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I finally have a system that works

Posted by marie26 (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 22, 07 at 22:17

Finding a receipt has always been an impossibility for me. I'd keep them in boxes or ziploc bags but going through them all was just too much work.

I read about this is a magazine and implemented it on January 1, 2007. I purchased a file folder with 13 sections and labeled them according to store or category, whichever made the most sense. I keep all medical information in one of the folders and even stick the prescriptions to a piece of paper as I get them so that when I need to send in flexben, it's ready to go. Before it felt like such a chore to take forever to gather the information and prepare it to fax over.

There is something I need to return tomorrow when we go into town and I found the receipt instantly. This would always bring me so much stress and now I have a sense of relief and accomplishment.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: I finally have a system that works

This is a huge problem for me. I especially have a hard time during a large project like kitchen remodel(DIY) when you make so many purchases.
So that I'm sure I understand, you might have a file marked Health/Medical, Home Depot, Macy's, Target, CVS, etc? You just have to think hard about the 13 stores you shop at the most? I may have to try this. Most of my receipts end up shoved in my purse and then in frustration, as I am about to go into a store, shoved in a basket in my car. Weeding thru those receipts is no fun. Sometimes I am able to tape or staple the receipt to the corresponding bag or item to be returned. This doesn't happen often enough.
One other question please. Say you are in Macy's buying a dress. The clerk usually asks you if you want the receipt in the bag or with you. What do you say? How do you get that pesky receipt from the store to your file?

RE: I finally have a system that works

When I do my Christmas shopping, I bring the bags home and put all the receipts in one drawer. (It's a narrow drawer in my dining room sideboard) If anything needs to be exchanged or if something breaks or doesn't work,I have the receipt. I gave my two daughters Ipods last Christmas, can you believe both broke?

RE: I finally have a system that works

Since I'm usually wearing jeans and a jacket when shopping, I've gotten into the habit of stuffing the receipts into my pocket. This helps me have the ones that I need to update the check book if I've used the debit card. The reason I started this is because there was a time when a receipt was in the bag and I had it near me when sitting down in the center of a mall and the bag was stolen.

I live in a rural area with a local town nearby that has 4 supermarkets, 1 K-Mart plus gas, drugstore, etc. But the major chain stores are 1 hour away.

With that in mind, 3 pockets are for the supermarkets (2 that I don't go to that often are in 1 pocket). Another pocket is for the supermarkets in the "city". I know it's weird to keep these but it's a habit.

One pocket is for gas, bank withdrawels, deposit receipts and lottery tickets.

Another is for restaurants.

Another is for local non-food stores including K-Mart.

Then there's the one for the major chain stores.


One to-do pocket (still need to do the things in there, though)


RE: I finally have a system that works

I have receipts under control, as well.

i throw them out.

Well, not quite. Here's what I do.

--if I buy something big, like the stereo or an appliance, when I think I might need the receipt for proof of warranty or something, I immediately staple the receipt to the inside of the owner's manual, and file the owner's manual in the "owner's manual" expanding file

--if I buy medicine or anything that qualifies for flexible benefits, I transfer it to my tote bag, carry it around for 3 months, and finally send it in for reimbursement from Flexible Spending.

--if I buy clothes, or supplies, in which I *might* need to reeturn something, I let that receipt float in my wallet until my wallet gets wide enough that I can't stand it anymore. Then I go through my wallet and toss the receipts I don't need, and keep the ones I think I might need, leaving them to float in my wallet until such time as this periodic review tells me it's safe to throw it out.

I like this because it doesn't create yet ANOTHER home for just-in-case receipts. And it's less work, I think.

Receipt in the bag or in my hand? NEVER in the bag. This comes from having lost a shopping bag of many things I'd purchased, all with the receipts in the bag. Whoever snagged that bag when I walked away from it for 5 minutes could simply return all those items and take my cash. (it was the days before debit cards). Also, since I store them in my wallet,

I don't return very many things. My mother is always trying to encourage me to buy stuff that I *think* will work because I can always just take it back. ARRRRGH!

She doesn't realize that it was a MAJOR achievement of scheduling to get to the store in the FIRST place. I don't shop. Going to the store is a 40-minute trip one-way. The last thing I want to do is end up with another "chore" of having to make a special trip to return something that's the wrong color blue.

Once I know I need to return something, I don't bother to try to match it up with the receipt--usually. Sometimes I will fold the receipt inside the clothing (or whatever), and set the bag by the door or on my dresser. But if I don't, then I simply check my wallet before I leave the house.

Since I don't cull the receipts in my wallet very often (and when I do, I'm careful), I always have it.

RE: I finally have a system that works

I LOVE Talley Sue's system! This is pretty much what we do too... and whatever might be needed for tax return we put in a big envelope for the year's taxes.


RE: I finally have a system that works

Ah-h. I must be missing the "careful" part as my "system" is about the same. But I am also into the possibility or the potential of an item. I'm not as disciplined as TalleySue. Most of the time I'm in a store when it occurs to me, "oh, that might work for.." or " I wonder if this is the size, color, length, that I need?". This results in many purchases that need to be returned:(

RE: I finally have a system that works

Tre3, why not get a cheap 8 1/2 x 11 file folder with sections? My plastic file folder cost only about $5.00. Divide each one by project and everytime you purchase something, throw the receipt into the proper section. I think it would be easier to find a needed receipt if it's sorted by project instead of by store.

RE: I finally have a system that works

Marie, it's great to have a system isn't it? I implemented a very similar one, except I organized my file by months. Every receipt that comes into the house goes behind the month at the front of the folder. That way they stay in order, and it's easy to find the one I need. Trying to sort them according to store/project would be too complicated for us, and I've found the best way for everyone to be able to use a ''system'' is to keep it simple. I've had to look for four different receipts for returns the last couple of days, and it's so easy now. They get tossed when the credit card bill comes after the receipts have been checked against the statement, or filed in their respective places.

RE: I finally have a system that works

Marie I will think about this. I'm not much of a ABC person but more of a APFZ type of person. I would need many, many files to hold all the receipts for projects I bounce around on. I think the idea of store categories works best for me. I can almost always remember where I have bought something. Thanks.

RE: I finally have a system that works

Congratulations, Marie. It's a nice feeling, isn't it?

I run DH's remodeling business and we use a bright blue expandable A-Z file. I have to enter all his company purchases into Quickbooks. After that, if the store we bought an item from starts with the letter "B" the receipt goes into the "B" slot, in no particular order.

While we need to keep all the receipts for tax purposes, I've only had to go in and pull out a receipt 1-2 times, so it's no big deal to look through all the "B" receipts.

We use the same system for the law firm where I work, and while the A-Z accordion folder gets much fatter there, the simple system still works great.

RE: I finally have a system that works

I keep a shoebox, no lid, just above eye level on a shelf in my study. ALL receipts go in there - debit account ones logged into Quicken first. All of them except major appliances - those I staple into the manual. The shoebox ends up fairly chronological with the deeper in the box the older.

IF, big if, I need a receipt, I ruffle down through until I find it. Rarely need one over a month old, but I have retrieved much older ones with a bit of pawing. Shoebox seems to fill by year's end. Pop the lid on, mark it, and start another. Low tech paper management works for me (with the higher tech Quicken cuing me with the date and store name!).

Those minutes I might spend digging out a receipt (happens rarely) are way less than the time I would spend maintaining a filing system. I'm too obsessive to make sorting decisions on all those receipts!

RE: I finally have a system that works

I used to have a box. I think I should have had a bigger box. Years ago it wouldn't have occurred to me to keep as many receipts as I do now. I was looking at the Australian government recall website the other day and there was a warning about petrol contaminated with diesel. You need a receipt in order for them to pay for any repairs. So now I have to save my petrol receipts too?

RE: I finally have a system that works

I love the organicness of many of these systems you're describing, and i think they could apply way beyond receipts:

sadiesadie: the receipt goes into the "B" slot, in no particular order... it's no big deal to look through all the "B" receipts.""

I do this often in other filing systems--like the owner's manuals. If I need it, I'll wade through the stack; no sense spending time parsing finely when I file.

I *have* sometimes made a single sub-category (let's say your DH buys LOTS of stuff from Bailey's Plumbing Supply; so I'd make a folder just for Bailey's and put it in the B, and the other stuff can go around it. Sort of like how they file records in the music store--the really popular groups get their own dividers, and the less popular groups are lumped together under "B."

celticmoon: "The shoebox ends up fairly chronological with the deeper in the box the older."

This "filing by strata" is often underrated, but it works!

And also from celtic moon: "Those minutes I might spend digging out a receipt (happens rarely) are way less than the time I would spend maintaining a filing system."

THIS is one of the organizing principles people sometimes forget. They get so caught up in creating the system, and making it thorough and clever and well labeled everywhere, that they forget out the time cost of that.

RE: I finally have a system that works

When I'm organised enough to find my box, my overflow from the box, DH's bag of receipts, all the receipts that have been dropped round the house and the receipts lurking in my handbag, I'm going to reread this thread and decide on a system.

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