How To Use A Receipt Organizer To Keep Paper Clutter At Bay

Today's mission is to create or begin to use a receipt organizer as part of your daily life, to keep receipt paper clutter at bay from now on.

Organize Receipts & Tax Documents Challenge
This mission is designed to be done while working on the Organize Receipts & Tax Documents Challenge here on the site, which is one of the 52 Week Organized Home Challenges.

Yesterday we focused on dealing with accumulated receipt clutter in your home that had perhaps piled up for years and years.

Once you spend all the time necessary to go through and then discard a bunch of receipts, and save the few that you should actually keep, you certainly don't want to go through such a huge project again.

So today we're going to set up our system to keep receipt clutter under control from now on, and a key part of that is setting up and using a receipt organizer.

How to create a receipt organizer for the daily influx of receipts to keep this common paper clutter from getting overwhelming from now on {instructions on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest
Now this "organizer" may sound fancy, but trust me, it's not. In fact, I personally suggest that you use good old fashioned paper envelopes as your organizer, because that's all you really need (although some people use a plastic envelope, since it's a bit sturdier).

Of course, there are many ways to go about organizing things, so first I'll tell you my suggested method for ongoing receipt organization that uses envelopes, and then I'll also show you how readers have implemented this strategy in their own lives, sometimes with little tweaks that they preferred and worked for them.

How To Create A Receipt Envelope For Your Purse Or Wallet

Most of the receipts that you receive on a regular basis are for minor purchases, including things like your trip to the grocery store, or buying gas for the car. As explained in more detail in my article about how long to keep various types of papers the majority of receipts don't need to be kept long term, but there are exceptions, with certain receipts needing to be kept for tax documentation, or for use with a home inventory, or for a warranty claim.

As you receive these receipts while you're out and about at stores you cannot, at that moment, distinguish between those various types of receipts, and file things right away. In addition, even the minor receipts may be important to keep for a few months, until you receive your bank or credit card statement for example, and can confirm no errors are contained in the statements, or if you need to return an item back to the store.

That means you need a system for collecting receipts while you're out and about, and then a system for processing those receipts at a later time to make sure they get filed in the right places.

That's where my simple suggestion of using a receipt envelope comes in. Just add an envelope to your purse each week labeled with the name of the week, and the word receipts, and as you receive receipts as you make purchases place them directly into the envelope. That's the system for collection -- easy, right?

How To Process Receipts Weekly From Your Envelopes To Keep Organized

Next, you will process these receipts in the envelopes each week as you do your weekly paperwork session (click the link to read about this extremely important weekly routine in my article).

During that weekly session you will pull out the few receipts from the envelope that need to be filed somewhere else, such as with your tax documents, or stapled to your owner's manual and warranty information for a recent purchase, or held in your home inventory for example. (That's explained in more detail in the organizing receipts and tax documents challenge mentioned above.)

In addition, during this weekly session you can pull out the minor types of receipts and do any comparison necessary between the receipts and what's listed on your bank or credit card statements, to make sure you were charged properly, or your check cleared.

You can also use the receipts to help you remember what you spent to fill out these purchases in your budget spreadsheet.

expanding file for receiptsExpanding File For Receipts
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Then, once you've dealt with all the receipts during your paperwork session, as necessary, you can either seal the envelope holding all the minor receipts from the week, or if you use a reusable envelope clip all the minor receipts together and label them for the week as "miscellaneous receipts for week of ______", and file them in your monthly bill folders I suggested using in last week's challenge.

That's the whole system for organizing receipts! It's simple and easy, and if you've already got your weekly paperwork session in place, and your monthly bill folders created, adding the processing of receipts into the mix is relatively painless.

If you want to keep your receipts separate from your bill stubs (which I don't think is necessary), you can use a smaller expandable folder which is the right size for receipts and cancelled checks, such as the one shown to the right.

I like this organizational system because it takes very little time to deal with the majority of your receipts this way, but you can still find a receipt you need, if you have to.

An example is that if you realize you need to return the pot you bought at Walmart that you bought two weeks ago you can go back to the right month's file folder, find the pile of receipts for that week, look through until you find the Walmart receipt, and grab it.

It may take a little longer with this system to find the receipt than if you had all your Walmart receipts date organized, but honestly, who needs to do this? You'll save more time in the long run throwing them all in these monthly files, since the majority of the time you'll never need to look at these minor purchase types of receipts again.

Further, there is no reason to let these accumulate for too long. Since they'll be right in the same file folders as your old bill stubs you can get rid of old receipts at the same time you get rid of your old paid bills stubs, during your annual paperwork purge (see the Organize Bills Challenge for more details).

So go ahead and set up your receipt envelope or receipt organizer today and stick it in your purse or wallet. If you consistently deal with your receipts as part of your weekly paperwork session you'll never need to deal with an overwhelming pile of receipts ever again, and can always find the receipts you actually do need, when you need them!

Below I've shown you, as I mentioned I would, how readers who've taken on this challenge have created their own receipt organizers to get you inspired to make your own.

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Examples Of Reader's Receipt Organizers

Here are some examples of the receipt organizers that readers have sent in to show how they hold receipts in their purse during the week, before processing them during their weekly paperwork session.

Small pouch that Karen keeps in her purse to hold receipts during the course of the week {featured on Home Storage Solutions 101}

This first photo is from Karen, who said, "Here is mine for my purse."

While my method suggests using a paper envelope for each week, some people prefer to have something a bit studier to hold in their purse, and that is perfectly fine. The beauty of the receipt envelopes or organizer method is that it can work in lots of different ways!

How to use a simple receipt organizer in your purse, plus a weekly paperwork session, to keep receipt clutter at bay, and instead always have your receipts properly organized with little effort {on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Here's another reader, Tina, who sent in these two photos of her plastic receipt envelope. She said, "I saw this mission coming up on the calendar and purchased a really nice plastic envelope at the dollar store the other day. I put incoming stuff in the outside section and out going stuff (coupons or gift cards I'm bringing with me, or receipts for items to be returned) in the closed section. So far it's working like a charm!!!"

You can get similar plastic envelopes here:

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Alternate Ways To File Receipts Throughout The Year

Finally, here are some photos from readers who've suggested some alternate ways to file receipts throughout the year.

In my suggested method for filing minor purchases receipts, I suggest adding them to the same files as your paid bill stubs. However, if you want a organizer only for receipts here are some ideas.

Yearly receipt organizer shown by Marilyn {featured on Home Storage Solutions 101}

Marilyn sent in the photo above, and explained, "I found this 5x10 expandable folder in the $1 bin at Target. It has 13 pockets and I assigned one month of the year to the first 12 pockets. I have the last pocket for any receipts that I knew I would soon need again (returns, gifts, etc). Then at the end of the year I am quickly able to go through the receipts and determine which one's I need to keep (tax purposes, warranties, etc) and then dispose of the rest."

DIY receipt organizer repurposed from a tissue box {featured on Home Storage Solutions 101}

A reader, Vicki, sent in the photo above, showing how she's repurposed a tissue box to hold her receipts. She said, "Need a place to file those unruly receipts? A Kleenex box contains those random lengths of paper."

Similarly, a reader, Sunny, wrote in with a similar suggestion to what Vicki showed in her photo. Sunny said, "One idea I have been using is to put receipts into empty Kleenex boxes and write on the box either the month or type of receipts in it until I can later go through them. It keeps them all in one spot."

More Home Storage Solutions

{A-Z} Storage Solutions & Ideas
I hope these ideas for creating and using a receipt organizer have helped you see how simple it can be to organize receipts so they don't pile up and get overwhelming to deal with in your home again in the future.

Make a receipt envelope or organizer today, and then send in your photos here. The best ones will be featured here on the site.

There are even more ideas for storage and organizing on the site in the {A-Z} Storage Solutions & Ideas round up page. Go check it out if you'd like to see even more ideas.

In addition, if these ideas have inspired you to organize all the paper in your home, don't miss the Paper Organization Series here on the site!

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Comments for Alternate Ways To File Receipts Throughout The Year

Click here to add your own comments

Men's wallet
by: Carolyn

Could someone show me something I could use that would work in my husbands wallet. By the time I get them, the ink has rubbed off half the time.

ideas re tissue box organizer
by: Anonymous

For a wallet, an envelope with the flap cut off might work to keep the receipt ink from rubbing off. And/or, use that empty tissue box to collect receipts after work each day.

The top of the tissue box can also be cut to the corners, creating flaps that can be folded in and stapled or taped down. (might want tape over the staple to prevent scratching your knuckles, or catching it with your fingernail) My hands are small, but I still can't pull a fistful of receipts out of a hole that size.

If the box "overflows" with lots of receipts, or you just want to keep prying eyes out of it while you have company, put in a piece of cardboard on top of the receipts and weigh it down with a blank notepad or something similar. Keep it simple, so you don't have to remove a lot of other stuff just to add another receipt.

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