On the weekend, I returned from Macworld|iWorld. Usually when I go on these sorts of trips, two things happen afterwards:
- I end up with a stack of receipts that sit around until I get around to/am forced to scan, organize, and categorize them
- I end up with a stack of business cards that I get too lazy to deal with, so they sit around until I get around to scanning and organizing them.
This time, I vowed things would be different, and that I would try to handle these things on a more pro-active basis while on the trip itself, so I don’t get hit with a stack of paper afterwards.
Today’s post is about how I dealt with receipts, and a later post will be about business cards.
My goal, which I more or less kept to, was to process receipts as I received them. If I could do it while I was still at the restaurant, great. If not, at least that night in the hotel was the goal.
I need to start out by saying that this is not a comprehensive review of Expensify by any means. The service has much more functionality than what I will be touching on, such as submitting expense reports for approval, receiving reimbursements, tracking mileage, linking up with credit cards, and more.
I don’t cover any of that because I don’t do any of it. I will be focusing on using the mobile app to capture and organize receipts, and the web service to download a categorized report.
There are two components to Expensify: the mobile app for iOS, Android, Blackberry, or Palm, and the website.
The mobile apps are free, and the Expensify service itself is free for the basic plan. If you need more features (you can see the plans here) there are more options.
If you want to use “SmartScan” (I will get to that in a minute), you get 10 free scans a month, and then it is .20/scan after that.
Whenever I received a receipt, I would use the Expensify app to take a picture of it. Most of the time, I did it right there at the table.
If you have the feature enabled, the app will upload your receipt to their site, and apply “SmartScan”, which means they will extract the text from the receipt and then attempt to categorize it.
It takes about 10 minutes to complete a receipt. So, what I did was snap the receipt, to capture it, and then later on I went back in to check it out whenever I was hanging out waiting for something.
Once SmartScan is done, you will see a list of scanned expenses on the Expenses tab. You can then tap a receipt to edit the details.
I have been extremely impressed with the quality of the text extraction. I haven’t had any problems with wrong amounts, and the Merchant is right most of the time.
If you have worked at a company and have done any travelling, you will be familiar with the concept of expense reports. That is how Expensify works too. You create a Report, and then attach your expenses to that report.
You can do all this on the mobile app, or on their website because everything is all synced up.
When you are back at your computer, you can log into the website and attach and process any additional receipts. Here I am using the website to SmartScan a cocktail that I had charged to my room in the hotel bar.
Exporting Your Expense Report
When I returned home, all my expenses were already categorized and scanned. I could Submit the report (to… myself), and print a really nice PDF that includes all the categorized expenses, as well as all the receipt images.
Depending on the plan that you have, you can export billable expenses to FreshBooks, export your report to Evernote, export to QuickBooks, and a bunch more.
I found the whole Expensify process very easy. How about you, what do you do for receipts when you are on the road?
(Photo by Random McRandomhead)