Money Moral Dilemma: Should we keep splitting restaurant bills with friends that have kids?

edited 10 January at 2:29PM in Going out deals
69 replies 59.5K views
MSE_KelvinMSE_Kelvin MSE Staff
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MSE Staff
edited 10 January at 2:29PM in Going out deals
This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks...

For many years, we've socialised as a couple with a large group, which now includes many children of all ages. We're the only couple that don't have kids. We've always split restaurant bills equally, yet now some of the older kids eat more than the grown-ups and soft drinks can cost the same as alcoholic ones. Should we continue to subsidise the others' children, or ask that the bills be divided more fairly and risk causing disharmony in the group?

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  • MalMonroeMalMonroe Forumite
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    NO!  That's just crazy talk. If it were me I'd ask for our bill to be kept separate. Or separated at the end. Most pubs and restaurants do that nowadays.

    I have a very dear friend and before covid we'd meet up at least once a month in quite a prestigious restaurant for a meal and a good chat. We always split the bill. But then I realised that she always ordered expensive meals and had at least three large glasses of wine (I know! I'd have been rolling around on the floor) while I tried to order fairly cheap meals and only had one small glass of wine and then switched to soft drinks since I'm not a great fan of alcohol.

    I had a word with her and when she realised that she'd been having the lion's share and I'd been subsidising her, she was horrified. She is quite wealthy and has a partner and I'm not and I don't so I was (and still am) budgeting carefully and couldn't afford to do it any more.

    After that we did have separate bills and it was never a problem either for us or for the staff of the restaurant. Then sadly, covid hit and we had to stop our meetings and haven't been able to restart as her husband is not too well. 

    But I think if you mention it and then say you'd prefer to pay your own bill separately, there shouldn't be a problem.

    It's usually just a case of thoughtlessness, as with my friend. Sometimes others just don't consider someone else's position. It really shouldn't cause any 'disharmony' in the group if your friends really are friends. Ask for a separate bill, rather than dividing the big one. That's much fairer. 
  • diystarter7diystarter7 Forumite
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    Exactly the reason we don't do friends/family eat outs. When we do, we pay.
    When on hols with our kids - we have our own bills unless a fast snack then we insist we pay and also pay on  at least of the days if hols is more than a week.


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  • YBRYBR Forumite
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    Mention it, and discuss whether to pay separately or split the bill per head rather than per family.
  • NBLondonNBLondon Forumite
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    If it's been happening for many years - the others may not have noticed that you are effectively subsidising their kids; especially if teenagers are now costing as much as the parents.

    So if these people are your friends then their reaction may well be the same as Mal's friend if you quietly mention it.  Perhaps before the next outing, pick one or two of the others to raise it with.  You can blame cost of living if needed.
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  • REJPREJP Forumite
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    Politely point out that you should not be paying for their children to eat and drink.  You might be unpleasantly surprised if you check the prices of soft drinks, in my local a pint of Coca Cola costs more than a pint of best bitter.
    So as others have suggested, ask for your bill to be kept separate.   If that upsets your friends, don't go out with them.
  • LP53LP53 Forumite
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    I would say we’re actually going to pay for our own as there’s only us 2 and we’re getting the raw end of the deal or it’s becoming a little expensive I’m sure everyone’s understands.
    then ask if you can have yours on a separate  bill or just tally up what you owe from the receipt. I’m surprised people expect you to pay for their kids it’s quite obviously unfair.

  • bradavonbradavon Forumite
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    Hate how couples cheekily think a couple = one or a family = one.

    I used to share equally with friends who were a couple but I was single. So for every round I bought two drinks but they came as a unit so bought me one drink back.

    They didn't get that it wasn't fair so I just stopped doing it.
  • addyannaddyann Forumite
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    Pay your own bill. 
  • John_GrayJohn_Gray Forumite
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    If you're rich enough to eat out, then you can afford to pay for everyone.
    Of course, the same applies to your friends.   :)
  • MPHodsonMPHodson Forumite
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    Not a chance. My wife and I drink little, so lose out on sharing but don’t mind this (within reason!). Your scenario means they are ‘extracting the drink’!

    Suggest politely that you will pay your own - if this causes problems - they ain’t no friends! 
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