What If My Friends Want to Split the Bill and I Don’t?

Yep, we’ve all been there. That wow-this-is-awkward financial discussion isn’t fun for anyone.

What to do? First, don’t wait for someone to say: “Just want to split the bill?” Think and plan ahead.

Dear Rue: Splitting the Bill

Ask for separate checks – before you order.
Waiting until after you’ve ordered is not fair to the restaurant and could cause more problems. Instead, politely ask your friends if separate checks would work for them from the start, then speak with your server to see if it’s feasible.

With that said, always be mindful of your group’s size. Asking for 47 separate checks might land you in the news, sure – but not in a good way.

Take control (gently).
If separate checks aren’t possible, speak up and propose a plan as soon as the bill arrives. Of course, don’t be aggressive about it – just oh-so-casually reach for the check and say:

Okay, so should we probably start figuring this out? I had the salad – that’s $12. Plus money for tax and a 20% tip, so I owe…

Don’t be afraid.
If they’re your friends, they won’t (okay, shouldn’t) bite. Don’t worry about asking for separate checks or delicately insisting on dividing the bill based on individual orders. Chances are, at least one other person in your group feels the exact same way.

But also dont split hairs.
If the difference in what you’ll have to pay is tiny, sometimes it’s best to just let it be. So long as you can afford it, be gracious and pay a little bit more for your bill by splitting it evenly. You’ll have taken the high road – and that’s always a good position to be in. Particularly when it comes time for them to take you out for your birthday…

By Shaina Malkin, Copyeditor

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September 5, 2013