Isn’t it nice when friends, colleagues and even siblings do things together, this could be going out for drinks, dinner or other social events. The atmosphere is usually electric with lots of laughs and camaraderie. But then there are those awkward moments, which usually occur when the bill arrives.

Suddenly, there’s silence and you can hear the crickets from the nearby garden (hypothetical, of course), until a brave soul from within the group speaks up on what should be done.

Have you ever been in a similar situation? I know I have, on several occasions. A memorable one happened a few years ago after which I knew I had to be better prepared.

The dry facts –

A few of my friends who also happened to be work colleagues decided to do the midweek drinks and finger food hangout. It was definitely a good chance to unwind from the daily grind and let our hair/weave down. 

As was usually the case then, I was still working when they left for the venue, when I finally arrived, a few of them were on their second drink and some on their third. I obviously had some catching up to do but as a slow drinker, I remained on one till the end of the night. Also, by then, the finger food had been fully ‘inhaled’. Nothing left for poor me.

So, you can imagine my shock when I was informed that the bill will be shared equally by all of us. Oh! The injustice of it all.

I looked my friends in the eye hoping that somehow, I could transmit my dissatisfaction with their sharing plan. As you can imagine, this did not work (interesting how such things work for gossiping and revenge (FFT). I reluctantly paid my ‘share’ but still remember that day and how I felt.

I chose to share this story because I’ve realised that in life, sometimes, it’s the little things we remember and hold on to. Many of you may have been in a similar situation where you were not sure of what to do. Do you decline the outing to avoid such awkward moments or pay your bill separately (which could make you seem antisocial)?

Here are 5 few tips I have learnt and now apply, where possible –

1. Get Confirmation before you proceed
Before you go, confirm the dynamics of the outing and possible sharing if you’re not sure how the bill will be paid or what you are “allowed” to order. You need to be clear on what to expect. Communicate. Ask questions, find out what your friends want to do and the reason for the hangout. It may be harder to push where you are all going out to celebrate a particular person (say for birthdays).

2. Get involved in choosing the venue or event
Getting involved means you have a say in how much money and time will be required to attend the event. Many times within the group, there are those with high tastes and expensive palettes. Try to push for a place that will be convenient for everyone’s pocket.

An even cheaper option could be to suggest a games night or potluck dinner at the home of a group member. This will generally be cheaper than dining out or attending a paid social event.

3. Ask for separate bills
This one requires some courage. It is not a popular request but a smart one. I went out to a restaurant recently where the waiter provided separate bills for each of us without being told. That was very proactive (the only downside was that one of my friends had been willing to pay for everyone…you can’t win ‘em all).

4. Choose the aspect of the bills you wouldn’t mind sharing
This is the middle ground and a good option where you believe you should share in the payment. For dinners, it may be better you all share the food and pay separately for your drinks. If you are going to the movies, you may each pay your ticket and share the popcorn.

5. Eat before you get there and buy nothing
This is definitely an extreme case and really the last resort when you believe all will or has failed.

One good thing is that it is almost impossible that you will be expected to chip in when everyone knows you didn’t have anything.

Closing thoughts
One of the primary reasons for group events is to promote social interactions and nuture relationships. This is important and in many cases, doing this is more vital that the money you believe you may have saved. However, you have to be mindful of what you say yes to and how often you do these meet ups.

Do you have any similar stories? Please share.

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