Self-employment has many advantages, but one of the hassles of being your own boss is doing the accounts. I’m lucky in that I have found an amazing accountant who effortlessly handles all of my paperwork, but she needs all my invoices and receipts meticulously organized to be able to do her job properly.
This is even more important if you do everything yourself. One slip-up and the tax inspector has you in a tough spot.
To keep on top of everything, you need to have a setup where you can scan all of your receipts into some sort of program, preferably one with a web-based option as well. Today, we will take a look at some options for scanning, tracking, and managing your receipts.
Free or Paid?
If you are just starting out in your business empire, the pennies may be a bit on the tight side, and you may be looking for a free option. You would be very mistaken if you thought that left you with only sub-standard options. Far from it.
You can get some great free apps for managing your receipts, but you can also get more functionality with paid apps for only a couple dollars. I’ll look at both here.
Managing Receipts with Evernote
Let’s first take a look at the crowd favorite: Evernote. This app claims to act as your second brain, remembering everything so you don’t have to. I would be totally lost without it.
Your receipts can be managed completely free of charge, simply with the camera built into Evernote. Just open the app on your phone and on the main screen, top-left, is the camera icon. Tap that and you will see the camera kicking in. You can preview everything before it goes to Evernote, so any bad scans can be easily discarded and redone.
NOTE: I have a German phone, so my Evernote app is also in German. But if you open the app on your phone, you will see everything in your device’s native language.
Now let’s look at some third-party apps from Evernote’s App Center, which contains apps approved by Evernote (some also include a web-based platform). Some of these will help you scan your receipts into Evernote. Note, however, that while Evernote has a free plan, some of these apps require you shell out a couple of dollars.
This is Evernote’s own app which you can use in place of the built-in app camera. Its main advantage over the default camera is that Scannable has an automatic border detection feature, which is meant to speed things up if you have a lot to scan. When you start the camera, the turquoise detection field kicks into action, looking for the edges of your document.
When it detects the edges of your receipt, the camera immediately takes a picture and you can review it to make sure it is satisfactory. Then you can either save it to the camera roll or to Evernote.
The automatic detection feature is a bit hit-and-miss, so sometimes you have to manually take the picture instead.
This is an app that I am extremely impressed with, and it is definitely worth the $3. It creates a clear scan of the receipt and enables you to enter details for storage inside Evernote itself. The receipt is sent to Evernote as a PDF file, so it can easily be exported.
What is cool about this app is that instead of typing the amount of the purchase into the app, you can run your finger along the amount in the scan, and the app will read it for you.
Receipts is a scanning app where you scan your receipt and then place it in its correct category. It keeps a running total of how much has been spent in which category, which the accountant will surely thank you for.
It also helps you stay on top of spending; if the company budget on dining out is being exceeded, for example, you’ll see it right in the app. You can then send customized reports and your receipts to Evernote.
You can use this app for free until you’ve added ten receipts, after which you’ll be required to pay the $10 to upgrade to the pro version.
Managing Receipts with OneNote
We now turn to Evernote’s arch-rival, Microsoft’s OneNote. Although it didn’t take with me when I tried using it, OneNote has found a hardcore legion of fans, especially since Microsoft made OneNote completely free. But what third-party apps can you use that will send your receipts to OneNote quickly and effectively?
Everyone on the Internet seems to agree that when it comes to OneNote, the heavyweight champion is Office Lens. Made by Microsoft themselves, Office Lens is a scanner app which integrates very tightly with Microsoft products, such as OneNote and Office 365. However, you can also save your scan as a PDF, mail the image, or save it to your phone’s camera roll.
Just snap the picture, let Office Lens clean it up, and choose which service you want to send it to. The app does the rest.
This little beauty of a scanner, from Grizzly Labs, is specially integrated with many different cloud services, one of which is OneNote. After snapping the picture of the receipt, it is easy to crop it down to the essentials, and the app then gets to work, enhancing the receipt until it is of excellent quality. Definitely one to check out.
The basic version of Genius Scan is free and includes integration with Dropbox. The premium version of the app, which costs $6.99, works with OneNote, Google Drive, Expensify, Evernote, and Box. It also gets rid of ads.
Managing Receipts with Google Drive
Google Drive offers a “Use Camera” option when you click the + button in the bottom left of the screen. Snap your receipt and it gets sent directly to your Google Drive account.
With the iOS app, it seems to be a standard camera, but on an Android (which I don’t own), the process seems to be different. Cast your eyes below.
Scanner Pro, Receipts, and Genius Scan are able to send scanned documents to Google Drive, and there are likely others out there, so you have additional options when it comes to storing your receipts there.
What Do You Use To Scan Your Receipts?
Hopefully you will have picked up some useful tips from this article. But as always, I can’t include every single app. I tested numerous ones which ultimately didn’t make the cut here, for various reasons, such as usability issues, quality issues, and much more.
However, if I missed out your favorite, please do tell us in the comments below why you like it. And if you have any tips on how to best manage your receipts from your phone or tablet, please share them!