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Cheap, Yes, But Not at the Expense of Others

Living below your means requires a good bit of creativity from time to time. You have to get pretty clever to stretch a buck. But just how far can you go in matters of etiquette before you cross the line?

A man looking at the camera

Ask yourself this: Is my choice to be cheap going to harm or insult another person? A good rule of thumb is to be cheap with yourself, generous with others.

Here are a few common cheapskate etiquette guidelines to follow:

When splitting the cost of something, always round up. Never freeload in the name of frugality. If you cannot afford to pay your way, don’t go. When in doubt, always err on the side of generosity.

When eating out in a group, how can I ask to pay my portion of the bill and not have it “split evenly” without seeming cheap? Ask the server for a separate check before you order or position yourself to accept the bill from the server. Fully calculate what you owe including tax and a fair tip, rounding up. Place your money on the check and pass it along.

When using a restaurant discount coupon, how do we figure the tip? Determine what the cost would have been for the meal without the coupon. Calculate your gratuity on this full amount, before tax.

Do I have to tip the bellman to carry my bags to the room? Yes. It is customary in our culture to tip a bellman $1 per bag, or if the bags are heavy $2 per bag. You can always carry your own bags and keep the tip.

Should I tip my beautician if I am not pleased with the result? No. A tip is a reward for good service above and beyond what is required. Do not reward bad service.

What about home delivery? 10-15% of the bill, $2-5 for pizza delivery depending on the size of the order and difficulty of delivery.

Where is it required to leave money in a tip jar? Nowhere. You may want to tip occasionally if that person or barista behind the counter went out of his or her way to provide a little something extra or if you are a regular customer.

What is polite when having a free makeover at a cosmetic counter in a department store? If you buy a product, you owe nothing. Otherwise, leave $15 minimum.

I received a Gift Certificate for an elaborate day at the spa. Am I obligated to tip the staff? Determine in advance whether a service charge is included in your gift. Call ahead to ask if your certificate includes a gratuity. If not, you should tip 10-15% of the value of the treatment to be shared between those who provided services.

RELATED: Five Super Cheap Yet Fabulous At-Home Spa Treatments

The pastor of our church will perform our wedding ceremony. Do we have to pay him since we are members of the church and weddings are part of his job? Performing weddings and funerals are typically outside the scope of a minister’s regular duties. You should pay the officiant a minimum of $100, more if travel is involved. A gift in lieu of cash would not be appropriate.

My former fiancé broke our engagement. What happens to the ring? The ring belongs to the person who paid for it, regardless of who broke the engagement.


More from Everyday Cheapskate

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22 replies
  1. PJ says:

    Pizza delivery tips should be no less than $5 regardless of the size of the order. The drivers do not receive the “delivery fee” no matter what anyone says. Both of my children worked as pizza delivery drivers for large chain pizza companies as they were in college and as a full time job until they moved on to other careers. Delivery drivers have to pay for their own gas, insurance, and use their own cars (extra wear and tear). They get paid a lower wage when they are delivering (like a restaurant server) because the tips are part of their compensation. It is appalling how many people do not tip a pizza delivery driver because they think the delivery fee is for the driver. The drivers do the same service as a server in a restaurant, except they bring the food to your door, and yet while it is considered rude or cheap to tip a server less than 15%, and most expect no less than 18%, a pizza delivery driver is expected to be only tipped 10 – 15%? This is not fair, especially given the extra effort and expense a pizza delivery driver has to expend for your service. Please re-think your guideline on this Mary.

    • Lynn Clark says:

      That is correct. Just at Domino’s the other day. Pizza delivery drivers DO NOT receive the delivery fee. Printed right on the box and it stated “please tip your driver”. Although WHY the company does not share the delivery fee is beyond me. Guessing so that the pizza seems that much cheaper?

    • Mary Hunt says:

      Are these conditions you speak of industry-wide? I’m curious about this Delivery Fee. I’ll do some further research.

  2. Dee Cooper says:

    Mary, while I appreciate and value all of your comments and suggestions, I have to disagree with you about what happens to the future bride’s engagement ring when an engagement is broken off. The ring is considered a place holder, a verbal promise of a marriage. If the bride-to-be breaks off the engagement the ring should be returned. On the other hand, if the groom-to-be initiates the breakup, the bride-to-be may have an argument to keep the ring on grounds that the groom is in breach of the verbal contract to marry. This has been the case in many court cases that I have read about.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      There is no specific law and courts have ruled in myriad ways when, sadly, relationships sour and cannot be resolved amicably. So it comes down to a matter of opinion. Mine is that the person who paid for it gets it when the engagement is canceled.

    • Shannon Robbins says:

      This it true. Should any other gift be returned if the relationship fails? Nope. In the case of divorce, the wedding rings aren’t required to be returned. The only exception I could see would be a family heirloom. Then that would be out of respect for the family, not necessarily for the dumper.

  3. mtatroe videos says:

    Should you tip / how much should you tip if you pick up your pizza (carry-out)? They hand you a receipt, with a tip line, and a pen even though you paid online in advance when the order was placed. Thanks in advance for the feedback!

    • PJ says:

      If you pick up, there isn’t an obligation to tip. The people in the store answering phones and making the pizzas get paid a regular amount, not a server’s wage, so if you pick up your pizza no tip is required, but if you are picking up a special, very large order for a group, it might be nice to tip anyone who helps you load the pizzas to your car, but I would recommend a cash tip directly to that person. My opinion only, others may have a different opinion.

      • Helen says:

        what about the cafeteria set ups where someone just takes your order and you pay but they bus your table? They are technically not serving you but I can’t bus my own plate either. My husband feels that if they are not serving you no tip is required. Many quick meal hibachi type restaurants are set up like this with the tip line but no waitress comes to the table unless its to bus the tray…

  4. Betty Thomas says:

    I’ve always been a generous tipper, mainly because early in my adult life I was a single Mom raising a young daughter on a server’s salary, tips were my life line. Now forward to present day, I have a friend who refuses to tip, she doesn’t believe in it because she says employers should pay their employees accordingly and it isn’t up to her to “pay their wages”. I am so bothered by this I have hung back and put money on the table to make up for her shortcoming. I spoke, again, to her about it and she holds fast to her belief and added that eating out is a luxury for her and she can’t afford to spend more than the meals cost, a different story from what I heard before. I said if you can’t afford to tip you can’t afford to eat out. I’m to the point of not dining out with her, is there anything else I can say to her to make her understand? She is a fine woman other than this one thing. Maybe going to a museum or movie with her is the best solution…

    • Mary Hunt says:

      In the future request separate checks. Leave the tip you desire with your check. Done. Even though you are dining with this friend, you are not responsible for her choices and the way she lives her life. You cannot change another person, so I suggest you just relax and take care of yourself and enjoy her friendship.

  5. Chrissy Goff says:

    I don’t do most of the stuff above but I do tip 15% of the entire bill even when it is free because I used a gift card from one of my survey sites. Mostly I just use coupons and get free items at Kroger all the time. I love going on senior day and getting the extra money off too.

  6. Mrs. Potts says:

    As a wife of a former pastor, I want to say that my husband did not like being paid for doing funerals and weddings. We knew everyone well and felt like they were family. He did consider it part of his responsibilities as their pastor as well as a privilege and blessing.

    • rose2489 says:

      It was years ago and my pastor didnt want to accept payments to, it was his first wedding. I told him to donate to the church or I did, can’t remember.

  7. Betsy Cook Hoekstra says:

    Important topic today! Any ideas about a baby’s 1st birthday celebration? I am the grandma. My daughter is the mom.

  8. PatriotPeg says:

    i worked as a bartender. i was young, in my 20’s, and as a result, well tipped. today, i give the normal tip 20% to waitstaff, and tip other people according to the service received. people today have cups out for tips for waiting on u from behind a counter, a one-time service. i once purchased a cup of coffee from a street cart, and lo, there was the unessential tip cup. I DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE TIP THESE PEOPLE.


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