18 May
Friends Who Let Friends Pay Their Bar Tabs

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

I don’t drink and whenever I go out for a group dinner with my friends, they always split the bill evenly. This means I’m subsidizing everyone else’s drinking. I don’t mean to be cheap, but I’m trying to save money and can’t afford to be paying for their drinks. How should I handle this?


Don’t Want to Be Debbie Downer


Dear Don’t Want to Be Debbie Downer,

Ah, the “splitting the bill” question. For some reason, it seems to be one of the most common problems for which people need advice. Well, that and all of this meshugeh Facebook crap that’s been going on lately. (What’s that? Why, yes, I did just drop a Yiddish word in there even though I’m a Lutheran shiksa from Texas. It’s all part of my schmaltzy shtick, people.)

Anyway, back to your issue. Now, you say you don’t drink, but that your friends do. And from the sound of it, at this point in the game, they’re all laughing and having fun while you’re sitting there silently judging how many pinot grigios Pam just threw back and wondering if Bob really needs that extra flaming tequila shot. (He does. His wife is a total bitch.) But how can you join in the party while also avoiding paying for their sloshing good time? Here—pick one:

1. Invest in some “roofies”

From what I’ve heard on the MTV, one splash of this little elixir and your friends will pass out after just one drink! No more $100 bar tabs, baby. Plus you’ll be able to steal their french fries after they’re rushed to the emergency room. (Note: The Mouthy Housewives do not condone illegally drugging your friends. Only the ones that watch “Gary Unmarried.”)

2. Order virgin drinks for yourself

Sure, it’s a little expensive and sort of pointless to order non-alcoholic versions of what your friends are drinking (not to mention the fact that they’ll all probably sing “Like a Virgin” to you the rest of the night) but this way you can go toe-to-toe with them on the itemized bill. And I hear that alcohol-free Long Island Iced Teas taste just like regular iced tea!

3. Eat desserts til you puke

Yes, not only does this one sound classy, but it’ll also make you look classy. Simply order your fill of mud pies, cheesecakes and tiramisues until you reach what they’ve spent on drinks, then start shovin’ ’em down your throat like you’re trying to win a blue ribbon at the Arkansas state fair. Trust me, there’s no way you can be a Debbie Downer with 12,038 grams of sugar coursing through your veins! Whooo!

4. Suck it Up

You knew this one was coming, didn’t you? The one where I stop being fun and say, “Just be honest and tell them you’re trying to save money, then hand over enough cash to cover only your food and tip. If they’re good friends, they’ll understand. If they’re not good friends, move on.” (I know. Isn’t it like, so embarrassing when I’m all mature and reasonable and shit? Oy. It’s because of my chutzpah.)

So good luck, Not Debbie Downer! You can do it!


Wendi, TMH

14 Responses to “Friends Who Let Friends Pay Their Bar Tabs”


Comment by Rachel.

Yeah, just tell them you’d rather split the bill by what you ordered individually or that you will only pay for what you ordered and they can split the rest however.

Should be no big deal and I bet someone else at the table (the one ordering a hamburger when everyone else is ordering lobster) secretly feels the same way.


Comment by Marinka.

Maybe you should start drinking. Sure, you may not enjoy the taste or be in recovery or something, but in this economy, it just makes sense.

ingrid Reply:



Comment by Jensational.

I have a friend who would always come out and say “Let’s all take turns doing rounds” and someone would pay first round, then the second round would be someone else. He’d get up to go to the bathroom right before his round . . . and never come back. Granted, we only fell for this twice but it was a pretty good system for free drinks. Volunteer to pay for the fourth round. Leave at the end of the third.


Comment by dusty earth mother.

Maybe you could say something like this, “hey, don’t mean to imply that you’re a bunch of diseased-liver freeloaders, but how’s come I’m paying to support your green apple martini addiction when all I’m drinking is bubbly water with an inexpensive twist of lime?”

I don’t think anyone would be offended by that. But then, maybe I’m not the right person to offer suggestions, since I have no friends.

kmdguerra Reply:

OMG, too funny. I can’t see why you don’t have any friends when you’re dishing great wisdom like that!


Comment by Erin I'm Gonna Kill Him.

Just start ordering lavish things, like steak tartare with a side of truffles (even at a sports bar), and when your friends look at you cross-eyed, threaten to cut them with a butter knife for all the times you have paid for their booze.


Comment by Ashley K..

I like the dessert idea! Lol. Just tell them the truth, you’re friends will understand. They might think you’re kinda lame at first but they’ll get over it. Save that money girl!


Comment by Heather (qtberryhead).

I would simply ask for a separate check when you order. Then it’s between you and the wait staff, and not your friends. No harm, no foul.


Comment by Domesticated Gal.

Just lay down the law- no top shelf liquor! They want a Screwdriver? Hold the Smirnoff – she’ll have the Aristocrat. I mean honestly, if you’re paying I think you should have a say in what you’re paying for!

And your bar tab? Will either disappear, or quadruple (because, really , if you’re going to drink the shitty stuff you have to get pretty good and drunk to enjoy it). Either way? Your current problem is solved!


Comment by L.

I never understood the splitting the bill thing. I’m from a rural area and that’s not how we do things; people pay for what they order. The first time I’d even ever heard of it was on a Friends episode.:) I agree with the person who suggested asking for a separate check.


Comment by Cheryl.

Gotta go with Wendi on this. Be honest, pay for what you ordered, and save that money. Your friends are probably clueless about your drinking habits and your desire to save money while still enjoying their company.


Comment by kmdguerra.

ummm…what!? In this economy, there should be no hesitation in asking your friends to pay for what they consume! The separate check idea is great. DON’T be afraid to have that conversation with your friends. Blame the economy if you have to. Give them some crazy excuse, like “I have to send my dog/cat to pet therapy and it’s expensive” or something else that will elicit pity and subsequently bring up feelings of guilt for making you pay for their schluppiness. Good luck!


Comment by Pollyanna.

Grab the bill first, get out enough cash to cover your portion plus tip, then hand it off to the group saying, “This should cover me.” You don’t have to explain yourself.

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