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Milwaukee Magazine - - Content -

How to split a check with­out split­ting hairs

Q WHEN SPLIT­TING THE CHECK WITH MUL­TI­PLE DIN­ERS, THERE’S AL­WAYS SOME­ONE WHO WANTS TO BREAK IT EVENLY (OF­TEN THE ONE WHO OR­DERED THE MOST) AND SOME­ONE WHO DOESN’T (TYP­I­CALLY, SOME­ONE WHO OR­DERED FRU­GALLY.) WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO SET­TLE THIS PROB­LEM?

A This can be an un­com­fort­able, even em­bar­rass­ing sit­u­a­tion.

One so­lu­tion is to ask, at the be­gin­ning of the meal, for sep­a­rate checks. Or, you could ask the server to put your meal on a sep­a­rate check (again, it’s prefer­able to do this as soon as you sit down). But if that seems tacky – or the restau­rant won’t al­low it or wants to charge a fee – you might con­sider sim­ply telling your friends that you are cur­tail­ing your spend­ing and un­for­tu­nately need to limit it to X amount. An­other ap­proach is to ask the big spender(s) in the group to flag what they or­dered when the bill ar­rives. (Some­times they don’t re­al­ize how big the dis­par­ity is un­til they see it!) Even if you aren’t per­son­ally rein­ing it in, you’re help­ing out the peo­ple in the party who are.

In ad­di­tion to keep­ing things eq­ui­table, I think it’s im­por­tant to con­sider the server. To that end, when din­ing in a group I think it’s best for ev­ery­one to use their credit cards and clearly com­mu­ni­cate to the server how much they’re con­tribut­ing, rather than have mul­ti­ple din­ers pay cash to­ward the total and ask for change.

An of-the-mo­ment way to make this eas­ier for ev­ery­one in­volved – in­clud­ing your server – is to use a mo­bile pay­ment app like PayPal or Venmo, which you link up to a credit or debit card. If one per­son in the group pays the total bill, you can re­im­burse him or her be­fore you even leave the ta­ble. Venmo (venmo.com) is meant specif­i­cally for pay­ing peo­ple you know (friends and fam­ily). All they need to do is cre­ate a Venmo ac­count to claim the funds.

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