How I Organize and Keep Track of My Digital Receipts

posted by Andrea | 12/4/2017
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Several years ago, I shared my system for organizing paper receipts.

At the time, I did 95% of my shopping in stores (we had just finally gotten internet at home and I really wasn’t doing much online shopping at all yet). Plus, I didn’t have any children to drag around with me on all my errands.

Wow! That seems like ages ago!

Now, 4 kids and 7 years later, I do 95% of my shopping online — which means I no longer have paper receipts for my purchases.

Instead, I get what feels like 10 million emails regarding all my various online purchases — when the orders are places, when the orders are processed, when the products are shipped, tracking information for the products, when the orders are delivered, when the payments come out of my PayPal account, etc. etc. etc.

It can feel overwhelming and very disorganized if you don’t have a system… to the point where you just want to delete all the emails and forget about them. However, deleting these emails can cause problems if you need to return something, if you want to keep track of your spending, or if you forget about a product that never arrives.

Thankfully, you do NOT need a fancy or elaborate system to track your digital receipts!

All you have to do is create 2 files/folders/labels within your email account.

You may name these folders whatever makes sense for you — these are the labels I use.

1. To Record

Everytime I make an online purchase, I get some sort of email confirmation with the payment information included. I immediately file this email in my “to record” file so I can eventually record it on my Finance Tracking Workbook (I do this roughly once a month).

Also, almost all our bills (utility, credit card, insurance, etc.) are set up on autopay programs, so whenever I get the digital receipt saying the payment processed, I put those emails in my “to record” file as well.

2. Follow Up

After I get the payment confirmation, I usually get a string of emails detailing the products I purchased, when they ship, information to track my packages, and information to return the items if necessary. I file all these emails in my “follow up” folder.

When an item arrives, I delete all the emails associated with that product, as long as I’m certain I don’t need to return or exchange it.

As for our monthly utility, credit card, and insurance auto-payments, I have separate email files for each utility company, for each credit card or bank card, and for each type of insurance. I just archive all those emails because I have plenty of storage space in my Gmail account!

As you can see by the screenshot of my email account above, I put a double ** by the Follow Up and To Record files so they stay at the top of my labels. This allows me to quickly and easily dump emails into these files and keep all my digital receipts and payment information neat, organized, and easily accessible.

I realize you might need to tweak my system to work for your needs — but this is the super simple system I’ve been using for my digital receipts for at least 5 or 6 years now (so it definitely works!)

To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never forgotten about a package, I’ve never not had the paperwork I’ve needed to make a return or question a product that didn’t arrive, and I’ve never had to weed through a sea of old emails to find what I’m looking for.

I just look in one of those 2 email folders and can quickly find the emails I need.

Oh, and one more quick tip for all of you doing a bunch of holiday shopping online, if you shop through eBates, you can literally get cash back on almost every single things you buy! I explain more in this post!

How do you handle digital receipts?

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21 comments

  1. Samantha

    12/11/2017

    Recently I struggled with organizing my paper receipts. I sometimes lose my warranties for purchased items. Talking about digital receipts it is sometimes so hard to find the right one in your inbox.

    So I`ve made a research on expense management software and found a great fit with Veryfi app. It allows me to collect and keep track of all my paper receipts, as well as digital. I simply forward my Uber, Amazon and other to my personal Veryfi email (they give it to any user) and all these go straight to the app and I easily see them in one place. By the way, Amazon allows me to add additional email so now all my receipts automatically go straight to the app.

    Very helpful and time-saving. Whenever necessary I request a report and get PDF with expense breakdown and all the pictures. It has even payment method recognition.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for this tip Samantha! I am eager to check out this app!

    [Reply]

  2. Gabriela

    12/10/2017

    I like it – so simple, but great 🙂 And me…..I did forget about a couple of packages and had to look back through the many emails…. 🙁

    [Reply]

  3. Carrie

    12/10/2017

    This system also works great when your kiddos start school. I keep several email folders for classroom information sent by the teacher or schedules and flyers, etc.

    As my daughter has started middle school this year, it has really helped to have a separate folder for each teacher and for the principal. Also one for Dr notes I have sent to school nurse when she is sick (she has an immune disorder and is frequently ill).

    It seems as though the vast majority of information coming home from school now is coming in the form of emais and such. This system allows me to immediately be able to find any pertinent information and delete it once it isn’t relevant anymore. It comes in handy at least once or more a week to have these emails “filed”.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes! I’ve also started a folder for Nora’s school emails. It’s crazy how many we get!

    [Reply]

  4. Brooke

    12/05/2017

    When I get a shipment notification, I put a note in my planner on the date the shipment is estimated to arrive. If it’s a vendor that doesn’t send a shipping notification (like some LuLaRoe vendors when I ordered from an online store), I put a note in my planner a week out to check on it. It’s the only way I can ensure I actually receive the shipment.

    I also signed up for a UPS account. They send me a notice the day something is going to be delivered to my house, regardless of who sends it. That way I know when gifts are coming and can be on the lookout. I live on a busy street with an uncovered porch, so I need to stay on top of these.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh that’s a good idea — and you know how much I love using my planner!

    [Reply]

  5. Janine

    12/05/2017

    I use two folders too. One is “Purchases” where I put all my digital receipts and the other folder is “Shipped”. That one I have set up to automatically route anything with the word “shipping” or “shipped” in the email title into it. That way I don’t even have to mess with moving it. I just notice when I have a new shipping email because it has a number beside that folder and I can check it at my convenience without taking up space in my inbox.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    sounds like a great system!

    [Reply]

  6. Liane

    12/04/2017

    Simmi,
    There can be issues with third party sellers when purchasing on Amazon. Notice the word “on” and that I did not say “from”. Two examples of an “on” — I bought an Eddie Bauer sweater on Amazon. It was damaged by USPS by the letter carrier shoving it into a tiny mailbox. Removing it tore the bag. To get a replacement I started with Amazon customer service and all further correspondence is with the third party seller. I need those emails and the correspondence is not on the site. The other example which occurred two day later was a third party seller who gets paid via Amazon but who ships directly from her home business. It was lost temporarily (fell under the seat in the mail truck) and again a flurry of emails. It’s a total pain to have to log in just to retrieve an order number. The final straw occurred two days ago — an AMZL driver THREW a package under a tree 10 feet from my front door after 9:00 pm setting off our perimeter alarm and nearly getting himself confronted by Mr Remington. I took photos and I’m in the process of getting that driver written up.

    Here is why all of this is extremely important to save — the volume of shipments from Amazon primarily and other etailers has hit an all time high this year with Walmart, Best Buy, Costco and other merchants getting into the online business. The impact on the USPS alone has resulted in thousands of dollars (taxpayer paid btw – there is no free shipping) of lost property and overtime. The overworked agency cannot keep up. It’s essential to keep track of everything until you’ve worn it, eaten it, sat on it or gifted it. Also being able to send by email quickly a copy of a receipt from your tablet or phone without logging in is a huge time saver.

    Save yourself a headache. You can delete it later.

    @Andrea, I was using a similar system but dumping everything in one folder. Replacing a computer with an iPad Pro meant using the native app for mail and as a bonus it all syncs with my phone. We don’t use Google products in our home for any purpose — I use my free Apple email or my ISP email address and save mail locally on my iPad.

    To add to my system for those few 5% paper receipts I bought a little scanner app. It makes pdf files and they get saved in documents on iCloud. The actual receipts I recently looked at for some auto parts are illegible — the ink has totally faded. Glad I made copies.

    Thanks for writing this post — I added a few folders to Mail and once you move something the next move will go to the same folder! But the best part is I move them to my iCloud account so they get backed up daily whenever my iPad is locked and connected to power.

    One goal I have for next year is use YNAB online to be even more paperless.

    Liane

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Liane! And yes, I’ve definitely found it helpful to have all the emails in the same place so I don’t need to waste time tracking down numbers and other information if something happens to a package.

    [Reply]

  7. Debbie

    12/04/2017

    I like your system Andrea! I do something similar by creating an “Order” folder and “Order Shipment” folder. When I get notifications that an order has been shipped or a tracking # is given then I move that email to the “Order Shipment” folder. It’s so much easier to figure out when a package is supposed to arrive if the notifications are all in one folder. Once it arrives I delete that email from the folder. I also print my receipts so having it in the “Order” folder makes it easy, in case I forget to print one. I only print because I like to reconcile it with the credit card statement and for sales tax deduction on our tax return.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I try never to print anything unless absolutely necessary (so I basically print nothing these days!) but it sounds like you have a good system that’s working well for you!

    [Reply]

  8. Josephine

    12/04/2017

    I use Inbox (gmail’s newer site), which lets you snooze emails for pretty much any amount of time. When I get an order confirmation, I snooze it for one week. Usually by then, I’ve gotten the ship notification (and often the item). If the item hasn’t shipped, I follow up with the company. (This almost never happens.)

    When I get the shipment notification, I snooze it until the estimated arrival date. If the item hasn’t arrived by the time the email pops up again, I contact the company; if it has, I delete it. (I budget with YNAB, which now pulls bank info, so I never need to enter the $$ amount.)

    Snoozing emails and reminders is the only way I can keep my naturally disorganized self in any kind of respectable shape. If you’re a piler rather than a filer, I highly recommend it!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    What! How did I now know about Inbox yet — I’m off to check it out right now 🙂
    I love the “snooze” concept!

    [Reply]

  9. Amy Dahm

    12/04/2017

    I do pretty much the same thing and took it one step further and have a folder just for Amazon. It makes me crazy to see people with 100’s of emails in there account unopened. I take about 5 minutes each morning (10 on Monday to clear out the weekend) and clean it up or move to the right folders to deal with later. I’ll leave it unread so the folder is highlighted reminding me something is in need of attention.
    And LOVE Ebates!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    YES! I don’t like emails in my inbox — so I always archive or file them away. I love an empty inbox!

    [Reply]

  10. Simmi

    12/04/2017

    Curiosity question! Why do u need to track all these emails? If u need to retyrn any item u just hVe to go to that app / website and ask for return! Why dou need those receipts!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I guess for me, it’s just much easier to have all the emails and links in one place – versus trying to navigate all over the web, log into my different accounts, find the link I need to click on, etc. etc. (especially if I’m doing it from my phone).
    If the emails are all in one place in my email files, I can just click on that file, find the email I need, and click on the link in that email (which takes me exactly where I need to be without logging in).
    Also, it’s a good reminder for me not to forget about a package that is in transit or waiting to be shipped. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Liane Reply:

    My message to Simmi ended up in the wrong place. Oh well. I hope she sees it. I’m with you on the printing. I can print from any of my devices since I have a WiFi printer but boy does that use up a lot of ink. And ink is expensive. Seems like to print anything the thing wastes a bunch of paper because the nozzles clog. I’m seriously thinking of buying a laser printer. They cost more up front but then you don’t need ink cartridges every couple weeks due to drying up.

    One thing I forgot in my huge post was to say I created a folder labeled Christmas Gifts 2017. For all the other Prime Fresh and Prime Pantry stuff they got their own folder. When it comes to Fresh there’s no point in saving the emails once the order arrives so I decided to keep them separate also.

    [Reply]

    Carrie Reply:

    I agree Andrea!

    [Reply]