If you're a business traveler like me, you need to keep track of your business and travel receipts. For a long time my standard process was to put them in my "Inbox" folder so I could process receipts like a normal inbox item. This worked pretty well, but I found that I sometimes missed a few here and there. Why? Because I sometimes needed to turn in my receipts before I had a chance to process my physical inbox, so I'd shuffle through my inbox folder looking for receipts.
Recently, I've started using a very simple system that works for me:
- In my laptop bag, I maintain a folder labeled "Expenses" - it's my special purpose inbox, just for receipts.
- As I receive receipts, I just open up the zipper on my bag and slip the receipts into the folder.
- For things which I don't get receipts (like tips, bag check fees, or things I forgot to get a receipt for) I take out my Notetaker wallet and make a note on my notepad with the date, reason, and amount. I then tear the sheet out and put it in the Expenses folder.
- Each evening before I go to bed in my hotel room, I check my pockets and put any relevant receipts into the Expenses folder. I also check my Notetaker wallet to make sure I haven't forgotten to tear out a handwritten receipt.
This system seems to work pretty well for me. Like any system, it's only effective when used consistently, but I've gotten it to become a strong habit so I don't go around my system very often any more.
For electronic receipts, I have a few techniques I use:
- I try to keep my business travel expenses confined to a specific card, and use one where I can check recent transactions online. This is especially helpful for international expenses because I can determine what exchange rate I received when I purchase things in foreign currencies.
- When I receive emailed electronic receipts (like for Wi-Fi day passes) I create a task in Outlook to remind me to reprint them when I get back to the office.
- For web page-based receipts, I print them to a PDF and save them in a folder on my Windows desktop called "Print Me" (I file the PDF after I print it).
What about you other travelers out there? Any tried & true systems for you?