Summer vacations shouldn't be complicated. You get away. You spend time with friends and family. You relax. (Hopefully).
At least that's the way it would be in an ideal world. But like many simple pleasures, vacations are often knocked off track by money. Especially when one person pays too much and someone else pays too little.
Say you decide to join a group of college buddies in Florida for a week of sun and fun. You rent a house big enough for everyone. And it's a great time.
But when the week is over, you run into trouble. Everyone in your circle has paid you for their share of the house except for Don.
And after you return home, another friend is upset because she feels like she covered a lot more of the grocery costs than the rest of the group.
It's a common refrain and one with no easy answer. Until now.
A proliferation of mobile apps, both for the iPhone and Android OS make it simple to divide up vacation expenses. And that means less stress and more fun. For everyone.
Here are three mobile apps for the iPhone and three more for Android that will help you sort out the bills without breaking a sweat.
(1) Who Owes Who? (iPhone)
With Who Owes Who, it's easy to split up group expenses. First, create an expense sheet and add the names from your group. Next, enter expenses. The default divides each bill evenly, but you can easily create uneven splits or exclude someone from an expense altogether. Then it's easy to see what each person owes. And if someone needs a little prodding to pay up, you can email the expense report.
(2) Trip Splitter (iPhone)
Cost: $1.99 (The free version is called Trip Splitter Lite)
The Trip Splitter mobile app offers a nice visual, assigning each person a colored button. Then when someone takes part in a paying activity, simply touch that button and enter details about a payment.
A recent update to the app allows for an unlimited number of people in your vacation group (up from six), and lets you keep any number of trips going at a time. Just turn your mobile device sideways to see what each person needs to do to even things up.
(3) Share-a-bill (iPhone)
The highest price app in the group, Share-a-bill ranks in the Top 30 apps in the Finance category. For those vacationing with friends from different countries, you'll have access to multiple currencies and exchange rates. And there's an address book to keep track of everyone in your group.
(4) Tricky Tripper (Android)
Currently limited to a single currency (the Euro), Tricky Tripper works in offline mode, when you can't find a network. Enter expenses and payments during the trip, and the interface shows what each person needs to get square with the rest of the group.
(5) Share Bills (Android)
A mobile app that works equally well for roommates or vacation travelers, Share Bills helps determine what piece of the pie each person is responsible for, even when they've entered the picture mid-week. And when roommates move in or out before the month is over, you can still divvy up utilities and rent payments evenly.
(6) Settle Up (Android)
Cost: Free (The ad-free version is $2.99)
Designed to help you keep track of shared bills and expenses, Settle Up can be used for all types of group events, from parties to trips. The mobile app has multiple currencies to choose from and syncs with other Android phones, iPhones, and the web, while maintaining full offline functionality.
These apps will let you breathe a sign of relief every time you reach for your wallet.