A Dilemma: Out With A Group & They Want To Split That Bill Equally

group dinner
image via wit & delight

What to do, what to do?

We've all been there. You know how it goes… you're out with your friends, you order an inexpensive item on the menu to be your frugal/responsible self, and then the bill comes and someone says, “Let's just split it equally! That'll make it easy!” Then, out come the wallets, credit cards, and cash. It's awkward to pipe up and say, “Uh, but, uh, I only had the $7 thing not the $35 thing, and no wine or dessert or appetizers!”

No one what's to be the cheap/poor/miser in the group. I've been there. Trust me. It's not a fun place to be. So, how do you deal?

Lucky for us, a reader wrote in with that very question:

“This weekend I went out to a friend's birthday dinner which was out at a restaurant. We'd recently gone out to eat for this friends' sisters birthday and everyone in the group paid for themselves. Additionally, during all the other previous times we went out, that I can remember, we all pay for ourselves.

Well this weekend, when the bill came, one of the guests at the table suggested that we all split the bill 6 ways to make things simpler and so that the birthday girl wouldn't have to pay. This was devastating to me and my wallet! I'd looked at the menu before getting to the restaurant and chose one of the cheapest entrees, which was $15.75. With tax and tip I figured my bill would be no more than about $20. I even brought about that amount of cash. The final bill was $300. Split six ways and its $50!!! I sucked it up and paid $50 because I was too embarrassed to say anything, particularly since I only really knew the birthday girl, her husband and her sister. Any advice on what to do in those situations or what to do before the bill comes to avoid those types of situations?”

Erm. Completely awkward, right.

dinner 01
image via brown dress with white dots

What I suggest is this…

If you know that you will be going out with a group then get cash (which you did- that's very helpful). When you get the cash get it in small bills. When the waiter comes to the table and asks for your order say you'll have a separate check. Then when the bill comes you can pay for yours (with the cash and it won't look like it's as big of a deal because you'll be able to pay for it and be done with your bill- as opposed to using a debit card and then the waiter has to come back and then you have to sign, etc= looks like a bigger deal) and throw in the amount that you're comfortable with for the birthday person. Another idea if you don't want to say tell the waiter when they take the order (especially if the waiter is standing across the table from you and not right next to you) is make your order and then find your server when you take a bathroom break, and ask for the separate check at that time.

Sounds like the problem with your particular situation is that you weren't prepared for the possibility of a split check. Next time, play offense.

What do you do when you're out with a group? How have you handled this?

There's also a lively discussion happening over in the Community on this very topic.