After years and years of not tracking my expenses, and before I could justify using a platform like Xero, I finally had one of those brightly lit a-ha! moments and started using Evernote. Here’s how I began to leverage it for something super practical and useful, on a daily basis.
The first and foremost reason why Evernote is perfect for my outgoing transaction tracking, is that I do something like 90% of my spending – nearly everything except for groceries and fuel – online.
Almost any budgeting guru will tell you to keep track of what you spend.
But, don’t you find that it adds loads of effort? That you miss things constantly?
I tried keeping lists, and ledgers.
I tried just writing my outgoings in my diary.
I tried keeping notes and other trackers in my phone.
I tried just transposing my bank account details into accounting software.
It all failed because it was too much work. It wasn’t properly integrated into my workflow (however you’d define that).
Sooo… how is Evernote different?
The first thing is that Evernote is just a note-taking application. It will not natively track your expenses. What it does instead is act like a receipt-clipper.
You know all those acknowledgements, receipts, and confirmations that sellers internet-wide want you to print out?
Screw that. Clip them instead.
If you use a browser like Chrome, then you can install a one-click web clipper. It will detect the boundaries of the important stuff, and save it to your notebook for you.
And if you’re buying things in the Real World and accumulating receipts, Evernote‘s smartphone app comes with an amazing document camera.
All you have to do is put your receipt on a contrasting background, point your phone at your receipt, and bam! Clipped.
But do you want to know the coolest thing? The really exciting thing, is that if you make a bunch of purchases or payments in a row, then Evernote will autofile everything for you.
Filing is a pain, though, right?
Actually, it isn’t, if you know what you are doing.
Set up a naming protocol for your financial tracking, and build yourself a tagging system. The way that I do this is:
- Filename: YYYYMMDD DescriptiveName
- Tags: receipt, finance, monthyear.
A note about effective Evernote use
Try not to have separate notebooks for everything. Instead, keep a notebook by function.
Then, within your notebooks, your files are kept searchable by the use of tags.
It’s simple. It’s searchable. It’s functional.
Even better, is that after the first one, Evernote will autofile it for me. No need to keep re-typing tags and locations.
Future archiving is easy
The beautiful thing about this system, is that you can clip or capture as you go. Then, you can create end-of-year archives by simply searching for a tag and moving notes to a new notebook if you want to. You can do this by quarter if you wanted to, or by month if your outgoings are high.
The point of it all is that collating my outgoings for analysis at the end of the month is easier to do, because all of my receipts are in the one place.
Evernote is a fast, smart way to keep track of your personal spending. By setting up a file-naming and tagging protocol for yourself, you can clip receipts and purchases you make online and capture receipts in the real world. If you do this a couple of times in a row, Evernote will autofile them for you. Then, at the end of the month, you have all your receipts in one place and don’t have to go hunting through bank statements to reconcile your funds.
If you haven’t tried this but find yourself frustrated at how much time it takes you to track what you spend, give Evernote a go.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to Evernote. It was originally written in 2013. I became a Premium user in about 2016, and then in January 2019 I became an affiliate. I genuinely love the product, and use it every day in a lot of ways, and think that you might too.