I recently went out to dinner with a group of friends at a higher-end steakhouse (not my choice). Luckily, the restaurant offered a decent weeknight special and an unending supply of tap water.
Read more: How to save money when eating out
As the dinner began to wind down, the awkward tension quickly rose as the waiter approached the table to take our plates and hand us the check. Do we split the bill evenly if I ordered the discounted special and my friend ordered the surf and turf with wine?
Here are four apps to help you stay even-steven
Fortunately, there are a few great tools to help sort out what you owe — and potentially save friendships — according to Yahoo. These apps aren’t tied to your bank account so you can decide how to settle up later with money transfer apps or straight cash.
Splitwise splits and tracks expenses like rent, utilities, groceries and meals with friends, family or roommates. To use, enter the bill amount and add the friends you plan it split it with (your friends need to be signed up on the app). The best part of this app — besides costing nothing — is the notification feature that reminds your friends to pay you back.
Designed specifically for restaurant checks, Splitwise also has a free app called Plates, which helps you split the bill with tax and tip. You can split with up to 10 people and even slice up the price of shared items between the group. The end cost for each friend can be shared via text or email.
Splitting the check isn’t always possible at a restaurant. With Divvy, you can take a photo of the check and assign each item to the person who ordered it. Although it comes with a cost, the app integrates with your phone and provides a more interactive approach to splitting the bill, especially if you eat out a lot with friends.
Splittr divides everything from dinner to household expenses. Similar to Splitwise, Splittr supports multiple currencies which is ideal for group travel. It also comes with a $1.99 price tag. The app allows you to keep a running expense tally and generate a report to send to your friends.
Read more: 6 secrets restaurants don’t want you to know
The meat of the issue
Eating out can certainly break your budget if you’re not careful. To hold down the cost of the bill, money expert Clark Howard suggests drinking tap water and avoiding the Bermuda Triangle of the restaurant industry where restaurateurs make their biggest profits: appetizers, desserts and alcohol.
Whether you’re splitting the check or enjoying a night out, these tips will help you savor your just desserts — a cheap bill — at the end of the meal.