Friends and Finances: Splitting the Bill
16th August 2019
If there’s one thing the British fear, it’s social awkwardness – particularly when it revolves around cold, hard cash. Money matters are right at the head of a long list of things friends argue about in the UK, despite also topping the charts of things we’d rather gnaw off out own feet than talk about in the first place.
As a nation, we don’t mind paying what we owe. We just hate working out how much that actually is. Whether it’s dinner with friends or household bills with roommates, the British stress out about splitting bills. Survival strategies range from the simple to the sophisticated, so here are a few RIFT Top Tips to get you through:
All for one
Honestly, a lot of the awkwardness over splitting bills comes from having to do it under pressure. Restaurants honestly don’t care who slaps their card down. They just need you paid up and to get the table cleared for the next group. If everyone starts dithering over their share of the bill, just bite the bullet and pay it then settle up later.
Obviously, you’ve got to have a certain measure of trust in your friends here, but it solves the immediate crisis. Assuming it all works out, you can even arrange with your friends to take turns paying. If you eat out together often enough, it’ll probably all even out eventually, so you might not even have to settle up individually each time. Just don’t game the system too obviously, eagerly offering your card at the salad bar but sticking someone else with the entire bill at the steakhouse.
Go your own way
If your shared cost is more of a one-off than a regular thing, it makes sense to try to get separate bills if you can. For dining out, most places probably won’t have a huge problem sorting this out for you. Again, this does prevent the problem of the guy who ordered the lobster and 3 desserts being subsidised by the one who stuck to tomato salad and tap water. Also, it avoids trouble if everyone wants to use a different payment method.
You’re asking the staff to do a little extra legwork here, of course, which probably means it’ll take longer to settle up. On top of that, things can get tricky if the whole table’s been sharing a bottle of wine or whatever. Even so, if the stars align correctly, this can be a workable option.
Play it right down the middle
If time’s a factor, you can always just chop the bill up and pay it equally. It’s quick and simple, but does mean that no one’s really paying what they actually owe. As accounting and refund experts, this bothers us on a conceptual level – but as Brits we do understand the appeal of simplicity. Go ahead and try this method in a pinch. We won’t think any less of you.
Let a robot do the work
Mobile phone apps have rapidly taken over most of the hard work of dealing with the people in our lives. The ability to fire off a quick barrage of emojis or tap a “like” button” means we no longer have to apologise, congratulate or commiserate with anyone directly, so it’s only natural that there’d be apps to help with tricky interpersonal stuff like splitting bills. Functions range from making detailed plans and tracking payments to sharing comprehensive breakdowns of what each person owes. Some of them even allow settling up through PayPal or similar services.
Whatever system you pick, and whether you use it to settle bar tabs or pay the rent, 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. Find out more about it and start referring your mates to stack up the rewards.