Getting your “money docs” in order may not be the most exciting thing on your to-do list, but it can make your life a lot easier. The good news is organizing and maintaining your financial information in Evernote is simple. Here’s how I do it.
Before you get started, make sure to talk to your financial advisor or tax preparer to see if they have any organizing or document retention guidelines that are specific to you.
Set up a structure
For every calendar year, set up two notebooks—one for tax-related documents and one for expenses. For example, “2016 Taxes” and “2016 Expenses.” You can use these to collect your financial records for the entire year.
If you’re using an expense manager or accounting tool such as Mint, Quicken, Quickbooks or Xero, create tags to match each of the expense categories you’ve set up—Auto, Groceries, Medical, and so on. If you’re not using such a tool, ask your tax preparer to help you create expense categories that make sense for your personal financial situation. Use these tags later as you bring in each of your expenses.
You will also likely have categories that are more evergreen and may not necessarily be tied to a specific year, like credit reports and pay stubs. Create notebooks for each of these categories and collect them together rather than separating them by year.
To keep your financial life organized, create a “Financial” notebook stack from these sets of notebooks. This groups everything together in one spot in your notebook list. For easy access, drag this stack directly to shortcuts on the sidebar. Drag frequently used individual notebooks, like 2016 Expenses, directly to shortcuts as well.
With your structure created, it’s time to start bringing all your financial documents into Evernote. For paper documents like bills, explanations of benefits, or receipts, open Evernote on your mobile device to capture them. Title each note with the name of the vendor, tag with the expense categories you set up previously, and then save into your expenses notebook. This is also a good time to visit each vendor’s website and sign up for paperless billing or electronic statements.
As for electronic documents, including e-bills or receipts you’ve received via email, collecting those in Evernote is simple. If you have a PDF of a bill or statement, just drag it into Evernote. For receipts or documents in your email, forward them directly to Evernote and new notes will be created from them. Once in Evernote, title and tag your notes, then move them into your expenses notebook.
To simplify this process in the future, use App Center tool FileThis to automate the retrieval of your paperless bills and statements. Just connect FileThis to both your vendors and to Evernote, and when statements and bills are available, FileThis will automatically download and collect them in Evernote for you. I personally love this as I never spend time visiting each vendor’s website just to download statements—they are automatically in my expenses notebook without me having to do any work.
Managing your docs
Since most of your financial information will be organized by year, you’ll want to do a little annual maintenance to keep things organized. As mentioned above, set up two new notebooks, one for each year’s taxes and another for expenses. Remove the prior year’s notebooks from your shortcuts and replace them with shortcuts to the new notebooks you’ve set up.
Your prior year’s notebooks will still be safely organized in your notebook list, so if you ever need to find an expense or refer back to something, just search within your notebook by title or tag to find the exact expense you’re looking for.
In part two of this post (link), we will take a deeper look at using Evernote to help manage tax documents.