Me vs. The Shredder

1,500+ receipts now shredded… Oy. I swear, every season I tell myself I’m gonna do them more frequently but I never do! So I end up having to shred like a bazillion receipts which not only takes me forever (1.5 hours), but cramps up my hands at the same time, haha… It’s not fun.

Do you know what’s MORE not fun than that, though? Getting your identity stolen. Or your credit cards/banking accounts hacked – BLEH. I’d gladly shred for a few hours here and there to make sure my $hit is safe, for sure. Though it would be a lot smarter if I just found some large industrial one out there I can use (for free) instead, huh? I think my poor little machine is a bit stressed out right now, haha… and the same with the wife ;) I put her through quite the annoying noise w/ all that squealing for two hours – she nearly strangled me!

We’re all good now, but man – don’t let those things add up over time like that, okay? Not only will it irritate you by the time you’re in the mood to get down and dirty, but you’ll get even MORE tempted to just throw them all out in a plastic bag and be done with it. DON’T FALL FOR THIS! There are all kinds of nasty people out there, and they’ll do whatever it takes to get their grubby little hands on your priceless pieces of paper gold – be careful out there. And get into a good habit of shredding every handful of months, okay? (Says the guy that waits 3 years and then decides to bitch about it ;)).

Just make sure you’ve held on to them long enough where they’re no longer needed anymore.
I keep them all for at least 1 year, and then I shred the rest. So I always have a few piled up just in case I ever need them for some reason (the most recent year’s worth). Though it’s different for tax records/payment stubs/etc. – I keep all those for 7 years, and I wanna say that’s about the industry average.

Everyone has their own methods with this stuff, but I like to keep all my receipts in this wooden tower thing (one box for each year), and then a nice sturdy file cabinet to keep all the other records & tax doc. Having a main place to put EVERYTHING in makes a huge difference. When everything was spread out back in the day I was all kinds of disorganized. Now, I just open up the respective drawer and everything I need is right there in front of me! And I make sure it’s right near where I take off my pants every night too (ow ow!) so I don’t have an excuse to NOT pull them out from my pockets and plop them in their rightfully-designated home each time (some people like the box method too). If you make it super easy on yourself, everything goes pretty smoothly ;) And I take it one-step further and make sure all receipts are always in my right jeans pocket too so I can literally go throw the motions every night without even thinking about it. Works nicely.

So that’s my tip of the day, and I’m stickin’ to it. Y’all have any better methods of keeping track of this stuff? Anyone gone totally digital and loving it? I can’t get myself to go down that path just yet as I’m afraid the internet will blow up one day and we’ll lose our entire lives, haha.. so some things will always be in paper for me ;) Whatever works, though!

(Shredder monster by siddharthav)

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  1. Julie @ Freedom 48 February 21, 2012 at 7:20 AM

    Looks like fun! We immediately trash unimportant receipts (i.e. for groceries) – but file anything and everything else. Keep everything on file for 8yrs (just to be safe), then have a shredding party once a year to get rid of older stuff. Identity theft is so dangerous…

  2. Brian February 21, 2012 at 8:05 AM

    Ever considered going to one of those places that shreds documents in large quantities? Might save you from carpal tunnel. Sometimes, at least here, they even have days when it is free to shred everything. We typically try to hold out for this, usually coincides with the same day as free toxic items drop (great for getting rid of old paint!).

  3. Einstein February 21, 2012 at 8:20 AM

    I have that awful habit of putting every receipt back in my wallet. You’d think I were rich or something, given how thick I can make a bi-fold! Nope, no money in there, just the proof I spent a bunch of money.

    I can’t wait until more companies start doing the paperless thing. I’ve read that stores are catching up to the times and sending receipts straight to email now. I like that. I can store potentially thousands of electronic receipts without the same headache as even a few paper receipts. Bring on the paperless!

  4. Michelle February 21, 2012 at 8:29 AM

    My receipt pile is insane. I need to shred them.

  5. Andrea @SoOverDebt February 21, 2012 at 8:34 AM

    I just started using an app called Shoeboxed to keep up with receipts. Every night before bed, I take pictures of any receipts with my phone, and Shoeboxed organizes them into a spreadsheet I can export. If I ever need one of the receipts, I can print it easily. So far I love this system – I still don’t shred as often as I should, but at least I don’t have to carry the receipts in my purse for months (that’s what I used to do).

  6. Rachel211 February 21, 2012 at 8:56 AM

    FYI – don’t keep a plugged in shredder around a baby. Bad news for little fingers!

    I know its a little early for that one, and it sounds like you only pull it out once in a blue moon, but a good think to keep in the back of your head. ;)

  7. Stephanie February 21, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    I’m not too bad with receipts. There aren’t too many I need to keep for tax purposes, so they don’t really pile up. I’m TERRIBLE with bills though. I insist on getting paper bills for everything, because I keep them pinned up on a corkboard by the computer in the order in which they’re due. If I didn’t do that, I’d be forgetting to pay bills left and right. But then I let 2 years worth of bills pile up in my filing cabinet. There is no need for that whatsoever. :-P

    Part of the problem is that I don’t have my own shredder. Guess that’s something I should invest in!

  8. Brian February 21, 2012 at 9:05 AM

    As the year goes by, you should slowly start gluing your receipts together to make one really long receipt, then when it comes time to shred, just stick in one end and see how long it goes!

  9. BG February 21, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    I know this doesn’t apply to you J, but I’ve always worked for companies that have mass shredding bins for confidential documents. At my least company orientation, the HR rep says she uses the bins to shred all her junk mail.

    Figured some of your readers may benefit from that tip.

  10. HP February 21, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    Per Andrea’s comment above, there are several apps that turn your phone into a scanner (CamScanner, Smart Receipts, Document Scanner, etc.). Most can turn your scans into PDFs. You could utilize this functionality to scan and save directly to Dropbox and instantly get them on your computer for filing.

    Or you could do what I do and take your important documents to the burn bags at your office : )

  11. Bridget February 21, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    hahaha I shredded so much this weekend. It was so cathartic. Usually I don’t get behind, but I was cleaning out my desk cupboard and apparently I had stashed some things in there. Now I’m free!

  12. Beckey & Jeff February 21, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    We do a small fire pit in the backyard and throw the receipts and such in there. So much more fun and less time consuming. :)

  13. Dollar D @ The Dollar Disciple February 21, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    Personally, i’m in the “wait waaaay too long” camp. I like Beckey’s fire pit idea! Way better than shredding.

  14. Michael Senchuk February 21, 2012 at 11:41 AM

    We give our shredder such a workout, that it just died during a massive office cleanup on the weekend. Had to go out and buy a new one.

  15. Jerret February 21, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    Awesome ad showing up under this post…a lego looking saw horse. Get your shred on!

  16. Brent Pittman February 21, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    Sometimes your local post office has a free shred day for up to several boxes. Just google “free shred day” and you’ll find a bunch of options from private companies, especially on Earth Day.

  17. Jen @ Master the Art of Saving February 21, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    That’s a ton of shredding, it must have really sucked. I usually only keep the receipts that I know I’ll need, but I’m still trying to find the right method. :-)

  18. bax February 21, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    Dude. Shredders are lame-sauce. They break, they cost money, and they are boring.

    I present to you the better way, the higher path:

    FIRE PIT! We save all our goodies and torch them! The fire pit was cheaper than a good shredder, and funner than three cups of peanut butter and a dart board.

  19. Marianne February 21, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    She was annoyed about the noise and not about the great big shredded paper mess you made taking that picture? lol

  20. Ella February 21, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    I keep my receipts far too long! I don’t have a shredder and just throw the receipts in the bin, I make sure to tear them apart but I klnow it is not good enough to protect my identity from being stolen…

  21. LaToya February 21, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    I use Paperless by Mariner Software. I scan receipts in once a week during my weekly check-up/balancing of accounts, and shred the receipt after I am done. My accountant says the scanned receipts are good proof, and easier to go through. When tax time comes, I load all my info onto a disk and take it to him along with any paper W-2s. 1099, ects. It’s kinda fun to look back on how much I spent on food, clothing, ect. during the year and use that to budget for next year.

  22. Ashley February 21, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    Be careful! There are people out there that will actually take the time to put the pieces together just to steal your identity. I actually started using a company that will shred for me; all I do is lug my reciepts outside and they shred them from a truck. It’s cool! But, on the bright side if you have a party coming up, think of all the confetti you just made!

  23. retirebyforty February 21, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    Our shredder broke a few months ago and all the papers are piling up. :(
    I’m waiting for a good sale.

  24. BusyExecutiveMoneyBlog February 21, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    Same here as RB40. Shredder is out of commission and I’m waiting on an industrial strength model to be on sale.

  25. Patrice C. Washington February 22, 2012 at 6:33 AM

    I’m a paper whore too, J. Money. I’ve had the scanners in the past and they worked when I had an assistant to do it every other week. But honestly, I LIKE having physical little files that I can run to and grab when I want to. It gives me some warped sense of accomplishment.

    I guess you have to do what works for you, but it is a very slow move for me into the technology age. How is it possible to feel this old (technology wise) at 30!?! :/

  26. maria@moneyprinciple February 22, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    I’ll have to do this when we get back; holiday is over let the shredding begin!

  27. J. Money February 22, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    @Julie @ Freedom 48 – Perfect! But you trash even credit card receipts from the grocery store? I trash all cash ones, but not c/c ones in case we need to battle down the road, haha…
    @Brian – Oh man, I’m sure there is but the idea of waiting for a certain day would drive me bonkers. I always need to proceed the moment it hits me while I’m in the mood or I’ll phase out and never do it…
    @Einstein – I think I’d like that too, but only if you were to print out the important ones to have on file just in case something happens to your email. I’m starting to get freaked out that EVERYTHING is digital these days cuz if something gets cleared you have no more records of it! Even backing up doesn’t solve this 100% unless you do it every single night.
    @Michelle – Try duplicating that picture up there ;)
    @Andrea @SoOverDebt – Oh man, good for you on being able to do that. I don’t have the patience/desire to take pictures of them all – but I do agree it would be better!
    @Rachel211 – Haha, I’ll keep it in mind! Though everything is already unplugged – I only plug in when I use cuz the Mrs. is always afraid of electrical fires (she used to work at a law firm where people died/got hurt by appliances randomly catching on fire).
    @Stephanie – I hear a next birthday present in the works! And plus, it’s kinda fun if you don’t do a billion at once ;)
    @Brian – Hahhahaahaha…. BEST. IDEA. EVER.
    @Jon B – Nah, not for me at least. I don’t like it all being digital and it would take a LOT more time to do that than to just file away and be done with it. Though I suppose you still have to add them into the spreadsheet or accounting software anyway? I dunno… I say if you think it’ll get you to stay on it more, then it’s def. worth it :) If you think you’ll never touch it, then I’d stick w/ the simple filing method.
    @BG – Yeah, for sure! I used to use our work one all the time too – they are way faster and better at shredding! Good one :)
    @HP – Burning them! YES! haha… I like that!
    @Bridget – AWESOME!!! Freedom = Sexy, baby.
    @Beckey & Jeff – I love it!!! Man, I never even thought about fire ’till HP mentioned it above… if only our fireplaces were REAL, haha… I don’t think I could get away w/ a fire pit where we live.
    @Dollar D @ The Dollar Disciple – Yeah, agreed!
    @Michael Senchuk – Haha… I think this is the perfect season for shredders – when everyone’s tidying up and doing tax stuff. The stores must love it :)
    @Jerret – Haha, really? Good ol’ Google Adsense ;)
    @Brent Pittman – That would be pretty cool. Though I’d want to physically WATCH it being shred and not just handed over to them w/ all the other boxes to do at a later point (not sure if that’s how they do it or not, but that would scare the crap out of me).
    @Jen @ Master the Art of Saving – You’ll figure it out eventually :) Just a matter of tweaking all the time until you find the perfect way for YOU.
    @bax – Haha, you’ve got no complaints in this department! I’d totally be up for a good fire pit action some day :)
    @Marianne – Haha, unfortunatley that’s not a picture of me up there ;) I bet that guy had a lot of fun with it though!
    @Ella – Yeah, we need to get you one soon :) Ask it for your bday or christmas instead of something random you’d never use! They really are fun in small batches. Makes you feel all kinds of powerful, haha…
    @LaToya – Wow, good for you on workin’ it! I’m not a fan of digital scanning and all that, but I def. see the pros to it IF you do end up using it the right way. Which it looks like you are, so congrats!
    @Ashley – Haha… I mean, besides burning them all though, how else would you dispose of them if not by shredding? I guess the good thing w/ going with those big trucks is that it’s mixed with everyone ELSE’S stuff too? Making it harder to put together? Sometimes when I rip up important stuff on the streets, I’ll just put a cple pieces in different trash cans for that reason, haha, but not w/ these guys.
    @retirebyforty – I bet one’s coming up now with tax season and all that!
    @BusyExecutiveMoneyBlog – Should be happening anytime soon!
    @Patrice C. Washington – Haha… well you can’t be TOO technologically old if you’re not only READING blogs here on the net, but you’re RESPONDING too ;) So I say you give yourself more credit there missy.
    @maria@moneyprinciple – Work it, girl!

  28. The Happy Homeowner February 23, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    My shredder & I go waaaaay back. So much so that we have weekly junk mail dates where I feed it the incessant amounts of crap I receive in the mailbox daily. Shredding makes me so happy it’s hard to put it into words because let’s be honest, identity theft = no bueno!

  29. J. Money February 23, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    Haha, not a damn bad date at all! If we lived closer I’d come join you in these wonderful parties of yours :)