Archive for August, 2007

Tweaks to Debt Shuffling

August 28, 2007

Gosh! Who would have thought debt shuffling would be such a hot topic? Thank you all for the wonderful feedback. We love to hear how to make BillMonk better, and are writing to tell you that we listened to your comments and did just that.

With the new changes, everything on the site will look the same, but the final results from each shuffle should be closer to what you expect.

To explain what we did, let’s talk about the different things you can optimize for when you’re shuffling debts:

  1. The number of checks left to write after the shuffle (you want this number of be low).
  2. Who the remaining checks need to be written to (it’s easier write checks to people you see often).
  3. The dollar amount of the checks you have to write (smaller is better).

When we launched, we optimized for (1) and (2). We thought the convenience of settling up with people you see the most would be worth it even if the amounts of those checks were a little larger.

Thanks to your feedback, though, we’ve learned that (3) is more important than (2), so we’ve updated BillMonk to settle debts the way you like.

If you’re happy with the debt shuffles you’ve already created, then by all means stick with them! But if you tried it and didn’t like the numbers you saw, delete your existing shuffles and give it another shot.

Debt Shuffling

August 24, 2007

Today is an exciting day: we’re launching what has been our most-requested feature for a long time. We’re calling it “debt shuffling,” but it’s best explained with an example. Say this is you and your friends:


The arrows mean “owes money to.” There are only seven friends here, but they will have to write 21 checks to settle up!

Enter debt shuffling. Any one of these people can click the “shuffle debt” button, which will take you to a screen like this:


The monk will think of a way to reduce the number of checks you have to write to settle up. This debt shuffle will take the complicated graph above and turn it into this!


We go the extra mile when we’re proposing a debt shuffle by paying attention to how many bills you’ve split with each person in the group (and how recently those bills happened). If you split bills with some people more often than others, you probably see them more often, and those are the people it will be easiest to settle up with.

We were thinking hard about privacy as we were developing this feature. How do we make it useful without giving away information about your private debts? Here’s what we came up with. You get to see the effects of the debt shuffle on you (that’s the “before” and “after” display above). You also get to see how the money was shuffled around (that’s the “Check the math” section above) — this lets you verify that the debt shuffle was fair. What you don’t get to see are the balances between your friends before or after the shuffle.

We really hope you enjoy this feature as much as we’ve enjoyed developing it! Debt shuffling takes the convenience of BillMonk’s “social money” concept to the next level.

A shiny new look – with graphs!

August 7, 2007

We took the monk to the salon, where, at the hands of our intrepid graphics designer Christina, he received a long-awaited and much anticipated makeover. I dare say, he now looks simply dashing!

While the most obvious changes are the look-and-feel (different color scheme, new page templates, snazzy logo), we also updated the navigation by adding a left navigation bar, and merged the “friends” page into the “home” page.

As a bonus feature, Scott pulled a tactical ninja stunt and added graphs to the home page. In addition to adding more pretty colors to the site, it also makes it easy to visualize the proportion of debt.

Please let us know what you think! We’re sure to make minor adjustments in the weeks to come.