Friends and Finances: Splitting the Bill
04th September 2020
If there’s one stereotype about the British that still holds water, it’s our aversion to social awkwardness. Right at the top of our impressively long “do-not-discuss” list is money trouble. We just don’t seem to deal well with those difficult financial heart-to-hearts we’re occasionally backed into and, like a cornered mouse, we tend to bite. That makes money one of the main things British families and friends fight over.
It’s not as if we’re even arguing because one of is doesn’t want to pay up, either. No one likes feeling like they’re been taken advantage of, obviously, but as a nation we really don’t mind coughing up what we owe. It’s just the awkward talks needed to divide up the bills that tend to go bad. Here are a few basic survival strategies for approaching the dreaded “bill splitting” conversation.
1) Bite the bullet now and settle up later
To be fair, a lot of the time it’s not the money talk itself that tends to be the problem. It’s having that talk under pressure that makes things awkward. Honestly, though, the restaurant really doesn’t care who throws their credit card down. All they want is for the bill to be settled and the table cleared for the next group of socially awkward friends.
It’s hard to make good decisions under fire, particularly when maths and money are involved. Moving the uncomfortable conversation away from the table is one of the easiest ways to take that pressure off. Even if the conversation never happens at all, if you eat out with the same groups often enough the odds are things will even out in the end. That takes a little trust in your friends, of course, but as long as no one gets a reputation for “gaming the system” when it’s not their turn to pay, it should all work out.
2) Pay your own way
This probably isn’t the best way to play things if you’re sharing bill regularly, but it can work fairly well for one-offs or occasional meet-ups. Separate bills are a little more legwork for everyone involved, particularly restaurant staff and the like. However, you do get around the problem of the vegetarian subsidising the steak-eater’s meat habit this way.
Most places won’t have too much of a problem giving out separate bills, but it’ll probably take a little extra time to get everything sorted out. Even so, this is a great way to go if everyone’s using different payment methods, which can lead to some ugly scenes if you’re not prepared. You do have to watch out for a couple of major pitfalls, though. Don’t get so cocky about avoiding the trap of the lobster-and-3-dessert diner clashing with the salad-and-tap-water fan that you forget about the bottle of wine the whole table shared. The maths can occasionally trip you up, but it’s still a workable option if everyone holds their nerve and stays calm.
3) Keep it simple
Okay, so this idea won’t necessarily appeal to the traditional British sense of fair play. Sometimes, though, the smartest route runs through the path of least resistance. Assuming it’s out of the question to sort things out later or get separate bills for some reason, a quick multi-way split could be your best option. It gets you out of the stressful situation quickly, and at least kicks any awkward discussions about who’s cheating whom down the road a bit.
At RIFT, we’re all about making sure people only ever pay what they owe, so we’re not crazy about this option. However, the appeal of simplicity is undeniable and it’s still better than falling out with friends over money.
4) Blame the computer
As the years and pandemics roll by, we’re all getting used to letting robots and software do our socialising for us. It takes fewer keypresses to fire off a “smile” emoji than to type an angry rant, after all. A single tap on a screen can now convey everything from an apology to a proposal (decent or otherwise), so it only makes sense that we’d leave it to our phones to fight our corners in uncomfortable financial discussions. These days there are apps for everything from planning get-togethers and tracking payments to breaking down what everyone owes and automating the settling up process. A few are even hooked into services like PayPal for ease of use.
However you choose to settle up with your mates, keep in mind that the true value of friendship can’t be measured in pounds and pence. If it could, though, the exact value would be £50. That’s what you stand to earn by referring even one of your friends, workmates or family members to RIFT for their tax refund claim. What’s more, you can also earn:
- A £150 bonus for every 5 people you refer who end up claiming with RIFT.
- Additional cash prizes of up to £500.
- RIFT Magic Moment rewards and Star Prizes with a typical value of £1,000!
There’s no limit to what you can earn through RIFT’s Refer a Friend scheme, so start referring your mates to stack up the rewards.