Monday, December 19, 2011

BillMonk Issues & Alternative

Issues with entering new bills on BillMonk?

We've been hearing reports from some of our new users and others on the web, that they have been unable to enter new bills on the money management site BillMonk. For those of you not in the know, BillMonk is one of the oldest social money management tools out there, and in some regards an alternative/competitor to WhoseBill.

Just to be clear up front, this is not a BillMonk-bashing post! As one of the most popular and longest-surviving web apps out there focussing on social money, we have a lot of respect for BillMonk, and tip our hats to what they have achieved over the years.

Whilst BillMonk was not the original inspiration for WhoseBIll (a 15-year old spreadsheet was!), they certainly share some common goals and features, and so the purpose of this post is to help any previous BillMonk users looking for an alternative solution.

We sincerely hope that BillMonk is fixed soon, as there is nothing worse for a user than finding the system you rely on no longer works - especially when it comes to sorting out money! What we'll do here is describe how the WhoseBill and BillMonk features compare, as a guide for those looking for an alternative.

Entering Bills & Payments

When it comes to enterting new bills, WhoseBill and BillMonk have fairly similar terminology. In WhoseBill, Joint Bills are the equivalent of BillMonk's Shared Bills and Itermised Bills - the feature sets aren't identical, but WhoseBill's Joint Bills allow you to add simple or complex bills shared between multiple people. We're always looking to add new features, so if you've just moved to WhoseBill and are missing a feature from BillMonk, please email us at and we'll put in on the list for future development.

Loans and debts work very similar between the systems, and Repayments in WhoseBill are the rough equivalent of Payments in BillMonk. In WhoseBill, we also have the concept of Settlements which automatically generate the most efficient set of repayments based on all the outstanding debts, in any currency!

One thing that may be new for previous BillMonk users, is that in WhoseBill bills can be entered before they have actually been paid. This helps to keep track of the household bills that need to be paid by someone in the house, or to make requests for loans or repayments. When entering a bill, you can choose who paid (single person or multiple), or leave it unpaid to put it in everyone's inbox for attention.

Another useful feature in WhoseBill is the ability to approve and contest bills from within the system. This means that WhoseBill is open enough to allow anyone to add bills involving others, but gives you the power to contest or block bills that you don't agree with

Friends & Family

Both WhoseBill and BillMonk allow you to invite your friends to join by email so that you can start tracking debts between you. However, WhoseBill also lets you add friends without actually inviting them straight away.

This can be really useful if you paid for something with a group of friends, but there were some friends of friends present for whom you don't yet have an email address. WhoseBill lets you add the bill straight away, creating a new friend with just a name, and you can return later to invite that person to signup, or connect with them using their email address.

Groups vs Pools

One thing that is certainly different between the two systems is the way that WhoseBill Pools and BillMonk Groups work. In BillMonk you can setup groups of friends to make it quicker to add bills involving the same people, such as when living in a share house.

In WhoseBill, we use Pools for similar situations, but Pools are much more powerful as they automatically offset (think BillMonk shuffling) debts between all the people in the pool. 

Whenever you add joint bills, loans or repayments to a Pool in WhoseBill, the debts associated with that bill are automatically offset between the member of that Pool. This means that you end up with a single financial position in the pool, and can stop thinking about which individuals you owe money too, but rather than overall you owe (or are owed) a certain amount collectively.

WhoseBill does all the maths automatically so you don't need to shuffle the debts manually - we think it is a much easier way to manage group finances, and saves our users a lot of time. If all of this sounds complicated, WhoseBill can also show you a complete ledger to explain your position in a Pool, allowing you to check the maths if you want to!

Finally, Settlements in WhoseBill Pools are super-efficient as they calculate the simplest set of repayments that cancel out all of the outstanding debts in the pool. This means that even with hundreds of bills in multiple currencies, involving any number of people, settling up can usually be performed with only 1 or 2 repayments by the people that owe overall.

Multiple currencies? No problem... 

One other feature that may be of interest to previous BillMonk users, is that currency conversion is built right in to WhoseBill. You can enter bills in any major currency (if we don't have yours, please just let us know), and WhoseBill automatically converts the associated debts to your preferred currency, based on the current average market exchange rate.

So even if you go on holiday abroad, or even a round-the-world trip, everything can be automatically converted to the currency of your choice. When it comes to settling up, WhoseBill lets you choose the currency in which to make repayments, and debts in all currencies are converted and cancelled out automatically, once the equivalent repayment is made.

More features coming soon 

We have big plans for WhoseBill and are always looking at new features to add. If you want to learn more about the WhoseBill, visit us at or checkout our FAQ if you want to know more about a particular feature.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Managing bills in student or shared houses

Splitting bills with flatmates can be a chore

If you live in a shared household, either as a student or just with friends, organising and paying the household bills can be a tiresome job. Even with the best house-mates in the world, it usually falls to one person to keep track, and involves handing money back and forth as bills arrive and are paid by different people.

Others take the approach of setting up a joint account from which to pay the bills, which can work well with people you trust, but do you really want to link your financial history and credit rating to everyone you ever live with? See this forum topic if you're wondering why.

There has to be a better way to take the hassle out, but keep everyone in control!

WhoseBill was created to tackle this very problem

WhoseBill works like a social network, but designed for money and debts...a social debt-work...ahem. It keeps track of what each person pays for and who was involved, offsetting debts and payments to automatically calculate a position against each of your friends. This lets you instantly see who should pay the next bill, and avoids the need to repay individual debts.

But WhoseBill is much more powerful than that!

WhoseBill lets you create "Pools" for group finances, which offset bills and expenses between multiple people at once. Pools are the most efficient way to manage the bills in shared student houses or other group situations such as holidays.
All payments in the pool are automatically offset between everyone in the pool, giving you a simple view on how much each person owes or is owed. That doesn't mean to say everything has to be equally split - any type of bill can be added to a Pool and WhoseBill can work out the overall impact to each person. This means that you no longer have to worry about paying back other individuals for the bills that they pay. Instead, you only have to look at your overall position in the pool to determine whether you are ahead or behind, and of course...WhoseBill is it next?
WhoseBill Pools also provide the quickest way to settle up, useful for when a house-mate changes, or everyone moves out. Simply choose to settle up the pool, and WhoseBill calculates the most efficient set of repayments that will make sure everyone has paid their fair share. It doesn't matter how many bills have been paid, or how long you have been sharing in the house, settling up can usually be performed with only 1 or 2 repayments for the people who owe money overall.

Setting up your household is easy and free

If you haven't yet got a WhoseBill account, it only takes a minute to signup, and then its simply a case of creating a Pool for your flat or house...

Create a pool for your flat or house and invite the other sharers to join:

Any of you can then add new bills as they arrive, and record payments you make, from any browser or smartphone:

WhoseBill automatically offsets everything and shows you who should pay next in your household:

Everyone in the pool can see a breakdown of what they owe others, and others owe them, and there is even a detailed ledger view for the accountants amongst you:

All house-mates are notified when bills are added or paid, and can use WhoseBill to contest anything they don't agree with:

Whenever you want to settle up, WhoseBill works out the easiest way and keeps tracks of the repayments to make sure everyone pays their share:

And that's it! You spend less time squabbling with your house-mates about you more time to squabble about sport, religion and politics!

To learn more about WhoseBill Pools, read about them in our FAQ, or signup for a free account.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New version of WhoseBill!

A whole raft of updates based on your feedback

Firstly, we'd like to thank everyone for their feedback on WhoseBill - it really helps us understand what's good and bad, and push things forward in the right direction.

In this latest release we've made a number of improvements to the way in which we present the key information to you, aimed at making things simpler and clearer. We also have a new option to record a repayment, which allows you to pay off some or all of your debt without needing to refer to it as a loan. Read on to learn about the new features...

Bills, bills, bills...and now repayments

We've introduced a new type of bill to WhoseBill called a Repayment. Repayments are very similar to Loans, but let you record the payment or receipt of money with friends, to pay off prior debts. Repayments essentially cancel debts caused by Joint Bills and Loans, so you'll see them subtracted from the amounts owed in our new position summaries (see below).

Settlements automatically generated a set of Repayments to settle all the outstanding debts, either between you and a friend, or in an entire pool. We are also thinking about how to introduce other types of Settlement in the future for other common situations. Under the hood, Settlements are actually a little clever than Repayments, as they cancel all the relevant debts in all currencies, but generate the simplest equivalent set of Repayments (see below for more on Settlements).

The addition of Repayments, has involved a slight change to how you enter a bill, as there are now a few more options to choose from. We've added a quick selector to choose the type of bill you want to add from any "Record Bill" link on the site. These links are context- sensitive, so for example if you were to add a Joint Bill from one of your pools, it will include all the active members of that pool as a default.

You'll also notice some tweaks to the information we display for bills in your inbox and elsewhere on the site, to try and bring the most relevant information to you. This also includes a hotly-requested tweak to include the date of the bill so you can find them more easily.

Finally, we've upgraded the search tools for bills (accessible from the "Search Bills" link in your inbox) to allow for more poweful searching. You may also notice a few more links around the site to take you directly to common searches; for example, "find all the joint bills that I'm involved in my household pool, but which someone else paid for."

Putting you in pole position

We've also made some changes to the way we show your position with friends and in your pools. The position summary has been moved into prime position when looking at a friend page or your membership to a pool. It now includes a full breakdown of the debts for Joint Bills and Loans, and how any Repayments (or Settlements) have reduced those debts.

If you want to see the full breakdown of how your current position is calculated, you can click on the "View detailed ledger" link which will show you a full list of every transaction that contributes to your current position. This can really be useful for showing others why they owe you money and getting them to pay up!

As a final tweak to the friend and membership pages, we've included a short list of recent bills, so you can see at a glance the last few things that have happened. There's also a quick link to find all the relevant bills, organised by timeline.

Simplifying Settlements

We've also made some changes to Settlements, which we hope make it a bit easier to understand what's going on behind the scenes. When creating or reviewing a Settlement, you will still see the required Repayments and the overall position changes for each person involved below. However, we've tweaked the language a little to make things clearer, and now only show amounts in the chosen Repayment currency.

We've also added a new screen, which lets you reconcile how the position changes equate to the repayments for each person. Simply click on the "Details..." link next to each person, and you will get a breakdown of how their overall debts match up with their repayments. This also shows you how debts in other currencies have been converted to the repayment currency.

Keep track of spending in a pool

Last but not least, we've added a bit more information to the pool summary page, which shows you how much has been spent in total on Joint Bills. This gives you a quick way to see how much you've spent so far, and can be especially useful if you want to look back to find out how much the holiday you just went on really cost you!

More updates coming soon...

We're always working on new features and will be bringing more improvements in the future. If you have any ideas or feedback on WhoseBill we'd love to hear from you - just email us at

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Welcome to the WhoseBill Blog!

Your source of information for organising social money

Welcome to our new WhoseBill blog, where we'll be posting a series of articles on how to use WhoseBill, and generally on how to take control and organise money with friends and family. Of course we're just a teeny bit biased to using WhoseBill, but we'll also do our best to cover any related web apps, ideas or sources of information from across the web.
Hear about upcoming features first

We're always working on new features and ideas for WhoseBill and working to make it as easy-to-use as possible. When we're close to releasing new features we'll let you know here first so you can get an idea of what's coming down the pipeline. Of course, if you have feature requests, you can also let us know and we'll put them in the development queue.

"How-to"s, feature articles and more...

Sorting out the money with friends can get complicated, and it's WhoseBill's goal to make it easier, but things can still get tricky with large groups and multiple currencies. To try and help, we'll also be posting articles on how to use some of WhoseBill's more advanced features - if there's something you don't understand and the FAQ aren't helping, just let us know and we'll try to cover it in an upcoming article.