How Much Is the Right Amount to Tip?

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It seems like we’re expected to tip almost everyone lately, not just the hairdresser or the waiter at a restaurant. Not everyone chooses to tip, but many people tip babysitters, delivery people, mail carriers, and even teachers or bus drivers (although this type of “tip” often includes a gift card rather than actual cash). Trying to navigate the right amount to tip someone and whether to tip at all can be difficult.

If you ask three different people how much they tip a pizza delivery person, you might get wildly different percentages. Each tipping decision is ultimately up to you, but there are certain situations when tipping really is the expected thing to do because decorum dictates it. Many people complete services for a minimal fee, or they have to pay a boss or owner to rent out a space (like a hairdresser), so tipping is the correct thing to do.

Tipped employees are paid a minimum of $2.13 an hour, depending on the state. Many states only require employers to pay the this minimum and anticipate that added income will come from tips. However, several states in the West require employers to pay the full state minimum wage, and some states require that employers pay above the tipped minimum wage. Because many tipped employees make below minimum wage, they depend on your tips to help them pay their bills.

In general, most people tip waiters and waitresses 15-20 percent of the bill (prior to tax) if the person serving them did an adequate job, but many people actually tip after taxes. Some people choose to tip more for exceptional service or less for poor service. Most restaurants will add gratuity for a big party, but if your server worked extra hard, you might want to tip even more.

If you are eating at a particularly fancy restaurant, you can choose to tip other staff as well. You should tip a parking attendant $1 to $3, although many people tip more. If you give your coat to a coat room attendant, you will want to tip that person at least a dollar or two, and you might even want to tip a restroom attendant. However, many people just want to go to the bathroom without having to shell out more money, so as long as you are not accepting a hot towel or other service that the restroom attendant offers, you should be fine.

If you go to a bar, you should probably tip the bartender, although not everyone does. If you open a tab, you can tip 15-20 percent of your bill at the end, or $1 for each beer and $2 for each mixed drink. If you are at a wedding and there is a cash bar, obviously you will have to tip in cash, in which case you can tip each time you get a drink, or at the end.

Tipping becomes trickier when you eat buffet style. Tipping isn’t usually necessary at a traditional buffet restaurant, although you can tip, since at some buffets someone will still have to clear your plates and clean the table. If you attend a business breakfast, you should tip $1 to $2, and 15-20 percent for high-end hotel brunch buffets.

If you order delivery pizza, much of your tipping decision should be determined by the weather conditions and how far the driver had to travel. If you live in the country or outside the normal delivery range, tip the delivery driver accordingly. Otherwise, a few dollars will usually suffice, but some people tip 15 percent or more.

If you’re taking a trip, you also will probably need to tip at some point. You should tip the taxi driver 15-20 percent of the cost for the drive, and some people choose to tip hotel shuttle drivers $1 to $2 per person, or more if they are extra helpful.

If you stay at a hotel, you should tip the housekeepers $1 to $3 per day or more if you are staying at a very nice hotel. If you have a long stay and you choose to put a “Do not disturb” sign on your door, you can probably adjust your total number because the housekeepers will not be doing as much work. However, 48 percent of Americans don’t leave a tip for the hotel housekeeper at all.

You will possibly need to tip for room service, although sometimes that is automatically added in. You can also tip your parking attendant $1 to $2 when they bring you your car, and $1 for the doorman, and you might even tip the concierge if he or she helps you get directions or plan an adventure.

It is traditionally expected that you will tip your hairstylist. The usual amount is 15-20 percent for barbers or hairstylists, although many people will tip more than that for difficult cuts or styles. If you go to the same stylist each time, you might want to tip more during the holidays. You should also give a tip if someone gives you a manicure or pedicure; the usual amount is 15 percent.

There are many other people you may choose to tip, like a flower delivery person, someone who cleans your home, or someone who delivers furniture to your home. These tips are not as universal, and are more up to your own discretion. If you want to tip your mail carrier, be aware that carriers are only allowed to accept gifts valued at $20 or less and cannot accept any cash or check gifts.

If you want to give a gift to your child’s bus driver or teacher, cash is not appropriate. Homemade gifts and gift cards, though, usually are. Babysitters can be tipped, but you might want to save tipping your sitter for the holidays or for an extra challenging night.

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