Christian Financial Advice and Biblical Stewardship

Gracious Cheapskates Know Their Etiquette

  • 2009 9 Feb
Gracious Cheapskates Know Their Etiquette


Living below your means requires a good bit of creativity from time to time. You have to get pretty clever to stretch a buck, but just how far can you go in matters of etiquette before you cross the line? Ask yourself this: Is my choice to be cheap going to harm or insult another person?

Be cheap with yourself, not with others. When splitting the cost of something, always round up. Never freeload in the name of frugality. If you cannot afford to pay your way, don't go. When in doubt, always err on the side of generosity. Here are some common etiquette guidelines to follow:

When eating out in a group, how can I ask to pay my portion of the bill and not have it "split evenly" without seeming cheap?
Ask the server for a separate check before you order or position yourself to accept the bill from the server. Fully calculate what you owe including tax and a fair tip, rounding up. Place your money on the check and pass it along.

When using a restaurant coupon, how do we figure the tip? Determine what the cost would have been for the meal without the coupon. Figure your tip on this amount, before tax.

Do I have to tip the bellman to carry my bags to the room? Yes. It is customary in our culture to tip a bellman $1 per bag, or if the bags are heavy $2 per bag. You can always carry your own bags and keep the tip.

Should I tip my beautician if I am not pleased with the result? No. A tip is a reward for good service. Do not reward bad service.

Where is it appropriate to leave money in a tip jar? No where.

What is polite when having a makeover at a cosmetic counter in a department store? You owe nothing if you buy a product or take less than 15 minutes of the salesperson's time. Otherwise, leave $15 minimum.

I received a gift certificate for an elaborate day at the spa. Am I obligated to tip the staff? Determine in advance whether a service charge is included in your gift. Call ahead to ask if your certificate includes a gratuity. If not, you should tip 10 to 15 percent of the value of the treatment to be shared between those who provided services.

The pastor of our church will perform our wedding ceremony. Do we have to pay him since we are members of the church and weddings are part of his job? Performing weddings and funerals are typically outside the scope of a minister's regular duties. You should pay the officiant a minimum of $100, more if travel is involved. A gift in lieu of cash would not be appropriate.

My former fiancé broke our engagement. What happens to the ring? The ring belongs to the person who paid for it, regardless of who broke the engagement. Both parties should return any gifts received from the other during the relationship.

What do you think of these etiquette rules?
Published February 9, 2009

Copyright © 2009 Mary Hunt. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint required.

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