Expenses, receipts…and getting all your money back

Doing your expenses is a pain and some people will do anything to avoid it and put off the whole process for as long as possible. I had a coworker during my days (and nights) as a Deloitte consultant who did not submit his expenses for 3 months, but then had $12,000 worth of receipts to work through. I wonder how many receipts he lost or couldn’t place and how much money he lost. Anyway, don’t be that coworker!

  

The problem with waiting so long is, you lose track and/or forget some of the details behind these expenses. Looking at a bunch of receipts weeks or months later could be very confusing, and you might not recall why a certain dinner was so expensive (perhaps you took out your team, but who was part of that team dinner?).
  
When you check into your hotel the first evening, at the front desk ask for a simple plain envelope. Write on it the current date – this envelope will hold all your receipts for that work week. At the end of each day, transfer all receipts from your pockets, wallet, socks, purse, or hidden Speedo pocket into the envelope.
  
Before you place them in the envelope, for brownie points, circle the date,  the amount, payment method (e.g. credit card used), location/venue and make any notes*, if necessary.  Ok, it’s not really brownie points, noone’s going to give you a cookie, but your reimbursement life is going to be so much easier.
  
Similarly to house work/cleaning, it is easier to do a little cleaning on a regular basis rather than waiting for the dust bunnies to turn into dirt velociraptors.
  
Make it a routine to do your expenses on a regular basis, within 24 hours after getting back from your trip.  Even if you only do them once a month, having 4 – 5 envelopes (1 per week) to go through is much less depressing than going through a stack of crumpled receipts (if you can find them all).
  
If you are not planning to expense the full amount of the receipt, annotate the receipt with the amount to be expensed and scribble a note as to why you are not expensing the full amount.
  
*If you are expensing something for not just yourself, but others as well (e.g. a team dinner), annotate the team members’ names (and/or client representatives) on the back of the receipt.
  
With this simple exercise that should not take more than 2 minutes every evening, you will make the expense reimbursement process at the end of the week that much easier and the money in your bank account that much more.
  
** App tip: on the iPhone, get the “Scannable” app. It works well with Evernote, so set up a “Receipts” notebook, point to it within Scannable as the default notebook and scan your receipts very easily. **

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