The following is a guest post by Bucksome, a baby boomer trying to make the most of her money while saving for retirement. Read more about her at Buck$ome Boomer’s Journey to Retirement. Subscribe to her RSS feed to follow new posts.
When Kita announced this Money and Manners Series I had two reactions. First was to wish I had thought of such a good idea and second was to suggest the series include the issue of group checks. Fortunately, she didn’t hold my jealousy against me and offered a guest post opportunity.
You go out with a group and after an enjoyable meal the check comes. How is it handled? This is an ongoing question not only in the business world but also when dining out with family and friends.
There are three options for handling a group check and everyone should know the plan before ordering.
1. Pay Own Share. If possible arrange for separate checks when ordering. Some restaurants will allow guests to pay separately even when putting the order one one check. If either of these options aren’t available bring cash to pay for items ordered plus tax and tip (add 25-30% depending on tax in your area).
2. Split Evenly. When dining family style or spending roughly the same amount it makes sense to split the check evenly. This is easier for the restaurant as they only process one payment for the entire group.
3. Host. The last option is for one party to pay for the rest of the group. I wouldn’t generally do this with co-workers, but may with friends who rotate the privilege or to treat family members. This sounds easier, but it’s a sticky issue to successfully navigate. Peer pressure has resulted me me paying for someone’s expensive entree, drinks and dessert while I dined lightly and drank water.
Here are a few tips to avoid awkward encounters while dining out with a group:
1. Clarify in advance how the food/beverage bill will be handled. Ask when invited out if the bill will be paid separately or split evenly. You can’t assume that your idea is the same as the rest of the group. This way you can graciously decline if the plan doesn’t fit your budget and avoid an awkward situation.
2. Bring small bills to make it easier to pay just for your share. Be prepared to have to kick in a few extra bucks for those that don’t chip in enough due to math errors or not bringing enough money.
3. Ask the server or restaurant manager for separate checks or separate payment processing before ordering. It is sometimes difficult for them to change after the checks are generated.
By planning in advance it is possible to navigate the money manners of splitting a group check.