This post continues our look at the online service Evernote and how it can assist agents, investors and owners in their property expense management.
As a property investor or agent it only takes one trip to the local hardware store and a few meetings before you are swimming in a paper trail of receipts and expense claims. For a big believer in minimalism such as myself, or perhaps more honestly as someone who just has a tendency to forget where he left all his receipts and invoices, Evernote provides a great solution for capturing not only property but work expenses on the go.
Couple this with its ability to take away the frustrating task of collating a shoebox full of receipts at tax time or even simplify submitting work related expenses and Evernote can save you considerable time, not to mention money from missed claims.
To demonstrate how I use Evernote to manage a work related expense claims (the same principles apply to managing property receipts) I’ve prepared an example – take a look below.
Note: for instructions on how to install Evernote, see the first post in this series, How to use Evernote for property investing. Our other related posts are How to use Evernote to manage your property search and How to use Evernote (Premium) to manage your contacts and offline content.
Using Evernote to manage your work or property expenses
Capturing the receipt details
Step 1 Earlier today I was at a meeting running a client through some potential investments
Step 2 Being a stand up agent, I decided to foot the bill for the meeting and as soon as I received the bill I pulled out my phone and opened the previously created Receipts notebook in Evernote and tap + new note
Step 3 At this point I have a copy of the receipt in my possession and take a photo of it.
- I select the image capture logo in the new note page
- Followed by selecting the Page Camera option (this is not necessary but I find it yields better results and also enables searchable documents)
- Then choose Capture
Step 4 The receipt is now included in the note and I can add additional information or tags to it so that I can identify it easily at a later stage. In this case I gave the note a title and also added tags to identify the note as a receipt as well as a work related expense. You could also tag receipts by client, expense type, or any other category you may like to group them by
Step 5 On the way back to the office I caught a taxi which I also added to my Receipts notebook
Managing my receipt details
Step 1 At the end of month the accounts team is chasing me for expense claims so I sign into Evernote on my computer and sync to view new receipts
Step 2 Once I have synced my new notes, I can either manually trawl through them and select the new receipts to be claimed or to speed things up I could do a search on the tags I added previously e.g. work related, receipt. It is also possible to filter by date, to exclude receipts I may have already claimed in the past. Holding the control key (command key on a Mac) I can select multiple receipts at one time. Once I have selected all the receipts I would like to claim, I can click Merge to create a single note containing everything I need for my expense report
Step 3 I change the title of the note to Work Expense Claim and then print it and submit it to the accounts team. You could also email it to them directly
Tips and tricks
As in our previous Evernote post the the top tip for harnessing the power of Evernote successfully is to always label and tag notes consistently and update these tags over time. In the case of the example above, at the time of creating the merged note of receipts and prior to submitting to the accounts team I would add a new tag claim pending so that I can easily identify any unpaid claims in the future. Once paid, I will change the tag to claim paid.
Whilst the above example highlights the process for claiming work expenses, the same steps are easily for tracking investment property expenses. Simply capture your receipts and tag them appropriately e.g. property investment, Edward St apartment, tax FY2013, maintenance and so on.
If you are looking for a more heavy duty expense management system (analytics, reports etc) that still utilises the many benefits of Evernote I suggest taking a look at the Expensify add on.
For other posts on using Evernote