The Basics of Tipping

Gratuities are an expected part of the cost for many services; be sure to budget accordingly.

Tipping can be stressful. Not only does it involve math, but it also requires you to know all the tiny details of the unspoken agreement between you and your service provider in any given situation. And if you get it wrong, you risk insulting someone, looking like a cheapskate or wasting money. "When we feel uncomfortable and uncertain, we sometimes overtip because we don't want to come across as looking cheap," says Diane Gottsman, owner of The Protocol School of Texas. "It's so important to know how to show gratitude" and to budget accordingly.

Keep in mind that many workers rely on gratuities to make a decent living. For example, according to compensation research firm Payscale, waiters and waitresses rely on tips for 58% of their income. Skipping the tip at a restaurant would severely slash your server's daily pay.

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Stacy Rapacon
Online Editor,

Rapacon joined Kiplinger in October 2007 as a reporter with Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine and became an online editor for in June 2010. She previously served as editor of the "Starting Out" column, focusing on personal finance advice for people in their twenties and thirties.

Before joining Kiplinger, Rapacon worked as a senior research associate at b2b publishing house Judy Diamond Associates. She holds a B.A. degree in English from the George Washington University.