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Holiday tipping guide

Published December 19. 2009 09:00AM

The best money I spent all year was the $1.25 I spent on a tip table that lists the various tip amounts for totals at restaurants, and it fits nicely into my wallet to boot. It saves me more time and brain cells than I care to think about, because numbers are not my strong point and that little card does the work for me.

Most of us tip those that provide us with a service, such as the waiter /waitress and bartender, baby-sitter, and hair stylist. But over the holidays, it's always nice to give them a little something extra, especially if we go to them for a particular service regularly.

The tricky part is figuring out just how much extra to give. Folks are cutting corners wherever they can, and for some of us, the extra $20 we'd planned to give to the baby-sitter just isn't in the budget. So, what should we do?

Most financial experts say that you simply give what you can. Also, don't feel that you need to give a bonus to everyone who does something for you.

For instance, maybe you have a regular appointment to get your hair and nails done every month. In that case, you should definitely set aside a little something for your stylist, even if it's not as much as you would usually give them. But, maybe you only splurge on a massage twice a year. In that case, you can cross the massage therapist off your list.

According to financial expert Jean Chatzky, the following amounts are general guidelines for holiday tipping:

Daily/weekly service$15-$30. These are the folks who routinely do a service for you, but you may not know them personally. Newspaper carriers, mail carriers, and trash collectors would fit into this category.

Weekly or monthly service-Cost of 1-2 visits. These would be the people who regularly provide you with a service, and you may know them a bit better than you know your mail carrier. This would be your hair stylist, manicurist, and weekly baby-sitters.

Daily service-1-2 weeks' pay. These are the folks whom you rely on heavily, possibly for your own health and well-being. Think home health aides, property managers if you own real estate out of the area, personal assistants, or any type of live-in aide.

If holiday tips are really not in your budget this year, Chatzky advises that gift cards are an appropriate substitute. Or, make some kind of gift and write a heartfelt note in a card. For most of us, Christmas cookies are always welcome!

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