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Lately, it feels as if we are prompted to tip everywhere we go. No longer is tipping just a
restaurant thing. So, the question is, when do we tip, and when can we say no to tipping without
feeling bad about that choice. This blog post dives into the history of tipping, why tipping
became so big in recent years, and ends with actionable things to keep in mind next time you are
prompted to leave a tip.



The concept of tipping in America came with the end of slavery as a way for employers to hold
laborers to a certain standard and make them work hard to earn their wages. According to Katie
from podcast Money with Katie, this is the employer’s way of making workers “prove their
worth.” That’s the point, Katie says. Fast forward to recent years, we have seen an enormous
surge in options to tip post-pandemic. With the stock market drop, business owners are using
tipping as a way to bring in extra income. This brings me to my next point. Who is our tip money
actually going to?


First of all, just ask where your tip money is going? But, the short answer is, the employer has
full control over that money if it’s on their electronic payment system. In other words, it may not
be going to the kind cashier who checked you out. A recent NPR business article says that
electronic tipping goes directly to the company, and it’s up to them and their policy in place for
tips. Tipping is a way for employers to cut costs and not pay fair wages, says both npr reporters
and podcast host Katie. It shouldn’t be on us to make sure workers get paid fairly. That is the
employer’s job.


Fair wage issue aside, here are some rules of thumb for tipping, according to Money with Katie
and NPR Business:

● Takeout: tip 10-15%
● Delivery (e.g. uber eats): 20% tip for driver; 25% if bad weather
○ If the bill total gets super high, it may make more sense to tip a dollar amount
rather than a percentage for things like takeout and food delivery, where the
service doesn’t go up as the price of the meal does.
● Dine in: the usual! Just do a percentage of the bill
○ More of an experience, so tip larger as the quality and service go up, unlike for

Some things to keep in mind: there is nothing wrong with not tipping. Tip fatigue is a real thing,
and it’s okay to prioritize your budget over tipping. Remember, it’s the employer’s job to make
sure staff are getting paid fairly, not the consumer’s. Tipping a barista or a server is important,
and we need to keep doing that, but tipping 30% for a pair of socks at a boutique store is not
necessary. That said, tipping can be a great way to give back, says Ramit Sethi. You could have a
goal to always tip 50% anytime you are prompted to tip. Just remember, you have to put on your
own oxygen mask before saving someone else.

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Last Updated: 12/12/23