Holiday tipping

Infographic: Tips for Holiday Tipping

The average consumer will purchase more than 13 presents for friends and family this year, according to a survey by the retail and distribution experts at Deloitte.

But that figure doesn’t include the cash gifts you’re supposed to give to service providers who’ve made life easier for you over the past year. And stiffing the people who help you on a regular basis is probably not the best strategy for a hassle-free lifestyle. After all, good help can be hard to find.

So for the one in five people who don’t plan to give any holiday tips this year according to a Care.com survey — you might want to reconsider. Your yard, pool, car, pets, and kids may suffer in 2015 if you don’t.

But what are you supposed to give? Here’s our guide to how much you should pay to the people who’ve taken care of your world throughout the year, and we’ve got more advice below…

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Of course, killing your budget in the name of holiday tips isn’t exactly helping you have a hassle-free life either — after all, going into debt now means fewer services you can afford next year. So you don’t want to go overboard. Here are three tips to keep holiday tipping reasonable…

Tip No. 1: Tip based on merit

According to the Care.com survey, 17 percent of people who give holiday tips do it because it’s expected. But does a provider really deserve a big tip for providing sub-par services?

If a service provider only provided a basic level of service, they’ve earned a basic tip — go for the low end of the ranges shown above. If a provider went above and beyond, they deserve more.

So if you pet sitter stayed with your storm-sensitive dogs for an extra few hours during a bad electrical storm or your landscaper went out of the way to use native plants that helped you save on your water bill, they’ve definitely earned a bigger tip.

Tip No. 2: Not everyone in your life deserves a tip

One in 10 people tip seven service providers or more — and that number of tips is probably going to cost you. With that in mind, those providers who gave sub-par service in the tip above may not really deserve a large cash gift, especially if it’s a choice between under-tipping an excellent provider versus tipping everyone who gave you any kind of service.

You should also consider how much service was provided during the year. A babysitter who was at your home three days a week every week should probably make the list. But if you only saw a hairdresser a few times in the year for a simple trim, then you may be able to skip it.

Tip No. 3: Delay tipping for more free cash flow

Right now, most people’s budgets are already stretched thin with other holiday expenses. So the 41 percent of people who tip at the beginning of December are only stressing their budgets more.

If you think about it (unless you’re extremely fond of procrastinating) most people have holiday shopping done by about the third week of December. So if you wait until the back half of the month, that will usually mean holiday tipping could be taken out of the second or third paycheck you receive in December — or your holiday bonus, if you get one.

Even better for your budget, join the 2 percent that tip after the New Year, since your budget should have more cash flow available by that point.

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