You hate it. Your accountant hates it. The dreaded shoebox full of receipts. It never ends.
There are always tons of bits of paper that you can never fully catch up with. Each month (at least, hopefully) you dump this into your accounting system, or worse, Excel.
There are about 100 of other things you should be doing to grow your business but instead you’re messing around with parking receipts, meals receipts and crumpled up papers where you can’t even make out the writing anymore.
But fear not fellow small business owners, there is a solution. What if I told you that you could ditch your shoebox full of receipts and instead replace it with a simple app on your iPhone or Android?
Apps like Receipt Bank, Receipts by Wave, and Shoeboxed are turning your tiny bits of paper into digital data all through the ease of snapping a picture of it with your smartphone. A lot of these apps will even extract the data for you right off of the receipt, such as supplier name, the amount, the taxes, the date and even categorize them into an expense category.
Even better than that? Depending on your cloud accounting system, this data can be directly exported straight to it. No more shoebox. No more Excel spreadsheets. Fully automated goodness!
Will I pretend that the data extracted from these receipts are absolutely perfect? Not at all, but it’s pretty well close and it sure beats manually entering things. Verifying the data before it’s exported into your accounting software is a smart idea and minor adjustments are sometimes needed, but on the whole, you can expect hours of time savings each month depending on how many receipts you usually have. If you are handing off your receipts to your accountant or bookkeeper for them to enter, then you can expect to save a nice bundle of cash as a lot of the manual data entry will be eliminated on their part. Money and time well saved.
For the purposes of this article, I will take a look at apps that integrate with your cloud accounting system (which I have reviewed in a previous Techvibes article here) because ultimately we are trying to get this data into your accounting software as quickly, as easily and as automated as possible.
Receipt Bank + Xero
Receipt Bank has to be one of my most favorite Xero cloud accounting software integrations. It is one of the apps I recommend to most of my clients. Download it onto your iPhone or Android and snap pictures of your receipts. They’ll upload to Receipt Bank where the data will be extracted for you, and pretty quickly at that I might add.
You can then export this all to Xero, and voila, your annoying bits of paper are in your accounting system, no manual data entry needed. The settings in Receipt Bank allow for excellent control for just how things are exported and you can pretty much automate everything.
Receipt Bank also gives you tons of options when it comes to how you want to get your data into Receipt Bank. Sometimes you are emailed invoices and taking pictures of them is impractical. In that case you can either email the invoice to your dedicated Receipt Bank email address, upload it from your computer or from the Dropbox integration. There really are tons of ways to get your data in.
Receipt Bank really is a game changer.
Receipts by Wave + Wave
The Wave Accounting team have done it again. Their Receipts by Wave app is easily one of my most favorite features from the Canadian based company. It’s dead simple to use. Similar to Receipt Bank, download the app onto your iPhone or Android, take pictures of your receipts and they will upload directly to the Receipts tab in your Wave account. No integration is necessary. Easy peasy.
You also have the option of uploading through the web app or emailing them to your dedicated email address. Once uploaded, Wave will extract the data it detects.
The best part about it? It’s totally free.
Shoeboxed + Quickbooks Online
I’ll admit that I haven’t played around too much with this integration, but Shoeboxed is one of the leading apps in this space. On top of that, Quickbooks Online is making serious headway with their refreshed product release with lots of interesting changes on the horizon. If you are a diehard Quickbooker and need to solve that annoying shoebox full of receipts problem, check out Shoeboxed.
Receipt Bank + Freshbooks
Many Freshbooks fans have the profile of one who would use the shoebox of receipts approach. While Freshbooks does allow you to scan your receipts using their app, you would need to manually enter the receipt information yourself, which is fine for some, but others want a bit more automation. Enter Receipt Bank. Just with Xero, Receipt Bank will extract the data from the receipt for you and you can simply export it across to Freshbooks.
Which should you choose?
As mentioned above, you really want to choose an app that will save you time, and the best way to save time is to integrate it with your accounting software, without this integration, you will be stuck manually entering things once again. The point is to avoid this manual data entry and to automate things as much as possible. The apps mentioned above require a bit of management on the part of the user, but believe me, it is a million times better than the shoebox approach.
Give it a try—once you do, you won’t turn back.
This guest article was written by Ryan Lazanis of Xen Accounting.