paper shopping bill on a till roll printout

Throwing Your Receipts in the Trash Could Cost You

receipt

You probably don’t think twice about tossing receipts right into the trash the split second following a purchase. Why burden yourself with such miniscule clutter? These aren’t miniscule, however. Receipts aren’t trash, especially when they can save you money, prove purchases and help prevent credit card fraud. Keep the following five reasons in mind next time you’re about to throw away a receipt:

Taxes

Save those receipts for annual tax reductions. From seemingly inconsequential purchases to big-ticket items, you may just be able to write off an expense for personal and professional purposes. It varies from job to job, person to person and expense to expense, but you never know how and when your receipts will come in handy when it comes to filing your taxes in April. Also, business owners and homeowners who’ve made significant home improvements, for example, can write off expenses. If you’ve claimed something, hold onto a receipt for seven years following a return in case you get audited, suggests Mainstreet.com.

Security

Receipts floating around can end up in the wrong hands — hands that un-crumple that small piece of paper and then conspire to turn your world upside down. An unwittingly trashed receipt can easily become the weapon used to steal your identity and destroy your credit. Even receipts tucked in your wallet can be a high risk for identity theft in case your wallet is stolen. If your wallet full of receipts ends up in the possession of a thief, you are susceptible to not only identity theft, but loan, bank, benefits and tax fraud, forewarns Lifelock services.

Proof of Purchase

Receipts can handily prove purchases without stress and frustration. Let’s say you buy a gift card and it’s non-redeemable; Without a receipt, you have no real means of recourse. A receipt can serve as a safety net for mistakenly un-activated gift cards as well as damaged purchases or purchases that you’d like to return. You’ll wish you had that receipt when you want a hassle-free refund, exchange or warranty.

Reimbursements

Receipts are essential for employees who file expense reports. As long as you have your work-related receipts safely stored, you’ll never have to worry about being questioned about a purchase. Unless you responsibly handle those receipts, be prepared to cover the costs from your own wallet.

Checking Against Your Credit Card

If you use your credit card for all of your spending, make sure no purchases slip through the cracks by checking your balances. Refer to your receipts while evaluating your credit card report to ensure that all purchases are valid. For instance, you’ll be happy for that one receipt to prove an extravagant unauthorized tip.

Balancing & Budgeting

Balancing your checking account according to your receipts helps organize your finances and sustain your budget. While adding up those numbers, you can gain a visual for how much you spend and on what, which may motivate you to modify your spending habits. The iPhone app Receipts can help you easily track your spending and quickly log purchases. Take pictures of receipts, back up and export information, categorize expenditures and use charts for organization— all conveniently on your smartphone.

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