'Some people are on a tight budget': Question of splitting the bill hugely divides mothers online

'I'm not paying for your wine when I've only ordered a water'

Chelsea Ritschel
in New York
Tuesday 19 December 2017 17:18
Comments

When you go out to eat with friends, do you split the meal or do you work out what everybody owes?

The commonly asked question was recently brought up on mum blog, Mumsnet, where a post has mums divided.

Titled, “Why be tight-fisted when it comes to paying for a meal?” the post has received almost 500 responses, and it seems there is no correct answer.

The original post states, “Husband and I went out for dinner tonight. It was lovely. There was a table of seven people next to us. Friends, or colleagues. When it came to paying their bill they were trying to work out to the penny how much each person should pay. One guy even got his mobile out to calculate how much he owed. Then another person said, ‘but I only had two glasses of wine’ and so it went on."

Continuing, “I cannot tell you how much I detest this kind of behaviour. Why be so tight-fisted when you go out for a Christmas meal with friends? Does it really matter if you had two or three or four lasses of wine? Does it matter whether the others had olives and bread before the meal and you didn’t? Just split the bill! I loathe this sort of petty behaviour. I could understand if the others had lobster and caviar and you didn't, but to penny pinch about a few glass of wine or a basket of bread? Really?” the post has been divisive, with many defending the behaviour of the table of seven.

Many mums focused on the alcohol consumption in their responses. As it is obvious that wine costs more than water or a soft drink, many found the idea that they would pay for someone else’s “two three or four glasses of wine” preposterous.

One mum commented, “I agree to a point, but can also see where they were coming from. I don’t drink, and detest paying the same amount as somebody that’s had a few glasses of wine/spirits compared to my water/orange juice. Same goes for me paying for their three-course meal when I’ve only had a main.”

Another mum wrote, “Split the drinks bill? That tends to be the most expensive part, why pay for someone else’s drink if you had a soft drink vs wine or one glass vs more. Why not just pay what you consumed, it’s not penny-pinching to not waste money on someone else’s food/drinks.”

There were also mums who admitted that splitting the bill up by person is a necessity for them, as they can only go out to dinner under the condition they order within their budget.

One mum wrote, “When I go out with friends I work out how much I owe. I have to watch my pennies & a meal out is classed as a treat and unfortunately, I can’t afford to pay for another person’s overpriced olive and bread starter and/or the three more glasses of wine they guzzled."

She continued, “You may be able to afford to just chuck random notes down but not everybody is as fortunate. So mind your own business next time instead of being nosey and listening to other tables conversations.”

However, there were also mums who felt the same as the original mum, agreeing that this type of behaviour is distasteful.

One mum stated “Some people are just cheapskates. I once went for lunch with a group of people I didn’t know well. We all had a main course and one drink but some people insisted on totting up the exact amount instead of just splitting it.”

And yet, the consensus among the mums was that to split the bill evenly, no matter what time of year it is, is really quite unfair.

As one mum sarcastically summed it up, “Oh yeah I forgot that I magically become less poor at Christmas time.”

David Weliver, founder of financial advice website Money Under 30, provides some clarity. Unless discussed in advance, he told Business Insider, everyone should assume that the check will be split evenly.

At the same time, he said it's important to try to eat and drink a similar amount to everyone else at the table, so that you don't under or over order and trigger resentment.

According to etiquette expert Jodi RR Smith, if you're likely to order less than your friends then you should turn up with plenty of cash and change so that it's easier for you to pay your share.

She told Forbes: "If you’re being cost conscious, make sure you have tens, twenties, fives and singles so that it makes it easier to split at the end."

Another tip is to tell the waiter or server right at the beginning of the meal if you'd like to order and pay separately - doing this at the end of the meal is a hassle for most restaurants, but doing it upfront means it's a far more simple process.

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