Every year I can see it coming in my apartment building. The floors are waxed to a dazzling shine, the walls get fresh splash of paint, the super responds more promptly to my funky drain, and the handy man suddenly learns how to smile in the morning. It’s tipping time! Happy holidays and happy headaches trying to figure out how much to tip, or what to give when your cash flow is as dry as the Sahara--thank you, crappy economy.
The holidays are a time when we’d like to give special thanks to those who make our lives easier, our nannies and children’s teachers, cleaning ladies, building personnel, and our hairdressers or barbers. Often, that special “thank you” is expressed with cash. However, in these lean and mean times, everyone has to be a little more creative with what they give, and little more flexible with what they receive.
In fact, I had nice little chat on The Today Show with Hoda and Kathie Lee on the subject.
Click here to see the video
If you your cash flow is limited, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Do not feel obliged to dole out cash if it’s going to wreck your budget and cause hardship.
- Tap into your creativity. Do you make a mean tomato sauce, jam, or fudge? Invest in pretty jars, boxes and labels, and get thee to the kitchen.
- Use your skill set. If you are a savvy business person, give an hour or so of your time to help the super get his side business together. Are you good a math wiz? Offer to tutor your hairdresser’s son for a few hours. Are you an ace fundraiser? If your personal assistant is passionate about a charity, work a few hours in his or her name.
- Write a beautiful card and put your heart in it. Especially if you’re not one of those people who tend to be demonstrative during the year, let the recipient know what their efforts mean to you.
If you are giving cash, here are some guidelines (And while you’re at it, go the extra mile -- don’t give those crumpled bills in your wallet. Stop by the bank for crisp ones!):
- Nanny & Cleaning Lady: One to two week’s pay, depending on her tenure. Now, if you have a new person working for you, you can give her half of that. Include a note that you looking forward to longstanding relationship.
- Babysitter: One or two night’s pay.
- Building Super: $40 to $100. (Sometimes this can be even more, especially in big cities.)
- Doorman: $25 to $100, if you have multiple doormen, $15 to $30 per guy.
- Handy Man: $15 to $40. (With the latter three, if you tend to tip them generously throughout the year, you can bring it down a bit.)
- Hairdresser, barber, or beautician: The cost of one haircut or treatment, or half that plus a small treat and a note.
- Landscaper: $20 to $50.
- Dog Walker: One to two week’s pay.
- Newspaper Delivery guy/girl: $10 to $30.
- Postal Workers: They are not allowed to accept cash, but gifts that don’t exceed the cost of $20 are appreciated.
No cash, for teachers (not allowed), but we love them.
They can’t and shouldn’t accept cash, but a small gift (gift cards for dinner, movies and books are popular) and a heartfelt note from you and your child are good choices. Check your school’s policy on gifting to make sure you don’t create an embarrassing situation.
So...give, but not until it hurts!