What Would You Do?: NeatDesk and NeatReceipts Scanner and Filing System

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Welcome to the second edition of “What Would You Do?”! If you have a question and would like to know what others would do please contact me and I’ll keep it in mind for future editions of “What Would You Do?”. In the first edition I asked Should I Buy a Smartphone… and I ended up getting it! This week I have a new potential want so let’s get to right to it!

Neat Desktop/Mobile Scanner and Digital Filing System

I’ll admit this want is due to advertising on TV. If I didn’t watch TV I never would have seen this product and as such I wouldn’t be writing this post. However, I am aware of it now and it seems very cool and useful. If you aren’t familiar with these products here is a link to the NeatDesk Desktop Scanner and Digital Filing System and here is a link to the NeatReceipts Mobile Scanner and Digital Filing System.

So why do I want this product? Let’s first look into the pros and cons of having either of these versus sticking with what I have now which is just a regular flatbed scanner. I’ll then compare the biggest feature differences between the NeatDesk and NeatReceipts scanners.

Pros of the Neat Desktop/Mobile Scanner vs My Current Flatbed Scanner

  • We currently don’t scan our receipts because our flat bed scanner is a pain and takes forever.
  • Over time it seems most receipts fade and this presents a huge problem for tax audits and any other times we need to reference receipts in the future. If you can’t read your receipts what is the point of keeping them!
  • I can get rid of most of my paper receipts. I would have to make sure that I made frequent back up copies of my directories but it would save a lot of space. Right now we have ugly file boxes that take up a lot of room and we can consolidate all of this onto a CD or DVD.
  • I won’t have to buy a file cabinet because we’ll be able to significantly downsize the amount of paperwork we keep.
  • It would be a business expense because I would use it to keep track of all of my business receipts and invoices.
  • The NeatDesk Scanner scans much faster than my flatbed scanner and the Neat Scanner has a more friendly feed mechanism.
  • The Neat Filing System automatically pulls data off of scanned documents into designated fields saving me time. This information becomes searchable so hopefully I wouldn’t have to dig through a ton of digital receipts to find the right one.

Cons of the Neat Desktop/Mobile Scanner vs My Current Flatbed Scanner

  • There are still many items I would not feel comfortable throwing away. We’d want to keep our house paperwork as well as some of the receipts and invoices from some of our larger purchased items.
  • I already have a scanner that works. It just takes much much longer to scan multiple documents.
  • The cost. The NeatDesk Scanner normally costs between $350 and $400 on Amazon.com and the NeatReceipts Scanner costs between $150 and $200 on Amazon.com.
  • The scanners aren’t perfect and have some valid criticism in the reviews. I might get slightly frustrated without the sheet guide but I think most of my documents will be pretty standard sized.

NeatDesk Desktop Scanner vs NeatReceipts Mobile Scanner

  • The NeatDesk Scanner would require a permanent place on my already crowded desk while the NeatReceipts scanner can easily be put away like my current flatbed scanner.
  • You have to feed the NeatReceipts scanner one page at a time while you can load multiple pages in the NeatDesk scanner.
  • The NeatDesk Scanner has an automatic document feeder and wouldn’t have to be hand fed so it can scan documents faster. However, sometimes the NeatDesk scanner will pull multiple pages at once or jam. The automatic document feeder would greatly help the initial scanning process but after that I’d hope to scan information on a more regular basis in smaller batches.
  • The price of the NeatReceipts Scanner is $220 cheaper. Major plus here.
  • The scan rate on the NeatReceipts Scanner is “3-4 receipts per minute” while the NeatDesk Scanner scans “up to 24 sheets per minute”. I’ve looked around the web and these seem like accurate scan times.
What would you do? Would you continue to suffer with the flatbed scanner and not scan anything in? Would you upgrade to the NeatReceipts scanner or the even more expensive NeatDesk scanner, both of which come with the scanning and text recognition software? I’m interested to hear your thoughts!
P.S. I have bought a Neat Receipts Mobile Scanner and have written a review of the Neat Receipts Mobile Scanner here. Check it out if you’re interested!

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.

Comments

  1. I’ve seen those infomercials and always thought they’d be interesting to buy. However, I don’t think I’d use them enough to justify the crazy price of $360. No thank you!

    • Can’t say I blame you at all! That is what I thought at first but I’m seriously considering the $145 dollar one… we’ll see what happens after more research into the apps others have mentioned.

  2. Wow, $360 seems high. I do not have a personal scanner, but I would like one. I would do my scanning at school. I haven’t crossed over to go entirely paperless. I believe a flatbed scanner is much closer to $100, isn’t it?

    • Flatbed’s are cheaper (I think) but they don’t come with the software and are generally a little bit slower and clunkier with their software I think… I’d definitely be leaning toward the $145 one if I get one at all.

  3. Price seems too high. Why not take a picture with your new smart phone and save to Evernote? It also has text recognition and a much better filing system.

    • I will have to take a look into evernote! Thanks for getting it on my radar.

    • I second this idea. I sometimes use an app called TurboScan for my iphone that will take a picture and convert it into a PDF. You can then email it to yourself and keep it filed that way.

  4. They should push these as a way to eliminate fax machines. I don’t really ever need to consult old receipts as I log my transactions and save them for a few weeks in case I need to make a return. I am pretty organized, but only where I need to be.

    • Haha I know what you mean about only being organized when I need to be because I’m the same way. Time will tell which option I pick…

  5. Yeah this does sound rather expensive, but if you have a lot of stuff to scan and file I could see the time saved making it worthwhile. Personally I just have a scanner built in to my printer, but I very rarely scan anything.

    • See with the flatbed I don’t scan anything now either but I really need to start scanning my receipts for home improvements (so I can write them off when I turn it into a rental) and my business receipts.

  6. Yeah, $360 sounds pretty expensive. These days I just depend on Mrs. RB40 to file the receipts. :)
    I also download the credit card statement just for my record.

  7. Dude, all you need is a printer that has a scanner and a shoe-box. I bought said printer at a Black Friday sale for about $50 and it works great for scanning important documents and photos. As for the receipts, I just file them away in an envelope marked with the Month and Year, and throw them away after 2 years. Sometimes you have to go back and find one, but it wouldn’t be beneficial to scan them all.

    • I think you have to keep business receipts for as long as you can be audited so that was one reason I was considering the scanner too… just forgot to mention it… d’oh!

  8. I have way more things I’d rather spend money on than this. I would just put up with your flatbed scanner for now.

    • Yah… I’m considering that, we’ll see how much longer it lasts before it bites the dust.

      • I should say I also have considered backing up all my paper documents on the computer. I should be getting around to that pretty soon here…maybe in a few weeks I will be telling you the NeatDesk is totally worth the money ;)

        • Let me know how it goes. What do you have now? A Flatbed or just a smartphone?

          • I have a flatbed AND a smart phone, but if I’m about to scan 1,000+ documents I’m using the flatbed.

            One problem I’ve had in the past is the crap on my computer isn’t organized either. I download everything to the desktop and then chuck it in a “to sort” folder. Well that never gets sorted. Or backed up. Crap I better get to work…

          • Huge problem I have too! The neat system makes them all searchable which would be nice…

        • I highly recommend the Fujitsu ScanSnap for scanning documents to PDF. You simply feed the documents and then it creates a PDF. It’s perfect for getting rid of paper clutter. It’s also much higher rated than the 2 items in this post.

          Fujitsu SCANSNAP S1100 CLR 600DPI USB Mobile Scanner (PA03610-B005)

          • Noah do you know if it handles receipts well? I seem to remember the Fujitsu being more expensive as well and doesn’t have the organizing software…

          • I don’t know. I’ll have to run a test. Do you want me to send you a test PDF scan? It has some organization software but I don’t use it. I have my own elaborate doc organizing scheme. I start the software and then it automatically feeds it through. I can probably take an iPhone video and email it to you or upload it to YouTube. Shoot me an email later so I won’t forget. It’s BMX night and I’m leaving soon :)

  9. I think you should get the Shoeboxed app if it’s available for Android – the paid version is just a few dollars and you can take pics of the receipts with your phone, then it organizes them and allows you to create reports. Or for that matter, you could just take pics of receipts with your phone anyway – much cheaper than a super expensive scanner!

    • True. The software does offer some neat tax organizing features. I think if I did go with one of them I’d pick the NeatReceipts because it is the least expensive but I think I’m going to have to look into your App first!

  10. I’m curious what you decide to do. I’ve seen the scanner, but like others said, I don’t think I’d use it enough to justify it.

  11. We don’t bother with a scanner. We have a 2 drawer filing cabinet that holds all important documents. Everything is separated by item (bills, income taxes, employment, receipts, house, tenants etc.) and by year. We keep 8 years worth of documents… and each year we shred old/irrelevant paperwork. Works well for us!

    • My only concern with a system where you are storing papers is fire. In minutes your 8 years worth of documents could be completely destroyed. If you scan your documents, then back them up online, you’ll never have to worry about flood/fire.

      • If you back them up online you are 100% correct, however if you back it up on a DVD in your desk drawer it is just as bad as having paper.

    • Whatever works for you is great! Just make sure you have the vital documents in a fire safe.

  12. since the need arose after watching TV, as a rule of thumb and to train your brain, just don’t buy anything.

    • I saw it a lonnnnnng time ago and it still come back. I’ll be thinking long and hard but in the end if it saves me time it might be worth it for me.

  13. I’ve been meaning to switch completely to digital receipts but haven’t done that yet. When I do, I’m planning on just using my iphone as a scanner! I can get enough detail if I keep my hand steady and even though there are probably better systems out there, it’s free and good enough for me!

    • I’ll have to check out the mobile apps. If they’ll put them somewhere on the cloud or in my computer in an organized fashion it might be a good alternative.

  14. We have thought about getting one of these to reduce paper. Right now we have a box full of receipts and warranty papers we need to keep. The problem with scanning is I find many stores want the original meaning I have to keep the paper. Very frustrating.

  15. Hey Lance,
    You should hold off and wait until the price drops—technology stuff always does. Plus, can you justify paying hundreds of dollars for something that may not be an immediate need for you right now. And like Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter pointed out, many stores want the originals.

    Really think it through…for me having a organized filing system has been great..it’s easy for me and accessible.

    • The system would be more for keeping tax records and not so much for returns but I do see your point. Hopefully prices do come down but I’ll be looking more into my options soon.

  16. I need to switch to one of these systems. I loved your piece AND the comments from others. I have too much paper and it would be awesome to go digital.

  17. Never heard about this commercial. This is my first time visit this blog.Maybe I’ll try to blogwalking after this

  18. I have seen the commercials for those and they do look pretty neat, although I couldn’t justify paying so much for one. I just use a paper system for everything.

  19. I’m a big tv watcher too and think those commercials make the scanner look awesome. That said, I think it’s a waste of time to scan receipts. I don’t trust the scanner to know how to file them appropriately. I pitch/shred all receipts that aren’t tax deductible after a short time. My files are on my desk for taxable receipts and they don’t take up that much space. I vote, don’t waste your time or money scanning receipts.

  20. Hey, have you tried any of those suggestions?? I’m in the market too and am debating the same question.

    Thanks

    • John, not yet. If I end up getting one it will likely be the cheaper version (the wand one) or potentially a similar type of a different brand. A lot of people seem to hate on the neat software but I wonder if they don’t know how to use it… I have downloaded evernote on my cell phone but haven’t gotten around to using it yet… I will definitely post an update once I make a final decision. I was thinking about it again this week!

  21. Lance,

    My husband runs a construction company, and he recently purchased the Neatreceipts portable scanner, since it was both cheaper and smaller. I enjoy having it because it saves me alot of time as far as imput goes. Yes, I still have to review the document but I do not have to input every little detail. Yes it does get tedious have to scan every receipt individually.

    As far as original receipts go, we save the important ones in a fire safe but other than that they go in the scanner and it is very nice to have less space.

    I do not want everything that the business has to go up in flames. So I feel like this is the best option for us. We debated getting it for about 6 months and I honestly enjoy it. I think it is a personal decision, what you feel is best for your company, and if this can benefit or cause more work for you in the long run.

    • I fixed your typo for you :)

      I really appreciate you sharing your opinion. Nice to hear from someone who has used it. If I do end up getting one (still haven’t decided yet) I will probably be getting the Neatreceipts Portable scanner over the NeatDesk!

  22. Everyone is talking about the price as a deciding factor. You can get the neatreceipts on Ebay brand new for super cheap. With shipping, I just picked up one for $27.00. I’m in the process now of installing the software.

  23. I had one of the early versions of NeatReceipts and I absolutely loved it for my business. It was amazing what the software recognized and learned. The only problem I had, and still have, is that if the scanner goes kaputs on you then you are SOL, which is what happened to me.

    I wish the Neat company would sell the software to work with common scanners and let the consumer choose which scanner they want to use.

    Since my NeatReceipts scanner went out on me, I just can’t bring myself to pay that again. I will just do it all manually and pin the receipts into Quicken, which will keep a copy of my receipts.

    • That stinks that your scanner went bad. Did you try contacting Neat to see if they’d replace it? Some companies will do that even if it is out of warranty. I imagine they will have fixed the problem since then though as their product evolved.

  24. I have thought about Neat Receipts for my eBay business. Right now, I still keep my paper receipts just because I am afraid of change. :)

  25. Lance,

    In your last comment, it looks like you decided to buy the scanner, but I’m not sure. Did you buy a NeatReceipts scanner and software? Which did you buy? How long have you had it, and are you having any problems with it?

    A friend of mine has a Fujitsu SnapScan and raves about it. I’ve read that NeatReceipts can identify data on a receipt and store it, and that later you can export from their software and import into a program like Quicken to avoid the typing. Have you tried that? I’m really torn between the two scanners.

    • Carl, I sent you an email, but here is my response in case you come to read it on the blog instead.

      “I did decide to buy the Neat Receipts scanner (the cheaper one page at a time one) and I have had it since November. I haven’t had any major problems with it but actually did a review today on my blog linked here.

      http://www.moneylifeandmore.com/neatreceipts-scanner-review-2642/

      As I mentioned, there are pros and cons to the scanner but overall I’ve really enjoyed it. The scanner does identify data on receipts and auto fill out some fields, but it is always a good idea to double check what it reads. I haven’t personally tried the export feature but I imagine it works just fine as the fields are similar to those in Quicken. What version of quicken do you have? I have Quicken 2013 and if you have a similar version I could do a quick test for you. Just let me know.

      I personally haven’t used the Fujitsu SnapScan but I’m sure it is also a quality scanner. Where the Neat scanner shines is the filing software and I’m not sure that the Fujitsu comes with that. Let me know if you have any further questions and I’d be happy to help!”

      • Debbie Lynn says:

        Do you think it matters where you make the purchase from… ie Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Tiger Direct…? I would like to get the neatdesk but read on a review that the person could not get the support they needed because they did not pay an additional fee for tech support. Not sure if it was a complaint about the company they purchased it from, or the “neatdesk” company. Any answers would help a bunch…

        • Debbie. I bought mine from Amazon. I imagine they would provide some basic level of tech support, but I haven’t actually tried to call them myself. They may sell advanced tech support but I’m not sure. Unless you buy it used, you should be able to get the same service as if you bought it anywhere else. You can always call Neat and ask.

  26. General Chaud Caliente says:

    I may buy one of the NeatDesk scanners and expense it. I have approval from my company to get one for myself.

    One thing that I haven’t seen mentioned is that the NeatDesk scans both sides of a document. I don’t know if the Neat Receipts does.

  27. I tried one of these and didnt find it worth my while. Most recipts I keep for a few weeks, once the return policy is gone, I throw it out. I would say just about all my purchases are made with some type of rewards card or tracking at the store so my purchase can be pulled up later if they need it, plus its on my card statement (debit or credit). The things I might never throw out, like house related, I wouldnt justify this device cost for.

    • It really depends on what you use it for. I have to keep my business receipts and rental property receipts for many years if not indefinitely and I don’t want to worry about receipts fading over time so it is well worth it to me.

  28. Christian says:

    I have both, ADF for receipts? Really? Get the desk if you have many full sized documents to scan often, are a scanning junky, or want everything you do stored virtually. Otherwise the portable one is much cheaper and works the same. I’ll sell you my brand new NeatDesk, it’s overkill for me.

    • I have the Neat Receipts and have really enjoyed it. The NeatDesk might be best if you have a ton of backlog to scan. I do agree though, unless you scan a lot of full sized docs on a regular basis, Neat Receipts is probably fine by itself for most.

  29. After purchasing my Neat Desk Mobile scanner a few months ago I can now report on it. I Love It. I am glad I went with the mobile one not only was it cheaper but because I just keep on top of my desk plugged in and as soon as a receipt gets thrown on my desk I scan it. I have my folders set up just as I do in Quick Books. IRS will accept the printed receipts also in case of an audit. Everything is organized. I just need to figure out how to have it automatically sent over to my quick books. Another thing I did was set up another back up on my computer called drop box. I do have an external hard drive but I wanted to be doubly protected. Having our own business this has been a blessing.

    • I’m so glad you like it! Thanks for coming back and posting your experience!

    • Have you actually turned in the scanned receipts to the IRS and they accepted them? I travel 150+ days per year and keeping up with all the receipts is a nightmare that i am struggling with. My accountant told me I need to have original ones but can’t confirm the scanned would be accepted. I’d think it would be because a fist full of my receipts are faded from 2011/2012. this would prevent that from happening.

      • The IRS has stated that they do accept scanned copies. I found the following which should help you: “The rule that supports scanned receipts is called Revenue Proclamation 97-22. The rule states that scanned receipts are acceptable as long as they are identical to the originals and contain all of the accurate information that are included in the original receipts. “

  30. I use the neatdesk. Once you figure out out the system works its pretty easy. I had the cloud but now i have cancelled it and backup on an external hard drive. I like the way neat organizes files so they are easy to find but i have never used any other scanner to compare. I have been working for mths scanning all my files and it feels so good to shred all that paper. No more boxes, folders, file cabinets. I did have one problem though. The sync wasn’t working. I called 4 different times, each time on the phone for an hour and the tech remotely did stuff on my computer each time and couldn’t fix the problem. Finally he got it to sync but then i had lots of missing files. Entire years worth. The tech didn’t have the same motified response that i had and wanted him to have as well. I didn’t backup my files on my own external drive at the time and the files were also missing in the cloud. I finally was able to speak to a supervisor and he got his apple specialist to fix it and find all my files. Then he asked if he could help with anything else and i said yes and he cut me off and said email it to me, in the which i did and he never responded. I think this is because i cancelled the cloud so they don’t give too much concern for me anymore. Also there are a few bugs in the system that he says they don’t have a fix for yet so that’s kind of frustrating. But on most days my scanning goes smoothly. I have an old one that i thot was broken but turns out i just didn’t know how to use it. I need the answer to….can i resell it if i already previously downloaded the software to my computer and registered that device?

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