I just got done reading an article put out by the Huffington Post about tipping. It really got me thinking about the subject and I realized that like the author, I have a tendency to over tip. I leave 20% on average because it’s easier to calculate and I often reason with myself that many people are poor tippers so I’m closing the gap by being generous. It wasn’t until I read Tipping Too Much: How You Can Save Money A Few Cents At A Time by Cindy Whitt that I was approaching the situation completely wrong. Here’s why I now feel this way:
Every budget-minded person knows that drinks add money to your bill and unnecessary calories to your diet. The way we get around this is by drinking water with our meals. With soft drinks and juices costing nearly $2.00 each visit to a restaurant, we can save nearly $10 a month on our weekly meals out by choosing water. This amounts to at least $120 per person per year. If you have a large family, you know how much this type of savings adds up. A family of four can save nearly $500 a year by making the switch.
I clip coupons. I wait for items to go on sale. I budget carefully so I can enjoy vacations, new clothing, and an occasional movie in the theater. I know how to stretch a dollar so why wouldn’t I apply the same logic when dining out. Why should I tip as much as my friends who order appetizers or drinks with their meal? It’s another area of personal finance I’ve a learned a thing or two about this month.
Whitt determined that by tipping the right amount, she would be able to enjoy two additional meals out a month with drinks. She even checked with the Emily Post Institute to make sure she was correct in her line of thinking. The astonishing news was this: You should calculate your tip according to the pre-tax amount listed on the receipt not the total. This little tidbit of knowledge helps you save a few more cents each meal out.
Tax is charged regardless whether you use coupons at a restaurant or not. You are paying the tip as a percentage of the meal you purchased not the tax that is being added onto the bill. 15% is customary and 20% is reserved for those times that service was so exceptional that it knocked your socks off. Many a mediocre server has been rewarded by my lack of knowledge. I’m no longer going to be overly generous especially when the service I receive leaves little to be desired.
What is your take on tipping? Do you go the extra mile to make sure your waiters and waitresses are provided for? Do you think it’s tacky to use a calculator to figure out your tip? Do you feel wait staff should simply get bigger tips regardless of service quality because they are paid a low base wage? I’d love to hear your feedback about the subject.
Charissa is into frugal living and saving money.