If you have a friend group like mine, you’re all too familiar with the “family dinner” nights. You know, the nights you and your eight closest friends decide to go try out the newest restaurant down the block and just catch up, laugh, and order an extra round of drinks until it’s far later than you think. But then, the dreaded bill arrives at the table and you don’t want to be responsible for paying for the extra 3 drinks one friend had or the expensive meal that another friend ordered. It’s a combination of laziness, courtesy for the poor waitress, and a few drinks too many, but your friends seem to make the decision for you.
“Want to split the bill?”
Look, sometimes you all order the same exact thing and it just makes sense to split rather than writing down each of your credit card numbers on the back of the bill in a dimly lit, noisy restaurant. But sometimes, you just know you ordered less than everyone else and if you end up splitting the bill, you’re going to go way over your budget. And you don’t want to be that guy to request to pay individually, but at the same time, you know you’re getting the short end of the stick. But think of your poor budget!
Now, sometimes it can be tricky when you have friends who don’t share your same money habits. To them, it’s just an extra $20 but to you, it might mean going over your budget for the month. Be honest with your friends and just let them know you’d prefer to divide the bill because you’re watching your money this month. They’re your friends after all. They will understand.
Volunteer to do the math.
The best way to avoid an even split is to be the one to do the actual calculations. This entails going around asking who ordered what, letting everyone know what they owe, calculating the total, – the total when it doesn’t work out the first time, and then collecting all of the cards. Yes, it takes more time, but your friends usually won’t mind as long as you’re the one doing the work.
Don’t be afraid to go out.
It can be tempting to just stay home altogether just to avoid this very moment in the night, but you shouldn’t have to. Budgeting allows room for nights like these – just know how much you’re looking to spend going into it! You should feel comfortable ordering a $15 meal knowing you will only have to pay $15 plus tax and tip at the end of the night, rather than an even split of $30. Plus, these big friend dinners are where all the magic happens and you don’t want to have to miss out every time.
There’s definitely a stigma around splitting the bill. Sometimes it can be a no-brainer, other times it can be uncomfortable for five seconds, but at the end of the day, you shouldn’t have to pay more than you owe. In order to avoid any awkward moments or money panic attacks, just be honest with your friends, volunteer to do the math, and don’t be afraid to go out to dinner every now and then. Like all things pertaining to money, just be prepared!
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