Personal Finance

End-of-Year-Tipping Guide: A Gesture of Thanks

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New Years Eve is here, but another end of the year piece of the calendar may need your attention, too.

Specifically, how much to tip the service providers who’ve brought your mail, watched your kids, walked your dogs, and cleaned your house. There’s no concrete reason why the end of the year is the time to dig deep and tip your service providers, but that’s the way it is – and that’s when the people who’ve helped you all year appreciate – maybe even expect – a healthy financial bonus from you by December 31.

The good news is that Nelson Barber is here to help, with exactly what you should be tipping your year-long service providers. Barber, a professor of hospitality management at the University of New Hampshire, says that the holiday season ups the ante on tipping obligations.

“Remember, that tipping has its origins in the concept of ‘To Insure Prompt Service’ and is not just about money,” he explains. “Thus, when you tip during the year for services provided it has a different meaning than for the holiday. During the holiday season, tipping is more a gesture of thanks to individuals who provide services on a regular basis to you and your family.”

Barber says to start your tipping campaign by answering the following question – who has enhanced your life considerably? He says to start looking at providers (like a hair stylist or auto mechanic) who squeezes you in on short notice. If you’re short on cash because of the economy, homemade gifts, like cookies or a plate of lasagna, are entirely acceptable. When you do tip, Barber adds, make sure to add a small note of appreciation.

As for the ultimate question – how much to tip, and to whom, Barber offers the following suggestions:

  • Day care provider: $25 and a gift from your child
  • Doorman: $25 or a gift
  • Parking garage attendants: $30 or a gift
  • Housekeeper: no more than one week’s pay or a gift
  • Nanny: no more than one week’s pay or a gift from you and your child
  • Newspaper carrier: $20 or a gift
  • Package carrier: a gift of no more than $20
  • Home caregiver: no more than one week’s salary or a gift
  • Pet groomer: the cost of one session or a gift
  • Trash collectors: $20
  • Baby sitter: no more than one evening’s pay
  • Hairstylist for women: no more than the cost of one visit
  • Hairstylist for men: the cost of one haircut

You may notice that your mail carrier isn’t on the list. But U.S. mail carriers, by rule, aren’t allowed to accept cash or gift cards.

In the end, Barber says that tipping is a personal choice. “In the end, do what you feel in your heart is the right thing to do,” he advises.

Wise words for the end of the year tipping dilemma.

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