This is Why Tossing Your Receipts is Basically Throwing Away Money
Honestly, I’ve always hated receipts.
They usually roll around like tumbleweeds in the backseat of my car.
Or, after a night out, my purse is stuffed with ’em.
The worst mess occurs in my inbox after a night of impulse shopping on Zappos.
They’ve always reminded me of money I’ve spent, which I don’t love thinking about. And just when I do need them — for a return or a warranty — they disappear. Just like that.
But recently, I discovered I need to treat receipts with more care. That’s because I could be earning money back with them.
Do I sound crazy? Probably, per usual. But here’s what I’m talking about.
1. Take a Picture of Your Receipt Using Ibotta
Ibotta is an easy-to-use cash-back app that’s partnered with more than 50 retailers, just about anywhere you’d do any kind of shopping.
Before heading out on a grocery run, I find items on my shopping list within the app. Strawberries? Check. An ear of corn? Check. I add each cash-back opportunity to my rebate list within the app.
Then I shop.
When I get home and am unloading my groceries, I take a photo of my receipt then scan the items’ barcodes.
Bam. Cash back.
Some cash-back opportunities I’ve recently taken advantage of include:
- 25 cents back for any item
- 25 cents back on strawberries
- 50 cents back on frozen fruit snacks
- $1 back on a box of tea
- $5 back on a case of Shiner Bock beer
2. Don’t Delete Your Walmart Receipt
That’s my first inclination.
I don’t really want evidence of my online shopping binge to linger, but I found a free tool that makes me reconsider. Paribus gets you money back for your online purchases when an item’s price drops.
For example, I buy a pack of cat toys on Amazon. (This, unfortunately, is not abnormal.)
Next week, the price drops $1. Paribus registers that change and contacts Amazon to get me a refund.
Paribus monitors more than 25 online retailers, so chances are, you’ll get some money back.
Bonus: Read about seven other ways to save money each time you buy something online.
3. Take Those Silly Surveys… Seriously
You know that 4-foot long CVS receipt I mentioned?
There’s, of course, a link to a survey at the end of it. Sure, you think you’ll never win anything for telling CVS you had a positive experience and that your cashier was a delight.
But you actually can.
Penny Hoarder Lisa Rowan has won money from CVS because she took the time to hop online.
I have to say, I treasure my Chick-fil-A receipts. More times than not, I have a survey offer. I answer a few quick questions and get a free chicken sandwich.
4. Check For Coupons or Specials
I’ve been complaining about that long CVS receipt, but it actually contains some pretty sweet deals, including $5 back on my next purchase.
It’s also tailored to the items I typically purchase, so I often receive coupons for stuff like packs of gum and boxes of razors, which I’m always stocking up on.
Now, my only issue is keeping track of that receipt and remembering it the next time I venture into the store…
5. Don’t Forget Those Tax Deductions
Here’s your taxes 101 refresher: Tax deductions are expenses you can subtract from your taxable income, so they lower your tax bill.
Don’t forget to keep track of tax deductions (yup, keep those receipts) because they’ll add up.
Here are a few examples of deductions:
- Charitable contributions (anything you donate to Goodwill!)
- Home office equipment
- Payments you make to your traditional IRA
- Some higher education tuition and fees
- Mileage if you use your personal vehicle for work purposes
- Relocation expenses (if you moved for a job)
- Student loan interest you’ve paid
Want to know more about deductions? Here ya go.
6. Remember: You Might Have a Warranty on That Product
If your favorite pair of socks gets a hole or your backpack’s zipper gets all janky, remember to check into the product’s warranty.
Many companies offer lifetime warranties — including these 43. Oftentimes, you’ll have to hold onto your receipt to nab these perks.
Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’ll never look at receipts the same way again.