Thursday, November 6, 2008

Holiday tipping: yay or nay?

When I go to a restaurant, I leave a tip. When I leave my salon, I leave a tip. And I almost always toss some change into the tip jar at my favorite coffee shop (I say 'almost' because sometimes I just don't have any cash on me!). This seems like a pretty normal tipping routine to me. But am I forgetting someone? Should I be tipping the garbage man, too?

According to some sources, yes -- especially around the holidays. The December '08 issue of Consumer Reports has a short article on the topic (page 10). While it doesn't come right out and say "you must do this" it does quote an etiquette expert who urges me to tip any and all service providers that I use regularly throughout the year.

I've been thinking it over, and I'm not sure I can fit this in the budget. Especially when the recommended tip is the cost of one session. Yikes. Let's do the math (note -- I am only including the ones Consumer Reports listed in the article's tip sheet).

1. My (fabulous) stylist: an average of $150 per session for cut and color.
2. The girl who cuts Carl's hair: $40 per session.
3. Esthetician: $25 per session
4. Pedicurist: $45 per session (they listed manicurists, but I don't get manicures often)
5. Lawn-care crew: I'm guessing $20 -- I pay the HOA and they pay the lawn people.
6. Fitness instructor (aka trainer): $75
7. Sanitation worker (aka garbage man): $10
8. Mail carrier: ??? Let's say $25.
9. Cat sitter: an average of $30 per session

The grand total: $420. That's a lot of money. I don't have that kind of money available for tipping. In fact, that is more than my entire 2008 Christmas budget. And while I absolutely love the service providers I hire, I think they would appreciate smaller gifts (like wine or cookies or a coffee gift card) just as much.

As for the mail carrier, garbage man and lawn-care crew -- well, I just don't see any reason to tip them. I have never spoken to the mail carrier. The lawn-care crew changes every week (and plus, they are hired/paid by the HOA). And as for the garbage man, well, he has a horrible habit of throwing our trash and recycle bins out into the middle of the street. He also charges us $5 if our can is even 1 ounce heavier than it should be. As the soup nazi would say: "no (tip) for you!"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I say tip those who affect your life in "meaningful" ways. I tip my hair dresser GENEROUSLY--she's fabulous, and it's a win-win--I get great service, can pop in for a "I can't get this piece to look right!" (I don't abuse it!) I have never seen, let alone spoken to, my postal worker or the guys who pick up the dumpster. Some of it is just the recognition of "hey, your service means something to me"--I'm a physician assistant, and obviously the doctors, staff and I don't expect/accept tips--but a card, a cake, a box of grapefruit--and I mean, really JUST a card--is a wonderful feeling. Yes, we're just doing our job, but it's nice to know the way we do it matters to you.