The big menu of The Thirsty Scarecrow, a famous cocktail bar just outside Stellenbosch, covers my face almost completely while I read through the various ingredients of endless sundowners.
“Thursday nights Happy Hour is from six to seven, ma’am,” the waiter mumbles from behind us, patiently waiting for our orders.
My two friends from Gauteng, whom I have just fetched from the airport, both decide on the Stellies Surprise, while I am still looking for a cocktail I never drank before.
“Can I please have the Passion Fruit Mojito?” I ask, handing the menu to the waiter, who is still waiting in the same position he has been in for the last 5 minutes.
The next few minutes are quiet, yet not awkward, as I search for a topic to start the conversation. After being away from two of my best friends for almost a whole year, I’m eager to catch up. The conversation takes off and carries on for almost two hours, while we enjoy the idyllic Stellenbosch view, refreshing cocktails and summer breeze.
What a great way to kick-off the visit, before we head to the West Coast for our girls’ weekend.
“Are you paying cash or card?” the waiter asks at the end of the night, with the bill in one hand and the card machine in the other.
“I will get this one,” Talita says, reaching for the card machine to settle the bill. “I will add it to Splitwise,” she quickly adds.
“What is Splitwise?” I ask, trying not to sound too uninformed.
“Splitwise is a free app for us to track bills and other shared expenses, so that everyone gets paid back, without having to ask for the money. I will create a group for us three.”
Once we get back home, I receive an invitation via email to download Splitwise and join the “Velddrif Trip” group, which Talita has created. The more I browse through the app, the more I love it! Instead of having to split every bill and transaction at the restaurant, shop or fuel station, you just add the expense to Splitwise, and the app automatically divides the amount equally, indicating who owes the group how much.
Personally, having to ask a friend for that R35 I just paid at the coffee shop or, even worse, ask them to contribute for petrol, is a big deal for me. I don’t know how to handle the situation, when is it acceptable to ask them to pay me back and when is it not?
Splitwise is the perfect solution to this headache. We agree to add every single expense, big or small, to our group. From petrol to breakfast ingredients at the supermarket for the next morning. This automatically excludes any awkward money talks from the weekend, and we also do not have to swipe our cards various times for small amounts throughout the day.
The next day we take off for the West Coast, with a fully-fueled car, basic snacks and food, and an almost settled Splitwise account. I have paid for the fuel, Talita for the previous night’s cocktails and Karlien for the food, and no one has had to pay more than their fair share because they are too embarrassed to ask the rest of the group for their contribution.
The rest of the weekend is a blast! We enjoy seafood and wine while catching up on all the loose ends of quick WhatsApp conversations over the past year. We discover little shops, swim, tan and relax, as just us Capetonians can.
After six days of enjoying the fresh sea air, catching up and going from wine farm to wine farm, it is time for Talita and Karlien to get back to Gauteng. I check my Splitwise balance. I owe Karlien R10 and Talita R80, and can’t help thinking, “Wow! This is the best discovery ever!”
From today onwards, I will always make use of this app, whether it’s going camping with friends, just going out for a day trip or spending an entire holiday with a few people.
From now on there will be no more awkward money-talks thanks to my weekend with Splitwise.