This Terrible "Tipping Trick" Is Not a Life Hack | The Mary Sue
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This Terrible “Tipping Trick” Is Not a Life Hack & Twitter Is Here to Tear It Apart

Everyone is interested in saving money, right? It doesn’t matter how much you make, most of us are open to ideas for new ways to be a little thriftier. Well, a video from CNBC Make It is testing the limits of what people will sacrifice to save a bit of cash.

In the video, host Zack Guzman explains that the standard for tipping in restaurants is 15-20% of your bill. But people have a number of different “tricks” for figuring out that amount quickly. Some people use the decimal trick of moving the decimal point of your total over to the left one spot (or finding 10%) and then doubling that number. Others just double the sales tax. In states that have a tax rate of about eight to nine percent, this means you’ll leave a tip of around 16-18%.

That sounds like it’s the set-up for Guzman to now get to his trick, but actually, that is his trick. Basically, the “trick” is that if you are decimal point mover, you should switch to being a sales tax doubler.

Translation: His trick for saving money is to start tipping 16% instead of 20. That’s it.

In the article that accompanies the video, Guzman writes that he realized he was tipping wrong, though he notes “‘wrong’ is a subjective term when it comes to a cultural norm like tipping that, for the most part, involves individual customers choosing what amount seems ‘right.’ But when I realized my peers had been tipping differently, and potentially saving over $400 a year,” he writes, “it became clear I had to rethink my strategy.”

Funny, if I noticed that all of my friends were always tipping 16% instead of the 20% rounded up that I default to, I’d feel good about my choices, not change my behavior to match theirs.

Guzman notes that that two to four percent difference on one check is negligible for most people, but it can add up over time. You know who else a few dollars here or there really adds up for? The servers taking care of you during your meal.

If you’re tipping 15%, you’re still in Emily Post’s range of what’s considered decent and there’s no shame there. There are far too many people who tip way less that that or not at all, even in states that aren’t mandated to pay servers minimum wage. But if you’re offering advice on how to save money, tip less is a hell of a hill to die on.


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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.