After years and years of not tracking my expenses, I finally had one of those brightly lit a-ha! moments and started using Evernote. It’s so good I had to blog about it.
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.
I have tried keeping lists of things, and ledgers. I have tried just writing my outgoings in my diary. I have tried keeping notes and other trackers in my phone. I have 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?
Evernote will not track your expenses. What it actually does instead is function 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 something like Chrome with which to view the internets, then you can install a one-click web clipper, that will detect the boundaries of the important stuff, and save it to your notebook for you.
But the cool 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. I have a naming protocol for my financial tracking in Evernote (YYYYMMDD DescriptiveName). Then, I file them by tag: receipt, finance, monthyear.
Per good Evernote usage protocol, I tend not to have separate notebooks for everything. Instead, I have a notebook by function (web clips, tasks, personal journals), and everything within those is filed using tags. Simple, searchable, amazing.
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 I can clip as go; I can create end-of-year archives by simply searching for a tag and moving notes to a new notebook if I want to. I could do that by quarter if I wanted to; or month if my outgoings were high. It doesn’t matter.
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.
You can clip your actual, hard-copy receipts this way, too, if you have a smartphone with a half-decent camera. There is nothing stopping you from collating your outgoings, however you spend your money, and then checking your actual expenditure against your bank or paypal accounts at month end.
Some of you might think that this is just another step you have to do in order to keep track of your finances, but it works for me! If you give it a go, drop me a comment, because I’d love to hear what you think.