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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  • For us (me and my wife), the scan and autogenerate transaction function would be very helpfull. So for us it is a go! :)

    Reply Like 1
  • I use scanning for a number of reasons and was disappointed to find I am unable to do this with YNAB. 

    Often receipts fade overtime so when I make a transaction for an item with a warranty I will scan/photo so that I have a  legible copy.

    For items required for tax returns

    also if I buy and item that’s not consumable I often keep a copy of receipt so that if it falls apart in a couple of wears or uses I have the re riot for exchange. 

    I hope you consider this option on YNAB as most other transaction programs offer this 

    thx 🙏

    Reply Like 2
  • Because taking a picture is quick and a very common action that requires less time/thought. Remembering to add all transactions is hard enough for some of us and when we do remember, we don't always have the time. Entering info into your app may seem straightforward enough at a programming desk but out on the road and with multiple accounts it takes a little more time and thoughts. I tried it this month and ended up ditching the idea, instead, I decided to ask for receipts and stuff them in my work bag. The trouble is the task then grows and I still need to remember to do it.  The function that I personally would love to see is a receipt dump by a photo.

    The workflow that would best suit me would be this. Take a picture of a receipt (or screenshot it to allow for e-receipts) from within YNAB - the file is scanned for data and populated into a temporary transaction (and unallocated to any account)  -  when less busy, I can go through and amend (if required) and approve the transaction and allocate them to the correct accounts - all processed and approved receipts, get stored in a location on the app to keep them out of my personal photos. If this is not possible, then the ability to simply take and store photos in the YNAB app (and not duplicating them to personal photos would help).

    I could just take pictures of receipts myself but they would get lost in my personal albums and it defeats the time-saving object. 

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  • I'd love this feature because I wouldn't have to trust my memory when I buy a pair of jeans on my grocery run at Costco!🤪 it's also be great if you could set categories for different vendors... Safeway: groceries...and I don't have to categorize bit I can update if necessary. 

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  • This would be an AWESOME feature!  My wife is a "reluctant" user, and I have a hard time getting her to enter transactions into YNAB.  This leads to confusion about current balances, and causes problems.  If she could take a picture of her receipt (which she always does anyway for her couponing sites), I could better categorize the transactions.  It would also help me in being able to track back and find information when I need it later.  I'm not sure what I would need it for, but it might be taxes as you mentioned.  Other times it might be just for reference.  Please make it happen soon!

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  • If internal development of this feature is not going to happen, perhaps another option would be to partner with Expensify for integration, now that you have an API.  😁

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  • As some of the other users mentioned here, I would like this feature to keep track of receipts where tips and stuff are written down.  I just had an incident today where I noticed my YNAB and credit card were out of sync, and it turned out I was overcharged at a restaurant. It would have been great if I had an image of that receipt attached to YNAB to show them!

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  • My wife and I currently created a Group in WhatsApp Messenger where we each take picture of our rceipts and send them to each other. Since we closely track the budget categories, I often need to split a transaction but without actually know the split-- I can't do it. We use the Group so that when I reconcile transactions, I will look through receipts and find ones denoted with splits (common categories include: Groceries, Household, or Donation) on a single receipt.

     

    To iterate, a "shoeboxed" function would be great where we JUST capture receipts via the camera. The next step would be associating those receipts, through manual or machine learning, to the actual transaction/splits.  It would be imperative that I could see the receipts in the Web and the App. 

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  • What I think would be great would be the ability to scan and automatically categorize items from a receipt. Think Walmart; you buy food, clothes, tools, games, etc. in one trip. If it could categorize all of that for me, it would save me time.

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      • Vibrant
      • May the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows
      • vibrant
      • 5 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Alice Blue Hail Unfortunately I can almost guarantee this will never happen, because there's too much variability in how individuals categorize things. If you categorize paper towels as Household and I categorize them as Groceries, how does YNAB know what to do?  How does it know when a sweater is a Clothing Essential or a Treat Yo Self or a Gift? And is it really less work to recategorize everything the app guesses wrong than to tally up and create your own splits...;)

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    • Vibrant from a programming perspective it wouldn't be hard for ynab to look and say last time you bought dish soap from Walmart for example you categorized it as household and it could do the same and if for example you instead meant that as a gift for someone (no judgement that you're gifting dish soap i promise) you could just manually change it and maybe when you change it ynab might even ask should i use this new category next time you buy this?

      Reply Like 1
  • I am just starting my trial, and I would really like this feature. I am leaning towards YNAB instead of quickbooks, because I do not need all of the bells and whistles of quickbooks. I am a small business owner, and need a way to keep receipts for audits and organization. If everything is all in one place, I'm much more likely to keep up with it. 

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  • Step 1.  Go to a big-box store.
    Step 2. Purchase a cartful of things that spans 3 categories
    Step 3. with 4 kids in tow, lose the receipt, which happens all the time
    Step 4. your accounting is completely ruined, as you now have no idea how to split the transactions

    Scanning/imaging the receipt is crucial, and is one of the chief steps in the transaction capturing process that I use in Quicken (trialing YNAB atm).

    If any users DON'T want to have scanning/imaging receipts in the user flow, just allow them turn it off in preferences.

    Reply Like 3
      • kiva822
      • kiva822
      • 7 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Cadet Blue Wizard FYI, any time I'm at a store where I'm purchasing items that are in multiple categories, I divide up the order and have the clerk run my card separately for each. Then receipt for each that I input later.

      To the original question, I'm still a YNAB 4 user. If the ability to attach receipts to transactions got added to nYNAB, that may be the reason to make the switch...

      Reply Like 1
  • It would be awesome to keep a pic of the receipt along with the transaction - for returns, for insurance, for warranties and not have to have a separate app for that - I have enough apps on my phone.🙂

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  • Forwarding an email receipt and having YNAB auto-enter it would be golden. Then I could just auto-forward receipts from Amazon! Today I often forget to enter an amazon purchase and then have to go back into my amazon account later to figure out how to categorize it.

    Expensify does receipt scanning. It's pretty slow but helpful.

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  • I'd like this just because I loose receipts easily and if I need to obtain a copy for something like a return or exchange this could be much easier than having a separate receipts app.

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  • Hi Todd, I purchased a tablet. They told me that it is two year under warranty if I bring the device with its receipt. I am holding on the hard copy at the moment. If I had a chance to take a pic of the receipt and upload on YNAB with its transaction, it would make my life way easier. I believe it is a crucial feature for finance software. 

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  • I would utilize receipt images to make categorizing my husband's transactions easier. The hubby uses the YNAB app to enter his transactions as he does them, but he relies on me to manage where our money is going and keeping everything categorized correctly. He uses the category balances as his guidelines and just makes sure not to overspend any of them. If I could look up all his receipts quickly, it would be easier for me to make any adjustments to his categorization and add any necessary splits. 

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  • Transactions from the bank aren’t at the right granularity, for example a £100 a week on groceries consists of items that are necessary (groceries) and items that aren’t necessary (magazines for the kids).  By scanning receipts, you would get all the information on grocery transactions.

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  • It would be nice for categorization at a later time to have a direct relationship between the transaction and a receipt, especially for retailers that we visit frequently, and for different purposes.  Some of what we buy is tax deductible, some isn't.  Some is for our home, some isn't.  Most is not reimbursable, but some is.  Would be nice to pull up a transaction and show exactly what was included in the purchase.

    This wouldn't be useful for all transactions, like gas.  If it's under 10.00, it was a snack, if it was over 10.00, it was likely fuel.  We don't need a receipt to determine this.

    Reply Like
  • Could you please tell us when this is going be implemented?  

    Reply Like 1
    • Hi Blue Filly !

      This thread is meant to gather intel for our design team. We don't have a set road map for this feature just yet, but your input is a great help!

      Reply Like
    • Faness please do consider it!  I'm sitting here tonight with my husband trying to figure out where his receipts are for purchases he won't get reimbursed for through his job. (tax purposes) If he could use the app to take a pic of the receipt (like popular business apps) it would be a huge help! Plus when we go stores and buy both gifts and household items, it would be so much easier to take that quick picture to split the items up later when we have time to sit down and detail transactions...rather than having to look for the receipt that likely got thrown away. I love this feature in my business app! Pretty please! :)

      Reply Like 1
  • Ok YNAB developers, this is now a long thread of users asking for a pretty basic feature. When are you going to implement it??

    Reply Like
    • Hi Tan Drum !

      We don't have a roadmap for this feature just yet, but we appreciate you weighing in! The comments on this thread have been a great help! :)

      Reply Like
      • WordTenor
      • A polymath, a pain in the ....
      • WordTenor
      • 5 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Tan Drum If you read the posts from the YNAB people, you'll see they were investigating to see why people might use this feature, to investigate whether or not it was worth doing, and that they never came back to say whether or not they had decided to try to implement it.  (And that they were on the side of "don't think this is worth doing, but let's see why users would want it.") And you'll also see that several of us think building it would be an utter waste of time on everybody's parts. 

      So many resources have been devoted to keeping direct import up and running that they have barely managed to solve some of the bigger problems that the program had on launch, three years ago, much less implementing something that is of dubious value for budgeting (record-keeping is a different matter, but YNAB is not a great record-keeper and they even advise you to Fresh Start periodically which wipes your record anyway.) May I suggest Evernote if you are looking for a good receipt repository? 

      Reply Like 2
  • I use Expensify for receipt scanning and I can also use it to submit reimbursable things to the people who need to reimburse them. If Evernote doesn't work for you, it's another good option. 

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  • I would pay extra for it, even if I had to provide the storage (Google, Dropbox, etc.). However, to be useful, the feature would need to do OCR. The main use would be to help with splitting transactions from big box stores. I'm lazy. :-)

    Reply Like
      • Dog Teeth
      • dogteeth
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      PiperDad I would not pay extra for it. There are so many free options out there for storing receipts in the cloud, that YNAB should not need to take the brunt of those costs. In doing so, they'd be forcing us to roll with the punches.

      Reply Like
      • PiperDad
      • piperdad
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Dog Teeth 

      It's the OCR and auto transaction entry that I'm interested in. Although as others have said, storage is cheap.

      Reply Like
  • Hi, my husband has a small business and we need to keep the recites for tax purposes. It would be easier just to have it all in one place. Recites for business spending and for income. Also when I spend money for work I need to keep track of the recites. Also if you need to return something if I can take a picture of the recite as the transaction happens then I will for sure have it if I need to return and exchange something. Also if you have OCR with the recites which most business expense report apps have now then I wouldn’t have to spend time recoding so much info I just take a picture of the recite and you can pull the date vendor how much etc. 

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  • For me, personally at this time, I doubt that you could implement something that I would find more useful than my current method. My current method: 1. Don't worry too much about categorizing household supplies vs groceries. 2. Trust that restaurant, grocery receipts don't need to be verified after the fact,  just toss them & trust the transactions as they come in through import. 3. Use a ScanSnap scanner and/or Scannable app in conjunction with Evernote to keep an manage important tax and waranty receipts & information for possible future retrieval.

    What would be really cool is if you can use a really good AI to capture and interpret a receipt in a way that makes entering the transaction easy & storing the image with the transaction. As you already know this is very complex and difficult to do well. My ScanSnap scanner came with a receipt management tool with that sort of AI, and I quickly abandoned it because it just not helpful enough.

    As I really think about this problem, I think that a good solution probably starts at the time of the transaction. The credit card companies  should capture "receipts" or some sort of  receipt proxy that can contains all the relevant information & is universally recognized as a receipt. Then we wouldn't have this exact problem anymore. Hmm. Just thinking way out there.

    Reply Like 2
      • Courtney Lane
      • Mother. Lover. Budgeter.
      • cocolove
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Pink Cartridge You and I are the same! I also see this feature creating huge storage increases for YNAB's servers, especially with the 150 category and super detailed YNABers! 

      Reply Like
      • Dog Teeth
      • dogteeth
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Pink Cartridge Like the Evernote idea... isn't it made for that sort of thing anyway?

      Reply Like
    • Dog Teeth Yes, Its really good at that sort of thing. I pay for the premium version which OCRs everything you put into it, so you can search on the contents of the receipt. Or you can tag receipts in any complicated fashion that meets your needs, like "warranty" or "business" or "tax-deductible" or whatever.

      Reply Like
  • I would likely only use it for large purchases and reimbursement categories such as "Professional Expenses" since my hospital reimburses providers at the end of the year for certain expenses. Currently, I just use separate Google drive folders allocated for my job and important receipts, warranties, agreements, etc to.

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