Receipts, reconciliation and statements

Tracking spending in Microsoft Money is all very well. It can be done by downloading data from the bank, or adding it manually (or a combination of both).

However, what do you do with your receipts? How do you reconcile the bank online or paper statement with the account, and do you keep a mountain of paperwork?

I face this each month, and i've explained my method below. It is definitely not the only way of managing your paperwork, because some people want more permanent records.

When I buy something, and receive a receipt for the item (e.g. I use my MasterCard to buy something), I typically manually enter the transaction. I enter it, as I like to know how much I have in my account before the bank tells me. The receipt is stored in a paper folder that I use for this purpose.

About once a fortnight, I take a look at my online statement and download the transactions into my Microsoft Money file. This causes all transactions to be matched with those I have entered in advance, but also downloads the transactions that I've not recorded (typically when my wife uses the credit card and hasn't got around to giving me the receipt).

When I work through the matches, those with receipts are accepted (so the 'cleared' status goes to 'E'). Those without, I leave until I see the receipt. Once I accept a transaction with a receipt, I put the receipt on my 'to shred' pile, and it goes through the shredder. I'm not bothered in keeping the receipt paperwork, although your mileage may vary here and you may wish to save it either by scanning the receipt or saving it in a safe location in a filing cabinet. Note that Microsoft Money doesn't have any facility for storing scanned receipts in the file (Article 336).

Once a month, I receive a paper statement - this enables me to effectively change the status of all transactions from 'E' to 'R' through the reconciliation and balancing process (Article 399). Because I've already processed the paperwork, then this is relatively painless in that it takes seconds. This also forces me to get any paperwork from my wife to check the bank's version of my spending.

I keep my statements for a long time (they eventually get shredded many years down the line), which, for me, serves as enough paperwork.

Category: Accounts

Keywords: paperwork, filing, receipt