Last week I went on vacation with two friends, and we agreed that splitting the bill for everything was the best choice for airfare, condo, rental car, food and drinks. Meals out were our individual responsibilities. I put all expenses on my credit card – I volunteered, so I could get the points – and the ladies reimbursed me for all pre-paid costs. Throughout the week, I made grocery purchases and hung on to the receipts to add up and divide once we got home. And now, as I go over the receipts, I wonder:
Is it really fair to “split the bill”?
As I tallied up the receipts, I realized that depending on how you looked at the items purchased, sharing costs evenly could actually feel uneven. Here’s what I mean.
There are three of us, we’ll call us Lady 1, 2 and 3.
Total bill for groceries: $205.57
Total alcohol: $61.31
Total meat: $36.02
Total veggie burgers: $5.09
Total desserts: $35.03
I separated out the costs into categories for a reason.
Lady 1 doesn’t drink alcohol.
Lady 2 is a vegetarian and doesn’t eat sweets.
Lady 1 is paying over $20 for liquor she isn’t drinking.
Lady 2 is paying $12 for meat and $11.68 for dessert she isn’t eating, plus $5.09 for veggie burgers, equaling $28.77 extra.
Is it fair to split the cost for items you aren’t enjoying?
You could say Lady 1 and Lady 2 are pretty much a wash, with only $8 between them. But it could have easily been a much larger gap.
You could also say that Lady 3 is at a $48.77 advantage because she is consuming everything she is paying for.
What is the best way to share costs for travel?
Would it make sense for everyone to purchase groceries separately, knowing that some food would be wasted since it isn’t shared?
Or is paying a little extra a consequence of splitting the bill?