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How To Declutter & Organize Receipts

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Today's mission is to declutter old receipts, and then organize the receipts you keep after decluttering.

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.

Organize receipts and tax documents challenge

Distinguish Between Old Receipts & Receipts You Are Receiving Now

The first thing you need to do when taking on the task of decluttering receipts is to figure out which ones to get rid of versus which ones you should keep.

During this mission I'm distinguishing between all the receipt clutter you currently have in your home that has perhaps piled up over years and years, and those receipts that will continue to flow into your home on a pretty much daily or weekly basis from now on.

How to declutter and organize receipts that have accumulated as paper clutter in your home, including guidelines on how long to keep various types of receipts before tossing {a #Declutter365 mission on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest
In the actual challenge article linked above, and a couple of related articles, I have discussed how you should deal with your receipts that you receive on a daily basis, by keeping them in an envelope as you receive them (making that receipt organizer system is actually tomorrow's mission) and then how to deal with those week's worth of receipts as part of your weekly paperwork session. That system works great to keep you from re-accumulating receipt clutter in the future, from now on.

But that organizational system can't deal with the old receipts that are currently a paper clutter problem in your home, now. But that's what we're working on in today's mission.

And yes, depending on how many receipts you've got to deal with this won't necessarily be a 15 minute mission. But like with any mission that takes you longer than 15 minutes, my suggestion is to tackle it 15 minutes at a time until you can get rid of all the paper clutter!

What Receipts To Keep Versus Toss (Or Recycle)

Once you're ready to tackle the old receipts you've got all around your home the first step is to gather them all up from any receipt "stash" locations you may have, including in drawers, on flat surfaces, or in your purse or everyday bag.

Here's a photo sent in by one reader, Suzanne, of her receipt stash. She said, "I suppose this does not count as a filing system? A challenge I NEED!"

You need to have a more organized system for your receipts than a 'receipt stash' because this will lead to paper clutter. Here's how to organize and declutter receipts {on Home Storage Solutions 101}

Then, once you've got all your old receipts collected together and are ready to begin purging the ones you don't need,
you should make sure to read carefully my article about how long to keep various types of papers, since it has a whole section about receipts. (The article also contains a printable cheat sheet you can use to help you know how long to keep various papers as you tackle all your various paper clutter in your home.)

The quick synopsis of that article is that most receipts do not need to be kept long term. Things like grocery store receipts, a quick run to the drug store, buying gas, etc. are merely everyday expenses and once you have confirmed your credit card statement or bank statement matches up to the receipt, and there hasn't been any error, these receipts can be tossed.

There are, of course, exceptions to every broad generalization though. This includes any receipts, even for everyday types of items, that you later want to return, since you normally need your receipt to make the return.

Additional exceptions include for bigger ticket items, which you may need or want to keep for purposes of your home inventory or to be able to use your warranty if needed.

In addition, any receipts necessary as backup paperwork for your taxes should be kept not with all of your general receipts, but instead with your tax documents, in your yearly tax organizer.

Don't Be Nervous To Toss Receipts Because Seriously, Most You'll Never Need Again

The bottom line when doing this mission is yes, try to winnow out the few receipts that you should actually keep because it would be helpful to you. This is especially true of receipts needed for tax purposes.

However, the majority of receipts will not fit into this category, so don't get so hung up on these receipts that you don't get rid of the excess and clutter.

In addition, if you are getting really stressed about this, I highly encourage you to set up your receipt envelopes and begin to use your weekly paperwork session I mentioned above. No, it won't help you with what you've done with receipts in the past, but it will fix it from now on, and that is something very important, and something that will give you a lot of peace of mind going forward.

To get you inspired to declutter and organize your receipts, starting today, I've added quite a few photos from readers, below, who've already tackled this paper decluttering challenge, to show you their results and what you too can accomplish!

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Results From Readers Who've Decluttered Receipts

While getting rid of all your receipt clutter may seem daunting, you can do it! Just break down the project into smaller chunks of time and focus on one small stack of receipts before focusing on the next, and you can keep from getting as overwhelmed.

To help you, check out the results when other readers have done this mission.

How to declutter receipts to get rid of paper clutter, including recommendations about how long to keep various types of receipts before getting rid of them {on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

This first photo, of a before and after when decluttering receipts, was sent in by a reader, Charlene. She said, "Went through a big basket of receipts. Now I only have about 20. So excited to shred all of that!!!"

Great job Charlene! She also brings up an important issue when doing this mission, which is that you will want to shred any receipts that have personally identifiable information on them. You can read my criteria here for what documents should be shredded when decluttering to make sure you aren't opening yourself up to identify theft when getting rid of your clutter.

Sally's before and after when she took on a project to declutter and organize receipts in her desk {featured on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

This photo was sent in by Sally, who also did this mission. She said, "Still collecting the piles of paper from their naughty hiding places. Found a load of receipts in a box from 2012 (clearly shows the box system works for me, NOT). Luckily I didn't earn enough for them to have made a difference to my tax assessment that year. Have made a pile for shredding (on Thursday), put some in the "to file folder," binned loads and have created a monthly filing system for ones i need to keep."

Decluttered several weeks worth of receipts {featured on Home Storage Solutions 101}

Finally, here's a photo sent in from a reader, Pat, who said, "Thanks for the push this morning! About 2 weeks worth of receipts gone! I think I need to stop shopping!"

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Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to bill clutter.

What's The Oldest Receipt You've Found During Your Decluttering Sessions?

What's the oldest receipt you've found when doing the declutter receipts #Declutter365 mission? A reader, Marlo, found this receipt from 2005! {on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Are you ready now to get rid of your own receipt clutter and get more of the paper in your home back under control?

If so, I encourage you, as I mentioned before, to tackle the project 15 minutes at a time. Attack those receipt piles one at a time until you've gotten rid of all that you no longer need to keep at all, and have a much more manageable pile left to organize and file away.

Once you've done this mission I'd love to hear from you, showing me what you've accomplished. You can submit your photos here and the best photos will be featured here on the site.

One thing I'd also love to hear from you is how old is the oldest receipt you've found? A reader, Marlo, sent in the photo above, showing a receipt she found from 2005 when doing this mission!

She said, "I found this relic in a shoe box filled with receipts going back more then a decade!"

Want To Do More Decluttering Missions? Get Started With Declutter 365 Today!

Declutter 365 missions: 15 minute missions for your entire home

Once you declutter one type of item in your home I bet you'll want to declutter some more. After all, decluttering gives you a great reward for even a small investment of time and energy.

The Declutter 365 system is designed to help you declutter, over the course of a year, your entire house, with just 15 minutes of decluttering each day!

Hundreds of thousands of people use this proven system to get rid of their clutter, and bring peace and calm back to their homes.

Declutter 365 works to guide you to clear the clutter without overwhelm, focusing on just one small area at a time, and without making a huge mess in the process, so you see consistent forward progress without all that "messy middle" that makes it even harder to function in your home than before you started.

In addition to building a daily decluttering habit, the Declutter 365 program, along with the accompanying 52 Week Organized Home Challenge, teaches you the skills, habits, routines, and mindsets necessary to maintain the clutter free and organized state of your home from now on, so it'll never be as messy and cluttered as it is right now, ever again.

If you haven't already, make sure to get your copy of this year's Declutter 365 annual calendar here (it's FREE!), find today's date, and do 15 minutes of decluttering on the day's mission. Then, repeat again tomorrow, and again and again. Over the course of the next year, if you do this 15 minutes per day, you'll declutter your whole house!

Click here to take me to this year's Declutter 365 calendar

Related Pages You May Enjoy

Getting Clutter Free 15 Minutes At A Time Hall Of Fame

Getting Rid Of Paper Clutter Hall Of Fame

Removing Bill Clutter Hall Of Fame

Go From How To Declutter & Organize Receipts To Home Page

Comments for What's The Oldest Receipt You've Found During Your Decluttering Sessions?

Click here to add your own comments

I scan my receipts
by: Kathy

I use a Neat Machine (referral link) and it helps keep me organized with all of my paperwork and it cuts down on what I need to keep since everyone from the IRS to most retail stores accept a copy from the Neat.

I have a receipt from 1982
by: Lynn

I have a receipt from 1982 for the freezer that my mom bought and then gave to me when she moved to an apartment - I was going to toss it but I think it qualifies as an antique now. The freezer still works, by the way!

Disappearing ink on receipts
by: Anonymous

I copy all receipts to be saved for a year or more. Otherwise the ink fades and receipts become unreadable and useless.

I don't know which ones I should save
by: Stacey

I really don't keep receipts any more. What I do is just throw them away, that is all. I don't know if I should keep my receipts when I get my medication or not, and we shred our bank statements as well.

Receipt scanner
by: Shopping Deva

I LOVE my Fujitsu Scan Snap (referral link)! It has an integrated chip for speed so it's powerful and smart! It can scan a stack of receipts in a flash and you can save individual receipts or scan right into one file. It did quick work of my stack of improvement receipts I need to keep for my home basis. Also handles letter and legal sized documents (single or double-sided! Many options for saving the documents such as directly to editable Excel, Word, Powerpoint docs or DropBox, Email, Evernote. The newer model works via WiFi so you don't have to connect it to your PC. Comes with organization software which it pretty sweet, too, though I usually just scan to folders.

Keeping receipts
by: Anonymous

I recently had and IPad stolen that was two years old and I just threw out the receipt a week or so before. My insurance company says today I can buy it for $140.00 less than I paid for it. So I can only replace it up to the lower amount. Oh how I wish I had that receipt.

Lost receipts
by: Anonymous

In response to comment about stolen I Pad, I had thrown out a receipt and then my son needed it for his go pro. I was able to get a copy from Target because I had used my Target red card. You may be able to get a copy from a credit card company or where you purchased.

My method
by: Anonymous

I post, and categorize the contents of all my receipts to Quicken. If cash was used, that receipt goes into a manila folder for the month of purchase right after posting. I have 12 such folders, one for each month. If the purchase was by use of credit card, it is held in a 'to be posted' box (stamped with 'posted') until the statement arrives and it is verified correct. It then also goes into the month-appropriate folder. These receipts are held for a year, and as each month's filing needs to be done, the year-old month's receipts are pulled out making room for the new. I review the receipts: if any are for items to be inventoried - they are pulled and retained in an appropriate file (this could also be done at the time of original posting). Those that need not be retained are tossed either in the paper recycling, or in shredding if they have any part of the c/cd # printed. Clearly I could toss those receipts once posted and validated, especially for auto fuel, food or dining purchases. Mentally, the one-year gives me memories of the year before. Just one of my quirks.

I won't make my kids go through my papers
by: Jean

Promised my kids will not have this problem with my papers that I have. My mother passed away in 2013 and in going through a lot of boxes of paper the oldest was in 1896! Yes you read it right. Caused me to start on my own stash of papers!! Almost finished with my mothers set and my own set in May of 2018!!

Paying bills automatically
by: Tracey Anderson

I pay almost all of my bills automatically. That way I do not miss paying a bill on time. I rarely get any bills in the mail because I get an email stating the bill is due and then another email stating the automatic payment has occurred.
So, is my bank statement good enough for the receipt of the bill being paid?

And, what filing would I have to do? There is no bill with the date and amount written on it for me to file anywhere.
Any ideas?

Thank you and I love your series of Decluttering.

Glad I hadn't Gotten to This Quite Yet
by: Anonymous

I just wanted to post a bit of a warning. Be careful what you throw out! Recently, I had the occasion to be grateful that I hadn't quite gotten to this challenge yet because otherwise, I would've been in dire straights. I'm in the middle of a custody modification and our lawyer just asked us to provide every single receipt for anything purchased in relation to my son for the past 10 years including things like groceries and clothes. To say the least, I'm so glad that I still had them.

Better To Have Than Not To Have Just In Case...
by: Anonymous

I have benefited more by saving receipts than tossing them out. IRS likes to see paperwork, stores like to see the receipt they gave you for returns and you have a better chance in winning debates if you have the paperwork to prove your point a lot of the times in purchases. With more stores trying to price match, store managers told me they always want to see the receipt or sales paper to compare, so THERE! Now you just need a organizing system to keep them in. I throw my receipts out for small dollar items that I know I'm going to keep regardless....hope this helps.

Quicken Program
by: Candie

I scan all receipts or important documents (with an amount) to my Quicken program under the Account I bought it in, ie, credit card, Dr. Office, checkbook, etc. I also put other important info there, ie, bloodwork results, short warranties. That way, I can throw away everything else. I don't scan groceries, unless something like a coffee maker is on it. I have been doing Quicken since it has came out. Just wish my computers have that kind of lasting power.

decluttered under my desk in my office
by: Tami V

Oldest receipt related - I actually found a package from a department store unopened under my desk. It contained a dress I ordered in 2008 and never opened. I actually looked up the store's return policy and they honored the receipt and returned it for a credit of over $150. Score!

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