There are a few subjects in personal finance as controversial, or at least in multi-opinion generating, as the question of who, when, and how much to tip.
Is a 15% gratuity the standard for a restaurant visit? Is it 20%? How much should you tip the pizza delivery dude? Your paperboy? Your hairstylist? The barista at your local Starbucks? Clearly further investigation is required.
The keyword in personal finance is personal and few things are as personal as gratuities. Here are some of my personal tips on tipping.
A Rule of Thumb for Tipping
The fifteen percent guideline for restaurants is pretty solid. When dining out, I always budget for a minimum 15% tip for adequate service and up to 25% for exceptional service. Bear in mind that a 15% tip on an upscale meal with cocktails, wine, appetizers, a big steak, and dessert will be more than a 15% tip on a quarter-chicken dinner with a big glass of iced tea at your local Swiss Chalet.
When dining out with a large group and splitting the bill, be sure to include your share of the tip along with your share of the bill.
A pizza dude or anyone else delivering food to my front door usually gets around 20%. I worked as a pizza delivery driver back in college, and I know how often these folks receive no tip at all. I think they deserve a little something extra for driving around for eight hours in a car infused with marinara sauce.
Tipping Other Services
Paperboy? A couple of bucks a week is fine.
Things get trickier when we start looking at things like hairstylists, spa practitioners, and your chiropractor. Personally, I think that any hairstylist who can improve what I see in the mirror every morning deserves a huge tip.
Health and grooming transactions are not often just service-based, but relationship-driven as well. Twenty percent tips in these areas are not uncommon. Just be sure the service and the quality of service justifies it.
Unsure If You Should Tip
I don’t usually tip when I go to Starbucks or grab a coffee anywhere else for that matter and I drink a lot of coffee. It’s a personal (there’s that word again) decision, but I believe a service tip requires a little more than simply pouring a cup of coffee.
If I ever start ordering a large vanilla, half-milk, half-soy, whipped caramel macchiato with extra froth and rainbow sprinkles I would change that policy.
The only other time I would not tip would be if the service was really bad. I’m talking rude, disinterested, or put their thumb in my beer bad. In those extremely rare cases, I don’t leave a poor tip, I leave nothing. And I don’t go back.
I’m sure this is just the “tip” of the iceberg when it comes to gratuity guidelines.