Keeping Receipts When You're a Homeowner

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Keeping Receipts When You're a Homeowner

Postby Mrs.Feeley » Sun Apr 28, 2013 12:08 am

We've lived in our home for 15 years now and have done a fair amount of work on the place. Everything from new roof, siding and insulation, to new mechanicals and landscape improvements. I have a large file drawer absolutely crammed with receipts for everything major and minor, the latter spanning from tree pruning, Roto-Rooter calls and handyman repairs to new perennials and evergreens, caulk tubes and window paint. I also have spreadsheets documenting the expenses.

It is a modest house, old and prone to needing frequent repairs. When we sell we won't see megabucks in capital gains. In fact looking at this stuffed file drawer I can't imagine seeing any sort of gains at all. So I'm wondering, do I really need to keep all this stuff? On the one hand when my husband wanted to find out the kind and quantity of stone that we bought for a project 13 years ago it was easy to pull out the receipt. Well, o.k., it took about 15 minutes of pawing and digging. But really, do I need to keep all this stuff?

It is rather distressing to be reminded every time I open the file drawer of how much we've spent on the house. On the other hand there is consolation in having proof that we've been keeping busy and active.

What sort of bookkeeping do you practice, fellow homeowners? Should I be trimming my house's bloated paper trail?
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Re: Keeping Receipts When You're a Homeowner

Postby moon2 » Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:05 am

I'm starting to get rid of things like this, in general purge. Before, I was protecting against ever having a single regret if I wanted something and had thrown it away. Now, I'm accepting I'll make some mistakes, wish I hadn't tossed something out, but will accept it and move on. The payoff: room in drawers and filing cabinets, keeping only the essentials.

Now, for house-related expenses, I keep of course records that affect my basis - capital improvements - but repairs aren't in that category. I make note in a spreadsheet of contractors, contact info, work performed and date, and that's it.
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Re: Keeping Receipts When You're a Homeowner

Postby neatep » Sun Apr 28, 2013 5:14 am

Why not just spend a day to scan everything. Name the files in the date format of when it occurred, while also entering the filename into the spreadsheet for easy reference/lookup.

20080102_NewStoneForDecking.pdf

etcetc

Keep a backup. Either on your comp/emailed to yourself/always online cloud service.

You keep the records. You save space. WIn win.
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Re: Keeping Receipts When You're a Homeowner

Postby frugaltype » Sun Apr 28, 2013 7:09 am

I keep a pile of receipts. I find them useful for several reasons - needing to know paint colors or what tile was used, that kind of thing, needing to know who the company was that did the work when I want to have them do something else, occasionally a warranty problem. It's maybe ten inches high. I suppose I could recycle the whole thing but I do need it occasionally.

I definitely don't save stuff like receipts for caulk, only major items. Devote a couple of hours to weeding those out. Then put the rest it out of sight in a box in a closet if it really bothers you.
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Re: Keeping Receipts When You're a Homeowner

Postby Geologist » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:48 am

Maintenance doesn't add to the house's cost basis, so it won't affect the potential for capital gains. So there is no tax reason for holding onto receipts for those items.
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Re: Keeping Receipts When You're a Homeowner

Postby jeffyscott » Sun Apr 28, 2013 5:49 pm

I have almost nothing, but then the only capital improvement since it was built 16 years ago was $3-4K for adding a deck, for which I do have records. We have planted some things, but I never thought of that as counting. In any case, our house would have to much more than double in value to potentially have $500,000 in gains, so it seems unlikely to be an issue.
press on, regardless - John C. Bogle
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Re: Keeping Receipts When You're a Homeowner

Postby Toons » Sun Apr 28, 2013 6:50 pm

neatep wrote:Why not just spend a day to scan everything. Name the files in the date format of when it occurred, while also entering the filename into the spreadsheet for easy reference/lookup.

20080102_NewStoneForDecking.pdf

etcetc

Keep a backup. Either on your comp/emailed to yourself/always online cloud service.

You keep the records. You save space. WIn win.


+1.That is the way to do it. I scan everything and save to computer and cloud for backup,
In various folders,(home repair,auto services,finances,taxes,etc) :wink:
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee
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Re: Keeping Receipts When You're a Homeowner

Postby welx23 » Thu May 02, 2013 3:53 pm

Also agree with others -- scan them and put them in the cloud online. After many years of paper records, I switched to DropBox for longer term record keeping. So far, so good!
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Re: Keeping Receipts When You're a Homeowner

Postby Easy Rhino » Thu May 02, 2013 5:00 pm

aren't capital gains on a primary residence sort of a non issue?

so maybe just keep the receipts that matter for purposes of warranty, etc.
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Re: Keeping Receipts When You're a Homeowner

Postby lightheir » Thu May 02, 2013 6:20 pm

Scan'em all.

To make it as painless as possible:

Get a sheetfeed scanner (not flatbed) scanner like the Fujitsu Scansnap. Well worth it.

Tape multiple receipts onto one sheet of white paper. Scan the whole sheet.

If you want to be able to search them, set the "OCR" feature on, and let it process. Voila - searchable .pdf receipt files.
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Re: Keeping Receipts When You're a Homeowner

Postby Striving » Thu May 02, 2013 8:03 pm

lightheir wrote:Scan'em all.

To make it as painless as possible:

Get a sheetfeed scanner (not flatbed) scanner like the Fujitsu Scansnap. Well worth it.

Tape multiple receipts onto one sheet of white paper. Scan the whole sheet.

If you want to be able to search them, set the "OCR" feature on, and let it process. Voila - searchable .pdf receipt files.


+1 on the Fujitsu Scansnap. I have owned different scanners over the last 15 years, and I had always felt scanning documents was a bit of a chore until I received a Scansnap for my office. Now, the entire process of digitizing hard copy is much more efficient for me. So much so, I now have a second one in my home office.
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Re: Keeping Receipts When You're a Homeowner

Postby Cherokee8215 » Thu May 02, 2013 9:02 pm

I tend to keep paperwork and receipts for major repairs/upgrades just so I know when they occurred so as to plan for the next replacement cycle, any warranties, future replacement parts, etc.

My dad, on the other hand, can show you the receipt for $.43 in screws he bought to fix a loose handrail in 1977...
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Re: Keeping Receipts When You're a Homeowner

Postby Iorek » Thu May 02, 2013 9:11 pm

I would toss them.
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Re: Keeping Receipts When You're a Homeowner

Postby katsmeow » Fri May 03, 2013 9:07 pm

I do one of 3 things:

1. Minor receipts once they have posted to the credit card and there is no chance I will want to return them - I discard them.

2. I keep 12 folders in hanging files labelled with each month of the year. I put in there receipts that I don't need to keep forever or that I don't want to keep a long term record of. For example, I bought an office chair a couple of years ago. I threw the chair in the folder. A year later a part broke on it, I fished out the receipt and then contacted the manufacturer to make a parts claim and they shipped the part to me. About once a year, I look through the folders and throw out the things that I don't need any more (such as after an item is past its warranty). I also put in these folders other things that I might need in the relative short terms (utility bills, for example).

3. Other stuff, I scan in and keep in an archive folder. I keep copies of that in various places (external drive, cloud, another computer). Most of the house maintenance and improvement stuff of any significance goes there. I like to be able to go back and see what things cost and who did the work and so on.

I also record everything in You Need A Budget which is the budgeting program that I use.
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Re: Keeping Receipts When You're a Homeowner

Postby jon-nyc » Sat May 04, 2013 5:13 am

Easy Rhino wrote:aren't capital gains on a primary residence sort of a non issue?



It depends on the size of the gain. I will have a six figure tax liability next year for my home sale this year - I certainly don't consider it a non-issue!
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