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Everyday Cheapskate: Know Your Cheapskate Etiquette

Mary Hunt on

Face it. Living below your means and staying out of debt, especially in the inflationary times in which America finds itself, requires a good bit of creativity. We have to get pretty clever to stretch a buck.

But just how far can we go in matters of being cheap before we cross the line between good etiquette and outright rudeness? When in doubt, always ask yourself these two questions: "Is my choice to be cheap in this instance going to harm or insult another person?" and "If I proceed, will I be leaving behind a fragrance or an odor?"

My best advice is to be cheap with yourself, generous with others. When splitting the cost, always round up. Never freeload in the name of frugality. If you cannot afford to pay your way, don't go. And when in doubt, always err on the side of generosity.

Q: On what portion of the restaurant bill do I calculate a tip?

A: Pay the tip on the total for food and beverages before tax and before deducting any coupons or gift certificates. It is customary to pay 15% for good service.

Q: What about the counter tip jar?


A: This one is generally annoying, especially when that barista is staring you in the eye waiting for your next move. Here's my position: Contributing to that tip jar is optional, regardless of how mandatory it may appear. But let me be quick to add we should give extra for extra effort. If your coffee order sounds something like this: "half caf, two-and-a-half pumps of vanilla, half soy and half almond milk, light foam, a dusting of cinnamon, and extra hot," tip more generously than, say, "tall brew," in which case no tip is required.

Q: I am invited to a bridal shower I cannot attend. Must I send a gift?

A: No, advises etiquette expert Emily Post. Respond with your regrets. However, if you are invited to the wedding and cannot attend, Post's timeless common etiquette dictates you should send a gift.

Q: 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?


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