How To Make Paying For Group Dinners Less Awkward

The pay dance: we’ve all been there. Maybe you want to be seen as generous – but just as you pull your card out, you remember that bill you have to pay. Your cries of “no really, let me” aren’t that convincing – but then again, your mate’s offers to pay won’t win any Academy Awards for best performance.

But when you find yourself repeatedly shouting your friends just to avoid the awkwardness, you’re not doing your finances any favours.

There has to be a better way! And there is.

#1 Use the $5 rule

One way in which money can be super awkward? Admitting you don’t have enough of it.

Your mate who ordered just an entrée and tap water? They might say they’re “not that hungry”, but there’s also a chance that they’re a bit skint right now. If the rest of the group was feeling footloose and fancy free with the drinks, splitting the bill evenly means your less-wealthy mate is stuck subsidizing your steaks and sav blanc.

A 2004 study found that “an individual diner appears not to account fully for the cost her consumption imposes on her peers” when splitting the bill.

Then again, the study also noted “Some cost is involved in paying individually. A part of it could be the mental cost of figuring out one’s share of the bill.”

If there’s more than $5 difference in what people ordered, split it according to who ordered what. Less than $5, ­and an even split won’t make much of a difference.

If you’re the one who’s trying to save their moolah, you need to muster the confidence to tell your mates. Talking about money with your friends can lead to greater understanding.

#2 Carry cash if you can

Admittedly, I ALWAYS forget to get money from the ATM when I’m heading out for a group dinner. And that’s a bummer, because it complicates things when the bill comes. Especially if it’s a cash only joint.

Bringing cash also simplifies things if you only want to pay for what you ordered: “my total came to $20, so here’s… $20.” Easy.

#3 Simplify the payback

Maybe you’re the one who reluctantly volunteered to pay the bill for the entire group. Or perhaps you now owe your mate $24 but you’ve only got 50c and a spare button in your wallet. The thought of exchanging BSBs and account numbers can send our brains into a spin after a big meal, when we’d really rather be having a nap. But fear not! If you have a Westpac bank account, you can send your mate the money you owe them simply by using their phone number. And it works both ways – you can get paid straight into your nominated Westpac account from other Westpac, BankSA, St.George and Bank of Melbourne Pay to Mobile customers.

Westpac’s Pay to Mobile feature takes the awkwardness out of splitting the bill. Pay your mates back right from your phone – no searching for the nearest ATM. It couldn’t be easier.

Things you should know: Please ensure that any banking services are appropriate for you.

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