Oh yeah – the ol’ splitting of the check discussion, it never gets old ;) Probably because it often means someone stealing our hard earned money and we’re pissed! Haha…You know what I’m talking about right? You eat $20 worth of food but Bob the Spendthrift convinces everyone to just “split it,” now leaving you on the hook for $40? It’s not fun. And I often complain about it myself.
Got this email from a long-time reader and thought we could help her out, what do you say? Here’s what she wrote:
Last night, my husband and I went out to dinner with his boss and coworkers to celebrate a work-related event. If it hadn’t been work-related, I might have turned down the invitation in this case. We are quite comfortable financially, generally speaking, but this month we had to spend $2600 on medical bills and tuition expenses. I am trying to save on our discretionary spending this month so I can pull as little out of our savings as possible to pay the bills. (These kinds of months really suck.) I knew we would be going to a rather expensive restaurant.
Anyway, my husband and I each got a $16 dinner and he got one drink. (I don’t drink much so stuck with water) Everyone else got 2, 3 or 4 drinks apiece. When the bill came, someone suggested just splitting it. One of my husband’s coworkers realized I hadn’t had anything to drink, so they “kindly” knocked $20 off of our bill as a rough estimate of the difference. Our total tab for the evening? $80. Even assuming my husband’s beer cost $10, I can’t imagine that our total bill should have been more than $60.
I would just shrug and move on, but this happens a lot to us in social situations, and I never know quite how to respond. I don’t want to avoid social events because of this, or speak up and risk coming across as a miser (particularly when out with co-workers) — I can actually be a very generous person, I promise! — but it burns me to have to ALWAYS subsidize my friends’/coworkers’ drinking, and, as my husband and I are very cautious with what we spend at restaurants, I know it will never “even out in the long run.” Moreover, on the rare occasions when we have spent more at dinner than others, we are cognizant of this and sure to pay our fair share.
What do/would you do? Is this just the curse of being one of those 1 in 1000 people who actually keeps track of money?
– Frustrated and frugal
PS: I haven’t even brought this up with my husband, because I think he thinks I worry too much about money, and might perceive it as complaining about what was otherwise a lovely night out.
Ouch! $20-$40 right out the window, all for being financially conscious. So what do you do when everyone wants to just “split it?” Speak up and risk the evil eyes? Never go out again w/ these people? (Hah!) I haven’t mastered this myself, but there IS one thing I’ve been doing more of that’s certainly been helping: asking for separate checks right from the start.
I’ll admit it’s not always easy to do, esp if you’re a forgetful one like yours truly and/or shy, but if you can get into the habit of this it REALLY makes all the difference in the world. And you know what? No one cares when you do it! Big groups, small groups, whatever – if you can ask for separate checks from the beginning (and I only mean for you, or you & your gf/wife/etc, not the entire group of friends) you’ll never have to worry about it again. You pay for what you order! And can tip whatever you want too. The rest of the group will be fine without you :) And plus, most times they’ll do the same once they see you doing it.
And if they give you a hard time? Well, just tell them you may have to cut out early and you don’t want to hold up the gang ;) This works 100% of the time – I have yet to see anyone get mad at me for pulling this one (and it’s not totally a lie – you never really DO know if something will come up, right? haha…)
Okay, so that’s my advice. What do you guys have? Do you get stuck in these situations too? Do you just suck it up? Let’s help Frustrated & Frugal out.
Jay loves talking about money, collecting coins, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his three beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!