Next please.

The Bonfire of the Receipts

Next please.

Need a receipt? Need two receipts? Three? Four? How about five? I have them right here in my wallet. Some might say I have an army surplus store of small purchase receipts. Others might say I have a pocket full of tiny garbage. Others still might say that we faked the moon landing and yogurt contains mind control properties. There are a lot of nutty people out there. All this aside, can we please get our receipt situation under control? There is nothing more useless and wasteful than a small purchase receipt. I would rather be handed a small wasps’ nest than receive a slip of paper that notes the time, date and name of the cashier who was there the day the Earth stood still when some guy with yellow hair bought a coffee with skim milk. I will concede that businesses must issue receipts for every transaction in order to keep an accurate sales record, but nowhere in the Law Book (the one that exists in my mind) does it say you can’t spice things up a bit. Instead of a boring old paper receipt, how about a miniature plaque commemorating your historic purchase? Wouldn’t it be cool if you received a trophy every time you ordered a latte? How about small pets, such as a frog or goldfish, to serve as a living momento to the $2 dollar investment you make every day in coffee futures (“futures” meaning immediate consumption). Temporary tattoos? Receipt stickers: you stick ’em on your body like luggage labels on an old suitcase. “Oh, I see you’ve been to the coffee shop, grocery store and gas station today. Do these come off? No? Well…you look…great!”

142 thoughts on “The Bonfire of the Receipts

  1. Pingback: Taxes 2012 – Support Your Deductions With Receipts « Cash Accounting and Consulting

  2. Great post and great drawing! You must be from around New England…I also shop at Shaw’s. Every grocery store, along with giving us long receipts for our dozens of purchases, also gives us extra footage filled with coupons for things we don’t usually buy.

  3. It is also almost funny to have accountants [especially those in newly set up companies] asking for every single receipt to every expenses recorded, thinking that ‘as long as there is a receipt, it will be tax-exempted’ when tax-audit officers are actually looking for uncommon/unusual expenses/receipts that are not worthy for tax-rebate. Missing the point of taxable and non-taxable expenditure somewhere along the line.

  4. Congrats on being freshly pressed :-) The older I get, the more I feel obligated to keep receipts. I have a pile of receipts on the table where I keep my handbag. I take them out of my handbag each day and put them in the pile, and eventually I put them in an envelope marked “Receipts – (Month)”, in case I’d like to add up my grocery expenses to give myself a good scare, or to show my husband that avocados really do cost $1.00 apiece, or to take the new pants back to the store when the child decides he doesn’t like them after all. The receipts from Starbucks I just throw away, because I don’t want to remember how much I spent at Starbucks.

  5. From an environmentalist point of view, those papers are just trash. I suggest business establishments should rather keep a softcopy record of their customers and rank who purchase the most or referred the most, then reward us every end of the month for “keeping their business alive”. I believe, this is a better way of expressing gratitude to us, consumers.

  6. Oh man, as a girl I have many purses and all of them seem to be FILLED with receipts. From the most minor things like a coffee to more expensive things. I’d love to get a plaque for my receipts. Perhaps I should take all the ones in my purses and make a huge collage and frame it like art.

  7. So true and funny. I find myself drowning in receipts everyday; it’s like the never ending story lol. Looks like it’s up to you to make the next witty invention – combat the attack of the receipts. p.s. Congrats on making the home page!

  8. The worst is when they hand you a receipt then pile your change on top — which completely incapacitates me. Can’t stuff it in a pocket or wallet. Maddening. Thanks for the great post.

  9. Hello All,

    Great post, please check out our new company. We are currently in the process of building it, We are here to simplify financial transactions with out the tedious paper receipt. Please read about us and any feedback is good feedback. We are entrepreneurship students who are working every day to get our idea into place. We are making great progress and you should be expecting ReceiptMe (Working Title) to launch within the next 10 weeks in the Chicagoland region!

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    Co-Founder / ReceiptMe

  10. I’ve thought about your ideas, and decided that I agree with them all. Specifically, I like the idea of being awarded a plaque when ordering a latte, and think that Starbucks would be a much more fun and interesting place if this were the case.

    Beyond that, I’m glad a lot of stores (at least here in NYC) are skipping the receipts, or at least providing the option, on purchases under $20. It is such a waste, especially in today’s world of electronic records. After all, if I really need to check that $3 purchase on my check card, I can just log-in to my account and take a look. Despite this, I still end up with smoothie, latte, and doughnut purchases that merely provide evidence as to my bad eat city eating habits, versus anything helpful with my finances.

    Great post!

  11. what’s worse is when i can’t stand it anymore and decide to do a receipt purge only to realize soon after that i might have thrown away the one receipt i needed to return something!

  12. My bag is full of useless receipts from useless purchase dating back since who knows when. Sometimes they give you a choice and ask if you want the receipt. I don’t know why I say yes.

  13. You know, I hold onto my receipts; especially if it’s a big purchase. But even when I grocery shop, I hold onto the receipt in case I open something and it’s bad; which has happened a few times in my life. After a week’s time, all receipts pertaining to groceries and small items get thrown out; unless of course I purchased them with a debit card…. Now wait. I guess I have to hold onto my receipts. Geesh, I dunno


  14. This post reminded me of the Seinfeld where George’s wallet is so full he can’t close it and then it explodes and its contents shower down upon him. Classic!

  15. I have the same problem, but funny thing is I can never find the really important receipts, like to go with the $1000.00 T.V. that needs repaired, or to return the $100.00 jeans my daughter didn’t like.

  16. Ha Ha Hilarious post. My wallet is crammed full of receipts too. I don’t know why I bother keeping them. I can just imagine taking something back for a refund & the shop assistant asks “Do you have your pet frog as proof of purchase.

  17. I *completely* agree with you and all I have to say is thank God you are not a resident of Greece, as I am, where it is required by law that every taxpayer produce every. single. solitary. receipt for the entire year together with their tax return. I have one receipt for FIVE CENTS that I can’t throw away. If we don’t do this, we get fined a lot. Like a thousand euros. Which is now two months’ wages, thanks to this crisis we’ve got going on. So again. Be grateful for the fact that if you want to, you CAN throw yours away. (As for the ones printed on thermal paper that fade? We’re supposed to photocopy those before they fade.) :)

  18. Oooh…this post speaks to me! I’m notorious for being a receipt-carrier-who-never-throws-them-out-till-they-overtake-her-purse…everyone makes fun of me, but I’m just glad to know that I’m not the only one. :)

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  19. Very funny post! I’ve always taken receipts thinking that I’ll check them against my account at some point in the future…..yeah….that has never happened. I’m going to refuse them starting today! Thanks for the laugh

  20. LOL!! A few years ago I did an in-depth personal budget work-up where I kept all those daily small purchase receipts and input it all into a big, convoluted spreadsheet complete with pie charts tracking how much of my monthly disposable income was getting disposed of on a weekly basis, and went through the acute annoyance and disgust of having to navigate through that confused morass of idiotic little bits and scraps of toxic paper every time I had to reach into my handbag to get something I needed, like my keys. That exercise lasted for a few months, and after I got a handle on how much of my income was getting blown away on nothing, I wrapped it up and am with you in wishing non-tax-relevant receipts would take a more useful form or stop existing altogether. Congrats on being freshly pressed!

  21. If they could somehow teleport your receipt into a piece of candy, and then give you the candy to eat, that’d be brilliant. Like a chewy tootsie center, but once you get there, folded scrib of paper and you open it and there’s your receipt.

  22. I just read this, after I spent the last 10 minutes looking through my purse for a pen only to find a reciept for a soda I purchased at a gas station 2 weeks ago. Great post!

  23. I just laughed out loud! I want to scream STOP GIVING ME PAPER! It was a 2 dollar transaction. Maybe if you didn’t give me that little piece of paper, the transaction would only cost me $1.75, and perhaps if you didn’t waste your time standing there printing it out, it would have only cost me $1.50. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh much better. Great post!

  24. I think its quite possible that you are actually trying to hide things from the IRS.
    What would the IRS do if you were audited? Send out a frog expert and a tattoo decipher-er?
    Receipts are an essential part of Western Society as we know… and besides, I’d much rather have a paper cut than a wart.


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