10 Years of Storing Receipts Electronically

Just about 10 years ago, I got frustrated trying to find a receipt and embarked on storing all my receipts electronically. At the time, I couldn’t find a Mac application to do this, so I wrote my own called ReceiptWallet, now called Paperless. I started scanning in just about every receipt and stored the receipts by year. This may seem quite excessive to many, but I’ve found that having easy access to receipts is invaluable.

Yesterday I found a crack in my toilet tank and after finding the warranty information, I contacted support (lifetime warranty on the toilet) and they wanted a copy of the receipt. It took me about 30 seconds to find the receipt and was able to easily email the PDF (along with pictures of the problem) to support. If I didn’t scan in receipts, the chances of me finding it would have been very slim.

While scanning in every receipt may not be completely necessary, I don’t have to worry later about missing a receipt. Yes, the $2 parking receipt isn’t all that helpful, but when trying to categorize business expenses for taxes, it gives me another chance to easily see if I missed any expenses. Anyone that has a small business knows that it is quite important to track all business related expenses.

One of the keys to preserving receipts is to start with a high quality scanner. My scanner of choice (and has been for years) is the Fujitsu iX500 ScanSnap. The scanner isn’t cheap, but it is fast and works well. The other is a good program to manage the receipts. I still use Paperless all the time; I try to scan in receipts a few times a week. A few minutes at a time is all it takes for me to keep up with the receipts.

It takes a certain kind of person to keep up with this process. I’ve found it easy to do and is proven to be helpful time and time again. It isn’t for everyone as it requires some planning and up keep.

2 Replies to “10 Years of Storing Receipts Electronically”

    1. Yes, yes, and yes!

      When I first started ReceiptWallet, I made the decision to store everything as PDFs (since then other file types can now be stored natively and aren’t converted to PDFs). For PDFs, all the information you enter, i.e. merchant, amount, date, notes, etc. are stored in the PDF metadata that can be viewed with any PDF program. By doing this, in the future, I could write a script to go through the PDFs and import them (with all the data) into another program in case Paperless ever went away.

      All the items are indexed with Spotlight individually and a preview shows up when you search in the Finder. Unfortunately Spotlight only shows you a few of the results, so if I search on Costco and go there once or twice a week, I can’t show it to find a Costco receipt from last year!

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