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The Universal Rule to Tipping Anywhere

JessNYCA profile picture
October 03, 2015 · 1.7k Views

Tipping is one aspect of dining out that causes a great deal of controversy. On one hand, everyone (or almost everyone) agrees it should be done. Money should be left for the wait staff  in order to show one’s appreciation. But on the other hand, folks don’t agree on how much to leave. Some believe in percentages, other base the amount off of service, while others still base their tip on the number of people present.

But according to personal finance expert, Dave Ramsey, we should be cutting out the guess work. By following a simple set of rules, we’ll be able to tip correctly in any situation. Without fumbling over numbers and percentages, or counting how many patrons are at the table.

Most importantly, however, he points out the real importance in how you tip is a better reflection on you than it is the waitress. He urges people to lean toward generosity, even if services might not have been as thorough as expected.


The Tipping “Rules”

Sitting down:

At restaurants, Ramsey says to always, always leave at least 15% behind. Ideally, 20% is better. A common excuse that people give for leaving small tips is affordability. Ramsey counters by saying, if eating out is too hard on the budget, you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

If you’re taking your food to-go from these nicer restaurants, you should still tip about 10% of the bill. A waitress still had to prep the food, package it, and must claim it under sold totals. A few dollars of thanks is only right.

Meanwhile, bartenders should earn a dollar or so for each drink. This applies when eating at a restaurant, or heading to a bar.


When dining in, but serving yourself, the rules are a bit more relaxed. After all, you’re expected to find and clear your own table, and fill your own beverage. But seeing as the staff still prepped a nice meal, if a tip jar is available, dropping a few dollars in is greatly appreciated.


While it’s true that delivery costs more, that fee doesn’t go directly to the driver, but instead likely pays their gas. Sign over a nice tip to show them your thanks, and to ensure prompt service the next time you decide to order in.


These workers make your trip as easy as possible. They locate the car, keep you from having to walk extra steps or stairs, and they do so very quickly. Show them how thankful you are for their effort with a few dollars.

As for drivers, they deserve added thanks as well. Check to see if a tip is built in to the overall price, or if you should add some money to your total bill.


Whether you’re spoiling yourself with a spa treatment or just catching up on a much needed hair cut, it’s important to tip – 10% to 20%, depending on the service that was rendered, how well you know the pro, and how satisfied you are with their work. The same goes for tattoo artists!


The industry standard for movers is listed at 5% … each. It’s not a service that’s cheap, but considering all that it entails, it’s not hard to see why.

Wedding officiants:

An often overlooked profession for tipping is the person who marries you. Yes it’s their job, but it’s also a personalized experience. Show your appreciation on your big day by handing them an extra $50 to $100. You should actually tip all your wedding vendors (the person in charge of the catering, florist, DJ, etc.)

Tour guides:

It’s recommended to give 10-15% to tour guides. In areas with lots of tourism, however, we’re guessing they’ll tell you that themselves. No matter the faux pas of asking for a tip (super rude, we know), if tour guides are professional and informative, a tip is a gesture that’s well deserved.

Some people that perform regular services, such as maids, gardeners, personal trainers, cable technician, dog sitters, etc. don’t need to be tipped. However, if these people are helping you out on a regular basis, it would be nice to give them a little something extra around the holidays as a thank you.

The bottom line to remember is that you can’t be too generous in the amount you tip, you can’t give too much. Generous people are happier people. If you’re in a situation where you’re unsure of whether or not you should leave a tip, always err on the side of leaving a few dollars to show your appreciation.

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