Team Pick: Share Expenses With Splitwise, Create Peace With Live-in Girlfriend

Since moving in with my girlfriend in August, I’ve learned a few surprising things:

  1. I’m a dog person.
  2. Our mothers apparently had very different ideas on which food items need to be refrigerated (and, consequently, so do we).
  3. Our money management styles go together like oil and water, tribbles and Klingons, rhinestone-tipped manicures and vaginas. What I’m saying is, they’re totally incompatible… or at least, that’s what I thought before my girlfriend and I started using expense sharing app Splitwise.
womanwithmoney

Having money is great! Mostly.

For the first several months of our cohabitation, money management was an ongoing annoyance. My sensible and organized lady likes to set strict budgets, track exact numbers, and settle up debts on the regular. I, on the other hand, prefer to eyeball expenses, keep a rough tally in my head of who paid last, then approximately alternate who ponies up the next time. To be honest, I really don’t feel very comfortable talking about money most of the time, even though it’s absolutely necessary when you live with someone. (Is this possibly a byproduct of being raised in the United States, which my girlfriend was not? I don’t know, but there are at least a couple senior editors here at Autostraddle who also prefer to communicate about money with their significant others via ESP.)

Anyway, after a couple months of ineffectually flailing around and generally frustrating each other, I suggested that my live-in love and I set up a Google drive spreadsheet with a formula to determine who should pay next. It seemed like a logical compromise to me — I’d write down my half of the expenditures to fulfill her budgeting desires, and she’d look at the data and make adjustments to what she paid for, sparing me from incessantly having to discuss money — but we never got a good system down, and just ended up causing more aggravation than before. On her suggestion we opened a Bluebird account together, giving us a shared card that didn’t link our our credit histories. But we never remembered to use it consistently, so that, too, was an annoying no-go. I’d just about resigned myself to suck it up for a future of awkward conversations and begrudging checkwriting when my oh-so-clever cutie suggested that we try Splitwise.

It’s fantastic.

Here’s what Splitwise looks like on your iPhone/Android (which is what my girlfriend prefers):

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And here’s what it looks like on your laptop (which is what I prefer):

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The app itself is so easy to use that I feel ridiculous for ever having wanted to do anything else. You just sign up, input receipts/bills as they come up, and designate the percentage you want to split. It defaults to a 50/50 split, but if, say, your girlfriend makes significantly more money than you do (or you ordered more drinks than she did at dinner, or whatever) you can adjust the percentage to whatever you decide is most fair. Splitwise gives you a running tally of what you’ve spent money on, and whenever either of you feels compelled to settle up, you just hit the button and either record a cash payment or send the money via PayPal.

My partner and I have been using this for about a month now and have zero complaints. It’s super convenient, and we both get what we want out of it. She’s happy because she can see exactly where our money is going, and I’m happy because I no longer have to own up to my weird discomfort with regular conversations about who owes who what. Also, I like the charts Splitwise generates!

monthy-summary-screenshot

I haven’t used any of Splitwise’s “fairness” calculators (which do exactly what they sound like they do), but I find the data fairly interesting. Splitwise conducts polls to determine what is popularly considered “fair,” then offers their analysis as a way to settle debates by appealing to them as a neutral outside authority. Example: when living with roommates, at what point does your new girlfriend who basically lives with you have to start chipping in for rent? Supposedly the tipping point occurs when she sleeps over 5+ nights a week.

Splitwise

How do you handle split expenses?

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Laura Mandanas is a Filipina American living in Brooklyn. By day, she works as an industrial engineer. By night, she is beautiful and terrible as the morn, treacherous as the seas, stronger than the foundations of the Earth. All shall love her and despair.

Laura has written 71 articles for us.

14 Comments

  1. Thumb up 4

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    Splitwise, where have you been for the last 4.75 years? My girlfriend and I always perpetually “owe” each other for something, and we forget to pay up most of the time. This is amazing. Thank you, Laura!!!

  2. Thumb up 2

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    I’ve used this for the last year with my roommate, well up until I got my own place recently. I can honestly say it was pretty awesome and easy to use it helped me organize my bills and reminded him when things were due plus you can send reminders without seeming like a jerk. Really liked that you could add pics of the bills too. I’d say if you have a roommate or live in girlfriend and want to keep organized you should check it out. Though may I suggest Venmo if your girlfriend doesn’t live with you and you tend to owe each other money all the time this is a great app.

  3. Thumb up 3

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    We use Mint.com, which I love! I actually just got off the phone where I was telling my brother how great it is. We made a “relationship” category, and whenever we buy something we should split (groceries, dinner, etc.) we tag it as such and every month or so one of us give the other the difference. It makes paying for things SO much easier, and takes all the thinking out of it. Also, Mint is great in general for learning how to budget and makes beautiful charts.

  4. Thumb up 5

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    We have a jar (yes, a real, glass jar) that we just stuff our receipts into every time one or the other of us spends money on a house expense (eg. groceries, booze, more booze). If one of us owes the other something, we just scribble it on a piece of paper (yes, real paper) and stuff it in. Then I settle it all up at the end of the month and boom! It works because I like doing all that stuff and my partner hates it.

  5. Thumb up 5

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    splitting expenses sounds a bit too difficult. We generally just combine our money and use it as one person…as long as I know of all expenses it works out fine. I am totally not a control freak. …really …. I mean it… ok a little bit.

  6. Thumb up 5

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    We have an extra wallet which is a joint fund. We each put €100–200 in there each month and pay for everything we buy together out of that. Very little thinking involved. But we love talking about money, possibly because we have exactly the same attitude towards it, possibly because she’s a Catalan and being good with money is part of their culture (along with human towers and a yule log that has a face and shits presents).

  7. Thumb up 1

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    This sounds absolutely amazing. In considering moving in with my girlfriend, we made pro/con lists and “talking about money freaks me the fuck out” was like… top of my “cons”. This seems right up our alley though if we decide to take the plunge.

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