Scanning/Adding Receipts: Why?

Hey YNAB Forum-ers (okay, that needs work...)!

A pretty common request that comes through the feedback & feature request channels is the ability to be able to scan/attach a picture of a receipt to a particular transaction. 

So we've been curious for more detail on what that would allow you to do or make easier for you. Is it strictly an organizing need? Tax reporting? Small-business use? Something else entirely?

Hearing more detail about how people want to use it would help contextualize this one—thanks!

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  • My mom scans her receipts for tax purposes (though she doesn't use YNAB). I would use it for self-auditing, especially if I paid in cash and won't have the bank import to double check my numbers. If I get to reconciling how much cash I have in my "wallet" account and it's off, it'd be nice to know where I messed up, if I can't find the receipt.

    Reply Like 1
      • ToddYNAB Team
      • YNAB's CSO | Four Rules since 2009
      • Todd
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Kamirose Thanks for that bit about cash—are there any other examples of "self-auditing" beyond cash?

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      • Kamirose
      • kamirose
      • 7 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Todd I mean, I'm still on my trial so haven't used it long, but for me personally I have bank sync set up to reconcile so I don't have much use. I suppose I could see myself using it for tipped transactions at a restaurant, etc, to see if I got charged more than I wrote in for the tips.

      Reply Like 1
  • For me it is a combination of things.

    I don't picture using it for day to day purchases (groceries, etc), but mostly for larger things. Sometimes it is nice to look back to see what the model of my new couch is, or the colour code of something is.

    Besides that, I work as an insurance claims adjuster here in Canada, and if something is lost/stolen/burned, we ask for proof of ownership. We need to know you actually owned it, as well as the approximate cost. The easiest way to do that is with receipts. If everyone used YNAB and everyone scanned receipts (even just for bigger stuff) it would make my life SO MUCH easier! And theirs as well!

    Reply Like 5
  • Steel Blue Admiral (b53ea79d2e09) said:
    If everyone used YNAB and everyone scanned receipts (even just for bigger stuff) it would make my life SO MUCH easier! And theirs as well!

     😆

    Thanks for chiming in Steel Blue Admiral — I had definitely always imagine people doing it with every receipt.

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  • All kinds of reasons. Now that I use a program I trust to record my spending, I toss the receipts (anything I can do to get rid of paper clutter in my home). However, sometimes I buy things that could be returned eventually, so it can be helpful to be able to reproduce the receipt. Or I might want to remember what I spent for a specific grocery item so that I can see if I'm getting a better deal. So personally, if I could scan the receipts for my groceries, clothes and large purchases, I could see that being useful. However, without a SEARCH MECHANISM FOR MOBILE, there's no way to find a receipt... That's an absolute prerequisite. Of course I could do all this in some other software, but it makes a lot of sense to only have to enter everything once.

    Reply Like 1
    • WordTenor
    • And they say I'm a Francophile; at least they know I know where France is.
    • WordTenor
    • 7 mths ago
    • 6
    • Reported - view

    Is it okay to offer a counterpoint? I would be unhappy if any screen real estate, which as already gotten bad (I don't see a need to have the budgeted column show on my phone, for instance), were eaten up with this. YNAB does not store transactions in the way I would want them to retrieve my receipts, so this has always struck me as the very definition of feature creep. 

    My receipts in Evernote are stored for warranties, for a record of things like model numbers and paint colors for my home, for taxes, and for reimbursements. Any one of those categories spans multiple categories in YNAB. When I spent the money, it was important that it be separated by "Medical" or "Moving" or "Giving." That's how I set aside the funds. But when I want to retrieve the receipts, what I want is one big pile of receipts I need to give to my CPA in April. It's not only not helpful to have them stored in YNAB, it would actually introduce disorganization to sort the receipts by spending category instead of by retrieval category. I'd be pretty unhappy if it was something that in any way made it more cumbersome to enter a transaction at point of sale. 

    Reply Like 6
      • ToddYNAB Team
      • YNAB's CSO | Four Rules since 2009
      • Todd
      • 7 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor You can certainly offer one—I just want to be clear that a debate isn't what would be most helpful to the original poster. 😊

      Because I can think of 1,001 reasons not to scan or store receipts, but that's exactly why I opened this conversation—to learn from others who might think about it differently. So I'm hoping more are willing to share!

      Reply Like 2
      • WordTenor
      • And they say I'm a Francophile; at least they know I know where France is.
      • WordTenor
      • 7 mths ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

       Todd Buried in that are two thoughts for the OP then--any such service would only be useful in so far as it a) did not hinder transaction input which has already become more cumbersome in the new app (the hard press is nice but not everyone has 3D Touch) and b) dealt with the issue that the organization you want when retrieving receipts is different than the organization you want when you budget to make the transaction. 

      Now if I could scan a receipt and have it *add* the transaction, that would be a whole different ballgame. 

      Reply Like 4
      • ToddYNAB Team
      • YNAB's CSO | Four Rules since 2009
      • Todd
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor 1000% on your second point. 😉 Machine reading is an interesting field.

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Todd I remember having an expense tracking app in some previous employment that read the receipts... sometimes. Actually that would be the killer feature with receipts... although our grocery receipts tend to be about 2 to 3 feet long, and even iBotta sometimes crashes on us.

      As far as storage is concerned, cloud storage costs money and images take up so much more space than , so there would have to be some sort of impact to cost/revenue needs. You might want to consider this as some sort of additional  feature tier.

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    • nolesrule Storage is cheap.  If they budget for some infrastructure that can expand, they could offer options for folks to pay a little extra for 7 or 10 yrs of storage. 

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  • I would love this feature. Why? Bed, Bath & Beyond! What I mean is that BB&B has an amazing return policy (as does Sam's Club, Costco, Target, etc.). I can usually remember where I bought something, but usually not when. If I could search my BB&B purchases (or other big company), I could find that receipt and easily return something. Also, receipts are great for warranties... but only if you have the receipt. I used to save every single receipt, but now I only save those for bigger purchases or things I might return. But my organization of them is a mess. 

    Reply Like
      • ToddYNAB Team
      • YNAB's CSO | Four Rules since 2009
      • Todd
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      amp97 Thanks for chiming in. Do places like BB&B typically accept a digital version of a receipt, in your experience?

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      • amp97
      • amp97
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Todd I honestly haven't tried it, but it couldn't hurt to try.

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  • @todd, the main reason for the receipt request is probably:

    IRS does require people to keep copies of receipts, either the physical copy or an "electronic" copy, on hand for audits.  People who do lots of after-the-fact reimbursements also do something similar.

    Some class-action lawsuits also require documentation via receipts.  My use of my ScanSnap meant I got the full amount of reimbursements via my Kirkland-branded milk when I submitted them a full set of receipts from when I documented them.

    I'm currently using the Fujistu ScanSnap for my receipt-keeping, though, with YNAB, I don't need to keep my "not tax-related" receipts as much.

    Old workflow: Scan receipts, collect them, use the receipts to verify the amounts on credit cards show up as expected.

    New workflow: Enter amounts in YNAB, use it to verify the amounts on credit cards when transactions come in.

    I suspect people, after noticing the use of the transaction list in that, just thought, "Why can't we keep the receipt images along with that too?"

    Reply Like 1
      • ToddYNAB Team
      • YNAB's CSO | Four Rules since 2009
      • Todd
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Thanks Ducky for responding!

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  • The reason I don't think it's a good idea to store my receipts in YNAB is otherwise I can't be sure I'm not Stealing From the Future.

    Reply Like 4
  • Using it for business receipts for tax claiming purposes would be GREAT! I could see it being extremely useful for things you might need to reference in the future such as large purchases, or reimbursable items. I wouldn't use this daily, but it would make for some usefulness once in a while!

    Reply Like 1
  • It is not something I would want to see in YNAB (I would not want to pay for it),  I am happy for some functionality to be kept separate. 


    Most of my bills etc are emailed, so are stored in Gmail.  I use Google drive for anything I scan myself or save to pdf. If need be, I take a photo of any receipt that I think is important and that sits in Google Photos.  A lot of the time, most retailers have our details in their computer (particularly electrical and furniture stores), so they have record of the purchase.  Store loyalty cards also track purchase for return purposes. If I shop online for groceries to be delivered, those receipts are emailed, so I have an electronic copy.

    In Australia, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) has an App, that can be used to scan and store receipts for tax purposes. It connects to Google drive for storage (I use Android, I  have no idea what it connects to for Apple users).

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  • I use that feature to support a paperless environment and recall purchase particulars for returns and repeat purchases and general transaction information (i.e. item description, tax rate charged, store information, etc.).  Also, having this feature in YNAB will enable me to drop the other app I'm using to capture receipts.

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  • Here is what I would use it for. I am sure my situation is unique, however people might have a similar situation. I organize certain events for a non profit. I am given a budget and a checks. I need to actually send all my receipts back to the nonprofit to reconcile. I would actually use YNAB to create a separate budget for this purpose and track everything in there. It also helps for future events when I think "what did this particular item cost of x event" for budgeting for a new event. I know this is vague, I hope that it makes sense. I can get into more details if you wish.

    Reply Like 2
  • I have two YNAB accounts: one for personal and one for my LLC. OMG, PLEASE add receipt scanning with attachments to transactions! This would allow me to prepare for audits SO MUCH better. I know that y'all aren't Quickbooks or Freshbooks, but it's just so much easier to budget for my business with YNAB and export the profit/loss, etc for my accountant. Receipt tracking would be a god-send.

    Reply Like 3
    • Ditto to this response! I would love to keep all my LLC biz info in one place, and I’m hesitant to use quickbooks for work when I’m so in love with YNAB for personal! 

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  • I would really like the ability to attach a low-quality image of a receipt to a transaction. This would be both for auditing and tax purposes, but also I would find it useful for restaurant bills. I always add the total bill including tip to YNAB right at the table before we leave. However it's not terribly uncommon that when I am reviewing my CC statement a few weeks later the amount charged is more than what I logged (likely because the tip was inflated).  Unfortunately by then I've usually lost the receipt and so I can't prove to the restaurant that they over  charged me. It would be great to have the receipt right there to pull up when I need it.

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  • A myriad of reasons would make attaching receipts useful.  Taxes, etc is a no-brainer.  I do not scan every receipt, just major purchases, utility bills, statements, etc.  It's nice to have in the event of an insurance loss, it's nice to go back to last year and see what the name of the company that paved my driveway was so I can call him again next year, stuff like that.

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  • For myself, it's grocery receipts - rather than just an arbitrary figure of £100, I like to see what that comprised and how that might be improved in future. I store these separately in Evernote at the moment.  As a software developer myself, I recommend you stay away from scanning - it's a world of bother waiting to happen, and will likely complicate what is a really simple-to-use app.

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  • My wife and I have used YNAB for 4 years and it's been amazing! As our finances continue to grow in complexity adding a receipt scanning tool would be great. Not for everyday purchases, but definitely the large and expensive/tax deductible expenses. 

    We started some real estate investing and keeping everything on fill (rent/repairs/warranties) all in one place for when the IRS comes knocking would be absolutely amazing (peace of mind?!?)

    For us the flags would suffice in order to search for specific transactions/tax purposes, but optimized searching would obviously be great

    Really hope to see this coming for the app, it would be a great addition for those that love categorizing and want to reduce the amount of paper littering their house/car.

    Let us know if you want us to trial any Beta's :)

     

    Keep up the great work!

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  • As some previous people have mentioned, I would appreciate having the ability to scan some receipts (probably not all) for the purposes of proof of ownership, or to verify discrepancies caught with tip-based purchases to verify the final draft matches the tip + total I scrawled in (who knows how readable my handwriting is, after all!). 

    I've had a few instances recently where the total that cleared my credit card account didn't match the amount I manually entered in YNAB (and, sadly, I had misplaced or tossed my copy of the receipt), and I have no way of checking if I made a mistake with the total in YNAB or the server made a mistake when they were closing out their shift (I'm hoping it comes down to human error and not something more malicious). 

    My partner also uses YNAB for her small business and I know she would like the option of consolidating transactions and receipts in one place. Neither of us have found a tool that we like for receipt scanning (I'm currently using Scannable) all that much. 

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  • Yes please!!!! This would be a fantastic feature for my small business and tax purposes. My CPA likes expensify. So I am currently doing double entry, which is very tedious, and I’m hanging on to an annoying number of reciepts that need to be scanned.  If I could photograph it when I enter the expense in the budget, and then be able to create a pdf of reciepts per category,  I would be in heaven! It would also be super helpful for my personal budget. I often keep reciepts to make sure they posted properly or to track product price fluctuations. Please!! I’m looking for a budgeting tool with this function, and I don’t want to leave ynab. 

    Reply Like 1
  • I'm doing something similar as Alice Blue Lightning in running expensify and YNAB in parallel to achieve what I want, which is the ability to see the original receipt for a particular transaction for return purposes, as well as warranty, price checking, budget overruns, etc.  Basically, right now, I search for the transaction in YNAB, find out when it happened, then go to expensify to find the receipt using their search tools.

    Ideally, there would be an option to attach an image (pdf or jpg) to a transaction in the account register.  OCR functionality would be awesome, but definitely not required.  Most important would be the ability to search for past transactions by store, date, memo field and amount, so that I could go back and find that receipt later if/when I need it.

    Reply Like 1
  • I currently use Expensify alongside YNAB for keeping track of business expenses. It would be great to have to use only one application.

    Reply Like 1
  • It would be also helpful if sometimes you are looking at your ynab transactions and when there are  transactions you could not remember what it was, by looking at the digitally stored receipt would be very helpful...

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  • It seems like the posts who do not see the need for the extra function in storing/attaching a photo to a transaction already use another app for that purpose and would compound the issue for them.  However there are some who would prefer to have it all within the app. Maybe a solution that would appeal to both would be the ability to take the picture within the app, but have an IFTT recipe or similar that adds a link in the memo section to the location the IFTT recipe sends the photo to. For the people who already have a place for their receipt photos, such as Evernote, GoogleDrive, Dropbox, Etc. the recipe could be set up to automatically place it in those places and folders. For those who do not it could simply be a link to bring up the picture on their phone, iCloud, or GoogleDrive (is that the default for Android?). At least IMO this way allows the users who don't want the receipt in two places the ability to still record the transaction in YNAB and send the photo to their respective services (two birds one stone?). And for the ones who do seek this function its a win win. 

    Reply Like
      • Matt
      • Newb
      • MattH
      • 4 mths ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      Well, I was thinking about it some more, and maybe for the users who still not want the functionality added, there could be a prompt when opening the phone app, similar to the ones that ask if you want to receive notifications for this or for that. This prompt (for the users who wouldn't want that feature) would be a one time answer if the answer was "no I don't want to take a picture of my receipt." 

      But for those who did want it and answered "yes I want to take pictures of my receipts" a camera icon would appear to the right of "Add Transaction" at the top of the screen or it could be a bar above the "Save Transaction" bar at the bottom of the screen that could say "Take Photo & Save Transaction"(at least thats where it is on iOS App Version 2.3.2 (104)).  

      Sample Picture Attached (Rough!)

      Reply Like 5
  • Late reply, but I'm new here... anyhow I would love this feature and what I would use it for is a combo of receipts I HAVE to keep for our Health Care Saving Account through work.  (We are able to be reimbursed with tax-free money that comes out of each paycheck, for all health-related items, but we have to have the receipts to send in.  Being able to have them right in YNAB, then make them easily searchable/exportable when its time to send them in and get our money back would be great... ) I could also see using the feature for saving receipts for business tax purposes (I have a rental business) and for just keeping receipts of things one might return to a store or need a warranty service on at some point down the road.  If you can scan them into your app with OCR (think Scanbot / Evernote technology) and make them searchable... that would be truly awesome, and set you guys FAR apart from your competition! :)

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  • I'm still relatively new to YNAB, but I used the NEAT scanner when we used Quicken to keep track of how a transaction was split. I'm one of those people that splits a grocery store trip into either groceries or household items. Knowing exactly what was spent in each category is helpful for me. I had been using Neat in parallel with YNAB, so being able to keep it all in one place would be helpful.

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