Wednesdays are simplicity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
I used to hate tax time. As in I-would-rather-run-a-marathon-over-broken-glass-barefoot-eating-worms hated. The receipts, the tracking, looking through piles of stuff, trying to figure out where each piece of paper was and why I had saved it.
I found an easy solution: I married a CPA. But for those of you who don’t have that option, I suggest you look at Shoeboxed.com. (And even if you are married to a CPA, I suggest you look at it, because it has a ton of great applications!)
Shoeboxed.com is a big electronic shoebox where you can dump all your receipts. But it’s a magic shoebox, because it categorizes the receipts, tracks your spending, and then gives it all back to you in a nice neat package.
Inputs to Shoeboxed.com
Shoeboxed.com will take your receipts (and business cards) in a number of ways:
- US Postage paid envelopes
- Scanned documents you upload
The postage-paid envelopes are sweet. You stuff all your papers into the envelope, send it off, and Shoeboxed.com will scan it for you. They will either then mail the mess back to you or shred it for you, your choice.
Scanning your receipts and uploading them using a sweet interactive uploader allows you to quickly put receipts into the system. The interactive uploader allowed me to rotate my receipts (because I inevitably scan upside-down) as I put them in.
With the built-in email address you can forward email receipts and it will automatically bring in the details and amounts.
The iPhone application (which I did not test) allows you to scan an item using your phone and send it in for the same classification as the email. There is a separate email address for this functionality.
You might be thinking that scanning receipts will only save you a bit of hassle when you are looking for a particular item. But you can actually put the items into the receipts. Right now the search feature didn’t pick up the items, but I’m sure it will.
The Shoeboxed.com website has some great tools right on the site. You get to see how you have spent your money based on category, but that isn’t the exciting part. You can automatically set up Stores so that receipts coming from a specific store automatically go to a certain category (like Piggly Wiggly would go to groceries). This would be a great help for specific stores; the one that pops into mind would be having anything purchased at my local Girl Scout council be flagged as a Girl Scout purchase for end-of-year reporting.
You can also enter the last four digits of your credit card, and it will organize receipts by credit card as well. This would be a great check against credit card bills.
Information in a system is only so good as how well you can get it out. Shoeboxed.com has an impressive list of export destinations. Besides the standard money-management packages of Quicken and Quickbooks, you can also export to Excel, CSV formatted text, PDF and Evernote. Along with this you have the choice to export specific categories and/or dates.
One of the great features I stumbled upon was the Shopping Inbox feature. If you give the stores your Shoeboxed.com email address, it will manage all the ads and separate them from the actual receipts. Think about it: no more junky email from companies you purchased things from once, and you can’t get off the list!
Besides the obvious tax application, here are some uses I thought of for Shoeboxed:
- Business expense reports. Imaging how quick it would be to put together a trip expense report if all the receipts were already in one spot. No more file folders full of paper to try and manage.
- End-of-year reports. Our Girl Scout council requires full financial tracking from the troops. Entering receipts as you get them into this system would make putting the final report together a snap.
- Return management. I don’t know how many times I have needed to return something and spent too long looking for a receipt. With Shoeboxed managing it, they would all be in one place, and searchable.
- Warranty management. Something breaks, but is it within the warranty period? And where is the receipt? Using Shoeboxed you would be able to find the receipt and when it was purchased. You could even note in the receipt what the warranty period is.
Shoeboxed.com really impressed me. This is something that is truly useful in an online service. Their features are impressive, and make managing the bits of paper very simple. Check them out today. They offer a 30 day risk-free trial, and monthly plans range from free (you have to dig to get to this one) as well as paid options. Right now, you can save $10 on any Shoeboxed Mail-In plan.
Disclosure: Shoeboxed.com contacted me about their site, and gave me a 30 day free trial (same as I would have gotten had I stumbled on the site myself). Because I believe in this service, I have become an affiliate for them.