It’s that time of year when receipts can become a sea of paper in your purse or wallet. Already I’ve returned two “White Elephant” grab bag gifts, which I was going to wrap and use at the Christmas Eve family party. To tell you the truth, I was browse shopping and came up with something else I liked better. Since I had the receipt, the return of the merchandise was processed quickly and with no fuss at all!
My merchandise return activity made me think about receipts. The handling of receipts is as varied as the people who receive them. Which type of receipt handler are you?
● Squashed and Crumbled – Do you smash your receipts inside your wallet or purse only to toss them out in the trash later on?
● Folded and Filed – Do you fold your receipts and keep them in a file and discover them months later when cleaning a drawer?
● Save, Review, and Shred – Do you have a system whereby you save, review the receipts against your online bank statement or credit card, and then shred [unless you file with product or service paperwork]?
Although we have become heavily dependent on technology, society still uses an awful lot of paper in the form of receipts. Our daily lifestyle is filled with receipts for just about every purchase we make like:
Gas for vehicles
Bank and ATM transactions
It’s true that if we’re not careful, we can be swimming in receipts. But, with the right receipt management system in place, you can use these little pieces of paper to your advantage. Here is a short-list of the benefits of better managing your receipts:
1. Transactions Correctly Processed. Use the receipt to verify that an ATM, debit card, or credit card transaction is processed correctly and applied appropriately to your account.
2. Return Items Easily. Most retail stores require a receipt to return a product. There are cases where you can accept an in-store credit, but why take that route? The inconvenience of remembering to use the in-store credit speaks for itself. (As an aside, always verify what the store’s return policy is before making a purchase).
3. Track Your Purchases. Holiday shopping provides a good example of why using receipts to track your purchases is helpful. At the end of a shopping day, you can review your receipts against your budget and confirm you’re still on target.
So, with January just around the corner, maybe it’s a good idea to think about changing the type of receipt handler you are in your money lifestyle. Clearly, the best practice approach is the “Save, Review, and Shred.” To put together a receipt management system is REALLY easy. Let me share what I do, and you can adjust the process to suit your needs.
Action #1: Immediate On-line Verification
Many of the receipts we get don’t need to be saved. All you need to do is check your online account to verify a transaction was processed correctly. Once the transaction is verified, shred the receipt. You absolutely don’t want your personal business available for anyone who may sift through your trash let alone finding it walking through the neighborhood. (Read the Post A Case for Shredding Documents.)
Consider what information is printed on a grocery receipt for example: (1) products purchased; (2) store shopped; (3) date and time; (4) card issuer; (5) last 4-digits of your credit card number.
Action #2: Product and Service Files
It’s helpful to keep the signed receipt for products and/or services you have purchased for future reference. When you create a file for a product or service bought, keep the original receipt with any signed paperwork.
Becoming a “Save, Review, and Shred” receipt handler really boils down to organization. And, quite honestly, as you create your path to financial security, being organized is 50 percent of the work.
I have one last comment on receipts. Some retailers provide the option to select “e-receipt” in lieu of a printed receipt. If it’s a receipt you don’t need to keep on file, I encourage you to opt for the digital receipt. Save some trees!
No homework today!