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Q&A: Is it necessary to save every receipt?

Is it necessary to save every receipt once the expense has been recorded in the budget expenses?  I have grocery store receipts coming out my ears! -Julie

Is it necessary? No.

Or at least, let’s hope not, seeing as I currently don’t have a single grocery receipt saved!

I personally disdain clutter–especially paper clutter–so I would likely go crazy if I tried to save all my shopping receipts. Truth be told, I only save my grocery shopping receipts until I have time to post about my shopping trips and then I throw them out immediately. The only time I will hang onto a receipt is if I have a rebate or if there’s a possibility I might be returning the item.

We keep detailed tracking of our bills and other expenses which change somewhat each month (my husband track these  in Quicken), but for the items we pay for with cash using our envelope system, believe it or not, we don’t keep detailed track of each of these expenses. Yes, that might seem shocking to some of you who like to account for every penny!

We have found, however, that it works great for us to just put a specified amount of cash in our envelopes for each of our different spending categories for the month. When the money in the envelope is gone, it’s gone. We’ve used the envelope system almost all of our married life, so we’ve gotten pretty accustomed to being able to divvy up the money so it lasts the whole month.

If you want to have detailed reports of all your purchases each month, this system wouldn’t likely work for you. Bt works for us right now–and best of all, it’s very simple!

Do you save your receipts? Why or why not? What’s your system for tracking your expenses? I’d love to hear!

photo credit: Functoruser

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  1. says

    I completely agree about chucking out receipts. Because we use a cash system and we track how much goes into each part of the budget, there is absolutely no need for us to be nitpicky and keep each receipt or a super-detailed account of what we spent. I love that about using cash!

    The only receipts we now keep are for items we may want to return, that have a warranty, or that we can deduct as business expenses for our home businesses. That’s it!

  2. Mary in Ohio says

    I save big ticket ones (like for the tv, dishwasher, etc for proof of purchase and for warranties, etc they are stapled to the instruction books and files away) I also save grocery receipts for our flexible spending account for health stuff and for rebates (right now I have a ton of them to clean out of my purse! I also save the receipts for ANY tools that dh purchases for use at work and for things for business expenses. I also save ones for things we buy for the house (paint, windows, anything like that) to use against the profit when we sell. I also keep the receipts that are from stores until I double check them against my debit card balance just o be sure it was done correctly after that they are shredded. I shred everything that that come sin with a name or address on it too (no matter what it is!)

  3. Julie says

    I have recently begun saving ALL of my receipts. I got tired of missing out on rebates because I had thrown away my receipts before I knew about the rebate.

  4. Alice says

    Yes, I’ve started saving grocery receipts. I put all my receipts in an envelope labeled by month. Lately we’ve had a couple produce items get moldy within less than 2 days of buying them, and we’ve been able to bring them back to the store with the receipt for a refund. I also like being able to compare prices on grocery items.

  5. says

    I keep all of my receipts. I find that a month’s worth usually fit in a standard sized envelope. I’ve made over $30 in the last 2 months on No Beer Purchase Required rebates. Gotta love Budweiser funding all my meat purchases! I recently found one for seafood that will pay from a 2lb bag of shrimp I bought several weeks ago. Certainly won’t make me rich, but will “pay back” the purhcase price of items I’d buy anyway. Well worth a shoebox’s worth of “clutter in my opinion”.

  6. says

    I know this isn’t totally related but since you sort of brought up the budget & money envelopes – just curious: have you ever written or read any good posts on how to budget when you live on a commission only income?? The majority of our marriage has been such, but apparently I STILL stink at it:)

  7. jjoiner says

    not usually. we’re on an almost all-cash budget. i don’t save receipts if i spend cash, unless it’s something pricey that i think i might return.

  8. says

    I only keep receipts until I post my deals online. Then I toss them. But there have been a few times when I’ve realized that I would have qualified for a rebate if I would have kept my receipts. The additional clutter isn’t worth it for me though.

  9. Dee says

    It is a good idea to keep all receipts for a year. Some states allow for claiming sales tax on the income tax return. I have a tin that sits on a shelf in the laundry room and put all my receipts there. If I need to return something, I just have to dig through the pile. At the end of the year one of the kids adds up all the sales tax from all the reciepts and we enter it on the tax form.

  10. says

    I just toss mine! I hate clutter and papers lying around, so in the trash they go! We use cash and the envelope system for almost everything we buy now, so no need to keep up with amounts!

  11. Lisa says

    Although it is not necessary (for tax purposes) I save my receipts! Like others, I find them useful to check prices on things I have bought to compare to flyers with “deals”. Also, it comes in handy for rebates that cover long periods of time. I can go back through and see if I bought the item(s) and can submit for a rebate. We use Quicken for the family budget but I use an Excel spreadsheet to track “discretionary” spending such as groceries, clothing and our childrens’ education expense. I keep all of these receipts in business sized envelopes by month. Makes it easy when I need to return things… I just go to the month and find the receipt!

  12. Lynda says

    I keep large appliance, furniture, antique and decorating item receipts in a spiral book I have that has a graph page (to draw you furniture arrangement) and pocket for each room of the house. I have an electronic and a computer file folder for receipts, warranties and such. I also have a folder for jewelry and collectables that I keep receipts as well as lists with descriptions of the items and any appraisals. I have another folder in the box of “to be filed” things where I keep receipts for gifts, clothing, misc stuff as well as plants. HD, WM, & Lowes will refund your purchase cost on bad, dead plants up to a year. There is another folder for business expenses. I do not keep gas, grocery or restaurant items for more than a week or until I have everything entered into Quicken (and I do track cash purchases on Quicken).

    DH wants me to save ALL receipts and use this electronic system called NeatReceipts where you scan the receipt into your computer and it stores an electronic copy. Computer clutter. It is supposed to be compatible with Quicken now, but it seems like more work and thankfully I use a MAC now and it is not compatible!

  13. says

    I only save the receipts that I may have a possible return (clothing stores, Target), or the receipts that I had to use my debit card for. We only take out half of our cash for the month at a time, so if my husband has to run to the grocery store after work and get a few items but does not have cash with him he will use our debit card. I then, subtract that out from the amount of cash that will be taken out for the second half of the month.

    This has been quite a transition for us, because we used to be “those people” who paid for everything with a debit/credit card, and tried to pay off everything at the end of the month. GASP!!! I know major Dave Ramsey no, no. However, that was before we knew who Dave Ramsey was, and thought that we were smarter than the system.

    Since this past summer we have been getting real with our finances and have moved to a cash only system (not as easy and fun as it sounds). We still find our selves running over the occasional speed bump, however, it is nice not to have to save all of our receipts with the cash only system like we used to when we used all credit cards.

  14. K10 says

    My whole family saves our receipts BECAUSE when you file your federal income tax records, the gov basically says “you’ve spent X much last year and we’re going to tax you on that; but you paid a sales tax on what you spent, so we won’t tax what you paid in said sales tax”. The gov then gives you a sales taxs credit of so much per person (depending on where you live, what the average cost of living in that area is and how many people you claim) assuming a general amount UNLESS you can PROVE that you spent MORE than the federal average by adding up all the sales tax on every recepit you have. This can come in quite handy to couponers as we can sometimes walk out of a store for a negative balance only really having paid sales tax. (Because sometimes if a coupon says something like X item is free, we may pay the sales tax on said free item, unless a cashier errors of course.)

    I understand that its a lot of receipts to keep up with, but we have a box where all receipts go as soon as they come in the house and the good thing about this program is that since i’ve started couponing not only do we claim way less in income spent, but we get a huge tax credit baised on the amount we’ve spent on sales tax – almost to the point where it all evens out.

  15. says

    In Texas, at least for the past few years, you can deduct sales tax on your income tax. So I save EVERY receipt for EVERYTHING. There is a chart that you can use to estimate your write-off, but I have been able to beat the chart by several hundreds of dollars every year, by adding up the sales tax from every receipt. That’s a several-hundred-dollar MORE tax deduction for my family. So, yes, I save every receipt.

  16. Lauren says

    I save receipts for 1 year ~ mainly for rebate purposes, but also for items that may break & I need a receipt to get a replacement item or a refund.

    I hate paper clutter too, so I bought a small, compact, plastic 4×7 bill/coupon file at Dollar Tree. It’s small enough to fit in my desk drawer & doesn’t take up much space at all. It has dividers, so I sort the receipts by month, which makes finding a particular receipt a little easier.

  17. says

    I don’t save my receipts either. I don’t like clutter at all either. I do love the envelope method! I started using that method when I was 14. It makes you realize where your money is going, and you don’t spend anymore when it’s gone. I use an electronic version of the envelopes now, but it is a great system.

  18. Jill says

    I have a question about the envelope system. Do you take cash out all at once for the whole month? My husband doed not want all that cash lying around.

  19. Christine Rideout says

    I save my receipts in a monthly envelope, with receipts from the same store paperclipped. I’m glad I did last month! I got a great deal on Glade Candles at Vons with VonsClub + coupons. I bought 8 for .50 each and decorated some of them with scrapbooking paper for Valentine’s gifts for teachers and friends.
    This week I found a link to a rebate! I went to my January receipt envelope, found my Vons receipts for the Glade and submitted for $10 in rebates! Now I’ve made $6!

  20. says

    I ABSOLUTELY DO SAVE MY RECEIPTS. Why? Because your state sales taxes can be written off on your federal tax return. And, when couponing, we pay far more sales tax than most. Why? Because we receive so much for FREE. When we intend to pay $45 at the store, and we save $200, we are paying sales tax on $200, not $45. In South Carolina, we even have to pay sales tax on groceries. I keep my receipts, add the sales tax at the end of every week, log it and then file away the reciepts in an envelope. We have received hundreds-thousands more back on our taxes simply by itemizing! I hope this helps!

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