If you were looking for a tool for tracking your online as well as offline purchases for your business, look no further, because I have personally found the best tool that will end all tools for you: OneReceipt.
It is safe to assume that most of our site's readers at least run a freelance business, whether that be full-time or part-time. As it goes for all businesses, you need to file your taxes and track your expenses. If you are like me, you will find the task of tracking your expenses to be mundane, tedious, and annoying. I need to keep track of all my online purchases and receipts, as well as offline ones — purchases from Amazon, B&H, Adorama, LensRentals, and the like, to ones from a local restaurant, gas station, or any other place that would spit out a physical paper receipt.
Oftentimes, it is the paper receipts that require the most amount of time to deal with: you would need to categorize, document, and file them away so that it is easier for you to go back and search for them when it is tax season. Previously, I had to resort to services like Evernote to convert physical receipts into digital format. The problem with Evernote and other apps is that they do not offer optical character recognition (OCR); namely, you can convert a paper receipt into a PDF, but there is no way of searching for said receipt easily unless you manually tag and categorize it at input time. That is a huge PITA if you ask me.
Ever since I started using OneReceipt, I no longer have to bother with manually inputting the details of my physical receipts. All I have to do is take a photo of them using the iOS app, and they will be automatically added into my account with all the details such as date, time, quantity, subtotal, tax, tip, and grand total. If you enable location service for the app, there will be an option for you to pick the name of the merchant from a dropdown menu.
Once the photo of a receipt has been uploaded to their secure server, it will take OneReceipt a few hours to parse it. The end result will look something like this:
Here is another example of how the app can translate my chicken-scratch handwriting into electronic data.
That is about all that needs to be done with documenting your receipt. When it comes time to file your taxes, you can go to their Dashboard and easily search for all of your receipts based on either date, name, price, or category.
Speaking of the Dashboard, there is also an Analytics area where you get a pie-chart and a bar-graph report of how much you are spending and expensing and how you are doing it.
Of course, OneReceipt also works like a normal expense tracking tool where you can give it permission to read your email inbox and parse all the online receipts. At the time of writing, they support Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Outlook. For the technologically curious, no worries, they use OAuth 2.0 to authorize with your email account, so no password is ever saved on their server, and you can pull the plug at anytime you like. Although, I would be wary of letting OneReceipt parse all of your emails. The minute I granted it access to my inbox, it started parsing and indexing all of my online receipts, include purchases made for my personal use. If you have a business email account that has only your business-related purchases, you should not run into this problem like I did.
If your email has both personal and business receipts, OneReceipt offers a feature for you to cherry-pick which receipts are to be parsed: all you have to do is forward the receipt to a special address that is only available to your account, and they will add the receipt to your profile.
I have been using OneReceipt for over a year now, and I have been quite happy with the product. However, I am sure there are better solutions out there that I do not know about. I am curious to find out what you use to track your business expenses. Drop me a comment below, and let me know!
Article has been update with an example of how the app's OCR works.