Tipping Guide for The Frugal CheapskateHave you ever struggled with tipping? As a lifelong cheapskate, I always struggled with how much to tip. When I was young and penniless, I didn’t want to tip at all. However, I used to work in my parent’s restaurant so I know how much people in the service industry depend on tips. So I always tip 15% no matter how good or bad the restaurant was. However, eating out became more complicated as I got older. We have fast food, counter service, bar, pizza joints, fancy restaurants, coffee shops, and more. How much should a frugal cheapskate tip in these places? Also, I’m interacting with more service people now. It’s not just at restaurants anymore. How much do I tip all these folks? Today, I’m setting down a guide for the frugal tippers out there. This is the minimum. Feel free to tip more if you’d like.

*Let me know in the comment if I need to change any of these. I’m open to feedback.

Restaurants

This is the biggest category for me. We usually eat out a few times per month so this is the sector I spend the most time with. Let’s start high and go downward. This first part will cover regular sit-down restaurants where the wait staff brings food and clean up the table.

20%+

  • Once in a blue moon, I’d tip 20%+. The food, drinks, and service have to be fantastic. And we should have a magical evening. This is extremely rare, though. I don’t recall the last time I tip 20%+, but I’m sure I did it a few times.
  • Happy hours. I usually tip a bit more when we go to happy hours and get a nice discount on food. I haven’t been to a good happy hours in a long time, though. There aren’t many good deals anymore. Maybe happy hours just isn’t as appealing now that I’m retired. There is something marvelous about getting a drink at 4 pm on a Friday afternoon.

Straight 15%

This is my go-to. I usually tip 15% if the meal was anywhere from mediocre to good. The cook and wait staff will have some off days. Sometimes, the food isn’t as good as usual or the waitress is very busy. I still tip 15% unless everything is really awful.

5-10%

I tip less on purpose very rarely. The food and service were horrible and my evening ruined somehow. This is a message to the restaurant that I’m not happy and they need to improve. I haven’t done this in a long time, 10+ years. A restaurant has to try really hard to be that awful.

0%

Oversea. In 2003, Mrs. RB40 and I went to a restaurant in Belgium. The waiter was so surly, we didn’t leave him any tip. Well, they didn’t expect any tips so our gesture was meaningless. We also never tip at restaurants anywhere in Asia. That’s way easier.

Other eateries

Counter service restaurant: 10%. This used to be a big conundrum for me. You order and pay for the food at the counter. Then, the staff brings you the food or you pick up the food at the counter. I didn’t like tipping before I eat. What if the food sucked or the waitperson ticked me off? I’d have no recourse. I used to not tip when I ordered and then add a tip when I was ready to go. However, that’s too complicated and I skipped out on tipping several times. Now, I tip 10% when I order and take my chances. Good enough.

Dim sum, Pho, and other strange Asian restaurants:15%. You know, those places that you go up to the counter to pay the bill. The wait staff doesn’t speak English very well and they never smile or check on you. If you need some water, you’d have to wave them down. I give these restaurants a pass and tip 15%. Usually, the food is great so I don’t mind giving them the standard tip even with substandard service. Most of the staff probably get less than minimum wage so they need any help they can get.

Cook your own food restaurants: ??? Mrs. RB40 wonders how much you should tip in those places that you cook the food. Hot pot, Korean BBQ, Okonomiyaki, Slappy Pancake, and other places. They just bring the ingredients and you cook it. How much do you tip in those places?

Food carts: $1/dish. I usually tip $1 per dish when I buy something from a food cart.

Take out: 5%. if it’s your regular place. Otherwise, skip tipping.

Delivery: $2-4. The delivery guys depend on tips and they have to pay for gas. They deserve a little tip.

Starbucks, McDonald, fast food chains, ice cream, donut shops, and tip jars: $0. No need to tip unless you really want to.

Bar

Bartender: $1 for every 2-3 drinks. I haven’t been to a bar for so long. This is probably still okay.

Hotel

Maid/cleaning service: $2 to $5 every morning. I used to wait until the last day to tip, but then I found that the staff changes pretty often. It’s better to tip every day and spread it out a bit. Pro tip – put the “do not disturb” sign up. Then you don’t need to tip that day. There’s no need to get new towels every day.

  • Reader’s tip – Call the front desk and tell them you don’t need a cleaning service. Otherwise, the cleaning crew will have to keep checking your door for the do not disturb sign.

Porter: $1-2 per bag. I usually carry the bags myself so the porters rarely get tips from me.

Room service: $2. I usually tip just a dollar or two. It’s not that hard to wheel a cart from the kitchen to the room.

Drinks at the pool: $1 every round or so.

Concierge: I have no idea. I never used a concierge before.

Transportation

Taxi: around 10% of the bill.

Uber/Lyft: 10%. I only used Uber once and I didn’t tip. I’ll tip 10% next time.

Various services

Men haircut: $1-$2 for men haircut. Cut your own hair if you don’t want to tip.

Women hair stylist: I have no idea. Mrs. RB40 says $3-$5.

Nails: Don’t know, I never had a manicure or pedicure. $3?

Massage: $5 for a great massage.

Petsitter: Various. We gave a good tip to our previous cat sitter. She didn’t charge us much so we tip her $5/day. Our new cat sitter is expensive so I’m not going to tip at all. Next year, I’m going to sign up to be a petsitter. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Large appliance delivery: No need to tip.

Movers: $10 to $20. Our movers had a really hard time getting Mrs. RB40’s piano into our home. One guy threw up. I gave them $20 each. They earned it. The rest of the stuff only took an hour to move.

Don’t be too cheap

Okay, that’s all I got. Remember this is the minimum that you should tip. I’m pretty tight with money and I tip at least this much. Most service people don’t make a lot of money so they need all the help they can get. Don’t be a cheapskate like me all the time. Tip extra if you’re rich.

Let me know if I missed any other services and how much we should tip. I’ll update the post with your input. Thanks!!

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