Receipts … Keep or Throw?

When you empty your bag, purse, wallet, or pockets, how many of you end up with a pile of receipts and tickets?

No wonder! Since we are likely to purchase at least one product or service each day of the week, we end up finding we have around 7 to 30 receipts and tickets, if not more! It’s truly a menace, especially when find them lurking on every desk, table, in drawers and even over the microwave! Aghhhh!

Purchasing systems nowadays are obligated to print out these receipts/tickets. But if they will end up piling in our homes and offices with no real use for them, we will hoard them and it will eventually take a long time clearing them out.

There are many ways to nip these receipts/tickets from the bud. It is really up to why you might need them in the first place. If it is for your bookkeeping or to record your expenses at work, of course, keep them. You have to make the decision the moment you purchase your item/service. If there is no need for them (other than the reasons I mentioned before), simply ask the person at the till that you don’t need the receipt/ticket. Some of them don’t mind and if they didn’t agree, you can immediately tear it up and throw it in the bin. There are some cases where you need the receipt if it involves delivery or customer service information, or if you will probably return that item. That is definitely a keeper until a certain period of time.

Now at home or your office, you must contain these receipts/tickets in any kind of container. It can be a box, a cup, in your diary or even on your board if you have one. It must be placed in an area where you can see it and must be identified as a container/place for these receipts/tickets only. No bubble wraps in there, please!


For sure I’m not going to ask you to file them when each and every receipt/ticket that comes in. You can save them up for 7 days and you must assign at least 30 minutes once a week to deal with them. I do advise not to keep them more than 7 days without being sorted out since they will double the week after.

The key here is to really make the effort to devote yourself to this task. Some people sit hours browsing on Social Media without noticing. 30 minutes of your time will certainly not keep you off your busy schedule! Time by time, it will be developed as a habit without even thinking.

When you go through the receipts/tickets, you need to sort them by deciding if you need to keep them for filing or bookkeeping, or if it is alright to throw them away. If you make the decision to throw them, make sure you shred them if you have a shredder or tear them up, as they contain sometimes your personal information and your card details. For the receipts/tickets that you decide they need filing or bookkeeping, it really depends on why you need them for. If they are for work, most businesses need them scanned or attached to an expense form. Either way, when your claim is paid, there is no need to keep them and you can dispose them with a clear conscience!

In terms of bookkeeping, you may enter the values electronically on a simple Excel sheet. The reason why I like Excel is that you can do all the calculations and do some analysis of the data you recorded. After entering them on Excel or any electronic method, you can scan the receipts/tickets and keep them in a separate folder on your computer. You can link the receipts/tickets with the date recorded as well. That way you have saved paper and you can shred those receipts/tickets and take it for recycling.

If you insist to record them manually, that is totally up to you. I know for a fact that some people prefer still to use actual diaries or read paper books instead of smartphones or tablets. As long as you have the space to store and file them, that is absolutely fine. For the self-employed in the UK, I know for a fact that the HRMC asks you to keep your records up to five years. No need to keep them more than that!

So, it’s simply knowing the need and usage of these receipts/tickets and dealing them as soon as possible. Setting up your mind for this needs time but once you get in the habit of doing it, you will find it a piece of cake and your home/office/desk is clutter free from these little buggers!

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