In a perfect world we'd all have accountants to organize our receipts, paperwork, and spreadsheets, but most of us don't. I refuse if I can do it myself- for now. I love to track every cent I spend for not only my business but my personal life to analyze trends, keep myself accountable, to save and for taxes. Here's how I keep it all organized:
1) Upcycled Manila Envelope(s) to hold business receipts 2) Manila Envelope of Personal Receipts 3) Mini File Organizer 4) Envelopes 5) Small Notebook and Pen 6) Binder Clips
I've seen the same portable organizer at The Dollar Tree, you can try to find one near you for a buck. This is great to carry with you in your purse or car so you organize your receipts properly on-the-go instead of having a receipt pile in your bag or pockets. I carry the little notebook with me to note yard sale/flea market and write down what I pay for finds as I go, the notebook lives in the file folder.
From there I sort my receipts into their respective envelopes within the Manila Envelopes. Yes I'm Old School, I also didn't get a cell phone until I was literally forced to (age: 20) and didn't switch to a smart phone until last year! Above are my personal envelopes. I spend money on more than groceries and a tiny bit of "random" things but the rest of my expenses (cell phone, cable, rent) are scheduled as automated direct-deposits (highly recommend the auto-magical way! So simple, so clean!) so I don't print receipts for those expenses.
These are what my business expense envelopes look like. I write it all in pencil in case I want to use my envelopes for something else later with my cheap self. The business receipts include: supplies, thrifting, southern crossing rent, gas and post office trips (good to keep for tracking numbers, too). I clip them together by month.
From there I enter the expenses into a spreadsheet. I use Google Documents, it's free and you can share the spreadsheets with partners to edit together if need be. I keep tabs at the bottom to separate types of merchandise for easy-hunting. My personal spending spreadsheet looks much the same, divided at the bottom by type of expense. I highlight in groups by date with different colors for easier scanning, it really helps the eye find things.
Another step people miss- receipts should be scanned. Not merely to have the files digitally but because they fade completely -sometimes within mere months! I've yet to scan mine, when I do I'm going to sort them in digital folders the same way they're stored in my envelopes. You should keep your receipts for 7 years, that's the IRS audit expiration date.
How do you store/organize your receipts or track expenses? Any tips? I do this an antiquated way but I like the process, it keeps my spending tangible to have so much of it "in-hand". Going through all these steps every time I buy anything definitely discourages me from spending more than absolutely necessary, too!