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Jul 16, 2001 04:10 PM

Splitting cost of check evenly with big eaters/drinkers

  • t

Hi, I'm new to this great board and have this "problem" that I feel pretty sure other hounds may have had. I'd like to know hear of your solutions to my dilemma. Here goes:

I eat out a lot on weekends and usually have dinner with 5 or 6 other friends. They're great people but many of them drink more or order more expensive dishes than I do. For example, the last meal I ordered was a $15 chicken dish and a $6 house wine. I figured with tax and tip, my share should be about $28.00 or so. My other friends had several $10 martinis or cosmopolitans, one ordered an expensive steak, another didn't drink but had several expensive appetizers as a main course. The upshot is when the check came, everybody-including me-paid $46.00. So what do I do? I don't want to come off looking cheap ("You had four wines and I only had two...") but this is getting expensive.

One of my friends suggested that I order more food and drink but I don't want to do this just to balance it out. I just don't want to subsidize other people's splurges. Most restaurants won't do separate checks because it's inconvenient. All suggestions are appreciated.

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  1. Well if I were eating with you I'd feel guilty about ordering/drinking twice as much, then splitting the tab evenly. Are you not "close" enough to any of these people to say something subtle like, "my God, you folks are killing me with these martinis" or something?

    5 Replies
    1. re: John Tracey

      Well, I have tried to hint in the past that the bills are disproportionate but I don't think saying 'their martinis are killing me' is that subtle. Thanks anyway.

      1. re: TommyT

        Maybe it's time to move beyond subtle. This is costing you real money. You have to either be frank with them or continue to grin and bear it.

        1. re: John Tracey

          I don't understand what the big deal is. I never expect anyone to pay for what they didn't eat or drink, and I think most reasonable people think that way. If these people you're eating with are any kind of friends at all, you just tell them how much you owe and pay it. That's it. I'm a nondrinker, so my part of the bill is frequently less than most of the others in my group. I pay my part, they pay their part, and everyone's happy. No big deal.

          1. re: Ira Kaplan

            If your pals don't voluntarily offer to pay more for their splurg, they are not your pals. Find other friends.

            1. re: Ron

              We used to have this problem when a work group would get together socially. My husband and I were more flush than the others and would usually do something for the group like order an extra appetizer to share or a bottle of wine, but inevitably someone would drink more than the others, or order the most expensive entree and the bill would become an issue. We solved this by chosing restaurants where the entrees were evenly priced, or there was a pre-fixe, then we would get up and get our own drinks at the bar. I know this wasn't fair to the waitress, so we would tip her on the high end to compensate.

              Just an idea it worked with our group we could just split evenly at the end of the night.

    2. My starving artist/student friends and I use this method. Grab check off table. Glance at it, doing lightning quick math (figuring out tip. Proclaim, okay, that's $25 for me, or my share's $33, or whatever. Really, the state of my wallet these days, I care more about paying a fair amount than whether somebody thinks I'm a cheapskate or something. Maybe it's because everyone's in the same financial boat as me.

      Personally, I really hate it when people toss too little money onto the table at the end of the meal. This one girl I knew did it constantly, even running to the bathroom to wait it out until the check had been paid by the rest of us...this ended when we started waiting for her to emerge, then informed her that, "We're $7 short. Did you put in enough?" That forced her to 'fess up.

      1. I eat out in groups a lot and encounter this problem frequently on both ends. I discreetly mention to friends before that evening, or to the table prior to ordering, that I'm on a budget/between assignments (I work freelance, so this might not fly for you but perhaps there's some applicable variation?) and thus need to order sparingly. That way when the bill comes I can plunk down my, say, $28 and sit back. If anyone asks me for more money - and this rarely, if ever, happens - I say, "Oh, I only had $30 to spend on dinner tonight so I ordered accordingly" and if I have it will kick in another buck or two.

        I don't know if this is a particularly classy way to handle it, but when I'm on the other end I understand completely. (Unless, of course, this is indicative of complete cheapskate-ness and said dinner companion always tries to weasel out of paying their fair share.) If your friends don't like it you can find other, cheaper things to do with them...or find some new friends.

        1. I too have been on both sides of the split, so to speak. Right now I'm in the chips (relatively) so I'm one of the people you're complaining about. And I have to confess I get a little annoyed when friends get all niggling about the bill. (How quickly he forgets what it was like to be broke! Never mind that that was only last month...) But what annoys me more is feeling that I can't order a martini because my friend can't or doesn't want to pay for one for himself. Thus I'll happily pay the bigger share of the bill if asked -- leaving me drunk and guilt-free. I guess that means I agree with advice from the poster who told you to jump for the bill. Say what you owe before somebody has a chance to split the bill evenly...Of course, in an ideal world, your richer friends would be treating you, and this whole problem would never come up!

          A related problem: birthday dinners. Has anyone else had the experience of being invited to bday dinner /drinks and then being expected to chip in to help pay for the bday boy or girl? This happens to me all the time. In fact, I'm sure I've been that bad bday boy myself... I don't usually mind, but if you're broke, it can be a drag.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Rafi

            As far as being 'expected to chip in to help pay for the bday girl or boy' - it was my impression that all persons at the table are expected to buy the bday person dinner/drinks. It doesn't amount to that much more if every person kicks in - unless you're celebrating multiple birthdays.

            I have a friend who just stops by for a drink after dinner and buys a drink for bday girl/boy. That's one way to keep costs down without and still have fun.

          2. b

            it's not being cheap, it's paying what you eat/drink. if they're your friends, they'll understand. if they're drunk, maybe they'll give the ole' drunken' salute - "your a cheap bastard, but your the greatest. another round for the greatest guy on earth"