While you are on the road, you need to keep your business receipts in one place. You are required to turn in an expense report to reimburse you for work-related expenses. Your saved receipts are scattered all over your glove box, your wallet, your briefcase and your car. How do you tame the paper trail? Here are some suggestions.
1. Invest in a Filing Cabinet
Your receipts will ultimately come to rest in a filing cabinet. Invest in a good locking filing cabinet and fill it with hanging folders, manila folders and small envelopes. Create a hanging folder for each month, placing labeled manila folders inside. Place the information that you have sent your accounting department into that folder. Include the printout of the PDFs, the actual receipts, and any copies of your accountant’s paperwork. This will provide proof in case anything gets lost.
2. Start a Spreadsheet
A spreadsheet can help you keep your categories organized. You do not have to use elaborate accounting software. All you need is a simple spreadsheet program which separates information into cells. Enter your pertinent information into the spreadsheet, including date, category, place, purpose, and amount. Keep a separate tab for each month.
3. Scan Your Receipts
Scan your receipts, one at a time, into PDF format. Use pertinent information in the name of the file. If you’ve got a gas receipt for October, label the file ‘October – Gas – 101010 – 2485.’ After you have scanned your receipts, put the originals into a single folder for that month. At the end of the month, create a single file of PDFs for that month and combine it with the information from your spreadsheet.
Shoeboxed will organize your receipts into an easy-to-use format. [Free, Plans start at $9.95 per month] If you do not have time to scan your receipts, place them into one of the postage-paid envelopes that Shoeboxed provides and mail them. Shoeboxed will scan your documents and organize them. For those businesses with backlogged receipts, Shoeboxed offers special plans to assist their customers.
5. Be Regular
Take a few moments every week to scan and file your documents. This keeps you from being faced with a mountain at the end of the month. The entire process of scanning, noting, and filing should take no longer than an hour. This process will save frantic searches and scrambling to get your expense reports filed on time.
6. Keep a Folder in Your Briefcase
While you are on the road, it is sometimes not feasible to scan and file your reimbursable receipts. Keep all of your receipts in one place by carrying a manila folder in your briefcase. This folder should have stapled edges. You should carry a single envelope within the folder for the smaller receipts. Nothing will get lost, and you can provide notations on the outside of the folder.
7. Know Your Accountant
Accounting departments will inevitably issue rules for reimbursement practices. Find out their requirements before you establish your personal filing system. Do they want to receive physical receipts? Are they just as pleased with scanned documents? Do you need to hand write everything for authenticity? For larger companies, there is usually a requirements list. Is there anything that will expedite the process?
The best way to handle the clutter of paper receipts is to attend to them immediately. When this is not possible, set aside a regular time each week to scan, sort, and put away your receipts. You will no longer have to worry about tiny slips of paper populating your wallet, billfold, or purse. If you are organized, your accounting department will reward you with faster reimbursement.