Here’s What to Do When Your Friends Want to Splurge On Fine Dining and You’re Broke

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There are very few things that give me anxiety like group-pay situations. When a waiter drops a bill full of expensive cocktails and exotic entrees off at our table and all I’ve had is a beer and one appetizer, I dread the moment when someone says, “Why don’t we just all split it?”

When it comes to going out to eat, taking trips, or participating in anything outside of my necessary spending, I keep “price” firmly rooted in the forefront of my mind. So when friends have an entirely different financial situation, or different spending priorities, bridging the gap and coming to a common ground can be a challenge.

If you know these uncomfortable situations all too well, here are some tips for wading through the awkwardness or, hopefully, avoiding it altogether.

Get in the Driver’s Seat and Start Planning

If you want to get a group together, but you don’t want to be stuck paying an arm and a leg for the newest, hippest restaurant in town, take over the planning yourself.

When you’re in-tune with the total cost of an experience, and you know you’re working with a smaller amount of money, creativity becomes paramount. And bringing creativity to the planning process can often times create a more memorable night for everyone involved.

In an effort to curb my spending, I recently vetoed a friend’s request to go to a nicer downtown spot and instead suggested we go to an inexpensive seafood restaurant where they cover your table in paper, hand you a bib and pour your food on the table. It was an experience – and a far less expensive one at that.

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Try These Two Apps To Do the Work For You

In my experience, the whole “let’s just split it” conversation usually is the result of one thing: laziness. If you actually stopped and talked about it, most reasonable people would agree that you shouldn’t pay for someone’s bottle of champagne when you ordered a PBR.

But splitting bills with tax and tip and all the other extras can get complicated. Luckily there are apps to help.

Here are two I found intriguing:

Divvy allows you to take a picture of your receipt and drag specific items to the person that ordered them, split up other items, and calculate tax and tip accordingly.

Billr operates similarly to Divvy, although it requires manual entry. It does, however, allow you to send a copy of the split bill via text message or email.

The great thing about relying on an app to do the bill splitting, is the numbers are straightforward and calculated quickly – no lengthy conversation required.

Ask to Split the Check Beforehand

I was recently at a large brunch get-together where my group-pay anxiety kicked in early. So when the waiter came around to me to take my order, I politely asked if he would be able to split up the checks when the time came. He was happy to do so, especially since he could divide everything as we were ordering.

My friend was able to make this happen when it came to purchasing tickets for a group to go to a concert – the website allowed him to buy his own ticket and reserve tickets for friends which they could then purchase by following the link that was emailed to them. All the tickets ended up being in the same area, he just avoided charging a massive amount to his credit card and begging for reimbursements later.

Finding a way early on to divide the expenses among the group can avoid all the headache and awkward conversation later once the bill arrives.

Look into your options, and dispel that anxiety early on.

Get comfortable with honesty

This might seem like the last thing you want to do, but if you can’t have open, frank conversations with your friends, then who can you have those conversations with?

Let it be known – nicely, of course – if your current spending priorities don’t line up with what you’re being invited to participate in. Chances are, they will either change the plans to accommodate you, or be open to creating a different plan for another day.

If they aren’t fully understanding of your situation, then it may be time to look for another group to spend your time with. Putting the health of your finances in jeopardy should never be a requirement when it comes to spending time with friends and family.

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