Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Nina Post

Something's been bothering me lately, and, if anyone out there is reading this and has an opinion on the matter, I would love to hear (or read) your thoughts.

When is it okay to split a dinner bill evenly, and when should every diner pay their own way?

This has come up for me twice recently with some of the same people. A few weeks ago, I went out to dinner with some friends in a party of eight. If you've been reading my blog, you know that financially, things are very tight for me, and I've been working very hard at saving my money. So with that in mind, I carefully selected my meal, and my order came to a total of about $17.00 with tax and tip. I did not drink any alcohol, while others in my party did. When the bill came, it was announced that it would be split evenly, bringing my $17.00 tab up another $10.00. I was a little put off by this, but didn't want to cause trouble-- and also kept in mind that I did have a couple bites of an appetizer that was ordered-- and forked over the $27.00.

Last night, Steve and I went out to dinner with two friends, both of whom were in the party of eight earlier this month. Again, I was careful about my dinner selection, and, as usual, stuck with water. My bill would be $15.00. This time, there was no sharing involved. But again, when the bill came, our friend announced that the bill will be split evenly, which meant that I was responsible for $25.00 of it. I said something, and it was worked out that I would pay less of the $50.00 Steve and I owed together (I neglected to notice if our meals added up to $50 or if the weight of the bill was in our friends' orders).

Some thoughts:
*I was worried that I was sounding cheap by bringing up the disparity, but it's really the people that ordered more expensive things that are getting off easy by using my frugal meal to bring down the average.
*By agreeing to dine with friends, am I understanding and accepting the possibility of an evenly-split bill?
*I think the bill should be split evenly when meals are 1) of comparable prices or 2) shared or served family-style.

What do you think?

3 comments:

Bobbie said...

Either way, I think it is a good thing to establish with friends before the meal is even ordered.

I am of the school of splitting the bill evenly (most of the time) but think that it can be broken down to be appropriate when:
a) friendships are super close and outings happen often... because it all evens out in the wash
AND
b) the price of the restaurant is not beyond anyone's means
AND
c) all parties make a similar income within reason

I am always okay with itemized bill paying, however; as long as it is done consistently.

I think communication is key.... especially when friends might be a bit in the dark as to a current financial situation.

It is a weird thing to talk about but important to be on the same page...

There is also the running tally model that we employ a lot... oh you paid four dollars more for dinner, I'll get your coffee in a bit. I'm a fan of it as well.

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