How to Stop the Paper Trail – Receipts + FREE Printable

Yesterday I introduced you to a little series I’m calling How to Stop the Paper Trail  and to be perfectly honest with you, I was surprised that paper seems to be a problem for so many of us.  I wasn’t sure if it was just me with the paper nemesis, and clearly, it isn’t.  Paper everywhere seems to be a common thread and not knowing what to do with it all is very normal.  So all of this is super inspiring and helpful to me because I know we can learn from each other and just knowing that there is someone out there tackling the same thing at the same time is fun to me too.
The first task we’re going to tackle is to get a handle on receipts – between now and Friday just round them all up and sort them.
(I can access all of my receipts via online banking and they are sorted automatically into categories, but we keep paper receipts just in case.)
Want to see why I started this whole series?  It’s because of this hot mess:

it doesn’t look bad, but open that itty bitty door and here’s what I’m talking about:


Try this for a quick sort:
1. sort them by year
2. then into categories that make sense for your filing system – my categories are:
food + entertainment
home improvements
gas + travel
That’s it.  Once we’ve accomplished this, we’ll worry about what to do with them next.  I have a very simple system of medium sized  envelopes (5×8) – one for each category with the year on it.
You didn’t think we’d tackle paper clutter without a printable did you?
How about a ‘paper’ checklist?
Click here to see all the posts in this series.


  1. Your receipt storage in your cabinet made me smile. It reminded me of that episode on Friends where Monica has that hidden closet that she locks.

    I don’t keep too many receipts, but still have some in my crazy piles…yes, I said piles. They are in baskets and boxes. {sigh} I will start to gather all my papers and start sorting today!

  2. Wow and I thought I had out-of-control receipts!

    I put all of my unprocessed receipts in a KASSET CD box from IKEA. When I pay my credit card, I log each line item in Quicken, comparing it to the receipt. Receipts that I don’t need for permanent records get tossed (dining out, normal household purchases, clothing, gas, etc). Receipts that I need to keep are a much smaller subset of the whole, and those get stuffed into my “to file” tray.

    My problems are 1) sometimes I don’t get around to logging my credit card payment in Quicken for months, so I get a huge backlog of receipts to enter. It’s time-consuming to enter each charge, so I keep putting it off and the problem grows; and 2) I don’t have a good place to put receipts that are logged but not ready to be filed, like medical receipts that I need to submit for reimbursement; and 3) I stage receipts in piles all over the house before getting them into the CD box.

  3. You can do it!
    Our 2 drawer filing cabinet broke during our move last year… probably in part due to the fact that both drawers were completely crammed full of unnecessary papers that I felt compelled to save. I shredded over 21 bags of old crap, and we tossed out the filing cabinet!! We now have one small fire and water proof “safe” for important papers, and one expanding file folder for everything else- which isn’t much 😉
    It feels awesome!

  4. Thanks so much for the kick in the pants to get this task finished. It didn’t take nearly as long as I had anticipated it taking. (*rolleyes*)

  5. What is the purpose of storing these receipts? Taxes?

  6. That little door/cabinet where you keep your receipt looks perfect for cookie sheets, not receipts!

  7. Love this challenge!! The rest of my house is organized but paper and I have a long time grudge against each other…. Hoping this will enable me to finally rid myself of the piles, and I mean piles, of it!! My receipts are now filed in a small coupon accordian file and my accountant will be so pleased!! Thanks so much!!!

  8. Okay, I am so going to start following you via email. I am converting from Slob Mama.

  9. Eek! I need major help here!!
    As I fret about ‘cleaning’ (or moving my paper piles around)in time for Thanksgiving, I happened to stumble upon your blog. What a pleasant surprise!
    I LOVE the Thanksgiving Countdown that breaks everything down, day by day. And the many cute and different printables are perfect to get me inspired.

    I’m a busy wedding and party planner that, well, as you can imagine, has allowed one event to roll into another, with papers, party goods, etc. to stack up as I go from one event to the next, until my house is no longer a controlled environment!! I’m like Amy Lou…I’m starting a new CLEAN habit today! Thanks!

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