The check just arrived; now what? Whether you sipped tap water all night or ordered a rare bottle of wine, we have an answer.
Step 1: Ask for a separate check Don't be shy about asking for a separate check – especially if you're fearful of getting stuck paying for everyone else's extravagance. Just be sure to do it at the beginning of the evening.
TIP: Allay the awkwardness by suggesting separate checks for everyone, unless you're in such a large group that it would be a huge imposition on the server.
Step 2: Be gracious If the group has agreed to split the bill evenly and everyone's share is in the same ballpark, don't insist on breaking down the bill to the last penny.
Step 3: Pay your fair share Offer to pay your fair share if you ordered more lavishly than anyone else. If, on the other hand, you were the person who just had a salad, announce, "here's my share," plop down what you owe, including money for the tip, and don't feel bad about it.
TIP: If you are estimating your share, always err on the side of overpaying.
Step 4: Don't penalize singles Don't penalize singles. If three couples are dining with a solo, the check should not be split four ways – it should be divided based on seven people.
Step 5: Do account for children Do take children into account. Childless dining companions shouldn't pay for your kids just because they order from the children's menu and don't drink booze.
Step 6: Man up If you’ve invited someone out to dinner on a first date, expect to pay, especially if you’re a man. After that, you can split checks or take turns picking up the tab.
Step 7: Treat people right Don't treat anyone to their meal if you can't afford to treat everyone.
Step 8: Give them the business If it's a business meal, pick up the check if you extended the invitation – unless the other person is trying to get your business. In that case, it's appropriate for that person to pay.
FACT: Seventy-five percent of survey respondents think that a man should pay for dinner if he has invited a woman out on a date; eight percent think the couple should split the check; and two percent think the person who earns the most money should pay.