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Tipping service industry professionals is something most of us have done our entire adult lives, yet, “How much should I tip?” is a question most of us either ask or have asked on a regular basis. This month, I am laying out a guide on how much you should tip and the best way to tip. 

Are you required to tip? 

No, but it is the way many people in the service industry earn their actual living. Some states only require a minimum cash wage of $2.13 per hour for bartenders and valet parkers, so tipping is a must for these workers. 

What’s the best way to calculate the tip? 

Use the pre-tax amount or the total bill amount and multiply by either 15 or 20 percent. The second option is rounding the tax. If there is a tax, you can round the tax up to the nearest dollar and double it. The final option is to divide the total bill by 6, which always comes out to a 16.67 percent tax.

Don’t double tip: 

Many restaurants will include gratuity for parties of eight or more. Gratuity is almost always included for hotel room service. 

What about take-out? 

If someone is delivering your food to your home or work, always tip. I tend to give a bit more percentage in this case especially with pizza delivery because it’s likely the same delivery driver will visit my house numerous times. If ordering food from a counter and a “runner” will be delivering the food to the table, giving a dollar or two is appropriate but not required. Don’t feel obligated to tip when picking up take out from a restaurant.

Tipping apps: 

If you don’t want to use your calculator, consider these apps to help calculate the tip amount.

  • Tip Check helps you calculate tip amounts.
  • Settle Up or Tab helps with check splitting and tipping.
  • GratZeez is a tipping and gratuity app.

Should you ever stiff someone? 

I personally believe skipping the tip is bad karma, unless the service was terrible. However, if you are picking up a to-go order from a restaurant, giving a few dollars is nice but not necessary.

Allison Nye, Wealth plan design specialist at oXYGen Financial. Co-host of “They Don’t Teach You This” podcast. Connect with her at anye@oxygenfinancial.net.

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