Yahoo! Associated Content
Originally posted on here
You're out with 20 of your closest friends celebrating a friend's birthday. The drinks have been flowing since you arrived and everyone had something to eat. One friend ordered a steak, another a salad, another couple split a bottle of wine, while another person has been knocking back the shots. Everyone is having a great time laughing and sharing stories until the bill comes - $1500 for the group. Only a few people have cash and everyone else goes to throw in their credit card. Suddenly that fun evening out is becoming a headache of trying to figure out who owes what and how much tip everyone is going to leave. Plus, the restaurant will only allow you to split the bill among four credit cards. It's an experience we've all had at some point. So what do you do? Play credit card roulette? Divide the bill right then and there? Or have one person pick up the tab and collect from everyone else later?
Immediately Record What Everyone Owes
In this instance, it may be easier and quicker for one person to pick up the tab and collect from everyone later. If this happens, take the receipt and note what everyone ordered. Some groups of friends are fine equally splitting the bill while others want to pay their share to the penny, so keeping close track of who owes what and confirming the amounts with everyone before going your separate ways will save yourself potential hassle down the road. It also helps avoid a situation when a friend leaves less than their fair share for the bill. You can also take out your smartphone and divide and send everyone's portion of the bill before leaving the restaurant.
Rotate Who Pays the Bill
If you always find yourself stuck with the bill for your same group of friends, then agree on a payment rotation for your weekly dinner club or monthly happy hour and stick to it. Setting up an order of who pays when and making it a habit to follow the rotation will eliminate the awkwardness of deciding who pays the bill.
Use an Online Service
Manually keeping track of who owes what amount can be a nightmare. Spreadsheets aren't fun and hunting down your friends for their portion of the bill is time consuming and uncomfortable. To simplify the process, use an online service that does the work for you. Just enter the bill, add your friends, set the split and everything else should be taken care of automatically '" including sending payment reminders and notifying you when someone pays their bill.
Set Deadlines and Send Reminders
Set a firm payment deadline with your friends from the start and they will be more likely to pay you back. If you're using an online service, make sure automatic payment reminders are sent every day or two to an e-mail address your friends frequently check. For the really difficult friends who "disappear" when the mention of payment comes up, add interest to the amount they owe you for each day they're late paying.
Make It a Habit
Make this process your and everyone else's M.O. After you've found the online service that you like the best (and that automates all of the above for you), encourage your friends to join that service. By being on a common network, you have established a core method of reimbursement, which will facilitate the entire group payment process. Treat these situations as ones driven by habit '" regimented but nonchalant.
While collecting money from friends is never easy, these steps should help eliminate a lot of the awkwardness. Don't make a big deal out of group payments; just start utilizing a service that handles the ordeal for you and allows you to continue enjoying your time with your friends.