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Money Saving Rules On How To Tip

Updated on November 10, 2012

How To Tip and Still Save Money

Personally, I'm not a cheapskate. I'm more along the lines of a frugal middle-aged woman. However, nothing gets me wound up more than trying to figure out the blasted protocol of tipping!

In a day and age where the economy is not the best that it could be, I do see both sides of it. Most professions that are involved with tipping are not the best paid professions anyway.

Frequently their minimum wage can be as low as just over $2 and change and they really do depend on their tips to make up the rest of their salary.

Oftentimes too, the tips are shared by all the folks working. At the end of the shift or the day, all the tips are lumped together and then divided by everyone.

Last but not least, I've been a waitress before and have been a housekeeper before in my younger days. I know the kind of hard work some of these professions entail. However, I also know the pain and agony of making just a minimal amount of money and I never received much in the way of tips.

All this said, are there tipping rules? Strangely enough, there are and while I do not agree with all the people that I'm supposed to be tipping on this list (it is unbelievable to tell the truth), it'll give you some guidelines or things to ponder over the next time you have to decide whether to tip or not and how much!

public domain photo
public domain photo

What Are The Rules? Tipping Etiquette

I basically go by the 10% to 15% to 20% rule. For me, it all depends on the service but I never stiff anyone on a tip.

Okay - there was the one time. It was in Vegas and the taxi driver was just a total moron. He was so rude from the beginning I actually wanted to exit the cab but my husband wouldn't let me. He was swearing at the top of his lungs the entire time, weaving in and out of traffic at an alarming rate, and I had a 4-month-old baby on my lap who I was afraid would be dead inside the 10 minutes it took to get where we were going. This was in 1976 mind you but I exited the cab and ran for the casino lobby. The driver stood outside the cab screaming swear words after us and I'm pretty sure he flipped us off. I do feel justified to this day for not tipping after Mr. Toad's Wild Ride!

Tipping Protocol for Services

Who else are we required to tip? Well, the etiquette 'rules' and protocols say that we should tip the following people: (I kid you not)

  • Our trashmen - every guy on the truck!
  • Housekeepers - at home (as if we can afford one) and on the road
  • Skycaps
  • Taxi drivers or car servicemen
  • Barbers and hairdressers
  • Massage therapists
  • Nail specialists
  • Bartenders
  • Room service and delivery such as pizza
  • Bellhops/porters/valets and concierges
  • Waiters/waitresses/wine stewards
  • Mail carriers, UPS and FedEx drivers
  • Newspaper carriers
  • Lawn service providers
  • Dog walkers/pet sitters
  • Babysitters
  • Child care providers
  • Teachers and tutors

So just about everyone?? All I can say is wow! That's a lotta people to tip. I'm surprised there aren't doctors, lawyers, and pharmacists on this list as well!

Seriously, I don't want to offend anyone either so it's important to understand the rules of tipping.

A few years ago, we went to Yellowstone. Our son and daughter-in-law lived there and worked at Four Seasons. They got us an exquisite room for $100 per night. I'm sure it went for 8 times that and to say that we were a bit out of our element was quite true.

Our son Jon informed us on arrival that we had already screwed up. We were to have an entire wad of $1 bills in our pockets at all times and we were to tip for EVERYTHING including people opening doors for us. "Slip them $1, mom - that's the way it's done." Can you see the look of astonishment on my face right now? What do I look like? Donald Trump's sister? Are they out of their mind expecting me to pay $1 for them to open the door? And it probably is rather tacky to scream at them "I got it - don't open it!" But come on!

Well, point taken Jonathan and please don't ever book me here again! Talk about feeling like the Beverly Hillbillies. I actually took to going to all different levels of the hotel to be honest just so I could go out a door and come in a door where no human hand but mine had to touch it - and then I gave myself a buck!

Seriously....$5 to go get my car. I'd rather walk. In terms of hotel staff, you're supposed to tip the concierge if they give you a tip on where to go though that varies from "Yeah - it's down there about 1/2 a mile".....that's worth about $1 but if they call and make you a reservation and get you a really good table, then it escalates to at least $5-10. (I think I'm in the wrong profession to be honest and I could make a fortune opening doors and telling folks where to go).

You're supposed to leave at least $2-5 per day for the housekeepers on the dresser because it's a dirty job (I always wonder if that makes them feel cheap in some way). Then you need to tip all the appropriate staff in the restaurants, 10% to 20% depending upon the service received (not based on the quality of the food) and of course the wine steward in case you wanted to go overboard and order an expensive bottle of wine - or even a not so expensive bottle.

I needed a class to be honest by the time I left the Four Seasons and was wishing there was simply a Motel 8 where I could hang out. I like style and wonderful surroundings, but I don't think I fit into the ambience of the Rich and Famous.

More normal scenarios for tipping in my humble opinion are the people who provide services for you on a regular basis. Like your hairdresser, the occasional massage that you might be able to indulge in or the couple of times per year pedicure. I totally get that and I generally do tip about 15% to 20% depending on the quality of the service.

Massages though that are paid for by my insurance company, that just seems a bit odd - to be tipping something that is medically prescribed. However, I have felt that if I didn't tip, I was committing some kind of tipping violation. I once had the therapist follow me all the way to my car until it dawned on me she wasn't just being friendly!!

I can also see tipping waitresses and waiters 10% to 20% again based on the level of the service, not the food and other extraneous factors. While my husband will slap down a less than 20% tip because he's mad about the service, I tend to factor in other things like the time of day, how busy they are, under-staffing issues and again that pesky problem of having to usually divide up tips with other workers. He feels justified in leaving a smaller tip but as many articles will point out and this is true - a lower tip doesn't fix bad service.

Sometimes granted, it's the person's fault because they're just not so hot at their job. But then it should be pointed out to the manager. Leaving a smaller tip doesn't really fix anything though I suppose it makes the tipper feel better somehow. I can even see tipping the bartender (by the way, the rule is $1 for one, $2 for two and so on....and $5 for conversation....I definitely am in the wrong business because I could talk someone's freaking ear off in 5 minutes for $5).

In a down-turned economy though, I'm really wondering if all this other stuff is legitimate. The UPS guy? Wow - that just seems excessive. They also recommend paying each one of the movers $5-20 each for unloading your stuff. The UPS guy and mail carriers are 'supposed' to get $10-20 each. Same goes with the newspaper guy who drives up in his car and hurls your newspaper sometimes in your yard, sometimes on the sidewalk. If I tip him more, will his aim improve?

I can see tipping the babysitter, even the dog walker or the childcare worker I suppose but in fact, rather than money, I would err on the side of gift cards or a small gift. I don't like giving people cash as a token of my esteem for them as I always wonder - was it too much or too little?

I'm definitely on the fence about the trash collectors on the truck. Wow - that just seems a little goofy to me - and the mail carrier? Aren't these folks city and federal employees? Don't they make like 2000 times more than me and have better health care benefits, paid holidays, time and a half, etc?

I get the picture though that anyone who lifts anything for you, brings anything for you, or touches anything for you, as in opening doors, cab doors, etc., anyone that works on you, anyone that cleans up after you or for that matter takes care of someone else or something else for you - basically the WHOLE WORLD (except me) - these are all tippable people and should be looked at with that in mind.

I'm wondering why a medical transcriptionist doesn't get a tip? The only tip I ever have received in my career as an MT has been "work harder".

Seriously, I do understand it and I guess my point is bearing in mind your own personal financial situation and your natural frugality (I did not say cheap), follow your own conscience and let that be your guide.

Frankly, I'd rather drop a $5 bill into the humane society box (which I do) because I think that's far more important than paying someone to open a bloody door for me when I'm capable of doing it - myself - and what's the protocol there for "calling him off?" You CAN'T so you're locked into the tip scenario whether you like it or not. Or you could do what my stepfather would do in that scenario and shake the guy's hand and keep walking.

I also do worry now that maybe I should have tipped my kids' teachers and their babysitters and their caregivers. I didn't way back when but if I had, would I have been buying them a better experience or more caring custodians? Here I thought that box of Christmas mints or little gifts were enough but I think I'm owing in back tips!

How To Tip But Will We Save Money?

Who knew life was so complicated? If you're confused about tipping practices, join the club. I'm at the top of the class on this one - in fact, I'm thinking about maybe taking a class in tipping 101 to get it right. I still don't think I'm ever going to be on spot for tipping the UPS driver and the trash collectors to be honest. Certainly not the postal service worker but then again, is that what causes them to go postal from time to time? No tips? Wow!

You can save money by tipping frugally - the waiter, the waitress, the occasional bellhop or for room service....but if you want to save money on tipping, maybe you'd better pick up your mail at the post office, haul your own trash to the dump every week, clean your own room at the hotel, and cause a commotion at the door of the hotel and then run out when the doorman's not looking! And never under any circumstances ask for directions or places to eat! Figure it out yourself and give yourself the tip!

The best thing to do is just tip what you feel is appropriate to the situation but never spend more than you feel comfortable - and in my case, I decided to just not put myself into situations where I would be forced to give away large amounts of money for every little thing.  That way no one gets hurt.

Hoping you found this tipping guide as confusing as I did writing it! If you have more ideas on how to get this whole tipping mess straightened out for those of us who are "tipping impaired", please leave your helpful comments for all to read.

Tipping Etiquette


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