Four smartphone apps all roommates should have

Whether you're meeting your freshman year college roommate in a few weeks or you just found another person to help pay the rent, here are four smartphone apps that all roommates need to have.

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    Roommates Spencer Wolfe (from l.), Sean Wen and Forrest Miller watch a football game in the living room of their four-bedroom apartment on January 12, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Smartphone apps can help making living with roommates easier, especially when it comes to splitting living costs.
    Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor
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Maybe you love your roommate, or maybe you merely occupy the same space. No matter the relationship you might share, chances are that things have gotten dicey at least once or twice when it comes to money, sharing chores, and overall organization. Even the best of friends can disagree over who took the trash out last, or which one of you paid $10 more on the cable bill last month.

When all else fails, here are four must-have apps for roommates that will make sure your house stays a happy home for all.

1. Splitwise

You know the situation. You are out at the grocery store getting a whole laundry list of items when your roommate opens their wallet and discovers they only have $5.00 to their name. If you're splitting expenses, this is cause for a major panic attack. "I'll pay you back, I swear," says your roommate who still owes you $20.00 from last week's dinner out. Enter Splitwise.

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With Splitwise you can enter each roommate's (or friend's) name in the app and then go to town adding all sorts of expenses from shopping, to eating out, to household bills. Splitwise will take the guesswork out of keeping up with who owes whom, and will give you a clear snapshot of where everyone stands financially. It's easy to use, and you no longer have to keep all those loose receipts lying around. It's available in iPhone, Android, and web versions, and is totally free to boot.

2. Spotme Payments

This free app works just like Splitwise, focusing on managing all of those IOUs that roommates and friends seem to rack up. Spotme has some cool additional features that you might want to check out. You can add photos and memos to each entry, and even split up each expense evenly (or unevenly), depending on who bought two gallons of ice cream that night. The pictures come in handy because you can snap a shot of the receipt and not have arguments over how much you actually spent on toilet paper.

Spotme is only for iPhone, but with the app you can now message users and bug them when they haven't sent you any payment yet. If you are an A-type personality roommate, you are sure to love this app.

3. Splitrr

You and your roommates decided to take an amazing trip to Chicago for a long weekend. You drove there, paid for the gas, loaded up your car with snacks, and rented a killer apartment on Airbnb. By this point you are at least a couple of hundred dollars in, while everyone else is enjoying a fat wallet and a full belly. Going on trips with roommates is one of the luxuries of sharing a home. You have a built in friend that is often game for whatever crazy adventure you can dream up. Most trips, however, end up a bit messy, because no one actually keeps track of who spent what, and inevitably one person ends up spending more than the others. Enter bitterness and resentment.

Don't let your vacations end that like. Splitrr is a great iPhone app that takes the guesswork out of expensing the cost of a vacation with your roommates. All you do is add an expense in Splitrr, give the expense an name (like "trip to Chicago"), enter the price, the person who paid for the expense, and finally, who benefited. You let Splitrr go to work and magically calculate what each person owes. The beauty of Splitrr comes once the trip is over, because all you do is hit a button and the app generates a .pdf copy of the calculations that you can send easily to each person.

4. Fairshare

Up to this point we've talked about great apps to solve the common roommate money sharing problem — you owe me $100, and Bob owes $75, and Sally owes us all $25. What about the household chores? When was the last time your roommate took out the trash, or cleaned the dishes, or what about the dreaded laundry? Suddenly your best friend is your arch rival waging a war over the chore list.

Fairshare's motto is "shared living made easy," because that's the way it should be. This iPhone and Android app made the list of best roommate apps because of its versatility. Fairshare promotes happy living by making household tasks hassle-free. You enter a household task, assign it a time factor for how long it will take to complete, difficulty level, and the person responsible. Once they do the task, you mark it off the list and they receive their household points. Fairshare takes it a step forward with a feature that lets you see how many points each person has, what tasks they've completed, and who has surely dropped the ball. Rounding out the app is a feature that lets you quickly message your roommate and remind them that tonight you expect a home cooked meal when you arrive.

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