Splitting those bills - SunStar

Splitting those bills

By Meg Rivera


A SCENARIO: The girls in the office think that dinner and drinks out tonight would take the edge off a long and difficult week. You all pick a restaurant, and settle in comfortably to a delicious meal, a dessert you can’t pronounce and a few rounds of drinks. The food is delicious, and the company superb. All is well and good, until the bill comes. Suddenly the whole table erupts in a mad scramble for change, and everybody flings a P500 bill in the middle of the table and expects it to materialise into the correct change.

Now unless you have an accountant present at the table, there is hardly a soul who wants to make sense of the pile of bills in the middle of the table. Even then, the accountant may even throw up their hands and say, “It’s past 5 p.m. and I’m no longer on duty.” What’s a body to do?

This week, we review three apps that make splitting the bill easier for everybody involved. Whether it’s a shared grocery bill or a tracker to keep tabs on who owes you money, stay on top of the money game and look cool doing it too.

Plates-iconApp name: Plates by Splitwise

App developer: Splitwise Inc.

Available on: iTunes, Google Play

Easy to use: This app is amazing. It’s a rare app that makes me describe it as simply as this, but I am blown away by how practical and useful this app is. Its simple design makes this app easy to understand and use. I love it!

Overall comment: Take your bill at the end of a meal. Input how much the bill is and how many “plates” are at the table. Distribute the costs by “dropping” them onto the plates, and it calculates for you how much each person owes. Another successful evening out, stress free. I do think that this could improve by adding in a feature that allows you to calculate how much change is owed if a person pays a certain amount. No more frantic calculating at the end of a meal! Five clicks out of five.

Splitwise-iconApp name: Splitwise

App developer: Splitwise Inc.

Available on: iTunes, Google Play

Easy to use: Yes, but you do need to be patient with it at first. You will need to input your contacts and their email addresses into this app, as this how you will contact them about paying off the money that they owe you.

Overall comment: This may be quite pretty, but it is a little bit more complex than it should be. For every bill that you have to split, you need to email everybody involved and work out amounts in percentages. This is not great for something quick, but handy for a big expense, like a group road trip out. Three clicks out of five.

SpotMe-iconApp name: Spotme Payments

App developer: Boomerang Digital Inc.

Available on: iTunes, Google Play

Easy to use: This app won the award for Best App in the Financial Category in 2011, and I certainly see why. This app goes beyond dividing a restaurant bill, it allows you to divide any kind of shared sum by splitting up the payers into groups. So if you’re going on a trip, watching a movie or sharing costs on a school project, you’ll find a group on here to use.

Overall comment: This works better if you think of this app as a tracker. It allows you to record any amounts of money that you and other people have to split, and how much is due and when. You can also take a photo of receipts and attach them to entries, so you will always have a digital copy. This also records how much money you’ve lent or borrowed, and has options for sending a polite email asking for that amount back. Very practical, and it helps you keep on top of how much you owe or are owed. Four clicks out of five.

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