Thoughts on tipping


Today as I was leaving the nail salon there was a woman in front of me. I don’t know what she got done, but her total was $55. The receptionist asked her, “Would you like to add a tip?”. She thought about it for a second, “yes”, she said. “For how much?”, the receptionist replied. And then she took a breath and thought…Long and hard. Finally, she responded, “Um, $5”. Wait, what ? $5? You really had to think that long about leaving such a small tip?

I haven’t been going to this place very long, but every time I tip just above 20%. So for a $30 Gel manicure, I’ll leave $7. Right before writing this, I had to Google “How much to tip at the nail salon?”. General consensus from the first page of Google search was anywhere from 15% for a basic manicure upwards to 25% for more complicated nail services, like gel. Note to self, increase tip by $1 next nail trip.

I’m not telling this story to pat myself on the back for leaving a hard-working, talented, yet severely underpaid individual a tip. But, I will be clear on my belief: Don’t skimp on tipping. Is it really that hard? If you can afford the manicure, cocktail, dinner, haircut [fill in the blank with your luxury of choice!], then you can afford the tip. When I was a kid, my mom taught me that 15% tip was standard and 20% was OUTstanding. Now, I think it goes without saying that 20% is the STANDARD, and anything more is outstanding. There are certain exceptions to the rule—a Starbucks run may be some loose change or a $1, take-out a few bucks, but in general the 20% rule applies.

People in the service industry work their little tails off—usually doing some sort of physical work + mental work (dealing with cray cray customers) for what ends up being a small and pitiful base salary… AKA these people live on tips. They might be scrubbing your feet, or serving you food/drinks galore. Whatever their job, they deserve to live in dignity. I think what especially bothered me in today’s nail salon situation was because it wasn’t just a high school/college kid waiting tables for some extra fun $$ (or hell, maybe they really NEED the $ too!), but these are full-blown adults who have families and children to support.

Personally, I’m chasing down the last 1/3 of my debt. I’m so close I can taste it. But, never will I ever decide to get to the finish line faster by skimping on tipping. Most of the time, I like to give people the benefit of the doubt when I see them undertipping. Maybe they don’t know the conventions? Maybe they themselves never worked in the service industry nor had loved ones who did ? Maybe they never had to worry about money? So maybe, just maybe, the woman who gave the very small tip today was one of those people…

What do you tip for services?