Splitting Dinner Checks

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Just Among Friends

Sometimes we go out to dinner with friends. My preference is that my husband and I pay for what we ate or drank. But often the folks we are dining with want to split the bill. I don't want to pay for appetizers or a dessert that I didn't eat. Yes, my husband and I are frugal and this is annoying. We don't want to stop going to dinner occasionally with friends but is there a nice polite way to handle this situation.

For Budget Tracking Reasons

All you have to do is ask for separate checks for each family before you order your food. If your friends ask why, just tell them that you're keeping receipts for budgeting purposes (or something of that nature) and need to know exactly how much is being spent on entertainment. This is not a fib. If you are spending too much then you have to cut down on the number of times you can go out.

Separate Checks From the Beginning

My husband and I often dine with other couples, and we handle this discretely and quietly. When the waiter or waitress comes to the table the first time (usually to get your drink order), simply say "We will be on a separate check" and point to your spouse. That way, you've established up front the dining arrangements, and you can enjoy the rest of the meal knowing how it will end.

If you try this on a couple that is surprised by it because it's different than your normal arrangement, say something like "we realized last time that I got a dessert that you ended up paying for, and we wouldn't want to do that to you again". Even if it isn't true, you establish yourself as a considerate co-diner.

Have Cash Ready for Correct Amount

The simplest way is to request separate checks. Unless it's a party of (typically) eight or more, most restaurants are happy to give separate checks to each couple.

The alternative is to be prepared with ready cash. Have something other than $20's in your wallet and calculate the cost of your meals, beverages, tax and tip before bill paying time. Round it off to the next highest dollar and have the amount ready with the proper bills to put on the table. Your husband should say something like; "This will cover everything, including the tip, for Joyce and me."

Be Very Specific

My family occasionally dines out with others, and this issue is never a problem. When the server arrives to take your order, simply tell them, "Person 1, Person 2, etc." will be on one ticket, and "Person 4, Person 5, etc." will be on the other ticket. Enough said. There is no room for debate and everyone knows exactly where their bill will stand before they order! This is not rude at all, and you will not leave with the feeling of annoyance for covering others' extravagances. Additionally, if you go with only a certain amount of money for dinner, you are easily able to stay within your budget, according to your own preferences. In the case of dining at a "pay before you eat" establishment, such as a buffet, simply go to the cashier, pay for "Person 1, Person 2, etc.", and then step aside as the remaining in the party do the same.

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