Receipts: Do You Need Them?

In my work as an organizer, I often find myself tossing receipts into recycling that didn’t need to be brought into the house in the first place. When you purchase something, and the cashier hands you a receipt, you are not obligated to take it!

Here are a few good reasons to keep receipts:
1. If you are buying something that might malfunction and will need to be returned (and it’d be worth your time to do so).
2. If you need to keep track of the value of the thing for homeowner’s insurance or home inventory.
3. If you will be claiming the thing as a tax deduction (including business meals out).
4. If you’re going to be reimbursed for the thing (including medications and heath-related expenses).
5. If you’re keeping track of all your spending (not just if you think you should be keeping track of all your spending).

I find that I only need to save maybe 25% of the receipts I’m handed. I also don’t keep receipts from ATM withdrawals, since they all show up on my bank statement anyway. Fortunately, my bank’s ATM gives you the option of no receipt. At a store, just say to the cashier, “No thanks; just toss it.” They may look at you funny, but they’ll do it. If you forget, toss it in the first garbage can you see. If you’re using plastic, and you’re concerned about identity theft, take a glance at the receipt first to make sure your whole credit card number isn’t on it. Then ditch it!

Receipts are small, but they are super-ugly clutter when they travel far and wide in your home, or sit in piles on your desk, and they each require as much time and effort as a full-sized piece of paper when you have to clean them out of your purse, wallet, or pockets, and then go through them and read them to see whether you need them. Don’t let them into your house if you can avoid it!


When you have too much stuff, you can (with relative degrees of ease) get rid of some. But what do you do when you have too much stuff to do? A lot of my clients are faced with what seems like an impossible situation: they have more to do than they can possibly manage. The workload is such that, unless someone figures how to give up sleeping, it will never get done.

The ideal response to this situation would be to scale down the number and difficulty of these tasks, until everything that remained were easy to handle. And some stuff can be blown off without too much trouble: say, events you attend only out of obligation, hobbies you used to like but have tired of, a sale at a store when you don’t really need to buy anything. You can take a pay cut to work fewer hours. You can exchange your houseplants for cactuses.

But not everything in our lives is so easily modified. Choices we made in the past lead to jobs, school curricula, homes, children, pets, romance, friends. Love, values, or simple practicality keep them in our lives, and all these choices come with responsibilities attached.

So then what?