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How much to tip this season?

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Tipping is a way we can reward good service, whether it be for one meal at a favorite restaurant or for a year of service from one of your regular service providers. If you're wondering what is the right amount to tip, here are some guidelines.

Experts suggest that 20 percent of the total bill is the going rate for tipping for great service at establishments you frequent often restaurants, bars, salons, etc. However, there is nothing wrong with tipping more for great service or less for not-so great service. I posted this question to Facebook and responses were consistent with the notion that when it comes to rewarding good or great service, 20 percent is the going rate - with a few exceptions. 

Tara commented that she often leaves larger tips if she's eating out with her five young kids. 'I recently tipped $40 on a $65 bill and our waitress definitely earned it. I must say that exceptional service is hard to find, and I always make sure to acknowledge it.' Thom said, 'If we take up a table for an hour and only have drinks we leave 30 percent for great service.' Brian said, 'I tip $5 minimum if I go out for a drink - beyond that I tip 25 percent. I never leave change, and if I put it on a card I round up to the next dollar amount.' Kelly commented, 'When dining out I tip 25 percent - I work in the industry, so I know how hard they work.'

How much should you tip for a holiday bonus to your regular service providers? Here are some suggestions from the experts

Barber or hair stylist: Tip the equivalent of one service, or an amount that you can comfortably afford.

Manicurist, cosmetologist, massage therapist, personal trainer: If you regularly visit or work with them, consider a tip equal to the amount of one session.

Mail carrier: United States Post Office and FedEx workers are not allowed to accept cash. Consider a small gift, gift card or home-baked treat worth less than $20.

Newspaper carrier: Carriers who deliver daily should receive a $25 tip. Weekend newspaper deliverers should receive $10 or a small gift.

Teacher: Check with your child's school to see if they have a gift-giving policy. Experts say to skip monetary gifts, as it may look like you're bribing the teacher for better treatment. Instead, give a coffee or book shop gift card for around $20.

Babysitters: Full-time babysitters should get one week of pay. Babysitters you use less frequently should receive a tip equivalent to the amount of time you use them per week. You can also include a small gift from your child.

Of course, these are just guidelines. Tip what you feel is best and what you can afford. Tis the season to show your appreciation for great service, and I guarantee your recipients will appreciate it!

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