Organizational / Financial Life-Hacking


2013 is guaranteed to be the busiest year of my life. There’s already a lot going on, more coming down the pipeline at breakneck speeds, and late last year I started a new business.

The Libation Lab Store is an extension of my cocktail blog, and my insatiable desire to create. I posted a few custom bar accessories I crafted to Facebook, and friends immediately pushed me to start selling, so I ran a test on Etsy and pieces flew off the virtual shelves. I was unprepared for the rush of orders, having launched just before the holiday frenzy and could barely keep up with demand.

Now that I am starting on my taxes, I’m scrambling to find all those crumpled wads of expense receipts scattered all over my home and office. I ordered a document scanner to help eliminate the paper, and then realized that I am probably better off just photographing and organizing all of them with Evernote. Regardless, I will be digitizing in batches, and knowing me, probably not until next January, so I need a reliable solution I can stick with.

Ultimately, I went low-tech and ugly. I glued an envelope to the wall of my office and home office, and every time I get another receipt, I just tuck it into the back. It ain’t pretty, but it works, and it’s glued to the wall, so even I will have a hard time losing it.

Anyone else got any surefire organizational tips to make life better? Feel free to add them to the comments.

Update (2/25/13): I’ve worked out a great system for organizing receipts through Evernote. After trying a few 3rd party apps, I realized that there is no good, free receipts app, and none of the paid apps were worth my money, so I’ve done the following:

1. Set up a notebook stack called  “receipts” with a notebook for each write-off category by year (ie. “Store2012”, and “Tour 2013” to track expenses for my online store and my tour guide job).
2. New receipts get immediately photographed with the Evernote app and added as a new note to the appropriate notebook in this format: $[price] [vendor] [category] [date] (ie. $22.70 USPS shipping 12/6/2012).
3. Create an “inbox” notebook and make it your default notebook. If you only have a second to photograph a receipt, it will wait for you here to later be titled and put it in the right notebook.
4. Set up a filter in GMail, so any email including the word “receipt” is automatically forwarded to my Evernote email address. These will sit in my “inbox” until I can re-title and place them in the right notebooks. This will cause a bit of “spam” in the inbox notebook, but it is easy enough to delete them all.
5. Set a weekly calendar reminder (I use and a half-hour blocked off on my Outlook calendar) to organize inbox receipts.
5. At tax time, it’s as easy as opening up each notebook and adding up the prices in the left column.

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