How Evernote Helped Me Refinance Our House (And Saved Our Bacon At the Last Minute, Too)

Back in August, I decided the time was right to refinance our house. The time was probably right sooner, but I didn’t look forward to the process. But then we learned about the streamlined process for FHA loans, and so we took advantage of that. “Streamlined” meant a minimum of paperwork and all told, throughout the entire process I had to deal with actual paper only twice. And throughout the process, Evernote helped make things even easier. It even saved our bacon at the last minute. Let me explain.

Using Evernote to Track the Process

I used Evernote to track the entire refinancing process. For instance, I can tell you that I received the letter telling me about the FHA streamlined refinance process on July 14, 2012. That’s because I scanned in the letter to Evernote on that same day.

I contacted the mortgage consultant on August 22, 2012. I know this because I created a “phone call note” in my Evernote timeline notebook to capture the details of the call. Throughout the process I continued to capture all of the events. Phone calls, emails, mailings, all of them were captured in my Evernote timeline.

Because of this, I can tell you that we finally signed the closing papers on December 26, 2012, and that we received the check for the balance of the escrow account on January 4, 2013. All of that information is in Evernote and with a fairly simple search, I can produce a complete timeline of events for the refinance.

Using Evernote to Provide Documentation

In the streamlined process, there were only a few documents we needed to provide. All of the documents we needed were already stored in Evernote, so I could do a search for them, and then email them to our mortgage consultant. No paper was required.

Early on in the process, we were sent the loan application documents and these had to be signed. So we signed them, scanned them into Evernote and then emailed back the signed copies to the mortgage consultant.

Finally, at closing, there were 146 pages that we either had to sign or initial. We had to sign all of them. We were then sent an electronic copy of all of the documents, which I captured in Evernote.

But, the morning of the closing, we ran into a small problem…

How Evernote Saved Our Bacon

We were on vacation in Florida when our mortgage consultant told us that our loan was ready to close. I’d warned him we’d be on vacation ahead of time and reminded him of this. No problem, he said, they would arrange for someone to come to my in-law’s house to do the closing. I was impressed by this. All we would need is copies of our drivers licenses or some other government picture ID. A few days before our closing date, I’d reminded Kelly that we’d need our licenses and that we needed to make copies for the closing. It was a simple matter. I’d scan in our licenses using my new Doxie One scanner, and then print out copies on my in-law’s computer.

Came time for me to scan the licenses and Kelly couldn’t find hers. She’d taken it out to give to me a few days earlier and now it was missing. We wondered what we were going to do. They would accept her government ID at the time of the meeting, but they still needed a copy of her driver’s license.

Panic was nearly setting in when I remembered that I’d already scanned our licenses early in the process when I needed to send them to our mortgage consultant. I did a quick search in Evernote, and there they were! I printed out copies and we were set to go. Evernote saved the day!

And They Lived Happily Ever After

We closed on December 26 and all went well. Signing 146 pages, I discovered, was a lot like signing books in an autograph line at a science fiction convention. At least so I pretended. We received our signed copies electronically and confirmed that everything had gone through. The process took five months, but the truth is, there really wasn’t much we had to do. All of the documentation we needed to supply came from Evernote. I didn’t have to go digging through file cabinets for any of it. The entire process was documented, phone calls, emails, all of it, so I have a complete record. And best of all, we now have lower interest rate which saves money. The FHA streamlined refinances was certainly easier than the original purchase, but Evernote made all the difference, in my opinion, in minimizing the work I had to do, and keeping my stress level low.

Look for my next Going Paperless post tomorrow right here.


  1. can you explain more about the time line? when you say you put all your emails and phone calls into it? Do you just go back to the same note? And reference them? for instance like a log? On today’s date at 10 a.m. I called Susie and we spoke about XYZ. but after that the next entry etc etc. thanks.

  2. Hi, do you use a tag to keep track of notes for a project such as “mortgate” that are in your timeline?

    I’ve been using a Projects stack with individual notebooks for each project but it is a bit unwieldy. It sounds more natural to have calls and meetings in a timeline (which I have thanks to you) and to create a tag specific to the project?

    1. Paul, in the case of the refinancing, I did tag each note with “refinance.2012.” Most of the documentation notes also went into a notebook I have for our house. But the phone call and other correspondence notes simply went into my timeline notebook. I can tie them all together with the tag.

  3. Hi Jamie!

    Regarding noting phone calls, emails, etc., how do you manage to record all this? Do you write a note each time you get a call? Or each time you get an email? Or is there an automation process you use?

    Thank you.

    1. Tattva, for calls that I want to have a record of, I do use a note for each one. I have a phone call note template that I use. For emails that I want a record of, I simply forward those to my Evernote email account so they appear in Evernote. The key, for me, is that I don’t capture notes for every phone call or email, just those ones that, intuitively, I think will be useful to have. Incidentally, my phone call template, as well as a few others are available in my shared notebook, “Shared Templates.”

  4. Jamie, thanks for all your paperless posts!
    I know Evernote has security, so I take it you are comfortable having notes with sensitive personal info, such as mortgage/bank info. Can you let me know your thoughts on this please?


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