Bill Splitting 101

I went to breakfast with one of my best friends, his wife, and my girlfriend yesterday. We ate a delicious meal at Maltby Cafe in the Seattle area. I paid for mine and the girlfriend’s meal, and my friend paid for his wife’s and his meal.

Splitting a bill does not always run as smoothly as it did yesterday morning. My high school prom night, was the first time I experienced bill splitting hell. We had a group of about 12 people and the restaurant would not give us separate checks. The total bill was about $300. Everyone threw in their fare share and when all the cash was totaled we were over $60 short. It was absolutely miserable trying to figure out who the shady people were that tried to ditch out on their portion. After 20 minutes of arguing, a few of us ended up chipping in extra cash to cover our shortfall. My $15 burger ended up costing $30… a super sucky way to start an already expensive evening.

Here are a few strategies I use to help prevent any bill splitting woes.

1) As the server approaches to take your drink order, ask if it is possible to split the check “x” amount of ways. Asking early makes sure everyone at the table is on the same page and lets your server know to keep separate tabs. This is my preferred method and works at most restaurants.

2) If you consistently go out to meals with one individual, like a coworker, take turns paying for each other’s meal. If you both spend about the same at meals, this option can be a super easy and convenient way to make sure the bill is covered. This also may be necessary as some restaurants don’t allow splitting bills, and if you are like me, you rarely carry cash on you. Plus it makes me feel kind of cool to say “Don’t worry about it, I’ll cover it this time.”

3) Don’t go out to eat with shady people. We all have been to a meal with the douche bag that throws in $10 for his meal that cost $9.99. Mr. Douche doesn’t realize that with tax and tip he should be throwing in between $12 and $13 to cover his portion. If your friends aren’t willing to cover their tab, they shouldn’t be worth going to meals with.

These are three easy ways to prevent awkward situations when the bill arrives. It’s not often that I have to deal with these problems, but they do happen from time to time. Have ya’ll been screwed by jerks that don’t cover their part of the bill? Have you had to pay $30 for your $20 bill? Do you have other strategies to conveniently pay the bill when going out with larger groups?

9 thoughts on “Bill Splitting 101”

  1. It always is a hassle to eat out with a larger group. We make sure to let the waiter know about our split bills right away (they usually ask when it's a bigger group of young people)or one person pays and everyone else makes sure to pay that person back (ATM's are on every corner and internet banking is an everyday thing here in Estonia). What irks me is that some of my friends haven't realized that they should leave a tip. Tips are not such a crucial part of a meal here and 10% is the norm. I always leave a tip and do it so my friends see/hear me leaving it, sometimes I even ask them to and yet still some of them do not think it's necessary. Quite embarrassing so sometimes I leave a bigger tip than I usually would.

  2. Whenever I go out to eat knowing that there may be some bill issues, I always bring cash. That way I can pay my way and don't have to worry about putting it on my card and hoping my friends pay me back, or splitting the check into twelve different ways and I can ensure that my part is paid for and taken care of.

  3. Ugh… one of the guys that was in our group would ALWAYS round down. So like, if his meal was $9.99, he'd throw in $9 !!! WTH?

    Another one of my friends always orders an appetizer that she eats and then INSISTS that everyone split because it was for the table. And I'm sitting there thinking… "I didn't order it and I didn't eat it, I'm not giving you extra money for that!"

    So after about 3 times of shaddy bill splitting antics, I just decided that whenever there is a group, when the waiter/waitress comes to me for my order I'll specify THEN that I want mine on a separate check. They have no problem doing it at the beginning and then I know I'm only paying for me.

    BTW… I had to move my blog… I hope you'll update your link love. Let's just saying creating the perfect anything has a few flaws when your blog falls into the wrong hands. =)

  4. Your posts crack me up but all of it is very true! There is always that one douchy person that thinks giving $10 for a $9.99 meal is sufficient. Not to mention that he/she probably also ordered a drink! The 2nd tip has worked the best for me, since I usually only eat out with my boyfriend or a few close friends. I like going the #2 route also because it tends to be less confusing for us and the server.

    Also, having enough cash to cover my portion and tip is always good. I hate going somewhere and ordering something that tends to be significantly less and/or not ordering a beverage but still having to split it evenly with everyone.

  5. I stopped going out to eat with my friends who were like that, it solved the problem! When we're at a bar, we usually take turns and buy each other drinks, so in the end, it always ends up fair.

  6. Eating out in groups can be a pain when they won't split up the checks. And there is always that guy who just wants to split everything evenly because it will be easier -even though he's the one with the $30 steak on the bill.

  7. My tip: Always carry a pen on you! When the bill comes tally your amount of the bill and an appropriate amount for tax, usually a dollar or two, but do not include your amount for tip. Write your last name and the amount you owe on the back of the check and tell the server to run your card or give you change accordingly.

    Even if they can't split the bill, they can run multiple cards and you can tell them exactly how much you owe. Never include the amount for tip however because the server can't usually run cards for more than the total of the bill and also shady people will use the tip money you put in to pay for their portion of the meal.

  8. I hate people like that. I got used for a cool thousand (I'm a student and I have no income) by someone I considered my best friend. I learned my lesson the hard way.

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