Money Etiquette or Personal Preference?

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When it comes to money, I’m not sure if there is actually a guideline for money etiquette or if it is just personal preference. From how to split a bill to when it is appropriate to use e-mail money transfer.

Is there actually an appropriate time and place for each of these options? Or like most things, does it depend on the person?

Splitting the Bill

For me, it seems like a no brainer to ask for separate bills, whenever possible. It just makes things so easy. There is no need to worry about whom owes whom later, or count out change, or my least favourite – trying to figure out change when everyone only has a $20 bill.

Most of my friends and I prefer to have separate bills, but recently in a work outing, a co-worker made the comment that it was “tacky” to be requesting separate bills at a restaurant. Coming from a culture where my relatives would (practically) fight over who pays the restaurant tab, I can sort of understand where my co-worker is coming from.

On the other hand, with more and more electronic transactions and my ever losing battle with my “eating out” budget, I think it’s much more convenient for each party to pay their own bill. If I order water, I don’t want to be paying for someone else’s beer!

Acceptable Payment Methods

If someone is paying me back for something, any payment is fine, as long as I receive it sooner rather than later. Even if it’s $10, I would much rather have that $10 in my account now than later. So I am totally okay with people wiring over money to my account instead of getting cash when I see them. 🙂

Aside: Having said that. Usually the money owed to me doesn’t make or break me, and I wouldn’t want the individual to incur fees for sending money. So, if it’s just $20, no biggie, pay me next time. Just don’t forget about it ;).

Also, I know there are many people out there who do not use online banking (like my parents), and would much rather have cold, hard cash over numbers via cyberspace any day.

Since online money transfers are especially useful when transferring large sums of money, is there a “minimum limit” before sending money via e-mail transfer when one could just as easily use cash? I was recently called out on money transfer for $20 because the person I was transferring to thought the amount was “too little to justify an e-mail transfer.” 😦

Please share you “money etiquette” guidelines or suggestions in the comments! I’d love to hear your opinions.



Filed under Finance, Random

21 responses to “Money Etiquette or Personal Preference?

  1. Seperate bills all the time!! 😛

    I rarely lend money to friends since I’ve been burned so many times… If a friend’s “credit” is good, they usually pay me back without me having to ask. The exception is BF — It’s like pulling teeth to get my money back (how rude)!

    • My friends are usually good with paying me back (at least the close ones, anyway).

      My BF is the same way, as well. Having said that, I think that I am good with paying friends back, except the BF.

  2. Sunny

    If the dining party consists of more than 2 or 3 people, I think it’s kinda rude to ask the service staff to separate the bill. It takes time for them to do so and you’d think people would be able to figure out how much they owe on the bill. Otherwise, why not?

    That being said, I think that the preference for separating the bill depends on your friends. If I’m dining with a few gfs, we usually just split the bill evenly on our credit cards and/or we’re considerate enough to be like hey, let me toss in a few extra dollars because my entree was X amount. It’s trickier when the guys are involved, one of my friends has complained to me how they order lots of beer and then expect to split the bill evenly. No thanks!

    You should write a post on money etiquette for friends’ bday parties. Like what to do when they wanna go to an uber expensive restaurant, ya know? Especially since you’re chipping in for the bday person’s meal too. I’ve had to dish out $150 for one such dinner. Also, everyone around me is turning 30 and so they wanna celebrate big, meaning yacht parties and wine tastings.

  3. I prefer seprate bills myself if it’s not too awkward. Last time I went out to eat with coworkers, everyone was onboard the idea of splitting the bill evenly at the end, and I didn’t want to stand out, so I shared in the bill. That was a special occassion, but if it was a regular event, I would probably speak up about my preferences or only go occasionally.

    As for loaning money, I’d only loan substantial amounts of money to my mom. If my friends wanted to borrow some petty cash, that’s fine with me, but I wouldn’t loan out an amount I’m not comfortable giving out. Too many times I’ve had to feel like the bad guy asking people for money I loaned them, to be greeted with answers like “I can’t afford this” or “oh I don’t remember borrowing anything from you, are you sure?” – and end up feeling like the bad guy myself, for doing someone a favour in the first place. One advice I have for people who’ve loaned out money that the borrower is not keen on givnig back – just ask for it back. Sometimes the borrower is taking advantage of the loaner’s uncomfortableness in asking for the money back, and that’s not something that should be rewarded.

    • Great advice.

      Unfortunately, I also feel there is a such a taboo associated with money that makes people feel uncomfortable to ask for their own money back. But I don’t care, I just ask for it back. It’s my money 🙂

  4. Splitting bills for me is something I like to do, but I’m also the kind of person that likes to treat people. If I go out with a friend every week, lots of times what we’ll do is I’ll pay for the dinner one week and then the next week my friend will pay. I find that works well too.

    E-mail money transfers is something I’ve only ever done once, but would gladly do again, but unless it’s a reasonable amount. I’m not gonna pay $1.50 just to transfer $25 when I can get cash out. UNLESS it’s inconvenient for me to see the person I need to give the money to. It all depends on the situation.

    Good post! Thanks for making me think.

    • Since it’s hard for me to remember who got who last time, my friends and I usually just split the bill. But I find that when I go with co-workers, it’s hard to tell when we go out together next and I am too lazy to work out how much each person owes, so separate bills is a huge life saver.

      I also get unlimited free email transfers, so I much prefer doing that than giving cash.

  5. When people owe me money I find it so hard to ask for it. Often times probably 9 out 10 would be written off as a gift. I hate to do so but it’s easier then haggle for my money back. I have learned to just say no I don’t have the cash when they ask to borrow.

    • I used to find it hard to ask for money back, but now, I don’t care. It’s my money.

      Having said that, I prefer to just give money to family members if I can afford it and I want to help them out instead of lending it out.

  6. I don’t do cash. Full stop. Give me a transfer into my account any day. Unfortunately, I seem to be the only one who thinks like that.

    I hate hate hate when T pays for something for a friend/family on a card, and they pay cash back (because usually it’s not a round number and either they short us a little or he ends up spending the loose change).

    I come from a culture where people fight over the bill too. But I’m far too stingy to NOT go for separate bills. Also, I don’t carry cash, so that makes it hard to chip in for a single table bill. One of my friends (who’s also Asian) likes to pick up the whole tab far too often, so we always have to battle him to pay our fair share.

    • I hate it when people pay me back in cash and short change me. Ugh! Even if it’s a couple bucks, I feel it’s disrespectful.

      I also carry very little cash with me. So, I like money transfers, too! 🙂

  7. This is definitely personal preference. I also come from a family where it is customary to fight over who gets to pay the bill, but I don’t see a problem what so ever with asking for separate bills. As for the friend who says $20 was too small to justify an e-mail money transfer, that’s their opinion. You do what is comfortable for you.

  8. Kay

    Last week, we went on a lunch with colleagues. It’s always separate bills, but this organzier failed to menion it and the restaurant failed to check with us. So, I ended up paying$10 than what I should have paid. Not liking that I’m subsidizing others’ drinks and expensive lunches. Next time, I’d be sure to mention it to the waitress as we enter that it is separate bills.

    • Eeks! I hate it when I pay for other people’s food/drinks.

      I always know exactly how much my bill is going to come up to and when people just split everything evenly, it can’t help but do an internal grumble knowing that I am partially paying for someone else’s food/drinks.

  9. I agree with most of the responses: separate checks. The only exception I would say is a small restaurant where you went for an inexpensive meal (like a breakfast diner). I was a waitress at a small diner and I can tell you that because we hand-write the bills, it is a lot more work for us to divide the bill, especially for a large party. When the bill is small anyway (and there is usually no alcohol involved in a breakfast or lunch), it won’t make a big difference if you ask for one bill and split it among yourselves.

  10. This can be a tough one, depending on your company. My group of friends and I just take it upon ourselves to figure out who owes what, rather than asking for separate checks because there are usually about 5 or 6 of us. We are good about dividing up the tab, just because we are so used to it and have had lots of practice. If we are out drinking, we take turns buying rounds and that works well. If we are out to eat and anyone in our party is obviously not spending as much as the rest of us, we make sure that person doesn’t over pay. The system has worked well for us so far. But, it is different depending on who I am out with. I have some family members who always insist on paying, which is nice because they can afford more than I can, but also makes me feel bad, so I avoid going out with those people too much and try to just spend time together at someone’s home.

  11. Megan E.

    Cute blog, new reader here…

    I decided last time we (DH & I) went out for a big birthday dinner for a friend, to just ask upfront to have our stuff on a separate check. That meant the waitress didn’t have to split it later and we didn’t have to do the whole “who pays how much” thing…

    So my thought is now – if you don’t want to evenly split at the end, ask at the start for a separate check.

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