How to Split the Bill and Avoid Awkwardness

how to split the billBeing out with friends for a social gathering is something that many of us enjoy doing. Probably the most common time for gathering is for eating out together. But once the bill comes to the table, do things suddenly take a dramatic turn for the worst? Why does the subject of money provoke such uncomfortable feelings? What do you need to know on how to split the bill when eating out with friends so that they remain your friends?

Some individuals in a group will announce up front to split the check evenly. But this is a train wreck waiting to happen. Someone is going to get burned with their portion, causing hurt feelings that they probably won’t make public, but which may persuade them to pass on the next group outing.

Even bill splitting isn’t really fair because of several things that can, and probably will, occur. One or more people are going to order an appetizer that others don’t want, someone will order mixed drinks, or even dessert. And, inevitably, someone is going to have to try the most expensive entrée in the establishment while you are feasting on a burger and fries.

There are several ways around this predicament. First, is to immediately suggest separate checks as soon as the server first appears. Don’t wait for someone else to suggest it or that person might be holding out for someone else, too. If everyone who agrees with this philosophy waits then the person who wants to split the bill evenly will undoubtedly be the first to speak.

Make it a casual comment, even jokingly, so that it is taken lightly, but the point is still made. This avoids the conflict right up front so everyone can enjoy their meal, and their meal selections.

Splitting the bill evenly is still okay as long as everyone is in agreement. You can judge this from the group. If everyone has relatively the same eating styles and appetites then it might be fine to do. If it is mentioned, look at the faces of others to judge reactions. If someone looks uncomfortable, but hasn’t spoken up, mention it for them. You will be able to see the look of relief in their eyes.

Splitting bills evenly is awkward if you are dining with an entirely new group or at least some unfamiliar people. This is when you had better speak up or face the possibility of footing the bill for someone’s steak and lobster dinner.

If it is a small group and the gathering is going to be a routine occurrence, maybe you could suggest that payment be rotated. This only works for very small groups of close friends that you feel comfortable suggesting this to. But offering to pick up the entire check now could haunt you if the same people do not show up next time. Plus, appetites and locations may vary, which could significantly alter how much each bill totals. That’s why this is only suggested if you are okay with the possibility of it not paying off for you down the line.