Adulting 101: An Easy Guide to Tipping

  Tipping can be a confusing topic.  It can vary by service or location, and trying to figure out the amount in a pinch can be stressful.  For some, it even seems pointless, particularly those of us living with a college-style budget only readily inclusive of ramen and an occasional coffee.


“Every time I get my nails done or sit at a restaurant, I have a hard time knowing how to tip. How do I know how much to give and to whom?”  -Anony[miss]


Those of us who are wondering, “What’s the point in giving money on top of the price I’m paying?”  You can’t go far without facing the option to tip or not with a tip jar at nearly every coffee shop and that looming space for gratuity on restaurant receipts.  I used to be afraid that tipping too little would appear cheap, while tipping too much would look awkwardly extravagant.  To be free of any similar confusion or stress when it comes to tipping and impress your millennial friends by being tip-savvy, read on!

Why Tip?

Ask any older adult, and they’ll likely tell you that tipping is just common etiquette.  But there’s quite a bit of reason to tip in some cases.  For example, I’m a waitress in Texas whose hourly wage is $2.13.  Yup, a fraction of minimum wage and barely enough to order off of the McDonald’s Value Menu.  (But yes, it’s legal.)  Clearly, nobody can live off of that wage, even on the tightest budget.  This is where tipping comes in.  Essentially, your server’s bills are paid by the customers, in proportion to the quality of the service they provide.  No, tips are not required, but it shows that you appreciate the time and effort your server put in to make your experience a positive one.  When you don’t tip or tip very little, your server’s first assumption is that you were dissatisfied with the service.  And remember, regulars who tip well are much more likely to receive favors from their servers.

Who to Tip and How Much

Follow this list as a typical guideline for how much to tip each type of service:

  • Restaurant with table service:  15 – 20%
  • Restaurant host or maître d’:  No tip, otherwise $10 during especially busy times or if the service is exceptional.
  • Tip jars:  Not required, but it’s always nice to acknowledge the staff for good service or if you’re a regular.
  • Hair salon:  15 – 20%
  • Manicurist:  15 – 20%
  • Taxi*:  10%, or more if they carry bags for you.
  • Parking Valet:  $3-5
  • Tattoo artist:  10 – 20%
  • Piercer:  Optional.  Personally, I tip around $5 or 10%.

*Currently, Uber does not include tips in their fares, so cash tips are optional.  Lyft includes options for tips in-app.

How Do I Calculate the Tip?

Since this is an easy guide to tipping, it wouldn’t be complete without showing you how to calculate the amount you should tip!  There’s no shame in using your phone calculator, y’all – it saves time and confusion.  To calculate a tip, multiply the pre-tax total by the percent you want to tip. E.g. tipping 15% on $20, enter 20.00 x 0.15 = $3.  (Make sure you put the percent after the decimal point.)   Another easy way you can do this for a 20% tip  -  likely without a calculator, too!  -  is by doubling the number and then tipping that dollar amount.   E.g. 20% on $35:  35 x 2 = 70, which would be $7.   For a 20% tip on $15:  15 x 2 = 30, or a $3 tip.

Extra "Tips" to Know:

  • The tip percentages provided are generally for the pre-tax amount, or the subtotal.
  • For more complicated or large orders, larger tips are a nice gesture.
  • Tipping etiquette varies in different places, so when traveling it’s always good to check and see what’s customary.
  • More generous tips during the holidays are appreciated, but not required.
  • Tipping does not make up for rudeness!  Always treat your servers with grace and a smile.  They often deal with many unpleasant people in a day, and it’s always refreshing when the customer is courteous.


We hope you've found this helpful! If you have any questions, comment below, or share with your friends to spread the knowledge!


Adulting 101: An Easy Guide to Tipping

Thanks to our Delight & Be™ contributor: Lauren Dickie.