Cheap vs Frugal


Women at Lunch cropped

Splitting the Bill

We’ve all been out to those large group dinners where perhaps you just order a mixed green salad, while Beth orders a salad and an entree and Sam orders the steak.  Then Jen orders two bottles of wine ‘for the table’, but Sarah isn’t drinking, and Johnny is drinking beer…  Denise orders dessert (with 6 spoons) and well you get the idea…  Nothing is wrong on the face of it, to each her own, right?  But a problem can arise and people may get uncomfortable when the pesky bill arrives….

So what’s the proper etiquette? Do you all split the bill evenly, assuming that what comes around goes around? Or do you pay according to what you ordered?  If someone just puts in for their share without announcing it to the group, are they just trying to be frugal or is that a cheap move?  Likewise, is it cheap for the person who ordered the most not to assume that he/she will pay the more?  How do you and your friends handle this cheap vs frugal dilemma?

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15 Responses to “Cheap vs Frugal”

  1. Danielle says:

    For me, it depends on the situation. Lunch bills are split. If it is a dinner bill with a large alcohol tab, it will be split on what everyone ordered. Quite simply – I don’t drink and I cannot afford to pay for “my share” of a $400 drink tab. Most of my close friends are aware of this and they have no problem with splitting the bill this way. Although if I order a dessert and a friend has one drink, I also have no problem splitting. It is often based on the specific situation.

  2. When we go out with friends, we negotiate beforehand. Normally, either one person treats, or everyone pays their own. (Although we have split it up so that we divide the cost of the food, but everyone pays for the alcohol they order, even if they order “for the table.” I don’t drink, and I don’t pay for anyone’s drinks except the hubby’s, alcohol is way too expensive, especially in large amounts.)

  3. Kate says:

    For me I believe we should only pay for our own bill. I have been in situations in the past where I have ended up paying so much more because others have pigged out.

  4. Donna says:

    This is always tricky. I think you should pay for what you order. As distasteful as it sometimes is to divide up the bill, it is even more distasteful to constantly be paying for stuff you didn’t consume. Figure out what you owe, it need not be exact, round it up and be sure to throw in enough for your share of the tax and tip. If someone orders something for the whole table and you don’t want it, say so right off the bat, don’t eat or drink it, and you shouldn’t be expected to pay for it.

  5. carol says:

    If it’s really an uneven match, then each should pay their own. If everyone in the party had appetizers, entree and drinks, then just divide the bill by the amount of people in your party. I would never expect someone to pay for my share of drinks etc. that’s just rude!

  6. Aidin says:

    Our group usually asks for separate bills or each gets to see the bill and can note what they should pay for.

  7. Nicole says:

    I have been in both the situations described right above. It really depends on the situation. In some cases, if the party is a little more intimate like 2 couples and we seem to eat relatively the same amount of food and/or drink, we tend to divide the bill. In larger parties, I would probably be more apt to divide the bill. The restaurant staff has been trending towards making this issue a little less complicated. Many servers will provide a subtotal for each person in the party based on sitting location. This helps a lot.

  8. Nancy says:

    I hate having to pay for my friends indulgences when I am trying to be careful of what I spend. Personally, I have no problem saying that we will each pay for our own unless we all ordered basically the same type of thing. If it is “in the ball park” of being even, then we divide it evenly, but if someone ordered more, let’s say by $10 or more, then we each pay our own. I used to be extremely generous but too often felt that friends did not return the favor, so I stopped.

  9. Betty Reeves says:

    When the waitress arrives just say we will have separate bills, (checks) or each of us will pay for their own food and drinks. There should be no confusion after the meal and drinks are consumed.

  10. Mike says:

    I fall under the “pay for what you bought” camp. If I’m ordering salmon and a bunch of expensive sides and dessert and beer, I’m going to expect to fork over my share. However, if I’m only intending to have a cup of coffee, I’m not expecting to foot the bill for your filet mignon or Sally’s champagne.

  11. Paula says:

    I believe that at a large dinner (3 or more couples) the bill should just be split. If there is someone who clearly has had substantially more drinks or an appetizer and dessert and nobody else has, that person should just kick in more automatically and say why they are doing it. Be very casual about it and don’t make a big thing about it. Frequently my husband calculates our exact total and puts that in and in that setting it is embarrassing for him to make such a big deal about it. On the other hand if someonen continually eats more expensively and doesn’t kick in more we tend to avoid including that person when we go out. It makes everyone else look like a fool!

  12. pat says:

    I’m older and wated tables fpr years when I was younger. Everybody got a seperate check automatically, unless a customer requested otherwise, ie. “Put it all on one. It’s on me”. When did this turn upside down? I feel it unaccepable to put your customers in such a position . No one should have to opt out of paying an equal share of any bill! Offering to pay for all IS acceptable. Forced sharing is NOT !

  13. bob says:

    Seperate checks. Period. I treat when I choose! If the restaurant “doesn’t provide seperate checks for each diner” as some have declered, then I go elsewhere thereafter !

  14. art says:

    When my wife and I are out with friends, we usually split the bill. If there are $$ differences one way or the other, we don’t sweat it, but, think of it as a gift to our friends. On the other hand, if we’ve substantially over-ordered compared to others, I always offer to pay more and our friends tend to do the same.

    In my mind the real question is why would anyone expect NOT to pay more if they have run up the bill? If someone doesn’t want to pay for what they have “bought,” it’s not only bad manners, but their sense of entitlement is their problem, not yours. If they make you feel uncomfortable for not wanting to subsidize their eating habits, drop them from your list, or at the beginning of the next meal, say something like, “I’m not drinking tonight, so just order for yourself.”

    My daughter, on the other hand, is extremely generous. She always offers to have me pay for everyone at the table.

  15. Erin says:

    I think this depends on the situation, if it’s just two or three people and you don’t go crazy but are sharing some dishes or a bottle of wine than splitting the bill shouldn’t be a big deal. However, if there is someone in the group who is consitantly ordering expensive things and then expecting you to split the bill, I wouldn’t go for that. I think separate bills from the beginning make life easier for everyone, that way you only pay for what you eat/drink.

    It is nice once and awhile to offer to pay for someone’s dinner or drinks as a treat or for a special occasion, just don’t let them take advantage of your kindness!

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