Tipping: My Financial Bane

9 May

Photo by AberroCreative via Flickr Creative Commons

Confession: I really, really hate tipping.

I’m one of those people who would rather pay more for restaurant meals, transportation and other tip-heavy services just to avoid it. It’s not that I don’t think people in gratuity-based industries deserve tips; they absolutely do. I just don’t have the capacity to calculate an appropriate tip on a whim, and I very rarely carry cash. I’m also often caught off guard, not realizing gratuity is expected until someone is looking at me expectantly. As a result, I’ve committed many a tipping faux pas which has further contributed to my distaste for the practice.

Big cities are where my tipping idiocy really shines. I accidentally gave a valet parking attendant $25 after a one-night stay in Denver, thinking I had to pay him directly for the service. After an impromptu networking dinner at a fancy restaurant, I had to borrow cash to tip the valet who brought me my car. During a business trip to Chicago last year, I watched a bellhop unload five boxes worth of props in my hotel room knowing I had absolutely no cash with which to tip him.

In all these cases, I righted my wrongs: I justified the extra big valet tip as a holiday bonus; I repaid my generous dining companion the next time I saw him; and I tracked down the hotel bellhop later in my trip to tip him for his services.

I’m nothing if not thoughtful.

There’s been talk in the media recently about restaurants that are increasing menu prices and doing away with tipping. While only time will tell on the effectiveness of this strategy, both for restaurant business and for waitstaff wages, I’m totally in favor of the change. In the interim of a successful nationwide rollout of this format, however, the best way I combat my issue with tipping is advanced planning. Preparing my budget for the added expense and bringing the appropriate cash denominations are instrumental in a) keeping me from seeming like a horrible human being, and b) avoiding unnecessary dings to my budget due to lack of planning. Case in point, I researched tipping etiquette ahead of a recent food and wine tour of Gettysburg, Pa., and brought the correct amount of cash to tip our host who was truly a gem and deserved every penny. No humiliation, no remorse.

What’s your biggest financial bane?

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