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Thursday, November 5, 2009

If George Costanza had an iPhone, he'd use this app

In one of the great "Seinfeld" episodes of season nine, the character George Costanza has a wallet so filled with receipts, business cards and other things such as packets of Sweet'N Low that he sits on an incline when he puts it in his back pocket.

Eventually it all blows away onto a snowy and wet New York City street, leaving George to try to scurry after all of the little slips of paper that burst out of what he calls his "organizer, secretary and a friend."

If I were the folks at I'd be doing all I could to get Jerry Seinfeld to allow commercial use of that scene in promoting its new free app for the iPhone or any cell phone with a camera.

Here's some of that "Seinfeld" episode, to refresh your memory:

The Shoeboxed app allows users to take photos of receipts with their iPhone. The image is then automatically sent to Shoeboxed to be digitally archived and and categorized for expense tracking, reimbursements and deduction claims. A computer, backed by human verification, takes down the date, vendor name, amount, payment type and IRS tax category before filing away the electronic copies of the receipts.

The iPhone automatically sends the photo to Shoeboxed through the application. Owners of other phones that wish to use the service will have to e-mail the photos to Shoeboxed, according to Stacy Chudwin, director of communications at Shoeboxed, based in Durham, N.C.

The service allows business people, travelers, freelancers and individual consumers to organize their finances without having to keep a shoebox full of paper receipts for their accountant to wade through at the end of the year. The digital archive can be exported to Quicken and other financial software for their tax returns, reimbursements, deductions and tax preparations, or can be viewed by users' accountants.

The service is free if you want to scan your receipts yourself. Or Shoeboxed offers monthly plans where customers can send so many receipts in and Shoeboxed will scan them in. Fifty scans will be done each month for $10 a month, 150 for $20 or 500 for $50.

And if George Costanza had an iPhone, he'd probably be too cheap to pay a company to scan his receipts for him.