Every year, as it gets closer to Christmas, I see more and more stories about holiday tipping etiquette and who I should tip. I understand tipping in the hospitality industry. For example, waiters make most of their money on tips, and they have an established custom on what to tip. I don’t always agree, and if the service was poor, I tip less, and if the service was great, I tip more.
When Do You Tip?
I’m a firm believer that a tip should be given for going above and beyond. That’s why I have a problem with holiday tipping – what am I tipping for? For someone who is doing their job? I have no doubt that the person receiving the tip would be grateful – I would be if I received a tip. But really, should I tip the mailman? I don’t know this person, they have never done anything extra for me, although they do their job everyday by delivering my mail.
Who Do You Tip & How Much?
Here is a solid list of what is recommended for tips:
- Baby Sitter – One to two nights pay
- Cleaning Person – Cost of one visit
- Dog Walker – A week’s pay
- Hairstylist – Cost of one visit
- Mailman – Can’t accept money, but something (candy, snack, trade show item, etc.) less than $20
- Newspaper Delivery Person – $10 – $30
- Nursing Home Worker – Personal Gift
- Personal Trainer – $50 to the cost of one session
- Teacher – Small Gift
- Trash Collector – $10 to $30
I have a couple issues with this list. First, be careful, because some localities prohibit tipping of public workers. For example, in San Diego, you can’t give the trash collector cash gifts, only perishables (weird, huh?)
Also, for places such as the hairstylist, I tip when I go based on how I like my cut. Same would go for the babysitter – I would just tip that night. Why would I pay a special tip for the holidays?
Finally, some of these people do a horrible job – my personal trash collector, for instance, was too lazy to pick up a trash can of ours, and I had to call his supervisor to come get it. His supervisor said he didn’t know what happened, and I told him that I watched him from my window, he just didn’t want to lift it.
Before you think I’m a Grinch, I do agree with several of these. I would definitely tip my cleaning person, since they would put up with a lot of junk around my house. I would also tip a nursing home worker – same reason. Finally, I would definitely tip my child’s teacher, as I would want them to know I value the work they do, and I normally don’t directly pay them.
So, in the end, I wouldn’t tip the mailman. Should I?
Readers, do you have any holiday tipping advice?
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
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