In an effort to save paper, it’s not uncommon for cashiers to ask you if you’d like a receipt, or not, at the end of your transaction. Although you might not think you’ll need a receipt, it’s usually a good idea to say “yes, please.” Receipts act as proofs of purchase and can be helpful in several ways, but only if you hang on to them. While you don’t have to keep every receipt you ever receive, forever, hanging on to them, at least for a little while, can help you financially.
Review Your Spending
If you’ve ever wondered where your money goes throughout the month or why it is difficult to stick to your budget, it might be because you are losing track of your spending. Hanging on to receipts lets you review your spending on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. When you review what you’ve purchased, you’re able to see where you are overspending and can think of ways to cut back in those areas.
A pair of shoes or a skirt might seem like the perfect item for your wardrobe until you bring it home and realize it doesn’t work with anything in your closet. You might purchase a kitchen gadget, bring it home and realize you have something very similar or that you’ll really never use it. If you hang on to the receipt, you’ll most likely be able to return the item and get a full refund. Without a receipt, some stores will give you a store credit or refund your money, but at the price the item is currently selling at, which might be much lower than what you actually paid for it.
Get a Price Adjustment
Speaking of lower prices, some stores are notorious for marking items down dramatically and often. It’s frustrating when you pay full price for something, only to find that it’s on sale for 50 percent off the next week. Hang on to your receipts, because many stores do offer price adjustments for such occasions. Usually, you’ll have to have purchased the item at full price and the markdown must have occurred no more than a few weeks after your purchase for you to get the adjustment. Along with price adjustments, some retailers will let you apply coupons to a purchase, but only if you bring both the receipt and the coupon to customer service.
Helps at Tax Time
If you itemize deductions or are self-employed and claim business expenses, you need to keep the receipts for those expenses, just in case the Internal Revenue Service decides to audit you. The good news about hanging on to receipts for tax purposes is that, according to Publication 17, the IRS doesn’t mind if they are stored electronically or are in paper form. That means you can scan each receipt so that you don’t have a pile of paper cluttering up your files.
If you are thinking of returning an item or want to make sure you won’t have to request a price adjustment, it’s a good idea to keep the actual copy of the receipt on hand. You don’t have to keep it for long, though, if you’re worried about clutter. Revisit your receipts every month or so and discard the one that you don’t need for tax purposes and the one past the return or price adjustment window.
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Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit service provider of comprehensive personal financial education and solutions for all life stages and for all of life’s milestones. Our goal is enhanced economic security for everyone we serve.
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