One morning at my favorite coffee shop, I dipped into my bag for a buck, so I could leave the barista a tip. But as soon as that $20 bill left my fingertips, floating in slow motion before resting atop a pile of dollar bills in the glass jar, I realized my error.
So did the Barista. “Thanks, Deb,” he beamed.
“You guys deserve it,” I told him, as if I’d intended the generous tip all along. Because once you drop a $20 bill in someone’s tip jar, there’s no acceptable recovery. If I snagged it back and admitted my mistake, I’d be a jerk. If I left it in, I’d be short on money for the week. Which option did I choose? Well, let’s just say I’ve always got a few mean noodle recipes on hand for tough times.
Honestly, it wasn’t that big of a deal. I’ve worked for tips enough times that I enjoy witnessing someone’s few seconds of elation when he or she gets an eyebrow-raising tip. There were plenty of times in my twenties when someone’s overtly generous tip edged me over into the amount I needed to buy groceries or pay my light bill by a critical deadline.
So, I get it. However, some people don’t. What those cheapskates don’t realize is that if you’re a stingy tipper, you’ll pay for that “savings” in other ways. Here are six reasons why tipping is important…
1. Bad service
Unless you never want to go back to a restaurant again, you’re wise to fork over 20 percent of the bill to the server to show appreciation. That’s because wait staff remembers who tips well and who doesn’t. If you’re known as a bad tipper, no server will go to extra lengths to make your meal special. Get used to hollow ice cubes at the bottom of empty water glasses because that’s how your life is going to be unless you change your ways.
2. Missing out on free food
This is one of the benefits of tipping. Because I’m friendly and always tip, I receive a few perks at my regular coffee shop, especially if I’m there near closing time. Over a decade, I’ve received at least a few hundred dollars in baked goods and sandwiches scheduled to be tossed. I don’t think the baristas would be as generous if I’d been known as “that bad tipper that stays until a minute before we close.”
Do you really want to get on the bad side of a vindictive server with a chip on his shoulder and control over your food? Most people you stiff won’t slide your burger around on the floor next time before serving it, but you never know who’ll be pushed over the edge by a lousy tip.
4. Karmic payback
I’m all about being frugal. However, stinginess isn’t the way to go. That’s because stinginess spills over into other parts of your life too. I’ve yet to meet a non-tipper who wasn’t also stingy with love, friendship, kindness, forgiveness and other qualities that prompt others to be generous in return.
5. Jerk status
Every bad tipper I’ve debated blames the server for choosing a job that pays around $2 an hour, since it’s supplemented with tips. For all you know, that server has a kid and is working her way through school. That guy who didn’t refill your water could be distracted because his mom has cancer. Nobody wants to go out to dinner with a jerk who ignores the server’s fellow struggle as a human being. Think your friends and colleagues don’t notice? They do.
6. Poor money management
If you can’t afford to tip the server, you don’t have enough money to go out to eat. Draw up a budget that includes groceries, so you can prepare most meals at home. Then earmark a little extra for dining out, figuring in a 20 percent tip. Go out for nightly restaurant specials, a strategy that frees up extra money for a tip.
So, next time you think about stiffing your server to save a few bucks, instead, think about ways to create more money or better manage what you have already. Not only will you have more cash in your pocket, you’ll never have to wonder why that cook is smirking at you from behind the kitchen door.