Skip to Content

How do you handle tipping?

Bee wrote in, wanting to pick the collective brain of the Frugal Girl community about tipping!

panera bread lights.

Here’s what she said:

I am curious how you and fellow blog members handle tipping. It seems that tips are requested nearly everywhere I go now. I used to have a good idea of what to tip and who to tip, but I am suddenly at a loss.

For example, I visited Panera last week when my refrigerator was out. I placed my order myself at the kiosk. I got my own drink and picked up my meal myself. I did not require any dishes. My table did not need to be bused or cleaned after I ate. Yet, after placing my order, a tip was requested.

When my refrigerator was delivered, there were 3 delivery men. How much should I have tipped them? How much do you tip the person that cuts your hair? The Barista? The complimentary valet? The Uber driver? The person who provides curbside service? Instacart? And so on.

I just read that DoorDash was going to rate the people that use their app by how well they tip. This is to help drivers determine if they want to make that run. I don’t use DoorDash, but I find this problematic. What is considered a good tip? Do you reward for service in advance? What if someone is rude or does a terrible job? I am also very curious if service people receive 100% of the tips given via credit cards and apps.

Any input would be greatly appreciated. Things have gotten so expensive. I want to reward good service, but I feel like everyone’s hand is out.

Boy, I feel your pain here.

As a person who wants to be kind and generous but also wants to avoid unnecessary spending, the current tipping climate here in the U.S. is a challenge.

Panera chipotle pizza in a cardboard box.

I understand why so much tipping was added during Covid; restaurants were suffering, and wait staff didn’t have any access to their usual tips, since no one was eating inside the restaurants. I supported this tipping effort!

But this temporary situation seems to have caused a tipping bleedover into…everything. And it’s persisted even though most Covid restrictions are gone.

I wish tipping culture didn’t exist

I really, really, really wish that tipping would be done away with entirely. I find it frustrating and confusing, and I dislike that it puts pressure on the customer to ensure that the employee is paid sufficiently.

I’d prefer for companies to just charge a price that allows them to compensate their employees fairly. That would simplify everything! We wouldn’t be faced with this conundrum, and employees would still be paid an appropriate amount.


I know I’ve heard the argument that goes like, “Tipping ensures that people are motivated to give you good service.” but that makes no sense to me. We don’t tip, say, CPAs or plumbers, and we still have an expectation of appropriate service.

And I know tipping is supposed to be a pat on the back for really good service, but again, I don’t think CPAs are tipped when they do a really good job, and neither are plumbers.

I’m certainly not going to be tipped for my work as a nurse, but I would hope there is still an expectation of high-quality work from nurses.

In short, tipping seems to be very inconsistent.

Tipping culture is probably not going away

Much as I wish for a change, I think tips are here to stay. So, the question is, how do we navigate this?

I don’t know that there’s a right answer, but here’s what I do.

I don’t usually tip when it’s a self-serve experience

In Bee’s Panera example, I would not feel obligated to tip.

I know wait staff is often paid a lower-than-usual hourly wage, with the expectation that tips will make up the difference, but if you pick up a Panera order that you placed online or at a kiosk, there’s no wait staff involved. The service you received was the bare minimum; just food preparation.

In a case like that, a tip doesn’t make sense to me.

I do tip in places where it’s been a long-standing expectation

For example, for all of my life, I know hairdressers and waiters have been tipped. So, I still do that.

Kristen in a beauty chair.

From a time I tried a beauty school haircut. And yes, I tipped!

I avoid tipping-related services as a whole

I hate dealing with tips so much that I’d rather just avoid the whole scene if possible.

I’d rather drive myself than use an Uber. I’d rather pick up my own groceries/pizza/takeout than pay someone to do it and then also be expected to pay a tip on top of it.

Panera takeout

And honestly, if I’m going out to eat, I generally prefer waiter-less restaurants. I’m not a very fancy person, and I’m happy picking my food up from the counter.

If I don’t want to pay a tip, and tips are expected, then I think the best thing to do is to just not use the services. I’d rather not be a customer of these services than be a non-tipping customer!

I look at it a bit like charitable giving

No one (except maybe Jeff Bezos) can possibly give to every valuable cause that’s out there. And if we let ourselves be eaten up with guilt every time we don’t give a charitable donation, we will never feel peaceful.

That’s how I view things like coffee shop tips; sometimes I add one, and sometimes I don’t. It’s a nice thing to do, but if I don’t tip everyone everywhere all the time, I do not consider myself to be a bad person. 😉

How do you handle tipping?

And if you have insider info about how much of the tip actually makes it to the employee, do share!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Wednesday 29th of November 2023

I'm only reading this post now and realize that it's from a week ago but would still like to comment.

In Canada, wait staff are paid at least minimum wage unlike the US where wait staff wages can be incredibly low. Tipping 15 - 20% on a sit-down meal is the expectation.

Part of the issue is that all POS systems now seem to have the tipping feature built into them so customers are being bombarded with tip requests from even the smallest purchases and self-serve options. I do not tip in situations where I order my food at a counter and pick it up or it being brought to my table is the extent of the service required. I rarely tip for take out orders I place online and pick up.

Tipping salon owners is not expected here. If the hair stylist/nail tech, etc., owns the salon I may or may not tip. It depends on how well I like how they do my service and other factors, including how long I've been going to them, if they always run late and keep me waiting for quite some time at every appointment, how high their prices are to begin with, etc. Non-owners only get part of the price paid by the customer so it makes sense to tip them but, again, how much I tip them also depends on the factors I outlined above.

Those food delivery services (Door Dash, Skip the Dishes, etc.,) are insanely expensive with all the added fees and surcharges, the menu prices being higher than the restaurant charges when ordered directly, etc., and then tipping on top. It's a pricey endeavour that I rarely use.

Tipping is (was) supposed to be for receiving excellent service. The 30 seconds that it takes a Starbucks employee to hand me a muffin is not tipping worthy, in my opinion.


Wednesday 29th of November 2023

Last December, one of our grandsons got a job with UPS, as assistant to a delivery driver. They worked long days, and sometimes barely got lunch.

I want to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to all the kind people who tipped them with food, snacks and drinks. It had never occurred to me before to leave snacks for delivery drivers but now I know how important it is. People in the Fort Worth area were very kind to him.


Wednesday 29th of November 2023

My mother was a young adult during the Depression and was left homeless after a major flood. She got a job as a waitress at a local Mexican restaurant in Texas. 10 hours a day, 6 days a week and 2 meals a day were included. She was paid $1 per day (adjust for inflation, that's $21.37 in 2023 dollars) plus tips, and she always said that "you didn't get many tips". For that they had to provide curb service and use an ice pick to chip off ice for drinks. She said that a big tip was .25 ($5.34 today). She walked to work, lived in a rooming house for $2.50 per week ($53.42). She was required to have a uniform, which she sewed. Every night after work, she washed it out by hand, hung it up to dry and ironed it every morning. And believe it or not, she was able to save a little money.

My mother was an amazing woman.


Sunday 26th of November 2023

I only tip at sit down restourants and hair cut , but tip for haircut only if the job is well done. I will thing for bad reastourant service because I don't pay for defective service or product . I want all bad waiters quit, so I will not tip them anything. Good service 20 - 30 %. No tip for coffer or counter service ever.I dont care if they think I am cheap .Nobody else will get any tips from me. I will get takeout only with 0 tip, no delivery.

Danielle Zecher

Sunday 26th of November 2023

I mostly agree with Kristen and wouldn't have tipped in the Panera situation either.

I don't use delivery often, but when I do, I tip very well. I feel like if I get groceries, pizza, etc., delivered, there's a reason I don't want to go out. Whether that's because I'm super busy, tired, don't want to deal with traffic, or don't want to deal with a crowded store, I'm making a choice and should compensate the person who makes it possible for me to make that choice. Hiding behind the whole "it's an entry-level job, they don't need a living wage, blah blah blah" strikes me as elitist at best, and more likely as just plain stingy and says nothing good about someone as a person. A job is a job, and worthy of respect and compensation. I always wonder how many of these "entry-level jobs don't deserve decent pay" people have actually worked a hard job.

I also agree that tipping culture has gotten out of hand, and that a lot of tipping options that should have gone away post COVID, haven't. I don't, however, think the solution is to not tip anyone. If it's a place where they're being paid an hourly wage, like a fast food or ice cream place, I don't usually tip, unless they did something above and beyond. For takeout from a sit down place, I usually tip around 10% since someone had to pack it up and bring it out. For dining in a sit down restaurant, we never tip less than 20%. If we can't afford that, then we can't afford to eat out.

I don't understand the people who get outraged when an 18% gratuity is added for a large party, claiming that they would have left 20%, but now they're insulted. Leave the extra 2% you claim you were going to leave anyway and demonstrate your supposed good character.

I like going out to eat with someone when I'm first getting to know them. It's usually a quick way of determining whether or not they're someone I want to pursue a friendship with. I read a quote years ago, Someone who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter isn't a nice person." I think that applies in so many aspects of life. If someone mistreats service workers, I have no reason to believe that they're going to be a kind or generous person in any other part of their life, and that's not someone I want in my circle.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.