How To Tactfully Decline Splitting the Bill When Your Fellow Diners Ordered More

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Many individuals are familiar with this common scenario when dining out in a group. You order a less-expensive meal, like a salad or bowl of soup, and have a glass of water. Meanwhile, other diners at the table are ordering more expensive dishes, appetizers, several drinks and maybe even dessert. When the check comes, the majority of diners want to split the bill

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Is this fair to those at the table who ordered less or more affordable items to save money? What should a diner do when faced with potentially splitting the bill in a situation like this? Read on for the answer.

Be Honest With Your Dining Companions

If you are on a tight budget where every dollar counts, etiquette expert Rosalinda Oropeza Randall recommends speaking up before everyone places their order. 

While you don’t have to disclose the full extent of your financial woes to everyone, you can suggest a few options for how to split the check. Consider carrying cash, including small bills so you can quickly add up your portion. Add a few extra dollars to show others you are being fair in what you owe and to help cover the tip.

Make Your Money Work for You

Friends aware of your spending preferences are likely to respect them moving forward and will be understanding of your needs.

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Request a Separate Check

As soon as the server takes your order, request a separate check. This might be the most beneficial action you can take to ensure you only pay for what you ordered and the server has an easier time checking out your order.

If you are in a group dining situation where a check is being split up several different ways, Oropeza Randall said it will take your server much more time to complete the checkout process. This may take time away from the server’s ability to assist other tables and even impact the server’s overall tip.

Offer To Venmo Your Payment

Some group dining settings may have a member of the group who is using the payment app Venmo to pay the bill. If possible, offer to Venmo what you owe to your friend. Make sure to pay them back in a timely manner.

Make Your Money Work for You

Explore Other Dining Out Options

If you are regularly invited to expensive dinner outings and do not have the discretionary funds for it, there are a few tricks to getting around this financial dilemma beyond declining the invitation.

Instead of having dinner, Oropeza Randall said you can suggest meeting for breakfast, lunch or maybe dessert together. Or, you can try a happy hour or coffee outing. This helps save money without sacrificing your friendship or relationship together. Plus, it’s a nice way to mix up the meals from always going out to dinner.

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About the Author

Heather Taylor is a senior finance writer for GOBankingRates. She is also the head writer and brand mascot enthusiast for PopIcon, Advertising Week’s blog dedicated to brand mascots. She has been published on HelloGiggles, Business Insider, The Story Exchange, Brit + Co, Thrive Global, and more media outlets. 

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