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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  • I feel relatively qualified to chime in here as I am a technical software consultant and I know what happens to software when it tries to be all things to all people:  the interface gets cluttered, bugs get introduced, performance suffers, and on and on.

    My $0.02 here would be:  YNAB is a budgeting app.  If you want a system of income / expenses with receipt attachment for business purposes (and don't want to invest a lot of $$$) check out Tap Forms....it's a database platform that is (relatively) easy to learn / use and I have an (I think) sophisticated and automated system that stores receipts and I can import them automatically.

    As an aside, somewhat off topic, I have a second TF database for personal "issues" where I can record things like billing disputes, house repairs, etc.  And another to track my houseplants...it's an amazing software (like YNAB!)

    <I do not work for TF :) >

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  • I have two budgets, one my personal budget and one for my Airbnb business.  I would love to be able to scan receipts for my business budget.  It might also be useful for my personal budget because then I would have receipts tagged to transactions and dates and I could add searchable notes so I could save receipts for large items that I may want to return someday.  

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  • I would just love to be able to scan it to automatically enter a transaction amount, date, and payee. It would be way more convenient than manually entering it. Hopefully it would be more accurate too, especially for the payee name. Sometimes it comes through my bank with a different name. And it would hopefully stop any weird typos that keeps transactions from matching up.

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      • PhysicsGal
      • Nerdy female homo sapien
      • physicsgal
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Steel Blue Yearling That's a great idea!  I use Wave to save my business receipts for now and the app does that for me.  And that's in the FREE version of the app.  It shouldn't be too hard to add for us paying YNABers...

      Like 1
    • PhysicsGal That's awesome! Honestly, i don't even need them to save an image of the receipt or anything (I could see that being a storage issue that could be time consuming/costly for YNAB to solve). Though I can see why people would want a storage option... I'd just be happy if it would enter a transaction for me.

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  • I now live in a small town where most shops only accept cash, and right now my "cash" budget in YNAB is just a huge mess where I constantly lose track of what's happening and I'm used to just reconcile and suppose I've had a few beers and went to the bakery a couple times. The thing is not solved with the YNAB app because in many situations I'm on the phone, chatting with someone, or even without the phone at all

     I think that being able to scan all my receipt once a week without caring about remembering the details will be awesome, right now since there's not the possibility I'm not even motivated to keep track of them, store them in a proper place so I can fill YNAB later, I just found it easier to go "hey 3€ here 10€ there reconcile bye".

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      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Daniele Hi, I reconcile my cash most weeks and there is usually a small write-off, but over the month if this is less than say £20 I do not tend to worry.  If it is larger than about £20 then with a bit of effort I can usually recall some of the spending.

      I used to have a piece of paper in my wallet and would make notes to help me recall and if I am on the phone I will usually add the transaction as I walk away or when I remember or from the receipt in my wallet.

      I suspect there are a lot of people using YNAB who set themselves a monthly cash budget for small items and do not actually bother tracking them to the transaction level.  You only need the details if you feel you are spending too much that you cannot account for and want to do something about it, but if your unaccounted for cash is within acceptable limits you will not achieve anything either adding them individually or scanning receipts.

      I hope this helps

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  • I was just searching for how to upload / scan receipts in YNAB and found this thread. For my family,  this would be huge.  We are still on our trial of YNAB (loving it so far, but have a long way to go). There are many categories that we overspend on... but I think it would be awesome to not just know we overspent on groceries, but to go back and actually see what specific items are adding up fast that we might not realize at the time of purchase. 

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    • Turquoise Trombone At the time of purchase, it's too late. You will have better luck checking your category Available BEFORE you go to the store. 

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      • Daniele
      • Forest_Green_Cartridge.5
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Yes but the point is that if you go too far, the entire money you spent at the supermarket has just one entry. Being able to actually check the bill and go into detail will avoid the overload the month afterwards. I think @torquoise_trombone6  has a point

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      • Habanero Salsa
      • Second generation user
      • Aquamarine_Pony.8
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Daniele It doesn’t have to be just one entry. 

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      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Daniele none on my supermarket bills are ever just one entry in YNAB, they are always a split transaction to capture the level of detail I decided upon when I step my categories.  Most supermarkets these days are large department stores so it is very rare we spend against just one category. Costco is a good example.

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    • Daniele I would also point out that you are justifying having a receipt from which you can split a transaction later. More importantly, you can already do that in various ways at present.

      You haven't made a case for having that receipt *in YNAB*. 

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      • WordTenor
      • I'm the oldest and the wittiest.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Turquoise Trombone That most of the posts in this thread are listed as “1 year ago” (and they’re actually not only a year old, mine at least is more like 22 months; it’s just not two years old yet) ought to tell you where this sits on the priority list. I would figure out how to use the existing functionality to make the splits you need to make at point of sale. And yes, if you are chronically overspending a category, you should check it and move money before you spend. That’s going to help you stop overspending a lot more than any sort of breakout of your groceries is likely to. 

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    • WordTenor Thanks for the tips.  I was replying to (one way) how this specific function would be useful. (There are many.)... I already do make the splits, but there are countless other reasons (listed by other users) why adding receipts would be great. I recognize the thread is old, but also figure that feedback is feedback... and maybe, just maybe... this squeaky wheel will get the grease and *ta da!* there will be a receipt scan function available!

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      • WordTenor
      • I'm the oldest and the wittiest.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Turquoise Trombone We just got an update about two months ago with  changes to goal functionality that have been promised for four years. I’m just pointing out that I would not get my hopes up, and that if you are wishing for this functionality do do x, I would figure out how to do x without this functionality as it’s not likely to come any time soon. 

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  • I would love to see this feature! I'm a freelance videographer and I need to keep receipts (1) to attach to my invoices later, and (2) because my business expenses need to be backed up by receipts. Thanks :) 

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  • This would actually be very helpful for work expenses! I take photos of the receipts when I purchase things but sometimes I've lost the picture/can't find it/can't remember the details BUT I do always populate YNAB and fill in the memo. So every period I could find all my expenses (I have a category for that!) and have the pictures right there when I go to claim them (my company requires I send a copy of the receipt for reimbursements). Most of my expenses are small so anything that  makes it easier to remember to claim them is really helpful!

    Like 1
  • I'd love this for tax purposes. At tax season we love exporting the YNAB register to sum up our business expenses, but it's a big hassle to make sure we have all of the receipts. If we could store the receipts in YNAB, that would be amazing.

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  • We farm and so we need to show receipts for all purchases for taxes.

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  • I learnt many years ago,  in various painful ways, that you just have to keep copies of receipts and invoices, at least for significant purchases. You can do it in a filing cabinet or even in a cardboard box, but I always found myself having to look through a pile to find any particular one. Organising when filing was too much time and something I rarely got around to later. 

    On the computer is better as it can search much quicker than me and I now use Devonthink, which can render scans into text and records date entered and other metadata (e.g. Payee), imports from email too and which allows me to find things that are many years old in milliseconds (e.g. allowed me to claim discount for YNAB subscription when my old copy of YNAB4 is very long gone). It also allows me to keep and find manuals instruction leaflets etc. I bought Devonthink for research (work) but soon realised it can store almost anything well.  I have used Keep It and Eaglefiler at various times in the past. Not as good, IMHO, but much cheaper and they worked for me with receipts and invoices.

    I can see the sense in a quick phone photo to attach to a YNAB transaction (strike while the iron is hot) but I'd want to be able to export it to my system for long-term storage.

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