4 times you shouldn't expect to pay the bill

How to Split the Bill

The rules and roles of who pays for what in our everyday relationships seem to be ever-changing. We often feel obligated to reach for our wallets when we know that we have enough money to help split the bill, or even take care of it completely.

But like most things in life, there are always exceptions. Here are 4 times it's okay to accept that you aren't expected to pay.

SEE ALSO: 15 costs you shouldn't accept without putting up a fight

1. When you're out with your parents.
This one is usually your safest bet, for obvious reasons.

Job roles and salaries are way different than they were in your parents' day in age, which may mean that you're making more money that your parents did at your age, or even more than they're making (or have saved) now. Naturally, you'll feel as if it's your responsibility to pick up the bill.

But a situation like this is one in which it's okay to let yourself feel a little spoiled and to have your parents tend to you like they did when you were younger. They'll still respect you as an independent and an adult, but that doesn't mean they don't still want to take care of you, especially as you grow older. Let them!

2. When you're out with someone else's family.
This is one of those situations that often results in an awkward pull and tug at the end of your meal. It usually ends up with you insisting that you'll help split the bill, then the other person's parents insisting that they should pay, and then it ends up resulting in you giving in and not paying the bill anyway.

Yes, it's always gracious and respectful to offer to pick up the tab, especially when someone else's family is kindly taking you out. However, there's something to be said about the graciousness of kindly saying, "Thank you so much," and accepting the meal as being paid for. It's quite respectable and avoids the awkwardness and the wasted time. Plus, you're still able to show your sincere gratitude.

3. Your birthday
This one can get tricky and can be somewhat situational. If your friends or family (or both!) have planned a birthday dinner for you or are taking you out for your birthday (even if you picked the place and time that worked best for you), they really mean that they're treating you.

Naturally, things get more complicated depending on how involved you are in the planning—making the reservation, inviting the people that you want, planning what everyone will do after, etc. And it can get even more complicated if you're choosing somewhere that might not be affordable for the rest of your guests' budgets.

However, the general rule of thumb for this one is that unless you've planned every last detail of your dinner, it's safe to assume that when your friends or family or whomever are taking you out for your birthday, you won't be picking up the tab. And often times, even if you did plan it yourself, your people will pick it up for you anyway.

4. You're being taken out as a client
Whether you're going for a meal or a drink with someone you've worked with before extensively, or it's a new business relationship that you've either begun or are deciding whether or not to begin, the purpose of these dinners is usually to impress one party: you.

The desired end result of a client/potential client dinner is a mutually beneficial relationship. That being said, if someone is trying to win you over, a great way to do it is by wining and dining you.

Let yourself take it all in--and if nothing else works out, you get to enjoy a nice meal.

Bottom line:
Of course there are exceptions, but in a general sense, if you're being taken out by someone to a meal which they invited you to or it's a special occasion in which you're the main focus, it's okay to not reach for your wallet when the bill is set down on the table.

You deserve it—it's okay to let yourself be taken care of every once in a while!

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4 times you shouldn't expect to pay the bill

Automate your finances. 

Set up your finances so that money is taken straight from your paycheck and deposited directly into your savings account or a retirement savings account. You can also set up your fixed bills like your Internet and cable to be automatically deducted from your checking account. Automate your finances to save time and prevent overspending. If you see extra money in your account, chances are you’ll find a way to spend it, leaving you little to invest in your future. Automation helps keep your priorities in line so that as money comes in, it is dispersed to your other accounts immediately.

(Photo: Getty)

Cut back. 

At least twice a year, look at your expenses line by line and see if you’re getting the most bang for your buck. For example, do you read the magazines you subscribe to or maximize that gym membership? If the answer is “no,” consider canceling or negotiating a better rate. Take that money you save, and apply it toward bigger payoffs like debt reduction, retirement or an emergency fund.   

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Get rewards. 

Lots of people use debit cards to make it easy to buy and budget for groceries, gas and other routine purchases. Instead of doing that, look into a credit card with a great rewards program for those daily purchases, and set it up to automatically pay the statement balance from your checking account each month. Over the course of the year, you could potentially pocket a few extra hundred dollars just by using a card with a good rewards program instead of your ordinary debit card (just make sure you’re paying off your credit card every month, so you don’t pay extra in interest).

(Photo: Getty)

Boost your income. 

If you love your job and want to grow your career, it's time to think about boosting your income as well. Make it a goal to negotiate a raise this year. Consider your strengths and look at the value you've provided to your company over the last six months to a year, and discuss it during a performance review. This can feel intimidating, but it never hurts to ask.

(Photo: Getty)

Get a side gig. 

Take advantage of your skills, or turn a hobby into profit. Doing so can help you generate extra income – which you can put toward reaching your financial goals. Etsy, for example, is a great place to sell one-of-a-kind products.  If you have Web design, copy editing or other creative skills, consider offering your services on freelance websites such as Fiverr or Elance. These types of side gigs will allow you to earn extra income while also growing your skills.

(Photo: Getty)

Track your progress. 

You can’t save money if you don't know where your money is going. Every month, track your net worth using a personal finance tool or app that will show you exactly where your money is going. This will make you think about your entire financial picture from income and expenses to investments and taxes. With this focus, you can ultimately make the greatest impact on your finances in 2015.

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