Can technology designed to split the cost of shared living beat the old-fashioned Post-it note?
I was on the phone at 10pm on a Tuesday when I learned that I owed my housemate £13.61 towards the water bill. It was the moment I realised this new app had been a huge mistake.
Splittable is a free download to help house-sharers get on top of living costs. The concept is simple: when you buy washing-up liquid or pay for repairs, you put the expense into the app, then everyone knows they need to pay up.
It is aimed at people like me: house-sharing renters in their 20s who are reluctant to spend time on home admin. There was much optimism in our household at first. An app to keep us organised? Brilliant. An automated, accurate, efficient way of nagging and record-keeping, rolled into one? Sign me up.
Then, a few drinks in to my Friday night, at the end of a long week, I was informed that a pack of 99p surface wipes had been acquired. You know when something you once found endearing begins to grate? Yeah, that. I shrugged it off, got on with my night and put my irritation down to bad timing.
As the weekend wore on, though, the house became more and more divided. We were all creeping between kitchen and bedroom, bedroom and bathroom, doing anything to avoid each other. We were criminals in our own home, scared of getting caught out and forced into awkward conversation about who tipped the pizza guy last week.
Half of us couldn’t stop checking the app; the other half chose to ignore it. All of our worst passive-aggressive tendencies had been digitised, emphasised and delivered to our phones without context or compassion.
By the seventh day, the decision was unanimous: our relationship with Splittable wasn’t working out. It had to go.
We resolved to fish out the whiteboard, bring back the Post-its, and return to leaving old-fashioned notes, pennies rounded up or down as appropriate.