Every ATM transaction, every gas refill, every supermarket trip. We get receipts everywhere, but do we know what to do with them?
Should we keep our sales receipts? Should we tear them up? Is it better not to get one at all? How do we know?
Here are a few situations when it makes sense and a few when it simply doesn’t.
When You Should Keep a Receipt
1. Warranty Information
Is there anything more frustrating than when your camera breaks and you can’t find your warranty information? Well, if you keep your important warranty receipts in one place you won’t have that frozen feeling next time something happen!
2. Business Expenses
Anything that you’re going to count as a business expense on your taxes should be well documented. If the IRS ever audits you, there will be no better feeling than being able to defend yourself with the right information.
3. Medical Reimbursement
If you need to submit them to your insurance, make sure you have them! It could ensure that you get back the money you deserve!
When You Should Throw Out a Receipt
1. Returns and Exchanges
Almost all stores now don’t need a receipt in order to look up your order. So don’t worry if you throw it out. They can give you the refund receipt-free!
2. ATM Withdrawals
Unless you want to know your balance, you don’t even need a receipt. And if you do get one, there’s not enough personal information on there for someone to do any damage with.
The verdict? In my opinion, you don’t need receipts very often. Only receipts for big purchases and things you need for legal purposes are really important. The rest? Chuck them!
Readers, what receipts do you keep? Which do you throw away?
My friends make fun of me because I always wait for a receipt before leaving the checkout line. Even if its a $.99 soda, I want the receipt…I’m a creature of habit, I guess.
I didn’t used to be so uptight about keeping receipts for non-business purchases/things that couldn’t be written off, but I’ve realized that there is one more benefit to holding onto that little piece of paper: customer service people take you more seriously.
No joke, going along with #3 – for warranties, its amazing what having the receipt does for your case. It’s almost like a magical “Listen, I mean business!” key to getting your way with customer service. Plus, it makes it super easy to prove warranty, etc.
@JT McGee, that’s a great note. If you have the evidence to back it up and show that you came prepared, you’re much more likely to get what you want than someone who just has the product.
I can never decide when a receipt is needed and when it isn’t! I simply keep all of them and discard them at the end of year. Have a big bin with all kinds of receipts accumulated for the year!
@MoneyCone, Get rid of the clutter, it’s useless!
I save grocery receipts for a few days to a week after I get them. That way if you get something that goes bad a couple days after getting it, you can return it to get a new one. I don’t need to do this often, but the couple of times I have, it’s been nice to have the receipt. I know one store here won’t accept anything without a receipt, and even for ones that will, it just makes it a little easier.
It’s also a good idea too to look at your receipt when you get it to make sure that all sale prices, coupons, etc have rung up correctly. Several times at once store things have not rung up at the sale price, so I have gone back to customer service to have them corrected. Some stores will even give you the item for free if there is a mistake on the receipt, but sometimes will not do this unless you ask for it specifically. I once got a 10$ box of burgers free because of this. :-)
@Jenny, This is something I don’t do. I don’t throw away the receipt, but it gets lost in the plastic bags so I never have it when I need it. Great tip, because this happens more than I care to admit.
I just had this discussion with The Pops on Friday night. We were heading into the city and I didn’t keep (or even ask for) the receipt for the train ride. He was horrified at what he raised. I simply explained that all records are on the credit cards website he is way too old school for that, and ignored me.
I keep all receipts for a minimum for 30 days. Warranty receipts I attach to the package and keep beyond the warranty period.
We always keep our receipts. We have a little rubbermaid container where we put any receipt for a return, warranty, or gift. It takes up hardly any space and is ready when we need it.
I think you should keep receipts for donuts. Mitch Hedburg disagrees.
I keep all my receipts, including ATM withdrawals. I keep them in my purse, then enter what I spent into a notebook and paperclip the receipt to the page. When I fill the page, I staple the receipts to it. Granted, I probably don’t need to keep them, but most stores here will only give you store credit or something if you don’t have the receipt, and it helps me to keep track of what I spend.
I keep my grocery and other small receipts for one month as well in case I need to make returns. I have a bill that sends a large envelope so I use one envelope to store receipts for a month and then every month I put the envelope in a folder in the filing cabinet.
Once my receipts show up in Mint I go back through the past month and throw away gas and food and other such small receipts but big ticket items remain in the envelopes.
@Lulu, That works, and yes, big ticket items should almost always be saved. It gives you peace of mind just in case something should happen.
I think you need to keep receipts a minimum of 30 days. Many stores won’t give you a refund without the receipt. Instead you’ll get a credit; not the same thing.
I advocate scanning your receipts and then throwing away the paper.
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