Debts Made Simple

Ever get caught in a debt triangle? You know: Mike owes you $20 for the electric bill, but he’s waiting for Anna to pay him for back for pizza last weekend, and she’s waiting for you to pay her back for those movie tickets…

In the end, nobody owes anyone anything – but until you figure that out, it’s one giant pain in the neck.

Luckily, you’ve got Splitwise. And we have some cool new features for you.

Simplified Debt in groups

Last week, we added an option on the web to automatically simplify debts within groups. What does that mean? It means that if Anna owes Bob, and Bob owes Cathy, then Anna can just pay back Cathy directly. Fewer payments = less waiting for your money = more good times.

Just click the gray “Settle up” button on your group’s page, and see how it works for yourself!

Simplifying Debt with one person

Sometimes you have multiple outstanding balances with a person – $17 for house expenses, $84 for that road trip, another $12 for dinner last night. If you’re in multiple groups with one person, it can be hard to keep track of it all.

Never fear! Just switch to the “Friends” view online and bring up the person you’re interested in – you’ll see a summary of all their debts with you at the top of the page. And if you want to consolidate all those debts in one place, just click the gray gear icon at the top of the screen (next to your friend’s name) and choose “Simplify debts with this person” – all of your outstanding debts will be moved into your one-on-one account.

Simplifying Debt with a whole bunch of people

So you and your friends all use Splitwise – woohoo! You’re not all in a group together, but it would be great if you could get rid of redundant payments, just this once.

Ex-BillMonk users may know this as “debt shuffle“, and it’s a feature we’ve just added today. Visit your account settings page and choose “Simplify my debts.” You’ll be taken to a page where you can simplify your debt with all of your friends on Splitwise at once!

Be aware: this feature is advanced. In order to reduce payments by as much as possible, it makes changes not only to your account, but also to the accounts of your friends – including balances that you can’t see. If they’ve never used Simplified Debt before, your friends may be confused why their balances have changed. Make sure you explain to them what has happened, or someone may delete the shuffle and leave you back where you started!

In addition, to help prevent confusion, this kind of debt simplification obeys three important rules:

  1. Everyone owes the same net amount at the end
  2. No one owes a person that they didn’t owe before, and
  3. No one owes more money in total than they did before the simplification.

This helps ensure that Simplified Debts will always makes things easier, not harder.

Simplified Debts aren’t for everyone, but if you’re a power user who wants to take control of your IOUs, be sure to check out these new features and let us know what you think!

Published by

Ryan Laughlin

CTO @ Splitwise, the app that makes sharing expenses easy.

35 thoughts on “Debts Made Simple”

  1. Pingback: Quora
    1. Within groups yes! When you settle up your group, you’ll see a slider on the upper right hand of the box that pops up. Look for “Simplify debts?”, and use that slider to see the raw repayments or the Simplified Debt.

  2. The feature “Simplify your debts” is a good one. Better and easier than “Debt Shuffle” in BillMonk. Simplified debt in Group can be better. It can directly apply the debt adjustment between me and the person reporting the expenses in the group. I have to manually anyway simplify debt if I have to settle payment with a friend who is there in group and in friends. May be I am missing something?

    1. We keep friend a group debts fairly separate. If you add debts just between you and a friend, we consider that private, even if it means we can’t shuffles that debt in your group.

  3. Hi — so a friend loaned me some money a while ago, and so he setup a splitwise account so that I could pay him back. It’s a large sum, so I will be making payments (via paypal, nice feature) to him over time… say, $100 per month. Question: Is there a way that I can be reminded every month (on say, the 15th of the month) to pay him another chunk? I see something about “recurring bills”, but I’m not sure how to make this… “payment” something like that. Is that possible? Thanks! best, –dk

    1. Hi Daniel – I’m afraid we don’t have a great way to set up a recurring payment reminder right now. Your best bet is probably to add an expense for $0 with a description like “Time to pay my friend back!”, and then set that to recur each month with an email reminder.


      1. I can’t find a way to set up anything to recur. Can you tell me how? It would be handy for rent.

      2. When adding a new bill on the web or in our iPhone app, click on the date. This should reveal a screen that allows you to change the date of the bill and set a repeat interval (weekly, monthly, etc).

  4. Oh joy oh joy. This feature of simplifing debts across multiple users has been dearly missed. Admitted, I’m a billmonk refugee 🙂
    But I’m not sure I understand how it works?! Ok, so I go to my account settings, choose simplify my debts, choose a bunch of people and splitwise reduces the number of transactions for me. Great. Hit the ‘Simplify you debts’ button and back on the account settings page, a green banner is displayed telling me, that ‘Your debts were shuffled successfully’.
    Back on the dashboard nothing is saved??? The debts are back to the way they were before simplifying. I’ve also tried to ‘save changes’ back at the account settings page, but with no luck.

    What’s going on?


    1. Hey Nikolaj – sorry for the trouble! We made an update yesterday that temporarily broke debt shuffle. We’ve just released a fix, so if you try again now, everything ought to work properly. (If you’re still having any trouble, email us at and let us know!)


  5. Does not work still. I get a screenshot saying “Your debts were shuffled successfully.” But if I go back to home page, it still show the old data.

  6. If I turn on simplify debts, but then we decide we don’t like it, can we turn it off and like restore it to the original necessary payments? Or will the previous things stay simplified and only new stuff not?

    1. Hey Kiraa – yes, you can turn off simplified debts at any time, and it’s as if you had never turned it on in the first place. Give it a try if you’d like, and let us know if you have any questions!

  7. Hi Ryan
    When the simplified debt option is turned off, why i am seeing “[Unknown] owes $$$”
    Not sure if it is a correct net result among ourselves( we are 5 total).Can you plz help if the end calculation is correct?

    1. Hey Sohi, most likely you had an old group member who got deleted after settling up a long time ago. We’ve actually had simplify debts in groups for a long time and are only now allowing users to turn it off. If you settled up with a friend and then turned off simplify debts, the simplified piece of the debt comes back. Email if you want a better explanation so I can go into details about your specific account.

  8. HI Ryan.. Firstly i appreciate your work of bringing on this feature. But for personal reasons, i would not like to use this feature. When my friends simplify debts without informing me its becoming difficult for me to track because i check my splitwise very rarely (my bad). Anyway i want to disable this option so that others will not be able to simplify debts including me. I am not seeing any option to prevent this. Please let me know about this. I am in desperate need of this.
    Sorry to say this, if there is no resort to disable this feature then i may have to discontinue my splitwise account. Again i can very well understand how this option is so useful to all other users. Its just not my cup of tea… Please help !!

    1. Hey Barry – debt simplification in groups follows rules #1 and #3 (you owe the same total amount before and after simplification), but not necessarily #2. For example, if you’re in a group with Betty and Carlos, and you owe Betty $20 and Betty owes Carlos $20, our group debt simplification would tell you to pay $20 to Carlos directly.

  9. Hello, I would also like to know the way to turn off debt simplification. I am not very amused by the fact that someone decided so simplify the debt with bunch of people. I know how much I owe someone and how much somebody owes. But after debt simplification there is no way to find out the original amount to check whether debt simplification worked correctly. so it just leaves me confused and with no choice. So it would be greatly appreciated if you let me know the feature to disable debt simplification for an user so that nobody can simplify the debt with that user.

    1. Hi @Nishit,

      Yes, you can turn off debt simplification very easily. Just to be clear, as we describe in the blog post, there are two types of debt simplification: the ongoing kind in any group you are part of, and the once-off kind that you can make from your user settings page.

      To turn off “Simplify Debts” in a group, just go to, log in, and go to the group in the left hand sidebar. On the right hand sidebar, there will be a link where it says either “Simplify Debts is ON” or OFF. If you click the word, it will take you to a settings page. On that page, you can click “Advanced Settings” where it will let you change the toggle from ON to OFF (or vice versa). Note that this changes the setting for everyone in the group, not just you.

      To remove a one-off debt simplification, just delete any of the “Debt Simpification” expenses created by the system, and all the Debt Simpification will be undone for all people/expenses affected by that instance of simplification. This can be done via the apps or the website.

      Please drop us a line at if you have further questions specific to your account!

      – Jon

  10. I have a question regarding debt simplification.

    scenario is I owe ‘J’ $11 and ‘R’ owes me $384. ‘R’ and ‘J’ are settled up between them.

    If I do a debt simplification between three of us it does nothing.

    Why does’nt it show that R owes me $373 and R owes ‘J’ $11

    1. See rule #2 above! Simplify debts follows a number of rules, including “No one owes a person that they didn’t owe before”. Since R and J were settled up before, our simplify debts algorithm will not create a new debt between them.

      We think this makes sense for examples like yours because even if we DID allow those simplifications, it wouldn’t reduce the total number of payments – it would just create different payments involving different people. In other words, we think it actually makes the situation more complicated to move those debts around, rather than keeping them the same.

  11. I did a debt simplification that included some 5 or 6 people. One of them deleted the debt simplifications – so, would this make amounts I owe or other people owe me different than what it is supposed to be? I mean whether anyone would end up paying or getting more due to this deletion of debt simplification?

    1. Hi Shubhadeep,

      If someone deletes part of a debt simplification, we remove all parts of it. So no one is out any money, it just cancels the simplification. If you’ve paid someone while the simplification was there, it will probably show that they owe you money now from the payment, though you should email if you have questions about your specific situation.

  12. If I try to turn off Simplify debts in my group, it’s then asking me to re-add the deleted users from the past who were part of this group. What is the possible solution for this issue ?

  13. Hello,I read your blogs named “Debts Made Simple – The Splitwise Blog” daily.Your story-telling style is awesome, keep doing what you’re doing! And you can look our website about love spells.

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