1. Why you should organize your holiday receipts
Organizing your receipts will help keep you on track. You’ll be able to clearly see who is getting what gifts, who you have left on your list, and what kind of budget you'll be working with. You'll understand if you score a bunch of frugal gifts, you'll have a little left over to splurge on that got-to-have-it item you find at the last minute.
2. Organization starts in the checkout lane
The moment a receipt passes into your hands, you risk the possibility of losing it, spilling on it, or having kiddos accidentally tear it.
- Use a resealable bag: I like to keep a labelled Ziploc or pouch in my purse. Every time I get a receipt, I immediately place it in my resealable bag.
- Label receipts: Some receipts are so hard to read. I encountered a difficult one just last week. You can request a second copy at checkout (this is handy with the Snap or Ibotta apps, which need readable receipts), or jot down the name of the recipient and the gift on the back of each receipt.
- Carry tape: If you carry a larger purse and have the space, you could keep a roll of tape in it (or in the glove box of the car), and attach the appropriate receipt to the gift. This will work well on hectic shopping days, or when each receipt has only one item on it.
3. How to organize without losing receipts (or your sanity)
I know what you're thinking. Sure, this sounds awesome. How do I do it?! I've done the legwork for you! You're going to need to print out as many copies of this worksheet as you see necessary (I recommend one per family group, side of the family, or workplace—depending on how many people you can fit on one sheet). You'll also need a binder or something with three rings, and one long (able to fit an 8×11" sheet of folded paper) envelope per each sheet. Staple one envelope to the top of each sheet. Punch holes in the sides, and voila! You're set!
Here's how I use the worksheet:
I’ll first fill in the name of the group (examples: workplace, husband's side of the family, kids' teachers, etc.) and the amount I have budgeted for each individual’s gift. When I purchase a gift for a person on one of the sheets, I put the receipt in the corresponding envelope and list the actual amount I spent. Easy peasy! However, if you've purchased a gift for more than one person and they are all on the same receipt, you need to print off extra gift receipts, or make photocopies and put one in each envelope. Let's say I buy a gift for my mom and my husband's mom. I will photocopy one receipt and put a receipt or a copy in each envelope (because I have a sheet for my side of the family and my husband's).
4. Why this saves you time and money
Organizing saves you time because–hello!–hunting for receipts is not a pleasant task, am I right?! You'll also free up time because, armed with your clear lists, you can head into shopping and know exactly what you need. No more wandering aimlessly (unless of course, you're in Target, because we all love wandering aimlessly in there).
Organizing your receipts saves you money because you don't overspend. You don't lose out on valuable things like price adjustments (when you can get the difference back), and returns for items you no longer need. You also don't risk losing a receipt if someone needs to make a return after they receive the gift. Best of all, you can add up what you spent and plan accordingly for next year's budget. Let's say you spend $300 on Christmas gifts, food and events this year. You know that if you set aside $30 a month in an envelope from February to November, you'll head into Christmas debt free! Isn't that a beautiful thought?
This is a guest post by Grace from Medford, OR.