Many of my clients ask me if they should keep paper copies of
receipts, bank and credit card statements and bills. First of all, I
think everyone should be doing online banking. For bank statements, you
may want to download a pdf of the latest statement each monthly and
only print it out when you need to use it monthly reconciliation. Then
you may want to organize the statements in binder because there is
always need to refer back to bank statements throughout the year, so if
you keep them organized, then there will be no need to reprint or even
worse have to pay for old bank statements. With credit card statements,
do the same but I suggest printing those only when absolutely necessary
(to dispute a charge) and then if you don’t need a paper copy, shred
the credit card statement ASAP to deter any identity theft.
Most utility bills are available online and you can keep them there
unless there is an occasion (applying for a loan) where you have to
show proof of your monthly expenses. Print only when necessary since
most of your bill payments will either show up on your business
checking or business credit card. If you pay in cash, get a receipt.
Cash receipts for taxi, food, office supplies should recorded in
your general ledger. They should be retained until the next year. Now
if you have a scanner, you may want to scan all those little TLC (taxi)
receipts and put several on a regular letter-size paper, but if your
CPA or the IRS wants the originals, then you may have saved a tree but
screwed yourself if you get audited. It is better to safe than sorry in
More paper savers:
Get a shredder. They are not just for Enron employees.
Scan when you can.
Set-up online fax service and have faxes sent directly to email. This is more efficient, too.
Get a printer that enables to recycle printer cartridges.
Big energy saver:
Turn OFF the laptop when you are not working. Stop and smell the roses!