by Jess Faulk
When you first buy your smartphone or tablet device you can’t get enough of the coolest, latest apps. Page and pages of apps fill your device, despite knowing somewhere in the back of your mind that you will forget what half of them do.
At this point you really need start to distinguishing the apps that are fun to use on ‘a rainy day’ vs. those ‘make your life easier.’ I want to share one with you that my partner and I use on almost a daily basis: Tricount.
When my partner and I first started dating, we immediately discussed the strategies for coordinating our shared expenses. There is the “you get me this time and I will get you next time” method. There is also the “let’s save up all of our receipts and figure out later” method. Neither seemed particularly appealing, as both required some mental energy keeping it all straight in our heads. My proposed solution was a Google doc where we would enter amounts each of us spent. I set it up so that each column created a total at the top of the spreadsheet, and automatically split the total in two. A good first-try tech solution, but we thought we could do better. Google docs aren’t the friendliest on our phones, and it didn’t allow a lot of flexibility if one of us bought something particularly expensive. After an extensive search – we found a solution we love, Tricount.
Tricount is still in beta, so there are some kinks to be worked out, but even in it’s growing stage, it serves us quite well. Tricount is designed as a group expense organizing tool. The type of application that you would use if you went on a road trip with 4 other people and needed to track who owes who as you go. This would be particularly helpful when not everyone has the right amount of money (or type of currency if traveling abroad), and need to rely on each other until you can find an ATM or vendor who takes credit cards.
Our use of Tricount is relatively simple. We buy dinner at Panera Bread and a minute later one of us pulls out our smartphone (iPhone or Android) to enter the expense. As soon as the expense is in, the receipt gets thrown away. No more tallying up or mental tracking. Each month with the click of a button we balance the account and one of us sends the other a funds transfer. We then start tracking anew for the next month. So far we’ve used it for 4 months for day-to-day expenses, and just recently started using it for tracking wedding expenses. The program can be used on your computer through the web, on facebook, or via your phone.
Drawbacks: As I said before, this is a public beta, so they are not yet 100% awesome. Some mini hurdles that have stuck out for me are: 1. It’s European date format (takes a while to get used to), 2. It needs a streamlined system for syncing that allows for both editing online and editing with your phone (it can be done, but only through emailing links to the accounts via the people involved).
Overall, I do have to say that Tricount has made my life easier. Whether you are sharing expenses with a partner, taking a trip with friends, or trying to remember all of the items you need to be reimbursed by your office, I hope that it makes your life easier too.