Should you split the restaurant bill with your friends?

Personally, I hate splitting bills when dining out.  With partners, close friends, and family where dining out occurs regularly, I think that taking turns paying just makes things simpler.  There is one bill, one payment and everyone involved saves the effort and time required with splitting bills.  I also think it is friendlier and it feels less petty to have to split everything fair and square.  Coming from a family that thinks about money as a communal resource and seeing close friends adopt this turn-taking method, I thought it was a social norm.  In more recent years, I realize it actually isn’t the social norm, and sometimes it is just more practical to split the bill.

Ideally, I feel that it is on the restaurant to split the bill. I’ve seen this done really well at some restaurants that are able to easily split an appetizer seven ways.  This is unfortunately not an option most of the time.  Another reason why I hate splitting bills is because being a financial professional, the group typically turns to me to do the bill splitting!

Luckily for me, recent advancements in OCR (Optical Character Recognition) has made way for some really cool bill splitting apps.  One that I’ve tested is called Tab Bill Splitter.  It is an app that you can download to your phone that allows you to take a picture of your bill, enter your name and select the items you purchased.  The app spits out your total with tax and tip proportionately.  I can confirm that it can in fact split your appetizer amongst the table.  You can download this FREE app here:

Tab Bill Splitter for Android

Tab Bill Spitter for Apple

Note: I am not a partner nor do I get kick-backs.  I just simply thought this app was really cool!

One caveat that I have to add is all of the cool apps that allow you to actually exchange money between your friends is unfortunately not yet available in Canada.  OCR technology is not perfect either, and Tab failed me when I tried to split a massive Costco bill, but overall it is a nice solution and much better than me crunching out numbers manually or with my calculator phone app.

I am actually interested in what you think about splitting bills with your partner, your friends and your family.  Do you split bills or take turns or use a different method?

Your Start Up and E-Commerce Accountant

Jenny Tran, CPA, CMA