Managing Shared Bills with Bills Are In

Sharing expenses with your roommates can be a fast way to wind up without roommates: arguments over whether someone paid their share of the rent or borrowed some cash can quickly devolve into an argument. In order to avoid those disagreements, Bills Are In offers an online application that will allow any shared household — whether we’re talking about roommates, significant others or anyone else who happens to be living with you — to manage money simply.

There are several money management tools online, although few allow multiple people to easily manage household expenses and income together. Bills Are In is up against web applications like Mint; considering very few people are willing to track their money in multiple places, that could be a very hard fight.

Initial Impressions

When you first visit the Bill Are In website, you can take a tour, check out FAQs and generally get an idea of whether it’s going to be a worthwhile tool for you. The site makes it clear that it’s meant for households with multiple members, offering features like the ability to easily keep track of bills, statistics on just where the money is going and even a tool for remembering I.O.U.s.

Bills Are In Home

Bills Are In Home

It’s not immediately obvious that Bills Are In is free, but with a bit of diffing around, you can quickly come to that conclusion.

For each feature, you can mouseover and get a glimpse of a screenshot. Right off the bat, it seems like an easy-to-use tool.

Sign Up

The initial sign up process for Bills Are In is similar to most web apps: you type in your name and email address and pick a password. You check your email for a verification code, then you can log in for the first time. From there, though, you’re going to have to do a little extra work.

Sign Up

Sign Up

You have to pick out a name for your house and add your house mates. The site recommends using your address for your house’s name and says that the site does not release any personal information. You also need to know each of your roommate’s email addresses. Bills Are In will send an email to each of your roommates inviting them to register for the site. However, since it keeps the introductory email ‘short and sweet,’ you’ll probably want to give your roommates a head’s up that it’s coming and explain the purpose of the site.

Invite Housemates

Invite Housemates

The Interface

Using Bills Are In is relatively simple — the site uses big red buttons to point you towards the three tasks you’ll do the most often. You can add a bill, add an I.O.U. or add a payment. You can also see bills and payments at a glance, although you’ll have to go up to the menu bar to see I.O.U.s.

Three Primary Tasks

Three Primary Tasks

Bills Are In also incorporates a ‘House Wall,’ presumably so you can share comments about your shared bills and payments. Given that you’re sharing information with people that you live with, it may not be particularly useful in the long run.

Also on the menu bar are links for statistics and a house calendar. You can see the break down for individual categories of bills, as well as the percentage of bills paid by each roommate, within the statistics page. The house calendar allows you to plan ahead for bills — those dates are automatically added to the calendar. You can also add other events, creating a shared calendar with your roommates.

The Setup

You can set up personal details, like payment information, in order to speed up the payment process. Bills Are In allows you to add your PayPal email, as well as bank account information. However, it’s not readily apparent what precautions the site takes to protect that sort of sensitive information, nor how it can be used. Given that lack, it may be best to wait to input information about your bank account or PayPal account.

Banking Information Setup

Banking Information Setup

Creating a new bill is easy: whenever one comes into the house, you add the name of the bill, along with the due date and the total price. You can choose how to split it, whether by clicking a box to split it evenly or entering specific amounts. You can also categorize the bill and choose whether or not it is reoccurring.

Add Bill or Receipt

Add Bill or Receipt

Creating an I.O.U. is similar. You enter the name of the bill, the due date and the total price, along with who owes you. You can also add payments to your roommates — they’ll receive an email that you’re marking a debt or I.O.U. paid and will be asked to confirm it.

Be wary of deleting roommates and other information, however. If you delete a roommate who’s moved out, bills associated with that roommate will also be deleted, which can cause problems with your ability to keep records.

Final Thoughts

Bills Are In is meant to fill a very specific money management niche. It’s not perfect — it definitely doesn’t feel as polished as certain other money management applications. However, it does a good job of offering the tools that a set of roommates need to manage bills, without going overboard. It’s rare that any roommate will volunteer to manage every cent of a household’s finances, but Bills Are In eliminates most of the work.

The only concern that remains for me is adding sensitive personal information, like your bank account information. Even with the security that the site has in place, I feel uncomfortable with how little I know about how exactly that information will be used.


Summary

BillsAreIn.com helps you manage and keep track of bills and IOUs in shared-bill households, hassle free.

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