How To Declutter & Organize Receipts
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.
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.
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!"
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!
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.
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.
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."
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!"
What's The Oldest Receipt You've Found During Your Decluttering Sessions?
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!"
Are You Ready To Declutter Your Home?
When you begin to declutter the feeling you get is contagious, so if you're loving the results you're getting by doing this mission I would encourage you to keep going.
I've got a whole series of 15 minute decluttering missions
(eventually 365 of them!) that you can do.
Just pick and choose the ones you want to do, that will make a big impact in your home. But if you want someone else to tell you the order you can also grab the 15 minute daily decluttering mission calendars
and follow along as we all get our homes clutter free together!
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