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When out to dinner with friends, what's the most polite way to get the heavier drinkers to pay proportionately more for their share of the check? --J., New York City

Lighten up. Sometimes you order chicken, sometimes steak. Sometimes your friends eat pasta, other times pork chops. What kind of friendship can't survive a few dollars here and there? On your deathbed, will you care more that you didn't save the extra $10 or $100 or that you spent that time with friends? --F., Boston

Don't bother balancing every penny you get or spend. When you're young, older relatives and bosses will offer to pay. Thank them. When you're old, do the same for those starting out. Sometimes you get more than you give, sometimes the opposite, but if you're generous and gracious, you'll wind up close enough to even in the end. --Paul, Boston

Get separate checks. My husband and I like to drink nice wine; another couple we go out with regularly don't drink or the husband has just one beer. We don't want to be constrained by their tastes and lower budget and they certainly don't want to pay for our extravagance. --D., Washington

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