When we go out with friends and family, the question of how to split the bill often comes up. In some cases, you might even notice that someone isn’t contributing very much. While you might want to overlook it, it’s hard to avoid feeling a little uncomfortable and annoyed when it appears as though someone is acting a bit like a mooch.
But what do you do when someone habitually avoids paying the bill?
How Much Money are We Talking About?
The first thing that you need to figure out is how much money is in question. If you pick up the tab for snacks out of the vending machine, the couple dollars you are losing may be worth the harmony in your relationship. However, if everyone but one of you pays for meals or drinks when you go out every single time, then that’s something different.
And, of course, in the case of a stay at a resort, or some other high cost situation, it can be even harder to stomach paying the whole cost when your family member doesn’t pay his or her “fair share.”
Overlooking a small amount on occasion might be worth it, especially if you don’t want to have an awkward conversation about money. But those small amounts can add up over time, and you might soon tire of always paying — even if it’s only $5 at a time. For something major, though, it’s important to establish ground rules ahead of time so that you know you won’t be on the hook for everything.
Broaching the Subject of Payment
While talking about money is not usually high on most peoples’ lists of things to do, it still might need to be done. One way to approach the subject is directly, and ahead of time. When you go out, as you’re sitting down, you can simply ask, “So, how are we doing this? Should we do separate checks?”
If you are planning a big get together, and have fees to pay, you can ask all involved to send in their share up front. Say that you want to reserve the hotel or pavilion, but that you need to know who is coming, and that you need payment from all those who want to participate. This is a gentle reminder that others need to contribute, and it might provide the “chronic avoider” with a definite reason to pay his or her fair share right now.
What If There are Other Issues?
Of course, in some cases your friend or family member might not be able to pay. Perhaps he or she is tight on cash right now, but still wants to participate. Instead of constantly rubbing it in while you go out and have fun, maybe you can plan other sorts of activities. A backyard barbecue, a potluck dinner, or a trip to the cheap theater or the drive-in can all be inexpensive ways to have fun while not putting others in an awkward situation.
Before you accuse someone of being a cheapskate, make sure you understand the situation. Try to be tactful as you ask for money. What are your suggestion when someone seems to never pay his or her share?