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How Do I Calculate A Tip?

Updated on August 8, 2009

How much is the tip?

Ahhh. The end of a great dining experience draws to a close. The food was fine, the ambiance great, your partner never looked better, and the wine choice...spectacular.

"You're check sir." breaks the spell of the moment, and panic sets in. You are left with the task of figuring out the tip. Does this sound familiar?

Well panic no more. Here is a simple and quick technique for figuring out the tip amount for any bill, and you can do it without a calculator.

Calculating a 10% Tip

I will first explain the process using simple numbers and then I will show you how to deal with more complex. For this example, you will be handed a bill for $10.00, and since the service was marginal, you think 10% will be the suitable tip amount.

Follow along using Fig. 1 below. Find the decimal point in the original amount, in this case $10.00. Move the decimal point one spot to the left. You are left with $1.00, since the third place zero can be dropped. $1.00 is the 10% tip you would leave.

To help remember which way to move the decimal, remember the saying "Less is left."

Fig. 1 - Calculating 10% of the Check
Fig. 1 - Calculating 10% of the Check

Calculating a 15% and 20% Tip

Using the numbers from the previous example, you could also find a 15% and 20% tip amount .

Since 20% is twice as much as 10%, the 20% amount can be found by doubling $1.00. So 20% of $10.00 will be $2.00.

15% is found exactly half-way between 10% and 20%. So what number falls exactly half-way between $1.00 and $2.00? A 15% tip on $10.00 would be $1.50.

Calculating Another Tip

For this example, the check amount will be a more realistic amount. The process remains the same, and I will offer you tips to make it a little easier.

The check you are handed is for $53.76. This time you are feeling generous and decide to leave a 20% tip.

Follow along using Fig. 2 below. Find the decimal point in the original amount, in this case $53.76. Move the decimal point one spot to the left. You now have $5.37, since the third place digit (6) can be dropped. $5.37 is 10% of the total bill.

Fig. 2 - Calculating 10% of a Check
Fig. 2 - Calculating 10% of a Check

Calculating a 20% Tip

You have now found that $5.37 is the 10% tip amount, but you wish to leave 20%. Doubling the amount will give you $10.74 as the 20% tip amount. You now know what to tip your server.

If $5.37 is makes the calculator in your head overheat, here are a couple of ideas to make the math easier.

Round the numbers to something more manageable is the easiest fix. $5.37 can be rounded to $5.40, or $5.50 if that will make the math easier to handle. Remember, we are not dealing with exact science, when it comes to leaving a tip. $5.37 could even be rounded off to $5.00 if it will help. If you round the number to $5.00, you would be leaving $10.00 instead of $10.74.

Estimating is another easy method of reducing the math. If you know that 10% of $50.00 is $5.00, and 10% of $60.00 is $6.00, then 10% of $53.76 must fall in between, and a little closer to $5.00. Double the amount and you have 20%.

So enjoy your next meal and the next time the bill comes, don't stress...Impress...

Other Information

These examples used a dinner check for the calculations, but this can be applied to discounts, sales tax and other situations when percentages are used to describe amounts.

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