Thermal Receipts

Thermal receipts are the bane of my existence! Preserve them! Here's how...

If you care about your record-keeping you will take 10 minutes, once a week to help preserve those records. Remember, you have to keep them for years, and they have to be readable! 

Thermal paper is chemically treated so it turns black when heated. This is how thermal printers work and they are an economical way for businesses to produce receipts in the fastest ways. Because of this chemical treatment of the paper, heat after printing is a huge problem when trying to preserve what was printed!

Thermal receipts fade at an alarming rate and they can also turn completely black (this depends on the method used for printing). Heat, air, oil and other contaminants, rubbing against something, and more, all accelerate the fading or turning black.  

By the time I get receipts, which can be a week, a month or 3 months later, they'e often unreadable - either parts of them or all! Believe me, it's really frustrating to be holding a receipt under a strong light with my glasses on, and the most important parts of it have completely faded. Who loses? You! If I can't read it, it won't go into your accounting system! I can't (and won't) make-up stuff and enter it! And I will charge you for the extra trying-to-read time. 

What if it's a receipt for $1000 - you lose on the GST, you lose on the tax deduction and you lose money while someone tries to read it. 

If a receipt has been in your wallet for even a few days, and it's rubbing against something else, it will fade.

If you leave it in your car, even for a day, and it gets only a little warm, it will fade or start turning black.

If you leave it in sunlight, forget it!

Don't put your receipts anywhere they are likely to get dirty (eg a kitchen) or fade. Don't have them anywhere near food and don't handle them after you've handled food or with dirty or oily hands!

How to preserve...

Once a week, lay out a bunch of receipts and photocopy them on to one page, or better yet, scan them! Photocopying them when they are new is the best and easiest method of preservation! Scanning is one more step and is a method to print and/or save a copy on your computer (a true paperless office).

If something on a receipt starts to fade, handwrite the important info on the receipt as soon as possible.

Don't laminate them unless it's with COLD lamination (heat destroys). And keep the laminated ones away from heat and sunlight. 

Use a folder: take an A4 paper and tape some receipts onto the paper and file (still a possibility for them to fade). At some stage you'll need to photocopy that page. 

Make a list of the reciepts - date, receipt number, amount, what was bought, from whom, items with gst & items without gst, and clip the receipts to the back. File!

If you must, take a shoebox with a lid, and once a day or once a week, empty your pockets and wallet, and put the receipts in there for later. Keep the box in a dark place, away from sunlight, heat and moisture. Then, every so often, try one of the steps above, eg photocopying them, to preserve the receipts. 

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