Here's a question from a reader that I thought was worth sharing in its own post:
I attended a long weekend event in which friends (a couple) and I split a rental car. When it came time to pay, the friends split the bill in two then paid their half. Other people told me the fair thing would have been to split the bill three ways (similar to when you go out to eat with a couple, you don't pay for half the meal but a third.) What do you think--should I have said something?
My personal opinion is that the couple should have paid 2/3 of the cost. If everyone had taken the train or a plane to the event, the cost would have been per person. I suppose you could argue that if the couple had rented a car it would have cost them X dollars, or .5X per person. If the reader asking the question had rented a car, he/she also would have paid X dollars, or X per person. So the cost of sharing should be half the individual cost: .25X for each member of the couple and .5X for the questioner. But "sharing" doesn't necessarily mean "paying half," it means paying one's share, however much that is, and in this case, I think each person in the car should have paid an equal share. What do you think?
As for whether the questioner should have said something... I guess it depends how much money was involved, and how important the friendship is. Is it worth making a fuss, or would you just be prepared the next time to quickly volunteer to pay only 1/3 of the shared expense, rather than half? When singles and couples socialize, you can't always account for everything equally-- what if the single person invites the couple over for dinner sometimes, and they reciprocate with an equal number of invitations? The single person is still providing twice as much food, but does that mean the couple should invite the single over twice as much? As discussed in my Alone/Together post, singles can get hit with a lot of costs that couples can often split, but couples, at least those who are planning to have children, might often view their single friends as having more disposable income and not needing to pinch pennies as much.
I guess what bothers me about this story is that the couple seemed to view themselves as a unit equivalent to a single person. Scary! Have a little independence, people! Don't be that annoying pair that does everything together, wears matching clothes and finishes each other's sentences all the time! But perhaps I'm projecting a bit ...