Happy MLK Day From Splitwise

Today is a celebration of America’s greatest champion for fairness, who would have turned 83 this year. Even if you are working today (as we are here at Splitwise) and not taking the day off, there’s always time to read and reflect on what the day stands for:

  • MLK’s Wikipedia article. While Martin Luther King is best remembered for his achievements in Civil Rights, he was also an advocate for economic justice and fairness for the poor.
  • Google Doodle for MLK day. This link also has a flashback to Google’s earlier tributes.
  • CNN’s coverage including some Obama quotes and added context.

Juries: The Original Fairness Calculator

A survey of your peers.

I had the fascinating experience of attending my first jury summons yesterday in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I wasn’t sure whether to be disappointed or relieved when they dismissed me from the courthouse after 7 hours of waiting for my voir dire.

A randomly selected jury pool jury is in some ways the original, single-use fairness calculator. When confronted with a dispute, one presents the case to a representative sample of your peers. They vote for the result they think matches their common sense notions of what is relevant and who is right. If Splitwise didn’t do surveys to test our fairness calculators, it would be a bit like the government having a trial without a jury (maybe a stretch, but I think it’s a stimulating thought).
Continue reading Juries: The Original Fairness Calculator

Announcing The Travel Calculator

Over the past few months, we’ve done a lot of research into how to share vacation expenses, thanks to the help of users like you. We posted a detailed survey to recruit respondents from the Splitwise interface. That data enabled us to create a travel calculator that tells you how much each person should pay for an expense based on how many days each person was on the trip. Go check it out! This is all part of our grand strategy to make Splitwise the best travel sharing app on the web.

I also have a new blog post on Forbes describing our data analysis. Read my post there for lots of juicy graphics, conclusions, and economic logic.

Soon To Be Third Wheel

In this “Dear Splitwise”, we return to the always tricky issue of live-in significant others.

Dear Splitwise,

If my roommate has his girlfriend move in, what would be a fair price for him to pay me additionally? My roommate currently pays $435.00 for his share of the rent out of $995.00 per month. Electric is a total of $210.00 (which we split two ways) and cable is $60.00 each. He only wants to pay $50.00 more per month, which is way too cheap. What would be a fair amount for her share of rent and utilities per month? He’s trying to justify the low amount by saying she’s not going to use TV even though there is TV with cable in his room.

-Soon to be Third Wheel

Continue reading Soon To Be Third Wheel

Announcing: “Dear Splitwise”

Splitwise is all about making sharing with your friends, housemates, and family easier. Since we’re fairly nerdy, we like to do that by making calculators that address common fairness situations. But sometimes, the situation is just too specific for a calculator. Since we started with the rent calculator in February, we’ve received several emails asking about the specifics of a given roommate situation.

If you have a fairness or roommmate situation that just does not fit into a calculator, email us at ask@splitwise.com. Not only do we answer really, really fast (usually within a few hours at most), we will study the question, consult with experts, or do a survey to solve your conundrum. Then we’ll turn it into a blog post for the amusement of others. Think of it like a relationship advice column for your sharing questions, answered by nerds with charts.

The Guest Calculator

I just posted the second article in the guest series over at Forbes, “How Much To Charge A Couch-Crasher” over at Forbes. Please feel free to indulge your inner survey-nerd and give it a look.

In the article, I introduce a method for charging your guests who crash on the couch for a week or longer. It’s called the Guest calculator and you can view it right now on Splitwise.com and from within the Splitwise interface.

I’m also posting the full-text of the first article about guests, “How Much To Charge Your Roommate’s Girlfriend”, on this blog, so that you can read it all here. That article has also been featured on AskMen.com and MSNBC, so if you found it first elsewhere – um, welcome! If I post content first somewhere else, I will try to post it here within a week or so.

How Much To Charge Your Roommate’s Girlfriend

Where is the line?
Let’s say that you live with a roommate who has a new girlfriend. At first, the girlfriend spends the night just a couple of times a month. You see her in the mornings, but it’s hardly a bother. After a while, she starts hanging around nearly every night, eating on the couch, watching TV, and taking showers in the morning. It’s almost like you have a new roommate! She’s not paying for your bills or rent, and she says she has her own place too. You don’t want to make her pay for everything twice. But is it fair that she uses your air conditioning, your kitchen, and your living room without contributing a dime?

Continue reading How Much To Charge Your Roommate’s Girlfriend

Using Splitwise for group travel

One thing that Splitwise has turned out suprisingly useful for is group trips: road trips, ski-trips, weekend getaways, whatever. It’s a classic money-organization problem. Someone rents a car, someone buys the groceries, someone pays for gas, and lots of money is getting lent back and forth. Without Splitwise, someone always ends up spending a few hours trying to reckon it at the end, and then someone gets confused and you do it over again. And then you have to figure out how to pay each other back, and money just gets lost in the shuffle.

Together, Ryan and I have used the site for 5 trips already. I’m currently staying at a rental house in Michigan with 11 friends in celebration of the wedding of my friends Lauren and Ben. We’re having a blast, and the people staying in the house love how non-stressful it is to just dump everything on the site – groceries, park passes, gas, the house rental, and beer runs. Once one of us enters the expense on the site (say, a grocery run), we just forget about it until the end of the trip. Kara loves how the site reduces the number of payments, so that if Rebecca owes Kara money and Kara owes Eve money, it just keeps track of the balances so that in the end Rebecca owes Eve. At the end, you can also see how much the whole trip cost you individually, which is a bitch to figure out without a computer.

To share a trip on the site:
1. Create an “apartment”
2. Add all your friends to the “apartment”
3. Everyone adds expenses that they pay for
4. Pay each other back at the end