If you haven’t established a reliable system for saving your receipts for key purchases, consider utilizing your cell phone. There’s no need for a scanner or paper filing system, and it only takes a few seconds to ensure that you have an easy to locate receipt for all your important purchases. Here’s how:

  • Whenever you buy something important, just take a picture of the receipt and email it to yourself
  • If you’re using Gmail, create a label along the lines of “2011 Receipts” or something similar, and archive the image using that label. You could stop there, if you wish, but saving receipts in that manner will make finding the specific receipt you’re looking for a bit difficult, so…
  • Open the image, and save it to a folder on your computer, using a specific file name:

  • If you’re hyper anal retentive, you could also save the paper receipt in a file folder, but why bother? You have an electronic receipt, and should you ever need it, you’ll probably need that version, not the hard copy. (If you do need a hard copy, just print out the receipt.)

A few other tips:

  • If you can’t find a specific receipt for something you purchased online,  but remember who the merchant was, log on to your account and check your order history – it ought to be available.
  • Likewise, if you purchased the item at a brick and mortar store with a credit card, you can download your purchase activity at the issuing bank’s website.
  • Amazon makes this wonderfully easy, by the way. If you log on to your Amazon account, click on “Download Order Reports” under Order History. You can specify a date range, and in a matter of moments you’ll have a .csv file of all of your Amazon orders for the specified dates:

(I won’t mention how much I spent with Amazon since January 1st of 2009, but they ought to have my picture prominently displayed in their lobby. Yikes!)

Perhaps you have a different approach to saving receipts; if so, please add to the discussion by posting a comment. Thanks!

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4 Comments on Save key receipts with your cell phone’s camera

  1. Ross Goodman says:

    You can also pair this with Evernote.
    I have Evernote on my phone and create a photo note.
    Evernote then allows to to categorise/organise your photo but in addition it also does OCR on your photo to allow you to search your photos for any text contained within it!



    Kevin Reply:


    Thanks, and of course you’re right.


  2. Jeff says:

    I’ve been using my iPhone camera for tax receipts for a couple of years. I created a label in my Gmail for tax receipts and created a rule for labeling and bypassing the inbox. With Gmail, you can append your email address with “+XXXX” (replace XXXX with the text of choice). e.g., my.email+taxreceipts@gmail.com. This allows you to use the subject line for easy receipt identification. Come tax time your receipts are easy to find and sort through.


    Kevin Reply:


    Thx for a great tip!


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