Monday, December 7, 2009

Secret Cash Stash

According to, the average American family goes out to eat 50% of the time. During the holidays, it's also customary to dine out more frequently with friends, family, and co-workers. Unfortunately, dividing the bill among large groups can prove to be a hassle. The restaurant may split the bill, but usually somebody gets stuck paying more than their fair share. In the spirit of Christmas, phrases like "I'll get you next time" and "mine is only 8.99, so here's $10" are nonchalantly exchanged like cheap white elephant gifts until those with only credit cards are left to make up the difference. After table negotiates, the waiter is presented with an array of cards resembling a jigsaw puzzle with vague instructions like"$25 on my card, $47 on his blue Visa, and here is the rest in cash." Most people forget to add tax and tip when adding up their menu items. Needless to say, friends are begrudged for having to cover for others, and the waiters almost always get screwed.

Having personally been on both sides of this transaction, my advice is to always carry a secret stash of cash in your wallet. Keep the stash separate from your regular spending cash, and use it specifically for these kind of situations. When the bill comes around, look at it carefully. Make sure to contribute enough for all of you consumptions, plus tax, plus tip, and maybe a little extra as a friendly gesture. By using cash responsibly, you won't be forced to pay for everyones elses meal, and you won't be placing a burden on others at the table.

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