Money Moral Dilemma: Should we keep evenly splitting restaurant bills even though we don’t drink?

edited 12 July 2022 at 4:35PM in Going out deals
52 replies 48.6K views
MSE_KelvinMSE_Kelvin MSE Staff
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edited 12 July 2022 at 4:35PM in Going out deals
This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks...

When we go out with friends, my partner and I split the food and drinks bill evenly with the group, though neither of us drinks alcohol. The groups we’re part of can order multiple cocktails, bottles of wine and beers, which push the total cost up. Should we speak up and pay less, or just accept the equal split to keep the peace?

Unfortunately the MSE team can't answer Money Moral Dilemma questions as contributions are emailed in or suggested in person. They are intended to be a point of debate and discussed at face value. Remember that behind each dilemma there is a real person so, as the forum rules say, please keep it kind and keep it clean.

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  • edited 12 July 2022 at 4:36PM
    coffee_cakecoffee_cake Forumite
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    edited 12 July 2022 at 4:36PM
    Everyone buy their own drinks & pay for them at the bar there and then, then split the food bill at the end.
  • BrieBrie Forumite
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    Some mocktails are just as expensive.  I was even charged £5 recently for a relatively small glass of fruit juice. (granted it was excellent, none of those daft sweeteners in it for a change.)

    But yes - you should split the food and coffee and soft drinks bill and then the rest of them can split the alcohol.  

    Had a friend we used to go out with years back who was disabled and didn't drink.  Result was she would drive everyone, get preferential parking and the rest of us would pay for her meal.  Much cheaper than us having to pay for taxis!
    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”

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  • edited 12 July 2022 at 9:11PM
    MalMonroeMalMonroe Forumite
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    edited 12 July 2022 at 9:11PM
    No. I was discussing this with a neighbour recently. Unfortunately we are both blessed with other friends who drink gallons of alcohol on an evening out. I'm usually driving and refuse to pay for anyone else's alcohol - I never 'get a round in'. I mean, one mineral water and six vodkas? Is that really fair? If they only love me for what booze they can get out of me then they can get lost. But they don't get lost because why should they, they're not missing anything.

    If you can't tell your friends that you don't want to subsidise their booze without them taking offence, then they aren't friends of yours.

    It's not that difficult to split bills these days, anyway, most establishments will do it in the blink of an eye.
    Please note - taken from the Forum Rules and amended for my own personal use (with thanks) : It is up to you to investigate, check, double-check and check yet again before you make any decisions or take any action based on any information you glean from any of my posts. Although I do carry out careful research before posting and never intend to mislead or supply out-of-date or incorrect information, please do not rely 100% on what you are reading. Verify everything in order to protect yourself as you are responsible for any action you consequently take.
  • AlanBDAlanBD Forumite
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    I have an agreement with a group of friends that I drink with that I buy a round including my coke or zero alcohol and they buy the for the rest of the night. I don’t eat with friends that inflate the cost of the meal by over drinking.
  • gothvixengothvixen Forumite
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    No, drinks should be billed separately. I've often been in financial situations that have meant I have to decline invitations from colleagues because I can't subsidise others' bills. If I was able to just pay for myself I could enjoy the social aspect, but saying anything would embarrass me and them, so I've missed out. If these are real friends you should be able to discuss this satisfactorily.
  • DontBringBertieDontBringBertie Forumite
    186 Posts
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    This is one the benefits when they brought in the ‘pay by scanning a QR code/using the app’ during COVID.

    Just order your own and pay directly. 

    Works especially well for work meals when there’s a large group.

    I agree with above though that you shouldn’t have to pay for £20 worth of drinks when you’ve only had a £2.50 coke.
  • My recommendation to you is a big fat no!  Only pay for what you have ordered.  A friend might like to "enjoy" a drink or two or four.  You are paying for your friend's enjoyment.

     Unless there is a special occasion when everybody contributes to the Pot!  Then that is a different matter altogether.
  • elizabethhullelizabethhull Forumite
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    This sounds quite an extreme case., and I would agree with others who say, no, pay for drinks separately (which is hugely easier these days).

    We go out every other month to a restaurant with 6 others. I don't drink alcohol, and prefer chilled water. Hubby likes one glass of whatever wine is chosen. However, I ALWAYS have a dessert (not all the others do), and both hubby and I like coffee to finish, again not all the rest do. So it's swings & roundabouts. I might add, that these are such special friends, that if we've paid extra over the years it has definitely been worth it !
  • GigiDoyleGigiDoyle Forumite
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    I dont drink and refuse to subsidise friends drinking habits. I simply state at the beginning of the meal I'll pay for my own drinks & food and not join in the rounds/bill split at the end. And when ordering I ask the waiter to put my order on its own tab separate from the group. My friends don't take offense as they know its only fair I pay for the 2 mineral waters I usually drink during the meal, and not for the many bottles of expensive wine or cocktails that they drink. Any friend that doesn't get that isn't a friend worth keeping. 
  • diystarter7diystarter7 Forumite
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    So that's why I don't eat out, lol. 
    Eating out with friends should be just that share a chat, laught, flirt, enjoy, not be greedy and share the bill, no fs no buts
    But haggling over what drink the other had and your OH did not is a lol big time

    How about one of the group eats a lot more than others or always food that is more expensive - what is the naffing point. No wonder I don't eat out with pretend friends.

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