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:

BeforeDebtShuffle5

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:

DebtSettleScreenshot

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!

AfterDebtShuffle7

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.

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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.

billmonk_new_ui.png

Geeking with the ReviewMonk

July 10, 2007

We are a big fan of code reviews at the BillMonk office, they are a good way to help find early bugs in our software and learn to write better code. We also use Subversion to store our source code, but could never find a good code reviewing tool that fit our needs — so we wrote our own! And since BillMonk is built on open source software, we thought it would be nice to give back. So if you’re also a geek, and have a need for a code reviewing tool, check out ReviewMonk at billmonk.com/geek or go directly to the SourceForge page.

BillMonk on Facebook!

June 20, 2007

We have some great news for all you avid Facebook users: BillMonk is now available as a Facebook app! If you’re wondering what this means, a couple of weeks ago, Facebook made it possible for developers to write applications that run seamlessly within their website. Needless to say, this was a great opportunity to bring BillMonk to Facebook users and help them solve their bill-splitting woes.

With the BillMonk app, you can report bills with Facebook friends, view your balance, and more without ever having to leave Facebook. You can also opt to receive BillMonk messages for things like new bills, as notifications to your Facebook account.

We don’t have all BillMonk features enabled in the application yet, but we will be moving them over in the coming weeks. In the meantime, click here to install the app!

billmonk-on-facebook-small.png

Introducing Itemized Bills!

May 23, 2007

Shared bills are great when everyone’s share is roughly equal, but have you ever been out with your friend who got the T-bone steak compared to your Caesar Salad? We have too.

Itemized Food

You can now enter itemized bills into BillMonk! Just take your receipt home with you and enter all the items individually. Then tell us who owes what for each item, and we’ll do all the math. You can even enter the tax and tip you paid for the bill, and we’ll divide it up fairly.

Itemized Bill Example

New SMS features

April 3, 2007

BillMonk’s SMS interface has gotten a revamp! This update contains a bunch of new features that work together to make the SMS interface a lot more useful.

  • Dynamic groups
    SMS commands that take groups (like “victim” and “shared bill”) will now let you specify the list of participants explicitly. Instead of setting up a group on the website with a name like “LunchMoney,” you can specify a list of people like “joe,jon,bob.” For each person, we’ll search the names and contact info of all your friends — so for example, “joe” could refer to joe@example.com, as long as you don’t have any other friends with “joe” as a name or email address. Social groups are always changing, and this feature helps accommodate that fact. Of course, you can still use static groups if that works for you.
  • Smart victim choosing
    We already have a victim feature that will tell you who should pick up the next tab. Right now it works by seeing who owes the most within a group of friends. That works alright, but it turns out we can give you a better answer if we know the amount of the bill you are paying. So now you can optionally tell the “victim” command the amount of the bill, and we’ll give you an even better answer for who should pay that bill. You can read more about the details of victim choosing in the FAQ.
  • New ‘choose’ command
    This is a new command that combines the power of Smart Victim Choosing and Dynamic Groups. In a single command, you can say:
    sms_choose.jpg
    If you SMS this to BillMonk, we’ll choose the best victim and record that they paid a $25.31 bill. Then we’ll SMS you back a message that says who should pay. It’s one easy step for victim choosing and recording a shared bill — perfect for lunch outings when you don’t know who should pay!

All of this is documented on the newly redesigned Mobile Phone page

Repeating Bills are Here!

March 6, 2007

BillMonk now allows you enter bills that repeat on a weekly or monthly basis. Simply tell us what day it repeats on (e.g. ‘Thursday’ if weekly, or ‘the 1st’ if monthly), and the bill will automatically be recorded on a regular schedule.

Roommates will especially love this feature for helping to track rent and utilities, but it’s also ideal for a ton of other activities like managing club dues or remembering to pay the dog-walker.

create-a-repeating-bill1.png

Specify how this bill should repeat when you create it.

 

list-of-repeating-bills1.png

View all your repeating bills, including when they last occurred, and when they will repeat next.

BillMonk is now an Obopay company! Settle up online.

January 30, 2007

We are delighted to announce that BillMonk has been acquired by Obopay, Inc.

Obopay built the first comprehensive mobile person-to-person payments service in the US that lets you instantly send money to anyone using your mobile phone (SMS, WAP, or a downloadable app), or a web browser.

When we first talked to the Obopay team it was clear to us that they care deeply about making it easier to deal with money. Given that BillMonk’s goal is to make money painless between friends, the match couldn’t have been better.

As a first step of integration, BillMonk now lets you settle up your debts online via Obopay! Simply login and click on the new ‘Settle up with Obopay‘ action. Today’s beta release makes it easy to send money to a phone number; we will soon follow up with the ability to send money to an email address.

What’s most exciting about BillMonk joining forces with Obopay is that we can now deliver on a huge number of exciting features, sooner. (And we now have a Seattle office that isn’t our apartments, with a team that isn’t just the two of us!) BillMonk’s growth will be faster than ever, we can work harder than ever, and you benefit more than ever.

A big thanks to all of you for believing in the service and for helping us make it better. It has been a wild and wonderful first year; this next year is going to be through the roof!

Happy Birthday BillMonk!

January 13, 2007

Yes, it’s been one year already! And what a great year it has been. When we launched the site, our goal was to remove money as a common cause for frustration between friends. It seems like it has been working. In the past year we have seen a tremendous response from thousands of people all over the world, as well as glowing reviews from the press. People used BillMonk to track bills we foresaw like rent, dinner, and groceries; and some which we didn’t like business expenses, and car loans.

The most delightful thing about running BillMonk has been all the love we’ve received from our users, from amazingly detailed feedback to help make the site better, to language translations (BillMonk speaks 7 languages today, with many more on the way), to helping spread the word. Thank you all!

This year promises to be even better than the last. We have lots of exciting features in the pipeline and can’t wait to roll them out. The good news is that we will have the help to do it even faster. BillMonk has been hiring, and we are delighted to annouce the addition of Eric Butler, ace hacker, to the team. He is the first of several team members we hope to add, and is already working to bring you some goodies.

On a final note, we just moved into our new office on beautiful Lake Union! We’ll post some pictures shortly so you can check out the new digs.

BillMonk is hiring

November 21, 2006

We’re looking for a few software engineers and visual designers to join the team and take BillMonk to the next level. There are a ton of exciting and fun projects on the to-do list; most are for new user-facing features or 3rd party extensions, but there are also some geeky-cool middle-tier applications that will help the site scale and munge data. We offer:

  • A small-team work environment where you can be creative and effective
  • Competitive salary and benefits
  • Interesting projects that have a direct positive impact on peoples’ lives

We strive to capture the good things about being a start-up (small size, high energy), while keeping the bad things in check (long hours, no social life). We’re all about having balanced lives and a friendly workplace where there’s open communication and high output.

All positions are in lovely Seattle, WA; ski in the winter, hike and kayack in the summer – and don’t think about the rain.

Interested? Read more on the BillMonk Jobs page.