; the thieves looked for the little red flag.

I think it's not that easy to hack the credit-card number off the provider's site. It's much more likely to get it from a receipt you've discarded, from an extra swipe done by the clerk in the store when you use it, from your mailbox when it arrives or when you mail it out.

I've had someone make a fraudulent charge to a credit card, well below I paid any bills online, but I spotted it right away, and one call simply took it off my account.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 2:24PM
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Very interesting concern...

We put a block on new account opening on all three credit scoring services. It's free. They cannot open new CC accounts without directly contacting us. You need to renew it every year.

We only use one credit card. In the past, if the company detected an unusual pattern, then they contacted us regarding the use. If it's fraudulent, they credit us and give us new CC with new number. This is why I have a second card at home, in case this happens. This takes a few days and we cannot operate few days without a CC in our routine mode.

We generally find that fraudulent stuff occurs during/after our travel. Recently, someone charged nearly a thousand dollars on the corporate account buying concert tickets. They took care of it very quickly. The beauty of "problems" occuring with CC is that they correct it very quickly.

In the past ten years or so, I think this has happened about 3 or 4 times. One time, there was a breech of security at the credit union and every customer was issued new numbers!

I guess I am rather lax about fraudulent charges that I have to deal with because I am willing to accept them now and then as a part of the convinience of life. (it costs me a little time and no money) We also get free airline tickets that are worth significant amount of money every year.

BTW, if there is a problem with a debit card, (if they have your pin number), the money is immediately taken from your account. The same with the checking account. They money is taken first and you have to have them reimburse you. (my husband has had checks stolen in the past) If there is a problem with CC, you refuse to pay.

I do not like to use online checks or on-line banking because the money is taken from the accout very quickly with the right type of information. I do auto pay to credit cards instead.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 4:11PM
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I've trained myself to toss them in the top drawer of a little chest of drawers I have. They are all in there and if I need one or need to check something out they are all in one place.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 11:04AM
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I cancelled my debit card the first time I was at a store that didn't require a PIN number--if someone took my card, they could wipe out my checking account! Even if I got the money refunded, it would leave me unable to write checks for a while.

I only keep receipts that have a purpose, like for the warranty on the new refrigerator or the new outside lights. I have already thrown out my grocery receipt from this morning (I wrote a check) and the drug store charge receipt from this morning ($55 and nothing noteworty).

My checking account balances TO THE PENNY every month (I like "exact" matching LOL) but I don't use a money management program. We pretty much spend the same amount of money on the same things every month, and I'm not too concerned where it goes.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 4:58PM
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I read this article on check and debit card fraud. It makes me glad that I use my credit card 99% of the time!

Here is a link that might be useful: check fraud article from MSN Money

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 11:39AM
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For those of you that do not use debit cards, how to you get cash? Do you use CC cash advance? My CC starts charging interest right away if we do cash advance. There is no grace period with cash advance, I think.

I try not to use cash but some places do not take anything other than cash. The other day, I already got ice cream for my kids and I was $2.00 short. I had to go the the ATM and get money with $2.00 charge. I wasy so annoyed! I generally try not to have my check book with me.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 12:09PM
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We use very little cash. Even fast food places take CC here. It is the perfect excuse for me to tell the kids we can't do something because I don't have enough cash on me. I do carry my checkbook so I can write a check. We use a securities house as our main check writing but you obviously can't get cash or deposit cash there, so we keep a couple of accounts at a credit union and that's lets us access cash in the middle of the night for emergencies. We don't carry that debit card or use it for everyday stuff. Otherwise, I just cash a check from my credit union account when I need more cash. We never cash advance our cc.

I'm getting a bit miffed with our milage cc plan. Between our Visa and Amex, we have a few hundred thousand miles and I still had to purchase tickets for my mom coming up next month. They have all of the seats blocked during the summer. If you need to fly at the last minute you can usually get one, because they have opened up seats which haven't sold, but you can't plan a long trip for someone that way. I need to find a different rewards program or at least a rebate card.

Julie, we have those automatic U-Scans at the grocery store, but I think people still have to put in the pin #. I'm not sure about the gas station charges. I love the U-Scan. As long as it's under $50 you don't have to sign a receipt, so I can send the kids to the store to get a gallon of milk or something and I don't have to deal with cash. It is taking some extra talking to get them to understand that we DO pay for that stuff.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 3:03PM
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I keep all receipts. I have had to get them on occasion when something ends up being a donation... Plus many are for the taxes.

"For those of you that do not use debit cards, how to you get cash? Do you use CC cash advance? My CC starts charging interest right away if we do cash advance. There is no grace period with cash advance, I think."
We take cash out at the bank every payday. We do not have a debit card or an ATM card.... don't need one!

And I reconcile all our accounts every month...

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 10:16PM
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western, just curious what receipt would be helpful with a donation? When we donate items, only the amount that it would be sold for is allowed, not the purchase price. I'm thinking like a crib is $300 new, but if you donate it, the used value would only be $100. Is that what you mean?

DH is a CPA and runs an office out of the home. Most of our tax related receipts aren't the kind that I end up stashing in my purse. On the occasions I've had to purchase something for home repair or upkeep I get that out of my purse quickly, circle and note what and why I purchased something and put it in the tax folder. Just being nosey, but I'm wondering what type of receipts you are finding you needed.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 11:20PM
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I keep cash in the house and keep at least twenty in my wallet for tips and emergencies and for the Dollar Store which doesn't take cc's. The bank is near-by and I get cash there. I don't want or have a debit card. Everything ischarged, if I can , to one credit card the rest are paid by check. I blance my check book (check journal really) at least once a week to the telephone bank info. I pay my bills when I get them and don't wait for a particular time.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 12:15AM
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I keep one blank check in my purse. I've seen women plunk down their purses at a check out counter, open up their check books and see at least 6 or 7 credit cards waiting to fall out. If you know where you are shopping you don't need to carry everything with you and less of a hassle if your purse is mislaid etc.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 12:19AM
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I have an ATM card that is just ATM, not debit, to get cash.

Minnie said, "If you know where you are shopping..." LOL Well THAT is the problem! Sometimes I don't know ahead of time and just fit it in time-wise when I can. There are many days I'll run errands after work only if the traffic isn't too bad.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 7:48AM
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"western, just curious what receipt would be helpful with a donation?"

For example... Last summer we threw DS a graduation party. I bought supplies in advance, as well as fresh items closer to the date.

Well, not everything got used. So, that very next day, I packed up what was left (unopened hot dogs, frozen burger patties, fresh buns for both, etc., etc.,) and drove to a Christian Summer Camp. They accepted everything for their campers.

I had a list of what I donated, and went and pulled the receipts... and we able to take a non-cash tax donation for the full value of the goods donated.

That's one example...

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 10:00AM
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OK, that makes total sense. Thanks for 'splaining.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 3:15PM
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Here's what I do.
I put a piece of paper on next to the dirty close hamper.
On it I write:
"Gas station... $50 ... 7/27/06"
"Grocery... $100 ... 7/27/06"
"Lowes...$75 ... 7/27/06"

Then I throw the receipt in a bag. I keep the bag of receipts just in case I need to return something. I save it about a year then you toss it.

The log that you make is easy to use when looking at statements rather than flipping through a stack of receipts.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 11:36AM
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If you know where you are shopping you don't need to carry everything with you

yes, but that means (1) you have to know where you are shopping; (2) you have to have a place to keep them when they're NOT in your wallet; and (3) you have to go and get them from that place, then put them back after. CHORE CLUTTER!

I don't have a lot of credit cards. If I'm willing to use them, I carry them all.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 5:24PM
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i just wanted to share an important lesson i learned once with a receipt i saved. this is especially important for the big-ticket items and for those whose warranties require the receipt. MAKE A PHOTOCOPY OF IT! i tried to use a receipt from best buy once, but it had faded to almost nothing within a year. it had even been kept in the envelope they provide.

i don't know how many businesses print their receipts with archival-quality ink and papers. some receipts last ten years or more, but others might not. i know it's chore clutter (LOVE that term!) but it might save you some frustration later on.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 5:17PM
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That's true. I actually paper clip my high dollar receipts in the bag so I save them when the rest get thrown out.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2006 at 11:13AM
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I save my receipts in 2 bags, 1 for grocery stores, the other for all other stores. Quirkyquercus, that's an excellent idea. I'm going to start using a paper clip on my higher dollar receipts as well.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2006 at 2:05PM
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Sheer laziness breeds so many wonderful tips. Glad I could help! :-)

    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 9:52PM
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