30 Jul

Written by Kathryn Vercillo on July 30, 2009

There are a lot of things that you might be able to justify spending money on. Is picking up the bill for other people one of those things? A lot of us pick up the bill at restaurants, outings and various other events. It seems like a nice thing to do but it could be causing you to sacrifice your own financial happiness in the long run. No one is saying that you should be a cheapskate but you might want to avoid picking up the bill for others.

Here are 10 important tips for helping you to avoid picking up the bill:

1. Know why you want to pick up the bill. One of the biggest problems that people have with picking up the bill is that they don’t even know exactly why they do it. The fact of the matter for a lot of people is that they do it because of emotional issues related to money. If you pick up the whole table’s bill at a restaurant then it may be because you want to impress people. If you started picking up the bill more often when you got laid off from work, it may be because you’re embarrassed about the layoff and you don’t want others to know. Deal with your underlying emotional issues about money. Address them head-on and you’ll be a lot less likely to pick up the bill.

2. Pay cash. A lot of people end up picking up the bill when they go out with others because it’s the simplest thing to do. Everyone whips out a credit card and the place you’re paying at won’t do separate checks so someone has to pay the bill. You don’t want to look like a cheapskate so you go ahead and pay for everyone to make things easy. The problem is that you really don’t have the money to spend on everyone that you’re out with. You may even end up paying interest if you don’t pay off the credit card right away. Avoid this problem by making sure that you carry cash, including small bills. This means that you’ll be able to pay your part of the bill to the sucker who only brought credit cards.

3. Use a mobile payment system. You can also choose to use a mobile payment system which allows you to transfer money from your account to someone else’s account right from your mobile phone. Most people have a PayPal account these days so you can use a mobile PayPal system. Alternatively you can use a mobile payment system like Obopay that’s specifically designed for this purpose. When you’re out with a group, let someone else pick up the bill and then send them a mobile payment from the table so that they can see that you’re paying your part.

4. Track your spending. People who track their spending have a good idea of where their money is going. If you don’t track your spending then you may not realize just how much money is going to pick up the bill for others. When you start to keep track, you’ll find that you’re a lot less inclined to pick up the bill for others. And you may even find that you want to stop spending so much on yourself!

5. Stop assuming that it all evens out. If you go out with the same people all of the time then you might assume that it evens out if you each pick up the tab about half the time. In reality, the amount doesn’t usually even out. One person typically ends up picking up the bill more often and paying for things at more expensive places. Don’t assume that it’ll even out; instead, just pay for your part each time.

6. Create some financial goals around this issue. Sometimes it helps just to create some simple goals. The goal may be to never pick up the tab for others but to always pay your way. Or the goal may be to stop picking up the bill for a specific friend who never seems to pay his part. Figure out what your goals are and stick to them.

7. Befriend people who want to pay. The truth of the matter is that there are a lot of other people out there who are willing to pick up the bill when you go out with them. Frankly, if others want to do this and they’re offering then there’s no reason in the world that you shouldn’t take them up on it from time to time. Women will find this to be particularly true since the men that date them often feel obligated to pick up the bill. You should be polite and offer to pay your part but if they pull the whole, “no, don’t worry about it” then it’s really their problem and you really shouldn’t worry about it.

8. Don’t offer to pay the bill if you don’t want to. That’s because there are a lot of people who will follow the last tip and assume that if you’re offering to pay then they don’t have to. A lot of us just offer out of habit and we assume that the other person is going to say no and to pay their part. If the other person doesn’t do that then we’re left picking up the bill. Just don’t offer in the first place. There’s no guilt to be had if you’re still paying your part of the bill. Be sensible about your spending.

9. Do things that don’t cost money. The simplest way to avoid picking up the bill is to go out to places that don’t have a bill in the first place. Encourage your friends and the people that you may date to enjoy non-spending activities with you. It’s cool to be frugal these days so don’t be embarrassed about planning events that don’t cost any money.

10. Discuss the issue. The main thing is that you should be upfront with people about what you’re doing. If you don’t want to go out with them because you don’t have the money to spend, say so. If you’re having issues in a new relationship because you’re not sure who should pick up the tab, talk about it. Learning to communicate about money helps to solve most money problems including the problem of picking up the tab too often.

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