I don’t drink, so I dread going on group dinners where people inevitably order cocktails and/or bottles of wine. When the bill arrives, I always end up paying way more than I had anticipated. How do I gracefully wiggle out of having to bankroll somebody else’s buzz?
Kindly, No Debbie Downer
This is a classic situation that unfortunately many of us find ourselves in from time to time. Social outings can totally burn a hole through your wallet if you—and your friends –are not careful or considerate. I was at a 10-person dinner party the other night when my friend took it upon herself to order a few expensive bottles of wine, even though some of us didn’t drink a lick of it. In the end, though, we all shared in the cost because no one spoke up. (I did drink the wine, so I couldn’t exactly complain.) Needless to say, some girls went home grumbling that night.
The solution is not to stay home on Friday nights and miss out on the fun. I have three tricks to help you enjoy being out with your friends, while gracefully dodging the splitting-of-the-check dilemma when all you’ve had is a side salad and tap water.
1. Order A Separate Check When You Sit Down
Don’t be a buzz kill by requesting a separate check at the end of the night when everyone just wants to split the check. Instead, take control of the situation first thing, as soon as you place your first order. Become tight with the server and quietly request a separate check as you order your Diet Coke. If nosey friends wonder why you’re keeping a personal tab, explain that you’re just trying to get a better handle on your spending and that it helps you to keep track of your receipts—otherwise you’d never remember how much you paid and how much to budget for the rest of the week. Who knows, your financial savvy might teach your friends a good lesson, too!
2. Feel Free To Explain Your Choice
Another way to explain to folks at the table why you want a separate check is by saying that you worry you may have to leave on the earlier side and want to keep track of how much you owe. That allows you to reposition your goal in their favor, since you’re only trying to make sure that you pay enough and avoid stiffing them with your bill. “I might have to duck out early,” you say, coolly. Friends will appreciate your desire to pay your fair share. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to leave early. It’s more a pre-emptive strike.
3. Arrive After The Group Has Imbibed
You can show up later in the evening, after everyone’s nice and toasty. My alcohol-free friend Michelle used to always meet us girlfriends towards the tail end of dinner, just in time to pull up a chair and order cappuccino or tea. Seeing that she hadn’t been there for the full night of adult beverages, we never suggested that she split the check. She also never felt awkward for paying only for her own drinks.
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