Saturday, November 8, 2014

Splitting A Lunch Tab Does Not Require Splitting Hairs

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I have a great group of friends with whom I enjoy lunching once or twice a month. There are six of us total, and five of us generally order a moderately priced meal. Rather than nit-pick over who owes how much at the end of the meal, our preference is to simply split the bill six ways (including the tax and tip). Our problem is that we recently discovered a new lunching spot that all six of us of us more than the rest.

"Sally" has developed a taste for the more expensive items on the menu at this new restaurant. The rest of us would not have a problem with her choice if it simply cost a few dollars more than what the rest of us order; but her new regular entree choices are lobster-based, and the price reflects this fact. Her meals have been running up the tab that the rest of us are stuck splitting.

We - I and the other four women of the group - would like to mention something to Sally about this issue. We are torn between suggesting she pay for her own lunch while the rest of us split the remainder of the bill; and suggesting that she order a less expensive entree. We do not wish to make her feel excluded, but we also do not wish to lessen her enjoyment of her lunch. Since we all enjoy this new restaurant, we do not wish to start going somewhere else. Do you have any advice for five cat-loving ladies, Tazi-Kat?

I'll Have the Tuna Salad Plate (She'll Have the Lobster Ravioli)

Dear I'll Have The Tuna Salad Plate...:

I checked out the online menus of several restaurants, and noticed that the cost of a tuna salad lunch plate is around $5 - $7, while the lobster ravioli runs $15 & up. The price difference essentially adds an additional $2.50 each to your respective tabs (including tax and tip) on top of your original share of the bill. This might not appear to be much, until you consider the fact that you are eating canned tuna and your friend is eating fresh lobster. By splitting the tab, you are subsidizing her tastes.

Perhaps if you - or another member of the group - spoke with Sally about this matter in private, explaining it as I have above, she may volunteer to pay her own tab. If she does not offer to rectify the situation, or takes offense at being singled-out, you may have to start "nit-picking" and each of you be responsible for your own tab. Since this is hardly ideal, I suggest rounding your contribution up or down to the nearest dollar amount.

For example, if your personal tab is $5.95 for a sandwich, $1.99 for a beverage, 63-cents for tax, and $1.60 for a tip; round off each amount and add it up this way: $6.00, $2.00, 75-cents, and $1.50 for a total of $10.25 - which makes your contribution eight-cents more than your "nit-picked" total - or simply $10.00 even. Considering your current arrangement, I doubt the others in your group will have a problem covering the extra 17-cents of your exact cost.

-- Tazi-Kat

P.S. I am glad to know that you are all cat lovers! Please think to bring home some of that tuna for your kitty once in a while!

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