Friends and finance don't always mix.
Splitwise, a web tool that already helps maintain financial balance among friends and housemates, now allows users to find cost-efficient living spaces, too.
Created in 2011 by co-founders Jonathan Bittner, Ryan Laughlin and Marshall Weir, Splitwise began as a mobile app to facilitate financial peace between friends.
Now an established company in Providence, R.I., Splitwise has expanded to include affordable apartment hunting.
By plugging in your zip code, the Average Rent Calculator generates graphs detailing the average rent per bedroom, the average price per square foot and the number of apartments in the sample of that region; however, it does not include specific apartment listings.
Zoe Chaves, marketing and business coordinator at Splitwise, explained that this tool is targeted toward college students who need close-to-campus locations with a specific number of bedrooms.
"We offer this tool to as many colleges as we can get in touch with," Chaves said. "What I'm most excited for is to see how students are using the tool, and I welcome feedback from students. How did students use it, how is it useful, how is not useful?"
Officially released on Oct. 31, 2013, the Average Rent Calculator tool already tracks more than 2 million apartment listings in the United States.
Splitwise is currently trying to develop specific landing periods on college campuses to discern the most popularly filled regions for students.
Heather Norris, a senior in biology living in the Woodlands Apartments, said she would have appreciated such direction during her first few years at UT.
"Especially as a freshman, it would have been nice to be able to see the most popular student living areas and prices," Norris said. "I didn't have an older sibling at UT or anywhere else so I basically had to figure all of that out on my own."
Unlike the Splitwise app, which tracks checks and balances between friends, the Average Rent Calculator is only available on a computer. The two work in tandem to handle house payments.
"We are just trying to reduce the amount of friction around friends with money and keep a running balance," Chaves said. "We have all lived with our friends before and nobody wants to get in (a) stupid money fight."
Alyssa Loveday, a freshman biology major, will use the Average Rent Calculator to find her first apartment next year.
"That's actually a really neat idea," Loveday said. "It's nice because it's just a graph which lays everything out for you, especially when figuring out how many rooms and the price per square foot.
"... Handling money with friends is always awkward no matter what. It would be cool if it could just all be handled with your phone, like everything else is."
The Splitwise App also sends friendly reminders to alert users when they owe money to a friend or housemate. The app allows the user to create group pages or one-on-one accounts with friends.
Beyond bills, Splitwise can aid any borrow-and-share relationship.
"I use the mobile app when I'm out for drinks with friends, or the website when I have the electricity bill in front of me," Chaves said.