Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


Travel Tip: Receipt tracking

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:

  1. In my laptop bag, I maintain a folder labeled "Expenses" - it's my special purpose inbox, just for receipts.

  2. As I receive receipts, I just open up the zipper on my bag and slip the receipts into the folder.

  3. 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.

  4. 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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

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