Welcome, BillMonk Refugees! (In Which We Import BillMonk Data)

Welcome BillMonk refugees!

[Edit: As of Friday, September 14th we now have our Simplified Debt feature live, which is known on BillMonk as debt shuffle. Information on Simplified Debt can be found here. We updated the importer Tuesday, August 21 to handle debt shuffles and multiple payers. If you imported before this, go through the import again and it will pick up the debt shuffles correctly and won’t import duplicates. ]

Like many of you out there, I’ve been waiting for BillMonk to load.

Why am I waiting? I’ve been testing our new importer for BillMonk data.

In the last week, BillMonk has sadly gone from slow to unbearable. While this is painful for their users, we hope we can provide a fairly painless process to move from BillMonk to Splitwise.

For those of you eager to try it out, go export from BillMonk and import to Splitwise. Otherwise, let me tell you a little more about the benefits and limitations of our importer.

In 2006, BillMonk launched and started helping friends split expenses and track loans of money and things. It was a widely-admired Web 2.0 app of that era, and we have great respect for their founders. A year later, they were bought by Obopay, and since that acquisition, BillMonk has seen little new development and has been getting steadily slower and less reliable.

Splitwise started out in 2011 entirely focused on bill sharing between apartments and housemates. Over time, we have been slowly moving towards a more general approach to cost-splitting, and we are fortunately far enough along on this road that we can take most of the data from BillMonk and import it directly into our system.

The importer does many things well – you can take the BillMonk XML export and upload it straight into a new or existing Splitwise account. It checks for duplicates (so that if multiple people import the same expense, duplicates are not created), and allows you to choose which friendships to import. It also pulls data from itemized expenses, and warns you of any potential problems.

There are a few limitations, unfortunately, caused by the fact BillMonk does not export everything in a way we can reconstruct entirely. Recurring bills are not marked as recurring [edit: debt shuffles are now imported] and debt “shuffles” are not exported in a way that we can use. So while everything will get imported, there are some bumps.

In the current version of Splitwise, you never have to shuffle anything – all debts in groups are automatically “shuffled” in that we only record net balances, and if you click the Settle Up button, it gives a simplified repayment plan. [Edit: You can now shuffle debts across all friendships and in groups] However in the current version of Splitwise, debts between friends cannot be “shuffled”, because we just added this feature recently. 

We plan introduce a “simplify debts” behavior that will accomplish the same goals as “shuffling”, but this is still at least a few months away. [Edit: debt shuffles are now imported] As a result, if you make use of BillMonk debt shuffling, the total amounts owed to friends that we list will be different from the amounts listed in BillMonk, even though we import the data correctly, because it will not reflect debt shuffles.

We are sorry about this shuffling issue, but if you are using Splitwise for an apartment or trip, a Splitwise group will often serve the same purpose. and all four of us are working hard on improving the service constantly. Because BillMonk groups (common associations of people) don’t exactly map to this  current concept of Splitwise groups (self-contained universe of bill-splitting), we for now do not import BillMonk groups except for the individual friendships.

Fortunately, the importer is smart enough to alert you to anything we get stuck on. [Edit: Multiple payers are now imported]For instance, currently, the importer skips bills that have multiple payers – however, these bills that have multiple payers will be called out for you to assess, after your BillMonk data has been parsed by our system.  All debts will be assumed to be the default currency of your friendship (though you can easily change this afterwards in your relationship settings).

The last piece of this that’s tricky is getting your data out of BillMonk. Once you are logged in, you can go to this page, but it’s quite slow and often fails, so you may have to try a few times. I don’t have a great solution for this. We’ve tried automating pieces of this process, but Billmonk is so slow now that anything we try and do on our end is timing out.

A temporary difference between BillMonk and Splitwise is that on our website or Android app, you can’t currently split a bill between multiple friends outside a group. This is coming very, very soon and is our top priority internally. This is currently available on iPhone and will be available soon on Android and web.

If you’re looking for an alternative to BillMonk, please try out our importer and let us know how it goes at monkrefugee@splitwise.com!

84 thoughts on “Welcome, BillMonk Refugees! (In Which We Import BillMonk Data)”

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    1. Transactions in friendships are always private and transactions in groups are always public. You can add an IOU between you and a friend in a group and that will be public, but anything added to a friendship is private. The reason we do this is because groups are automatically shuffled, so every member of the group should be able to double check the math on why they owe money.

      1. Hi, although I understand your reasons – this fact is why we probably can’t migrate from our current solution: We need to hide a transaction from one specific group member. This is important for us because shared expenses are mainly presents in our group. And although everyone can of course guess what his present may be worth, it is not polite to let them see..
        A possible solution I can think of is that IOUs can be set to private (which can only be seen by affected group members). I guess for the current implementation of SplitWise it would be neccesary to exclude those transactions from “shuffling”.
        Much work for a probably not often required feature. 🙂

  3. Billmonk importer doesn’t work that well. It gets the data but calculations were messed up. Please test it with huge number of transactions for people who were using billmonk for past 4 years or so.

    Some feature request:
    1. If there is a way you can add some billmonk features like spliting between friends without making a house group or something.
    2. Shuffle feature like billmonk has, that owuld be a great addition.

    1. Billmonk importer misses some bills.The feature to splitting between friends without making a group is kinda indispensable at this point. Its a real mess to share multi person expenses everytime and keeping track of them. You guys should really try to include that ASAP.

      1. We agree! My cofounder is working adding this feature to the website as I post this. It is currently available on the iPhone app and will be available on Android on Monday.

    2. Most likely the calculations are messed up because Billmonk does not allow us to use their Debt Shuffle calculation (they hide this data for privacy reasons – https://www.billmonk.com/about/faq#shuffle_debts). I would love to take a look at your XML export and balances export and see if I can do a bit better – send them to support@splitwise.com. Unfortunately, a lot of the logic for Debt Shuffle requires more data than we can get exported out of Billmonk.

      1. Absolutely! This is currently available on iPhone and will be available on Android on Monday. My cofounder is working on adding it to the web as I post this.
      2. We will be adding some features similar to shuffling in the future, though we do not have a timeline for that yet. Our groups automatically shuffle, which works well for cases like housemates or group trips.

    1. I would love to take a look at this! My own account appears to be too broken on Billmonk to pull a copy of this out. If anyone with debt shuffles could send a copy of their XML export and money flow CSV to support@splitwise.com, I would really appreciate it!

      1. Hi Marshall, first of all nice work with Splitwise. I am a bilmonk user seeking alternatives and was trying to import billmonk two days back, but the API times out in that. You guys got a workaround that issue by including xml based import which is a pretty awesome and reliable idea because at least for me, that feature of billmonk is still working (I told my room-mates to download their .xmls immediately – lest it also stops working :D). Once I tried the import, I started having some issues:

        1. As expected, multiple payment entries weren’t getting imported. It was not a big deal for me as I only had 1 entry like that.

        2. I exported all of the friends with whom I had used billmonk for resolving debts. Here’s where the problem started. With few of my friends, I have used billmonk for just 1-2 transcations and we had cleared it long time back, so it was showing settled up in my billmonk. But after importing, splitwise was showing that I owed them some amount. Also, the amount I owe with my room-mates, with whom I use billmonk regularly, were not correct. Maybe, it is a debt shuffle bug, but I think it is some other kind of mistake because I have never shuffled debts between my non-frequent billmonk friends.

        3. As I need to continue with my room-mates. I decided to remove these non-frequent friends so that there is no confusion – still it was not coming correctly. So I decided I will do everyting afresh and again parse the xml, this time only adding the friends I want. But darn, everytime I try to do that, the imprter says that xx amount of bills have been aleady imported and there is nothing to import – even though I had deleted all the friendships and my account was all clear. After this came the ultimate bug which I have explained in point 4.

        4. So, when all my efforts went in vain, I was like – let me delete the bloody account and re-do it all over again. But I am not able to delete it! It throws up some bug every time I try to do so. I deleted by cache and history – tried everything. After deleting the cash I tried importing again, but it will still give the same problem. Why and where has splitwise remembered what I imported before? And why can’t I delete my account? Please look into this bug immediately and let me know, cuz I really like splitwise but cannot use it till my billmonk imports propery.

      2. If you already sent a copy of your XML export to support@splitwise, I’m going to be going through those today and tomorrow. I can easily tell if there’s a debt shuffle issue on your import if I have that. We did just implement a way to reverse the whole import from Billmonk at the import page: https://secure.splitwise.com/billmonk/import

    2. The money flow CSV is missing pieces of the debt shuffles, but I was able to get a better version working with debt shuffles. Go check out the new version! If you’ve already done an import, you can just go through it again and it will remember which expenses you’ve already imported, and there is a link on the bottom of the page to remove all expenses you’ve imported if you want to clear the Billmonk data.

  4. hey there. First of all good work. I am like others trying to find an alternative to billmonk. I checked out splitwise and have been trying it out since few days just to see if it fit to my needs. I have a question about itemized bill. When I try to add itemized bill with more than 2 people the right pane shows only two intiails. Is it a bug? And on side note why initials?? It gets really confusing when you have more than one friend with same initials. There is no way to know which one’s which. Hope you fix these things pretty soon. Let me know if you need more information to reproduce this.
    Keep up the good work

    1. That is a bug. I’m working on another pass on itemized bill entry right now, though I’m not sure when it will go live. We used initials because it was a simple way to get this feature live and see if it worked well enough for users (it doesn’t – initials get pretty confusing) without having to deal with formatting for large numbers of users with long names.

      1. Hi Marshall,

        Can this tool be used in India also. Have tried using bill monk in India cannot use it.


    2. There’s a new version of itemized bill entry on the website. It should be much easier to use than the old one. Take a look!

  5. From an already Existing list of friends, Is there a way where we can just import them to a group? rather than sending them an invite again? or may be a functionality where you can click on a friends name and add the friend to the group?

    1. Hey Jerry,

      I don’t think I will be implementing a feature to import groups instead of friends, but we should be adding some features to allow you to more easily move balances and expenses between groups and friends. I don’t have a timeline on this yet.

  6. Can you please add feature of making itemize bill? And also adding people in particular item.
    So there should be 1 bill -> Multiple item – > every item can be shared among different people, so amount equally distributed between them. Also don’t ask me to adjust cents in the item price so that you can equally divide it between participants. I mean please adjust cents among sharer. We want to come to split wise and we did detail comparison between billmonk and splitwise. but splitwise lacking lots of feature that makes billmonk best. but billmonk is down. so please make spltwise more strong in putting itemize bill.

    1. We have itemized bill entry on the website (when adding a bill, there you can split equally, unequally or itemized). Where are you having issues where you need to adjust the total for the bill when splitting equally? I know the iPhone app has some very odd troubles with this that I haven’t fixed yet, but it should be working correctly everywhere else.

  7. Dashboard is giving wrong information. I have imported my data from billmonk, I have already settled my account in billmonk with few friends, but it is giving me wrong information and also calculations are also wrong.

    1. Hey Navdeep,

      we didn’t take debt shuffles into account in the last version of the importer. The current version should handle it and should wind up with the right balances. You can just do the import again and it will not import second copies of stuff already in the system and you can delete all Billmonk expenses you’ve imported if you want to go back.

  8. When we put shared expenses and it divides into respective parties, and if by chance amount is wrong, there is no option to edit. I guess this should be mandatory feature. There is only option to edit at each friend level which is painful again to calculate update each person records for that activity

      1. Hey Chaitra,

        We’re reviewing our UI next week and will take as much user feedback into account as possible.

  9. Hi !!! Tried to import my Billmonk data here !!! The import missed some bills (arnd 20) but it was manageable. Just a few transactions out of hundreds were left out !!! Good job on that !!

    One thing I would like is for users to create a group with existing friendships. Right now, if I try to create a group, Splitwise is asking to enter names and email ids again and new invites are being sent. There may be an option to include existing friends to groups !!!

    Also as Chaitra says the dashboard can be made as the default screen!!!

    1. Hey atman_z,

      we will definitely be making it easier to include your existing friendships in groups soon.

  10. Hi Splitwise team,
    why doesnt it show a combined “I owe” or “he owes” on dashboard. ( the mutual dues from groups is not summed up in dashboard. ) which means if few friends in are common across multiple groups.. .they wont get a simple sum to settle up. Not practical to refer multiple groups to settle mutual bills right ?

  11. I agree with Vineeth’s comment. Settlement between same friends within multiple groups, or settlement between the same friend in and outside a group should exist. The actual owing values need not have to be calculated twice.

  12. A piece of friendly advice guys: disable the importer. It’s great for what it does within its limitations, but it is impossible for it to work the way it should. Since you can’t see the Debt Shuffled data, it’s illogical to try and import data for a group. The thing is, the import will be wrong for anyone who doesn’t import their data, which could result in some really odd looking debts. Alternatively you can put a reallllly big disclaimer about “everyone must import their debts for the numbers to come out correctly”.

    What we did was stop shuffling debts on BillMonk and just report our individual debts on the new system. If anyone owes us money and we want it, we report it on Splitwise. If someone is too lazy to report it in the new system, their loss, nobody else is affected.

      1. Hey Steven,

        melitta pointed out that the personal pieces of the debs shuffles are in the money flow CSV file, so I was able to get that data for each individual correct. I’m also working on getting multiple payers working on the importer as I found enough data in the money flow to get that right as well. Hopefully, we’ll just be down to recurring bills and multiple currencies between two individuals as the only remaining issues (we don’t handle multiple currencies in Splitwise very well right now, and I can’t find anything that includes information about recurring bills). I don’t think I mention currencies above, so I’ll update that when I get multiple payers working correctly.

        If you want to try out the importer and see if it does better, there is also a “remove all expenses I’ve imported” link at the bottom of the importer. Your friends will will get the initial import email, but you can put everything back to the right place.

      2. Hi Marshall,
        Can we also get multiple payers in the Friends page and not just the Group page? My main concern is that the friends I have imported from Billmonk are listed as Friends and not in groups… But I use the Group page with them, for two reasons, multiple payers and shuffling. What is the best way to combine Friends and Group members and enable both those features?

      3. Hi Marshall,

        Good job again. I had pointed out the issues with the importer before and I have a simpler idea of doing the import. Instead of importing all bills, just import the information of how much one owed another on billmonk – I am not sure if that data is available in any xml/csv file already, but it will save all the trouble. Who wants to see month old bills anyway? People just want to continue with the right numbers. (:

        BTW, have you removed the bug that initials of last name are shown in the add bills page?

  13. Why do I only have the option of itemizing the bill in a group? Why cant I add more friends when I try to itemize a bill with a friend (like equally sharing a bill has an option of adding more friends to that bill).

    Also, Why cant I transfer what my friends owe me in a group to their individual accounts?

    1. Hey Prateek,

      Friends and itemized billing are both pretty new, so we’re still working out all of the kinks. If you take a look at splitwise.uservoice.com, you can vote on user-suggested features which we use to figure out what features need polishing next.


  14. Though I find the multiple payer bills information in the .csv file, when I import the same, it is not getting updated into the friends bill, I even tried removing the imported bills from billmonk, but again the multiple payer bills didnt work 😦 can you take a look ?

  15. Splitwise is really good app at his point. Just to add a suggestion, I really miss the pie chart that Billmonk used to show the current bill status. Can you guys think about adding this feature ?

  16. I’m a billmonk refugee who just found this site today, and I’m excited to give Splitwise a shot (though the importer hasn’t worked for me yet). Billmonk was a great discovery for me two years ago, from when I was using excel sheets. Splitwise seems even better, with a free app even! Hoorah!

    But I’m curious how y’all are going to make it survive with it being free. I hope that the same thing that happened with Billmonk doesn’t happen with Splitwise. How will it be funded? Advertising? Or will we be charged in the future? Transaction fees? Donation buttons? I’m curious about the sustainability of the site and app and I’m hoping that I won’t have to endure a Billmonk-like trauma again.

    1. Hey Emily,

      We’re a Providence based startup and have been around for about a year and a half now. There area couple of different reasonable business models, and you’ll probably see us introduce some tasteful advertising and paid features over the next few months. I don’t really want to go through our complete strategy in a blog comment at this point, but we do expect the core service to remain free 🙂

  17. The import option is not working correctly.. This is really a horrible one now. I just imported data but it does not import payments that were made in billmonk and it shows all previous debts as unpaid.. after seeing this info I got heart attack and so also my friends.. Make it really transparent or remove the option of import/export.

    1. Hey Cooldude,

      I’m sorry you had such a harrowing import experience! The only issue I’m aware of the needs fixing in the current importer is handling of multiple currencies. If this isn’t the case, it should have worked correctly. If you would be willing to send all 3 files the importer asks for to support@splitwise.com, I would really love to figure out what went wrong for you.


  18. The importer from billmonk is not working. I am getting the following error.
    “You must upload the Money flow export file.”..I am using the links mentioned on top to export stuff from bill monk and to import them to splitvise. So, I am kinda blocked here..Let me know where I am going wrong..Thanks

    1. You need to download 3 files from billmonk. Money Flow (csv), Friends (csv) and All data as XML (XML). Then try again using all the 3 files.

  19. The import worked perfectly for me.

    Splitwise will be more better if you could add the below options.

    In the dashboard you can have one more level of settlement which will be a final settlement including the group and non-group settlements. Let me explain this with an example. Suppose I owe $100 to my friend X. And as part of a group settlement, my friend X owes $100 to me. In this case I can consider the amount between me and my friend X as settled. But that is not done now. The same can be applicable across multiple groups.

  20. Hi,
    I am billmonk refugee. to be frank finding this website little difficult to use may be i am technology illiterate 🙂
    here is my doubt. I reported a payment with my friend paying me $500 now this payment doesn’t shows up in my activity or if i click on friend’s name. it is not showing up in transaction either. however it reduces the balance amount.

    on the same time it shows up on friend’s page but not mine.

    Could you guys please let me know how to see it on my page.

  21. while importing i am getting this message

    Something seems to have gone wrong.

    We’ve automatically been notified, and we’ll look into the issue as soon as we can.

    To return to Splitwise, click here.

    Sorry for the inconvenience!

    what to do??

  22. Two questions (coming for BillMonk):
    1. Is there a way to setup e-mail notifications? I’ve got a group of 8 people that we use for tracking debts and most of these debts occur between two or three people at a time. Is it possible to get an email whenever a new bill/payment is made in which you are one of the involved members?
    2. I accidentally added a bill incorrectly and deleted it and didn’t see any visual evidence it existed. This got me wondering is it possible that someone could delete a bill/payment and there is no record? If we have 100+ bills over time and someone goes back and deletes (we’ll say accidentally) one from a year ago without email notification or visual appearance of a delete I don’t think it would show and it would just update the balances owed. Even if I knew how much I owe/am owed from my last login, after I notice the change the chances I could figure out which item was deleted is small.

    Others than these questions, the app is pretty slick and is a good replacement for BillMonk.

    1. You can sign up for email notifications on changes to expenses (new expenses, edits or deletes) in your user settings. The dashboard also shows the last 20 changes, including deleted expenses and lets you undelete them. All deletes in our system for expenses are “soft” deletes, so we can recover deleted expenses if necessary.

      1. On a similar note…I was having a lot of trouble with debts not adding up between individual people when some people existed in multiple groups so I deleted the groups. I only meant to delete one of them (I had the info recorded elsewhere) but now both groups are gone and so is all record of the expenses that occurred within them. How can I get the group back?

  23. When someone in a group edits an expense the other doesn’t know it unless they are signed up in the notifications. Wouldn’t it be better if you just bring up the expense to the top and give it a label (like edited or changed by some user) ?

  24. I have added one of my friend’s email address with invalid address (typo error it is now like ******89_gmail.com@example.com), now I am not able to update it. I tried friendship setting, but it is not editable. Any suggestion. I don’t want to create new friend with and add all transaction again, because it has too many transactions involved in it.

    1. Hi @Yukteshwar,

      Yes! We support nearly all the world’s major currencies and are happy to add any that are missing. When you sign up on the website, there is a small text link that “Don’t use USD for currency? Click here” that allows you to set a different default currency.

      You can also change your default currency on the website, if you missed this during sign up, by going to “Your account” on the top right link. From there, you can also do a mass re-labelling of all your expenses to your new default currency, if say you’ve already entered a bunch of expenses in dollars.

      If you have any questions or trouble, shoot us an email at support@splitwise.com! We’re always happy to help.


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