Tipping for Financial Independence

I’m a penny-pinching miser but ever since Covid came along I’ve been getting more and more generous with tips. Is this a mistake, a way to lengthen the road to FI? Or a nice habit that does good – for everyone, me included?

My money make-up is that I have a bit of a hunger for money, a tendency to hoard it and spending it involves something akin to physical pain. As time has passed, I always tipped when required and quick maths would allow me to calculate what 10% of £36.50 was (£3.65 or £2 in case you only have that or a fiver). I tended to round down instead of round up.

But I’m not always wedded to my old habits and I have been known to be generous – often as part of misplaced family loyalty which would never be reciprocated – but what I want to talk about is how for the last year or two I’ve been getting more and more generous when paying for things.

It’s not always done to be a self-serving altruist. I donated a sizeable sum to our school anonymously last year (although I thought that it was only the amount of money a sensible person would donate – turns out my donation was 25 times the next largest). But I do tip to say thank you to people who’ve done something for me and to make them know that I appreciate them.

The Cost of Generosity

I suppose that this year I’ve voluntarily given out extra money when tipping in cafés and restaurants. This includes when getting takeaway by the way. I’ve had family members who have been food delivery drivers and they’ve said that nice people tip and nasty don’t. Other correlations like German car drivers, luxury property owners and but also gifts to the nursery staff when the Master left to go to school. The nursery staff are as close as I get to the army of care workers in the UK who do a vital job with crap pay and low status. Our nursery workers do an amazing job and seeing them everyday, I realise that they are doing an amazing job with our kids (and all the others). I may complain about the (near ruinous) cost of childcare but the staff are worth every penny.

To not give them a gift at Xmas seems to take them for granted. The Lady and I disagreed on how to gift them this year; she, a box of celebrations between themselves, me, a bottle of wine each. I hope that they enjoy their wine.

The Value of Generosity

This might sound a bit simplistic but if you are like me and live in and around your house and work from home, you are also around the same people in the community. So when you tiop, the money is going to local people and it might make their lives better and our community better too.

The other advantage is that tipping makes you feel good. Studies have shown that small acts of generosity make you feel good – you could call it karma or dopamine but it works!

It’s strongly cutlurally dependent, high in the USA, zero in Japan. But it is a common way that we get billed for a product or service.

Tips for Tipping

  • Pay in cash and let them keep the change
  • Carry around fivers in your wallet – easy to add on to a restaurant credit card bill (and hard for the HMRC to detect)
  • Get used to tipping by card if you’re paying by card
  • Don’t stress over a few pence – if you can’t afford to tip, don’t spend it in the first place

How to Avoid Tipping

The easiest way to avoid tipping or paying any extra is to always pay by card. I’m sure that studies will show that when confronted with a bill in a café that comes to £8, paying by cash will result in a £2 tip more than if you pay by card and up pops a message “ADD GRATUITY”.

So never, ever hold cash would be an obvious way. But being a miser will weigh heavily on your soul.

It might end up costing you more by tipping but there’s a bit of the “what you give to the world you get back” or karma about it all.

If you can’t tip, at least say please and thank you

The people we tip tend to be in service jobs. I have never tipped my dentist (should I?) But some people treat servers like shit. It’s a real sign of poor manners to treat other people like they are below you.

I suspect that the Karen types who will often complain to the manager are also poor/non-tippers and don’t even use the magic words like please and thank you.

You all probably know someone like that.

So, try being more generous, show appreciation and thanks and the small cost to you will give you a lot more in return.

Another thing to consider is that the people you tip are struggling with the cost of living and the businesses they are working for are struggling too. On a personal level, the Lady and my favourite café shut down recently. It was a great independent place with amazing home cooked food. We’d go twice a week and we’re considered regulars. Despite this the business closed – too much effort for the owners for too little return.

If you don’t support these people and places with your money (TripAdvisor reviews or hashtags to your thousands of Instagram followers don’t pay the bills!) they’ll be gone.

And if you can’t round a £2.50 coffee to £3.00 because you are so tight, are you really Financially Independent or just a miserable miser?

Thanks, GFF


  1. I wouldn’t say I was an overly generous tipper (usually around 10%) but have always tipped, particularly when in a restaurant (if service charge hasn’t been added already). Never ever rude to serving staff, have worked in and known people in the food industry to know what goes on when customers are rude to waiters/waitresses…

    The only other person I tip is my hairdresser and always in cash. Good tip on keeping fivers, it’s a struggle these days as I don’t often have cash and when I do, it usually goes to the Big Issue seller outside the supermarket.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by Weenie.
      I find it hard to get fivers these days too – it’s much easier to pay by card (or watch or phone).
      I do not tip my hairdresser – but I do keep coming back (even after they hiked their prices due to guess what?)

      On giving money to charity – big issue or similar, that’s a different story.
      I’ve bought the big issue often enough but I don’t think that I’ve ever read it. 😀

      I suspect that acts of charity which would count as unnecessary expense to frugalistas are actually important for us (call it karma) and should be done lest your heart turn to stone.
      Or you can just say “bah humbug”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The tip to the hairdresser I think just goes in a pot so the girl who washes my hair will get some as well as the lady who cuts/colours my hair.

        I do actually read the Big Issue, there’s usually at least a couple of interesting stories in there, some book/film reviews, etc but too often, it kind of resembles the Socialist Worker rag which I last saw during my student days (no, I didn’t read that one!). I try not to let that put me off buying it. Totally agree, giving to charity while on this journey keeps me grounded and reminds me how lucky I am.

        Liked by 1 person

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