Young Money

Why I’m the jerk who says 'No' when friends ask, ‘Can we just split the bill?’

Boozy weekend brunches are an American pastime as beloved as football and political arguments at Thanksgiving.

I like brunch, and I frequently make plans with my friends to go. But I don't order anything crazy. Two eggs and one coffee ought to do it. Maybe a cocktail.

My friends don't agree with this approach. To them, brunch is a time to forget about paying rent and get a little more tipsy than is commonly accepted as appropriate at 2 p.m. on a Saturday. They say things like, "Yeah, I'll get another Bellini — I'm worth it."

Sure, a bit of indulgence and a great order of hash browns can turn the week around. But the situation becomes dicey when a pattern I've named "Venmo socialism" begins to emerge. Now, I don't have a degree in psychology, but I eat a lot of omelettes, so I know what I'm talking about.

Here's the theory: Everyone knows that when the check comes, it is going to be super complicated to split up who got which drinks, who shared what appetizer, and who ordered the more expensive entree. If there are 10 people eating, it is inevitable that someone will say, "Do you guys just want to split the total 10 ways? We can all Venmo our share."

Courtesy of Ali Montag

All of the diners at the table know this moment is coming. So each time the waiter comes by, the pressure intensifies to keep up, to order another item, to get your full money's worth. "Tell me more about your salmon benedict. Can I get a refill? Can I try these sausage lollipops?"

But though you might think you're worth the extra $7 for another drink, I don't. I'm not contributing a cent to helping drown your dissatisfaction with "work, men, the city, blech."

Then there is the Instagramming. No one is really consuming a Bloody Mary that has a whole cheeseburger and a fried chicken wing sticking out of it. Was the pic worth $15? I'm not so sure.

I should be able to let my friends blow money in peace, but instead, I'm left to stew and judge because now I'm liable for a portion of their share. So when someone asks, "Do we want to just split?," I pipe up.

No.

My answer is no. You ding-dongs can order whatever ridiculous appetizers, drinks and desserts you want — but I will be contributing only enough money to cover two eggs and a coffee (and my share of tax and tip, of course). I'm aiming to retire while I can still have some fun in the sun in Cabo.

After all, saying something can be the difference between paying $9 for your share or $30 for a split portion of the total.

My friends are unhappy when I whip out a pen and start tallying amounts and credit card numbers on the back of the receipt, but I imagine they'll be all too happy to visit my eventual beach house in Mexico. And while doing the math is annoying, so is subsidizing your friends' excess.

From splitting the check to DIY adventures, "Young Money" helps you navigate tricky financial situations.

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