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September 06, 2021

Do you split the cheque or try hard to pay separately?

Eating out with a group of people from work or your softball team can be a real hoot.

Cheque You know what's not much fun though? Trying to figure out who owes what when the cheque hits the table, particularly when you realize that how you pay often affects how much you pay.

A study done a few years ago found that people who dined out in a group spent more if they knew the bill was going to be split evenly. If each person settled up individually, the group as a whole ordered less.

Not surprisingly, if everyone knew that someone else was picking up the tab, they ordered twice as much.

But that still doesn't address the issue of you paying more than your fair share. So even split or separate cheques?

With a couple of friends, I like a rough split, including at least 15% for a tip, on the theory that it will all even out. Get out in front of the numbers though. It’s not as though the prices are a secret.

Can’t do the arithmetic on the daily soup, the veal and a 17% gratuity? Not sure about the booze? Then use a calculator or download this app.

But many people want things split to the exact dollar. If so, here's an elaborate but equitable equation from Presh Talwalkar, who blogs at Mind Your Decisions. But, by the time you get through it, you'll wish you'd asked for separate cheques.

Too much hassle? Here's what some people do to minimize the fuss. Or maybe you should simply avoid the whole thing altogether?

One person I know tries to leave just a bit earlier than everyone else, tossing her fair share of the bill and tip in cash on the table. She’s not trying to dodge the issue, she doesn’t want to listen to what she perceives as unsightly squabbling.

How do you handle the bill when you're out with the gang? Or does it really matter to you one way or the other?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money




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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...