Burned by the $100 Pizza – A Split Bill Tale

Social outings can be disastrous when you’re trying to watch your spending, especially restaurants and bars. Most of the time I am a happy little introvert who likes staying in anyway but sometimes there are occasions you just don’t want to miss.

My family asked us out for dinner last week, I had been watching my spending so I did have some money left in my checking account. I was delighted that I could afford to go. Spending time with people I love and eating yummy food is a favourite activity.

My aunt chose an affordable restaurant, a gourmet pizza place. We checked the menu ahead of time and decided we could share a grilled duck and onion relish pizza (OMG yum) plus a glass of wine each. The total would come in well under $50 if we didn’t get tempted by any other tasty dishes (or the second glass of wine!).

At the end of the meal my Aunt announced that we will split the bill equally amongst the adults. I’m astounded as she often talks about her finances and I thought maybe she was watching her budget too. Even worse I feel too shy in front of my family to say anything. I caved and paid my share of the bill which came to ~$95 and some change. I have just paid $100 for a pizza and 2 glasses of wine and I feel terrible.

$100 Pizza split between 2 people
The most expensive pizza meal I’ve ever had. Ever.

So whats the solution? In this instance I will let it go because whats done is done, it was a special night out with some pretty amazing news being announced. (So I want to remember the night as a celebration!) Certainly I don’t want to be remembered as quibbling over the bill. However I learnt some important lessons.

For any transaction, know how you will be charged and don’t let others decide how to spend your money for you.
Lesson learned.

In future I will call ahead to the restaurant and see if they allow individual bill. Some places have let me order at the counter and bring my meal to the table with the rest of the group or pay separately at the end. I’ll also be upfront with family at the beginning of the meal. “Hey I’ve only got $50 for eating out tonight so I’m just going to split a pizza.” A little communication goes a long way.

It did get me thinking, what if I have been guilty of doing this? Have I ever put someone in the position of spending more than they wanted to? Perhaps I could be more sensitive to my friends and the social activities I suggest. For example I plan for spending some money every month on craft beer. I love it, I brew it, it makes me happy but I possibly have friends who get a little annoyed when I recommend going to the latest craft beer place, the beers are way more expensive than standard brews.

We all have different priorities for spending money and my must do craft beer experience is someone else’s $100 pizza.

6 thoughts on “Burned by the $100 Pizza – A Split Bill Tale”

  1. It’s a really tough one cause you don’t want to be seen as tight and stingy although at the same time where there’s goals in place you want to hit those as well..

    I’d say it’s a case by case depending on who you’re with + about the communication as well 🙂

  2. Ugh. Been there! My group of friends loves to do this. I have taken to only meeting them for a drink when they go out for brunch. I also eat beforehand then grab my drink at the bar before heading to their table. This meaning seems to be working and I don’t get wrapped up in the aftermath of someone else’s food/drink choices.

    In other social situations you can’t always be sure how it is going to go down so I try to make a comment up front like you mentioned “we’re happy to have a chance to catch up tonight but we’re keeping it low key…do you mind if we get seperate checks?” No one who knows me will be put off by this. Of course, if they know me really well I have no problem going further to say that we’re saving up for something or a big night out isn’t in the budget. I will sometimes suggest a potluck, drinks at my place, or a specific restaurant/bar. If you can control the location the rest is easy. 🙂

    I hope the pizza was awesome!!! 😉

  3. I think that it’s a cheek for your aunt to assume that everyone will be comfortable with a split bill. From what you describe it sounds like others had kids there and you’ve just subsidised the rest of them. It makes me so mad when people do this without even asking first if that’s OK. I’ve been in similar situations and got suckered so now I carry enough cash to cover us and give the appropriate amount to the person paying. If they want to dispute it I’m happy to ask why I should be paying more than my share.

    I no longer do rounds either. I buy my drinks and politely refuse anyone’s offer to buy a drink. That way I’m in full control of what I spend and how fast I drink. Real friends will understand and those that don’t………tough.

  4. Perhaps your aunt was aware that another group in the party would struggle even more than you with their share (maybe they had kids etc), and this was her way of helping them.

    However, I have to say that family entertaining always surprises me. My cousin invited my husband and I to a meal at his local golf club when we were staying with him on holiday in October. I mistakenly assumed he would be picking up the tab (as I would have done…). Imagine my surprise when he asked my husband for £40 for our meals. Even worse, he asked his own daughter and husband for their £40, and also the son-in-law’s parents for their £40! He offered to pay for the drinks – wow!!

    I suppose that is why he is well off!!

    1. Perhaps she did have good intentions, but I did notice that my husband and I were the only ones to share the main course, so if anyone else was on a budget they certainly didn’t show it. I’m she sure she had good motivations and it wasn’t done from a malicious point of view. Here in NZ eating and drinking out is quite expensive so if you go out with friends or family its expected that you would pay for your own meals. Likewise with being invited around for dinner you always bring wine or a dessert or something. I guess its a cultural thing, I suspect if I bought a dessert and wine to the host in some other countries they could get quite offended as if I was implying they wouldn’t have enough food or drink for the occasion!

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