It's no secret that when you go out with friends, the dilemma of how much it'll cost you will be on your mind. Apart from how expensive the menu is, how you split the bill amongst your friends could add to the expense. For example, you could intend to pay for just what you ordered, but your friends may want to split the entire amount by all parties — which isn't something “fair” if all you ordered was a garden salad whilst your buddy Jamal had a steak.
From the minute you start ordering, we bet you're thinking: How is this going to work? Are we going to split the total? Or we'll each pay for ourselves? In the Middle East, thoughts of males covering for the girls and “older” people covering for the “youngsters” also come to mind!
It's an awkward situation for sure, and it becomes even more awkward when the bill comes and one person takes a call on how to split it, which is not the method you were hoping for. After all, who wants to argue with their friends? Sometimes this can throw off the entire outing experience!
Don't worry, we got you! Hopefully, by the end of this read, you'll know some tactics on how to ease the stress of splitting the bill with your friends when dining out.
(1) Ask for separate bills
One way to salvage the awkward situation that is splitting the bill is by asking the waiter to give you separate checks when you first begin ordering. This way, if someone orders pasta while the rest order filet mignon, for example, the pasta-eater won't get stuck with effectively subsidizing someone else's meal.
This method also gives people the choice to settle their bills with the payment method they prefer — i.e. paying with cash or paying with a debit or credit card. Warning, though, not all restaurants will accommodate this so be sure to ask before you place an order.
(2) Pay for what you ordered
If you're happy to do a bit of math when the bill comes, this is a “fair” option that often provides less hassle for the waiter than asking him/her to bring out separate bills. Just make sure to chip in on items that were shared — often, those water bottles go unaccounted for!
(3) Go Dutch
Going Dutch doesn't have anything to do with the Netherlands or Dutch people at all. Instead, this refers to the easiest solution — splitting the bill evenly. This works best if you don't have a problem with paying a little extra (or a little less) than what you actually ordered. When the waiter brings out the bill, just ask him/her to split it evenly across the parties, and they'll take care of the math. If you pay with a debit or credit card, it becomes even easier as all you'll have to do is swipe or tap, and voila! Payment done.
One way to ensure “fairness” in this type of payment is to share portions with each other. This way, people can feel like they had a large share of the bill as a whole. Watch out for the price of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food, though, as the difference tends to be quite large!
At the end of the day, we all get it, money can be a sensitive subject to talk about, even with friends, and you don't want to seem “cheap” — especially in front of people because… well, you know what Arabs are like! Therefore, make sure that with whatever option works for you, you discuss it at the start of the meal and come to a mutual decision upfront, and then you can go on and enjoy the occasion with your friends!