An organized life is a happy life. I truly believe this.
And for the most part, I am a pretty organized person. I love bins and baskets and labels and drawer organizers. I love clicking NEW FOLDER on my computer. I love designating a shelf for this and hanging a hook for that. It just makes me happy.
But when I am not organized…
Well. That is when the @#%& hits the fan, people. That is when things get ugly and temper tantrums begin, or drawers are dumped, closets ransacked, or scary mommy is running around the house yelling, “I am the only girl in this house!!! How can I be missing one red shoe!?”
I blame gnomes a lot.
So this particular post came about because I have never been good about keeping track of my receipts. Ever. And it seriously annoys the organized-Me. Frantic-sweaty-digging-under-bed-looking for-red-shoe-Me understands.
Because, really? How hard can it be?
You buy something. You pay for it. The cashier hands you a receipt. There are pretty much two options at this time: you either put it in your purse or wallet. Or you put it in the bag with the item you just purchased. So why I find receipts in the following places–my trunk, the kitchen counter, center console of car, a kitchen drawer, the playroom, a bathroom, fireplace mantle, my desk, a jacket pocket, or in the dryer–is beyond me.
And let’s face it–the receipt you really need to find–it’s not going to be in any of those places.
I had this dilemma recently. Over the summer, I came across a lamp at Home Goods that I thought would be perfect for the console table we were building for our foyer. And you know my mantra with Home Goods, TJ Maxx, or Marshalls is this: It is better to buy now and take back later. Because if you wait to think about it and realize you really do love it, when you go back to get it, it will be gone. So I bought the lamp. And I put it aside. And then, like most projects in the Hedlund household, the console table took much longer to complete. So. Much. Longer.
Hubs and I finally finished the table just before Christmas, brought it upstairs, and of course, the first thing I did was bring out the lamp.
And it looked awful there.
It was too short and stumpy and blah, and basically, it did absolutely nothing for that table.
No matter! I’d take it back and put the money towards a different lamp. Of course, I couldn’t find the receipt, but as that was a given in my life, I didn’t think much about it. However, when I got to Home Goods, I was told that too much time had passed and the lamp was no longer in their system. Even though the lamp was brand new, all tags still attached, and the plastic protective covering still on the finial, they wouldn’t take it back, and they wouldn’t give me store credit without a receipt. I love when the lady told me that it could be on the clearance shelf for a dollar for all she knew. Now, I shop at Home Goods regularly. And I will tell you, I have found some pretty good deals. But I have never found a lamp for a dollar. Come on, lady!
I did go home and look for the receipt. In all of those weird receipt places and more. And I did find lots of receipts. But not one of them was the receipt I needed.
Lesson learned. Time to get a major part of my life (i.e. shopping) organized!
Getting Organized | Two Very Important Rules
Now, as I said before, I do tend to be a pretty organized person. One thing I’ve realized over the years is that in order for an organizational tip to actually work, it has to be:
- Easy to follow
- Tailored to an individual’s needs
These are two super important things you must keep in mind when organizing yourself. If it’s not easy, you won’t do it. If it doesn’t meet your needs, you’ll eventually give it up.
I knew, for example, that I only tended to shop and return items to certain places: Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Target, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Home Goods. So I wanted my new method to include, even specify, those exact places.
That may not meet your needs at all.
So while I share with you what I did to get myself organized, I’ll also share other ideas that popped in my head.
Organizing Your Receipts
Below are ideas that came to me while brainstorming my little dilemma, as well as my final solution.
1) Use a 3-ring Binder
The teacher in me immediately thought about using a binder, because that’s what teachers use when they want to organize something. I thought I could buy dividers for it, label them with the specific stores I shop with, and keep the receipts in it. This binder would be stored in my office, and taken out when needed. My problem with this, and the reason I didn’t end up using this particular idea, is that I knew I would have difficulty remembering to get the receipts from purse to binder. However, I do think this is a very good idea for online purchases and receipts you print from your computer.
2) Use a Coupon Organizer
I considered this briefly, and do think it’s a good idea. The only thing (for me) was that I don’t collect coupons, nor did I know where to find a coupon organizer. Since I was out and about running errands when this idea came to me, I therefore could not google and/or online shop for one. So while I do believe this is a very handy method, I was, quite frankly, too impatient to wait it out. However, I have since had time to do a little online shopping, and here are a couple of cute coupon organizers from Amazon (you can click on each one to get more information).
3) Use an Accordion Envelope
Another easy and inexpensive idea for the less-fussy is to simply use an accordion envelope. You can find these at any local office supply store. This one below is from Staples.
4) Take a Photo of the Receipt and Email Yourself
This actually makes a lot of sense. What do we always have on us when we are shopping? Our phone. I thought it would be so easy to just take a picture of the receipt and immediately email yourself. Want to be even more organized? Create a folder in your email account labeled RECEIPTS. Then store each email in that folder until needed. The only problem I foresee with this idea is that some stores may not accept your electronic email copy if you want to take something back.
5) Use a Pinterest Secret Board
Similar to number 4 above, this idea relies on the fact that most of us nowadays resort to technology. A lot. Thus taking a quick pic of your receipt and storing it somewhere you know you can get to at any time, in any place, is very appealing. The nice thing about Pinterest’s Secret Boards and Secret Pins is that only you can see them. They do not appear in the home feed. You cannot search for them. The only person who can find and see them is you. So it does make for a nice little filing area. However, the same problem with emailing yourself a photo applies to this scenario. Stores may not accept an electronic photo of your receipt.
6) Use an App
While writing this post, the idea came to me that someone should make an App that stores receipts. And after a few brief seconds where I think I’ve just come up with the most brilliant idea ever (and another couple of seconds where I contemplate life as a billionaire from this wonderful App I’ve developed even though I know absolutely nothing about App-making) reality hits, and I come to terms with the fact that someone probably has come up with this idea already. And sure enough, they have. There are a few apps out there. They seem to have mixed reviews. Some people love; some people complain there are glitches or they crash. But it is something to keep in mind. It’s only a matter of time before someone comes up with something great!
My Final Solution
Okay, so my solution was pretty simple and easy, but it does meet my needs, and I know I’ll use it. I took a little spin on the teacher-binder-idea above, and decided to create a receipt book that I could keep in the BEST place possible:
This was pretty important to me, as I needed to get that receipt somewhere as quickly as possible, because if I didn’t, I knew I’d lose it. Keeping a little Car Receipt Book eliminates that issue. As soon as I purchase an item and get into my car, I immediately file the receipt, and put the receipt book back in my center console. I don’t even think about the receipt again.
If I realize I need to return something, I only have to worry about putting that particular item in my car. I don’t need to search for the store bag, or find a particular purse, or ransack drawers anymore. The receipt is already in the car waiting for me.
Now, occasionally, I purchase something when I’m out and about with Hubby (usually over a weekend) and we are in his car. If that occurs, I simply keep the receipt in my purse until Monday when I am in my own car. Then when I am sitting in traffic (and this is always occurring in Charleston) I simply take that time to file.
It has worked out quite nicely, and I have to say, I definitely feel happier that I have solved my little issue. I’m telling you…an organized life is a happy one.
Okay, so if you think this idea will work for you, here’s what you will need:
You will need one 5.5 x 8.5 binder. This is about the size of a small daily planner and will easily fit in the center console of a vehicle.
You will also need one package of small sheet protectors (I found mine at Staples, along with the binder above).
This next item is optional, but as I love labels, I adore my label maker. I use it all of the time, and it has come in handy more times than I can count. And because I really wanted to tailor my receipt book so that it had designated sections specifically for stores I frequented, this was important to me.
Here it is all put together:
I embellished mine a little with hardware that came with these Ikea storage bins I had purchased (I spray painted them gold). What can I say? I am a crafter at heart, and sometimes I cannot help myself.
As you can see, I made labels for each store I frequent (or at least each store I tend to make returns to) and placed them in alphabetical order. The organized-Me likes that I can easily rearrange these if needed, which I would not be able to do if using a coupon organizer or accordion envelope.
Now, overall, I am very pleased with my idea. It has worked out nicely.
What do you do to keep yourself organized? Share below. I’d love to hear from you.
*I’d like to add that things have a way of working themselves out, and usually, quite nicely. A very awesome friend of mine decided she liked my non-returnable lamp, and a deal was made. A very good deal. The lamp now resides in her home. And a nice stash of Girl Scout Cookies happily reside in my pantry.
Life is good.