personal finances

Friendship Bracelets Make Mooching Fun and Romantic

Photo: Rinky Dink Images/Getty Images

Keeping track of who pays for what in a relationship is tricky. Who can remember which party picked up the last dinner tab or paid at Trader Joe’s or got the concert tickets? Someone always owes someone money — but who? How much? Are we going to break up? Help?

Maybe consider trying this “fun,” “mathy,” crafty, twee method a Brooklyn couple invented to keep track of their split costs. Instead of using an app like Venmo or Splitwise (Ben doesn’t have a smartphone; read the FAQ), they use the Rainbow Binary Debt Friendship Bracelet system.

The full breakdown is here on Medium, but here’s a quick summary:

We have bracelets that represent the first 6 positions in binary plus 1 more bracelet that you wear if you’re in debt. When we owe each other money, which is most of the time, we put on the bracelets that represent how much is owed … Ben and I made bracelets for the values of 1, 2, 4, 8, 16 and 32, which are the first 6 positions in binary. With these bracelets, we can have debt of up to $63. We’ve found that works well for our regular costs.

The bracelets are color-coded, and they have one white bracelet that one person wears when they are “in debt,” and lets the world know what a freeloader they are.

At first I was like, guys, use Venmo, but I can actually see this bracelet system extending beyond just monetary debt to cover all forms of relationship exchange. For example, a pink bracelet for chores or a chartreuse bracelet that marks the times we watched a war documentary instead of the psychological horror movie about dolls that I wanted to see because it was “your turn to pick.” See the bracelet, babe? It’s my turn to pick, and it’s Channing Tatum movie night.

Friendship Bracelets Make Debt Fun and Romantic