Broke-Ass Financial Coaching: My Guide to Tipping

While being young, broke and beautiful is all well and good, some people’s finances are more jacked than others.  That’s why we’ve invited Betsy Crouch (aka Coach $izzle) to come onboard and dole out some much needed advice.  She is a professional financial coach after all.  If you’ve got a question you’d like answered please email her atcoachsizzle@brokeassstuart.com.  Maybe your question will be the next one answered.

Continuing from the ideas raised by Danielle’s Holiday Tipping Guide.  Also check out Stuart’s How to Behave in a Restaurant.

Do you tip when you get takeout?  If so, how much do you tip?  – b

When it comes to tipping there is a huge range of styles, beliefs, practices, and customs.  Lets face it, so many parts of the tipping conversation are confusing and jacked.  Are you unsure about certain types of situations and whether it is customary to tip or not, or how much to tip?  You are not alone.  Each of us needs to decide what is right for us.  If I told you what the averages in many categories of tipping were, would that influence your current practices?  Do you want to do what everyone else is doing or do you want to do what is right for you?

Ask ten of your friends “do you tip when you get takeout? If so, how much do you tip?”  You may well get 10 different answers.

What about those situations when you are thinking, “Am I supposed to tip this person?  If I do will I offend them?  If I don’t will I offend them?  If I do tip, how much should I give?” Asking your friend “dude, how much are you giving?” can be helpful because it can give you basis for your own tip.  But if they tip too little you often over tip because you wanna tip right.

Is it ok to ask someone you are being served by what is customary? People say, “Oh no!  Don’t do that they’ll tell you the high end and try to milk you for all you are worth!”  Well that isn’t my experience.  Some of you are saying “yeah right!”  When I have been in situations when I wasn’t clear I have asked the person directly what is customary, then later I have done one of my non-scientific polls to learn that what they told me fit into the reasonable and fair range.  If you want to know what they think, ask!

If you feel like giving someone a tip or “paying extra” even in a situation when it isn’t customary, do you follow that feeling and do it? Be yourself and follow your gut.  If someone gave you extra money because they liked how you did your job would you refuse it or be totally stoked?  You get my point.  If you are traveling internationally, do your research first about tipping and cultural practices.

I want to know what you all think.  Here is how I think about each of these categories, certainly not a “right” way but it is “my” way.  What do you do differently?  How do you think about each of these areas of tipping?

1. Dining out – If I receive poor service the lowest I tip is 15%, I just can’t get myself to give less than that.  As a standard I tip 20% and the minimum I tip is $2-$3.  Frankly it doesn’t make a lot of sense for the customer to pay someone twice the tip to bring you out a lobster versus a quiche from a service standpoint right?  Same effort.  I still tip my standard 20%, but remember the customer is subsidizing the “sales charge,” on behalf of the restaurant right?

2. Take out - Every time I get take out I look at the credit card slip and think, should I tip?  How much should I tip?  I sometimes tip and sometimes don’t.  I think that, when I dine in, I am getting served at the table and they need to clear and wash my dishes.  I tip for service.  When I get takeout sometimes I think, didn’t I pay for the food?  So, again, I just go by my gut.

3. Cabs - In a cab I don’t have a percentage system, I just round up a bit.  For a $13 cab ride I would give $15, and if there were three people I would give $16, I am not really sure why.

4. Bar - $1 per drink or 20% for a tab.  I tip for water… what is the difference?

5. Massage / Hair / Mani Pedi - around 20%, but I don’t think about the percentage when I come up with the number usually.

6. Tip Jar - Wow have tip jars proliferated over the years, and they have gotten creative too!  I feel like tip jars have gone a little overboard.  I mean hey, if you wanna tip my virtual tip jar, go for it, I’ll send you my paypal email, no joke.  Where is the line though?  I sometimes put money in tip jars and sometimes I don’t.  I do not have a clear philosophy.

Good luck navigating the ambiguous waters that is “Tipping in America.”

How do you personally determine how much to tip?  How do you suggest others think about it? Comment below.

Coachsizzle@brokeassstuart.com

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About the author

Betsy Crouch - Coach $izzle

Betsy hates to brag, but she grew up in Michigan. An unhappy materialist/rabid consumer turned minimalist, Betsy feels right at home in the warm socially responsible arms of San Francisco. With an Economics degree, a basic financial certification, and a range of personal experience, she has developed a unique financial coaching philosophy. She wants you to feel a sense of serenity with your finances and she shares what she has learned from coaching almost 200 people one on one. Betsy wants you to embrace your "sizzle," and for you to become a more confident and empowered Broke Ass.