Young Money

Etiquette expert: Here's how to split the bill when you didn’t drink but your friends did

You're out to dinner with a few friends and the check comes. You want to be a team player and split it evenly, but there's one problem: You didn't drink while your friends loaded up on mimosas. Are you expected to cover their drinks?

Absolutely not. But you should be mindful of how you tell them "no," says Kimberly Pope, founder of The Pope Institute for Polish, Poise and Etiquette.

"Bring it up beforehand," Pope tells CNBC Make It. "Why should you engage in an activity where you're making yourself uncomfortable because there's this unwritten thing that you haven't told the rest of your companions?"

Before the meal starts, simply let your friends know that you're not planning to participate and ask the waiter for a separate check so that they can split the drinks amongst themselves. It's also smart to carry cash so you can pay for your meal without introducing the complication of separate checks.

The important thing to remember is that, no matter the reason you're choosing to abstain, whether it's a health reason, a recovery process or simply a lack of desire, you shouldn't feel ashamed for saying "no."

And while it's helpful to speak up at the beginning of the meal if you're planning to pay separately, Pope says it's not absolutely necessary. Pay attention to the group dynamic and don't feel pressured to decide right away if you'll be drinking or not.

You can decide halfway through that you're not into it tonight and still pay for your meal separately without eating the cost of everyone else's rounds.

"No one should have a problem with the fact that you're not going to be able to pay for or contribute to alcohol," Pope says. "That should be understood as, 'It's fine.' That [burden] should not be forced onto [you]."

It's also okay to keep your reason for abstaining private, especially if it's thanks to an issue that you'd rather not discuss during a group dinner. "There are ways to have that conversation," Pope says. "You can put it politely as, 'I'm just going to eat light today, I'll do a separate check and you all have a great time.'"

Your friends should understand that you're giving a firm "no" without pressuring you to explain, just as they should understand that, when you're not drinking, you shouldn't be expected to subsidize everyone else's beer.

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

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