I Did Not Make A Big Stink Over Splitting the Bill

Last week I asked my fabulous, One Frugal Girl readers how they would handle a situation in which they were asked to foot the bill for the food and drinks of other people at a party. I decided not to include the details of what I actually did, so that I could read unbiased comments from my readers.

This was an interesting scenario for me and I bet that you will be surprised by reaction to this situation. Normally, as One Frugal Girl, I would have gone over the moon at the thought of paying for other people. If you like to eat expensive food or you’re a big drinker than I think you should back up your choices by paying for what you eat and drink. I would never expect someone else to pay for me, so I sure as heck don’t expect to have to pay for someone else.

Normally in a situation like this I would have made a bigger commotion over splitting the bill. After all, I certainly didn’t eat much and I drank water all night, so my portion of the bill should not have been $38. I think in this situation, and situations like this one, that people should try their best to track their food and drink selections and pay accordingly. As Donna commented on my previous post, I would have been fine with splitting the bill if the difference between our meals was just a few dollars, but in this case the difference was much greater than that.

Having said that, I will admit that in this particular case I did not act frugally. Rather than making a big stink I agreed to split the bill and then handed over my credit card. The fact is that this party was a celebration of a dear friend’s birthday and I did not want to spoil my friend’s night by squabbling over the bill.

Do I think that a situation like this should never occur? Of course, I do. But sometimes it is necessary to speak up and fight for what’s right and sometimes it’s best to let the celebration continue. In this case I decided my friend’s happiness was worth the additional expense.

I’m sure a lot of my readers will disagree. I’m sure a lot of you think you should always tow the frugal line. While I follow those rules 90% of the time, I must admit that sometimes I think other things in life are more important than money.

If you think I should have done something different in this situation feel free to leave me a comment.

5 thoughts on “I Did Not Make A Big Stink Over Splitting the Bill”

  1. I think that you made a great decision. After all, you did it to help your friend's celebration go well, and if we can be frugal 90% of the time to help us and those we love really enjoy the other 10% of the time, that's the goal, right?

  2. I think that while people should live as frugally as they are comfortable with. If how you chose to handle to situation is something that you are completely fine with and you could afford to do then it doesn't matter. I know a lot of people won't agree with that statement. While some people would have insisted on paying only their share and a portion of the birthday girl's food and drink, you did what you felt with best for you and the situation. I agree it wouldn't have been something to cause a stink over. Unless the bill was crazy high and your "share" was $100 or more and you couldn't afford it. Even then it would be better to try to handle it without a scene. Scuttleboose is right you are frugal so you are capable of enjoying life when you want.

  3. One of the comments on your previous entry made the most sense to me. Next time, ask that your check be separate from the others and then contribute to the birthday person's tab. It seems this happens often in social occasions. It's awkward, but the others are effectively stealing from you when they expect/demand that you pay a part of their bill.

  4. I am the anoymous commenter from the first time around who suggested asking for a seperate check upfront and then also contributing to the birthday girl/boy's tab. I think what is more important than the cost is the feeling that you come away with. Most of us who are frugal, end up feeling resentment over paying more than our fair share. By being proactive about splitting up the bill, you are being proactive about protecting the friendship. A lot of my friends/family who play fast and loose with their own money don't understand that I resent when they play fast and loose with MY money. So it is really important to protect the relationship by doing what you need to do to not ultimately feel resentment.

    In this vein, I have a sister-in-law who is habitually late for family get togethers. I think that she feels more important if she makes other people wait for her. We used to let it ruin our get togethers. There is nothing like cooking a huge meal and watching it get cold and hearing people complain about being hungry while waiting AGAIN. NOW, we know to give her a time an hour before the time we give everyone else.

    You really can't change other people in life. What you must strive to do is change your own actions.

    I wanted to add, that your server will most likely love it if you ask for a seperate tab. As a waitress for years in college, i definately noticed I got more tips when everyone was paying their own bill.

  5. I think the idea of asking for a separate check is a great one. A group of coworkers and I used to go out to lunch every so often and one of our peers always ordered more food then the rest of us and then asked us to split the bill. After getting burned by this more than once we opted for asking for separate checks upfront.

    This particular situation was difficult for me, because I did not arrive on time for the party. By the time I showed up everyone was already eating and drinking and all of the food and drinks were on the same bill.

    I agree though that it's best to be as proactive as possible. Asking upfront for separate checks let's everyone know that they are responsible for their own tabs.

    Funny enough, the coworker I mentioned earlier started ordering much less expensive meals once we started splitting up the check.

    I guess the key is to speak up as soon as possible in a get together like this one. If you wait too long you might end up paying more than your fair share.


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