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How To Organize Your Paper Receipts And Find Them When Needed

Christina Scalise -- Proof of purchase. Returns. Tax deductions. Receipts can be valuable records of your buying history. Here's how to keep track of these little slips of paper.

Finding the correct receipt when needed can be a challenge if you don't have a filing system in place for all incoming receipts. All receipts should immediately be filed in one of two places, depending on whether you paid cash or used a credit or debit card to pay for your purchases.

All receipts reflecting cash payments should be filed away immediately. All receipts reflecting payments using a credit or debit card should be stored in an area next to all incoming mail, statements and unpaid bills until they have been checked against the statement. Once the statement has been checked against the purchases listed on the receipt, (if everything is correct and all amounts match) place a small checkmark on the top of the receipt. If your statement arrives in paper format mark the charge on the statement as well. This will remind you that have checked that particular charge and it was correct. Once the totals match and there are no returns to be made, it is now time to file your receipt.

For large purchases, such as major appliances and all other receipts that you would like to keep for years to come, receipts should be filed away in a properly labeled file with any paperwork that came with the item including owner's manuals, warranties, etc. All other receipts that are to be kept for a shorter period of time should be stored in a small box just large enough to accommodate about one years' worth of receipts, such as a shoebox, photo box or any other small container you may have handy.

Make sure to label your box "receipts" so it can be easily identified and found when needed. Sort them in the box in a way that works best for you and your family. You can place them in a pile (placing the newest receipts on the top of the pile and the oldest receipts at the bottom) OR you can create a miniature filing system by using large, brightly colored index cards that you have labeled. Separate them by store name, type of store or type of items purchased ("grocery", "home improvement", "clothing", "gas", "other"), filing the oldest receipts in the back and the newest ones in the front.

When the box starts to get full, it is then time to go through the oldest receipts and decide which ones can be thrown away and which ones need to be kept a little longer. Finding your receipts when needed should be much easier once this filing system is in place.

Christina Scalise is a Professional Organizer, Author, wife and mother of three. She resides in Upstate New York with her husband and children and is the author of Organize Your Finances, Your Kids, Your Life!, which is currently being sold in both paperback and ebook versions. She also writes many articles and provides weekly tips and product recommendations on her Web site

© 2010 Christina Scalise

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