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'm sure this has been said before, but the thread is long for me to find something to upvote so I'll say it in my own words. Note that I am new to ynab. 

    Sometimes I make big shopping trips to places like Costco, where I make hundreds of dollars of purchases in wildly different categories. 

    Recently we moved, so in one trip we spent $700 on home furnishings and food. In other trips, I might buy both clothes groceries (enough for each to matter to my budget) from the same store. So what I want isn't receipt scanning and storage, but receipt parsing, like expensify, so I can seamlessly select a category for each item. Of course, I'd suggest using an API from a company like expensify for that, if possible, and probably charging extra for the features. 

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  • If anyone from YNAB sees this, you guys should consider working with VeryFi's APIs to integrate their receipt scanning tech into YNAB somehow.  It's scary accurate and fast, and provides line-item itemization of receipts and invoices.  It's amazing. I moved my receipt scanning and archive from Expensify over to VeryFi and am very pleased with the improvement in performance and functionality.

    Like 1
  • Look to Veryfi. It is amazing and works with QBO and Xero etc. for biz. Wouldn't it be wonderful if it could also sync with YNAB and I could use it with my personal side to get things organized! I love to dream :)

    But seriously YNAB Gods... get ahold of Veryfi and figure out how to make an integration. YNAB + Veryfi = LOVE!!

    https://www.veryfi.com

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  • Attaching images of receipts is my most urgent "want." I'd use it for storing receipts connected to tax-deductible expenses on my personal tax return.

    Scanning wouldn't be necessary. All the transaction data (except for splits) already gets automatically imported into YNAB. Scanning would only be helpful if it automatically did splits for line-items, but I know that would be technically challenging.

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  • CURRENT WORKFLOW:

    1) Open YNAB to review expenses;

    2) See several Amazon purchases;

    3) Ask, "How should these be categorized?" (No idea at a glance, because only order number and amount are shown.)

    4) Search through email to connect charge with receipt;

    5) Categorize accordingly;

    6) Repeat for all Amazon purchases;

    7) Hate the tedium;

    8) Wonder, "Why can't I just forward receipts to YNAB for easy matching?"

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  • For me, the biggest thing is healthcare related receipts.  Between FSAs and HSAs, saving receipts is a must (thats just one use case - there are plenty more in this 2 year long post  I would also align with).  Going to the local pharmacy to pick up a script along with some groceries (or just the Rx, doesn't matter) and having that in the app to refer back to for both categorizing and using for reimbursement to FSA or HSA (I have both) would be great (plus all the other reasons posted in the last 2 years).  Better than the shoe box I have right now anyway.

    I get the sense this is not a YNAB priority however (two year discussion with no real commitment either way).  If the hesitation is storage cost related, perhaps set a limit and then charge extra if you want more space (just like other cloud services).  

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  • Receipts in a budget app? Seems like a bookkeeping thing, not budgeting. 

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      • mjrudolphi
      • mjrudolphi
      • 5 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Violet Zebra So does that mean you dont think it would be a good thing to have receipts in the app?

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    • mjrudolphi In a bookkeeping app, of course. In a budgeting app, no. 

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      • mjrudolphi
      • mjrudolphi
      • 5 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Violet Zebra Right I got that point  - receipts images are for bookkeeping apps not budget apps and since YNAB is not a bookkeeping app then the logical conclusion is there is no reason to keep receipts in YNAB.

      My question is for clarification of why you think that.  What do you consider a bookkeeping app?  Is it something like Quickbooks?  When I think of a bookkeeping app I think of a business accounting software.  Are you saying you only need to save receipts (in this manner) if you are running a business?  I dont think you are saying that but I dont know for sure.

      I'm just curious because you must feel strongly enough about your point (why else post it?).  Your statement basically says to everyone in this post who would like the ability to attach a receipt that they are using the wrong app.  Do you have a suggestion on what app everyone should be using?  Or are you saying they dont need to keep their receipts? 

      I'm just trying to understand your point because I think you are saying to everyone on this post - YNAB shouldnt have this ability because it would break some law of logic that somehow we have all missed while posting here.

      Maybe your point is that if YNAB did create this functionality you would find no use for it.

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 5 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      mjrudolphi I would prefer improvements to the core functionality before any thought of adding receipt storage. The number of times a receipt needs to be pulled up is dwarfed by other budgeting-oriented actions. In the meantime, there are numerous effective solutions for receipt capture already available.

      Like 1
      • mjrudolphi
      • mjrudolphi
      • 5 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui That's just your opinion on your priorities, not whether you would use a feature to scan and save receipts.  I mean I could say I prefer this improvement be prioritized over all others because that's my opinion on what they should prioritize.  

      I think YNAB is asking how you would use it if they did implement it (I assume to better understand how people would use it).  Considering this is 2 years old and no commitment has been made either way, I think your priorities aren't in any immediate danger.  But, IMO if they did prioritize it, I would be happy as it fit my priorities.

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  •   Faness one suggestion might be to allow for hyperlinks within the memo lines. Right now, what I do for my receipts is add them to my google drive and then put a link to them in the memo - but then to go to the image I have to copy/paste the URL, as opposed to being able to click on it.  It won't allow for the receipts directly in YNAB, but will at least make it slightly more user friendly for the work around?

    Like 3
    • Cadet Blue Cartridge I really like this idea. I don't usually save links in my budget, but now that I'm thinking about the possibilities, I definitely see it being a helpful option. If you have a moment, a Feature Request to run this by our Product Team would be a great way to put this on their radar!

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      • Bruce
      • Software Engineer
      • Bruce
      • 3 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Faness , Cadet Blue Cartridge   , I've thought about this too. I have a link in the notes of a couple of my categories. I'd also like to be able to click on them and open the link instead of having to copy / paste it. I may fill out a request for this also. 

      One of the categories is a combined true expense, and the link takes me to the spreadsheet that has the calculations, in case I need to add, change, or delete one of the charges. 

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    • Bruce Thank you for sharing! I'm honestly not sure how difficult it is to enable hyperlinks, but I now want to keep my Christmas list in a category note for easier reference. 

      Like 1
  • Hot topic. I appreciate that YNAB is listening. My main use case would be for taxes (e.g. deducting some expenses). Maybe instead of storing the data, perhaps a solution can be done leveraging a cloud provider that people have (e.g. Dropbox)? Trello has a nice example of Dropbox integration, for instance. You can “attach” a document to a card (nothing more than a Dropbox link really), but the user experience is as if that document is attached to the note.

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  • I'd also like having this feature. My use case at the moment is that I don't keep paper versions of receipts, and keeping the picture in YNAB seems to be the most appropriate place for it. It will also help if I am splitting transactions at a separate time from when I have attached the receipt. Thanks 

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    • Orchid Horn Thanks for your +1 on this feature idea! If you'd like, you can submit a Feature Request to add your voice with our Product Team. :)

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  • Adding my name to the list of users requesting this feature.  We have a need to track spending/receipts (in case the IRS requests them.  I would pay extra for this feature.  Maybe it could be optional for others who don't require it.

    Like 1
  • I would love it if I could scan my small business purchase receipts and attach them to purchases recorded in my YNAB account. I wouldn't need them to do anything fancy, just attach them as a picture or pdf so that I could throw away the paper receipts and not have to deal with them. 

    Like 1
  • I need this for business purposes.

    I don't need anything fancy, nothing ocr'd, it doesn't have to be a pdf, or searchable even.

    I would be happy just to take a photo with my phone and attach that to the transaction.  atm I'm manually doing that anyway, but instead I have to move the photo to a central location and make sure the file is properly named, which is tedious, and I sometimes forget these steps.  If I could just attach an image, I could theoretically take the photo at the time I'm entering the transaction on my phone.

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    • Please don't let perfect get in the way of good enough.

      Like 1
  • Have i ever thought of wanting this? no.

    How do I manage receipts now? I don't. In australia, a bank transaction is proof enough of a purchase for warranty purposes at most stores. (easy for large transactions like appliances)

    Would I use this? Potentially yes, for large purchases (i tend to record some detail in the memo field to make searching easier in YNAB and use this to track down the bank transaction record.)

    Why do i think it's a bad idea? speed and data. as of this post i have 14318 transactions in YNAB. Do i suspect my budget is going to slow down over time? absolutely. I think images (reciepts) are going to make this happen much faster. DOes YNAB have the resources to store millions of images that can be accessed in an instant? That is my long term concern.

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  • Hey YNAB Team! 

    I recently became an ordained minister, which allows for various tax advantages vis a vis housing expenses. My wife and I track all of our purchases in YNAB, so it would be convenient to be able to store and subsequently export copies of our receipts in housing specific categories to our CPA, as opposed to storing them elsewhere and having them unassimilated with our transaction records. 

    If it were possible to associate a picture or file with a given transaction then export transactions and associated attachments from given categories that would be extremely helpful.

    I hope this is helpful info! Please let me know if any of the above needs any further explanation! 

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  • Hey there. New YNAB 5 user here. I'm coming across this suggestion post and wanted to add my opinion. I believe being able to add receipt and/or bill/invoice would be a huge plus.
    I'm def seeing the great potential it adds to the soft if we could somehow import or link photos/scans of these in Ynab. What I'm expecting from this feature :

    - it should be possible to use the YNAB smartphone app to straight up take a photo (similar to those scanner-like mobile apps everyone knows about) and then upload it on the cloud (for on the go recording and later reconcile or check at home);

    - this means receipts should be accessible both from the smartphone and the web app;

    - it could potentially use my Dropbox/OneDrive/Mega/Google Drive space via a dedicated folder with app authorization instead of YNAB prorietary cloud;

    - it should let me either directly see the receipt when hovering and/or clicking on a transaction, or send me to the photo/scan it is linked to (hyperlink);

    - I should be able to see at a glance which transactions have a receipt attached, probably trough the use of an icon being displayed in a separate collumn;

    - it should be possible to import photos/scans from my device (phone or computer) in order to attach older receipts to transactions;

    - it would be cool (but optional) if it was using some OCR in order to let us search through the recordings but I guess this would mean the receipts are hosted on YNAB prorietary cloud (and maybe it's a bit hard to execute in this context);

    Benefits:

    - archiving

    - better transaction recordings (less potential errors)

    - better understanding and linking of payees' names because sometimes they're different between the receipt and the bank record

     
    Thanks for reading me.

    Cheers.

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  • Today I discovered a very tight receipt ocr scanning tool in Stessa, software I use to track my real estate.  Simply scan the receipt and the app recognizes the store name and total charge.  All that’s left is to categorize it and hit enter.  It appeared to be a 3rd party app so perhaps YNAB could integrate it soon?  

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  • I really hope you incorporate this feature in the future!!! I would use receipt scanning to help with splitting categories. I would scan in a receipt from a store, then indicate which items on the receipt should go to which categories. It would also help with keeping the pdf files in the cloud so that I could save them. This would be such a helpful addition to YNAB!

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  • Seems like there is a decent amount of interest around this topic! I am another voice advocating for this. It would be a wonderful feature to have and might help you gain some traction with small businesses, creatives, and start-ups! To be honest, I would even pay a little extra for this feature.

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