Expense Planning: Paper or Digital, what is best?

Posted in Bookkeeping, Restaurants, Farms, Virtual Services

Whether you keep your expense receipts in a shoebox or prefer to keep your files online, expense planning is essential. 


Having bookkeeping processes in place to track and organize expenses generated for the business.  It gives owners access to the right information to help them create reports.  These reports help them make successful decisions and meet essential government regulated deadlines.  

Expense Planning for those who Prefer Paper

Digital technology is growing, but let’s be honest, most of us still get paper receipts when we go to a restaurant, pick up supplies at the local hardware store, or even putting gas in our vehicles. When dealing with paper receipts to track expenses, make sure to keep them in an organized filing system.  Having everything in one place at the end of the month will make the end of month reporting much easier and more efficient.  Itemize your receipts at the end of the month, and then submit everything together to your bookkeeper.

Digital Solutions for Expense Planning

If you prefer online technology and software, use an online bookkeeping software such as Quickbooks or Sage to track expenses. Each receipt entry prompts you to put the amount into the right category (i.e. advertising, office, travel, etc.), and it will keep track of the HST paid on that expense.  At any time, you can see the cumulative expenses over a given time (i.e. year to date, the previous year or month, etc.).  When it is the end of the month, generate an expense report in Sage or Quickbooks, and submit it to your bookkeeper along with your receipts.

The hybrid challenge: Having both paper & digital files

Many offices are now a hybrid of paper and digital files with some paper receipts and some digital receipts being tracked in an online bookkeeping program. The availability and affordability of digital tools, such as cloud-based online software, digital scanners, and mobile devices, to name only a few, the move towards a 100% paperless office is in sight for many entrepreneurs.

Like many entrepreneurs and small business owners, you do your bookkeeping after your restaurant or retail business closes.  The frustration is that you can be at home working on your expense report, and you realize that you left a folder of receipts on your desk at work.  Moving towards a paperless system lets you have access to these documents no matter where you are.

Turn paper receipts into digital files

You can convert your paper receipts into digital files by scanning them and storing them in a dedicated folder on your computer.  Some businesses use software programs such as Evernote to store their files. This particular document storage program lets you keep digital files in notebooks (folders).  When you need to find a receipt or document, you can search for it by entering a keyword in the search field.  Use a digital scanner, or take a photo of the receipt.  It is as easy as that.

Online purchases offer digital receipts, but there are brick-and-mortar suppliers and businesses that offer digital receipts as an alternative to paper receipts.  Home Depot is one such retail business that will ask during checkout if you would like your receipt emailed to you.


McEvoy, Lelievre & Associates have experience working with business owners that prefer paper, and those who are advanced in their use of technology solutions.  It is our priority to customize bookkeeping services to help your find the best solution for your business needs.

Bookkeeping, Accounting & Tax Services You Can Count On.

Give us a call today to see how we can maximize business bookkeeping efficiencies and minimize personal and business tax risk.

Get Started