My significant other has accused me of doing this on several occasions, but I refuse to yield…

How about you? Are you a new age tipper or someone who sticks to the parameters you grew up with?

The word “tip” has an interesting origin. It was originally used by thieves to share information about a lucrative opportunity. For sharing information, the tipper expected to be paid or given a share of the booty. This definition dates back to the 1600s.

More recently – and the definition I was always taught – “tips” were meant “to ensure prompt service.” That’s what I went by whenever I decided how to tip. Today, tipping etiquette is all over the place.

What rubs me the wrong way is how many occasions now exist to part my money from my wallet – things that never existed in the past. Is it a result of low wages or better service? Or is it just a powerful shaming technique?

My significant other thinks that I should tip everyone generously if there is some evidence that a tip may be appropriate.

But what decides the appropriateness? Do I have access to what the tippee is getting paid? Are they earning a paltry minimum serving wage (as low as $5.23 in Florida and even lower than that in Washington, D.C.), or are they getting a great wage and using tips to pad their income for providing service they are already being paid to provide?

What about that $200 bottle of wine? Should I tip 20% for someone to open it and pour a glass? And then comes tipping at buffets, where I basically serve myself. Worse still is takeout tipping. The list is endless. Of course, what really irks me are the tip jars that I now see at places like my vet’s office, coffee shops and hotel breakfast bars.

How about valet parking? I can see tipping a valet guy at a place that offers “free” valet parking. But I recently stayed at a hotel that offered no self-parking and charged me $47 per night for valet parking. Why should I tip when I am paying 47 bucks for a mandatory function at an establishment where I am already paying through the nose?

I worked in the service business for many years while I was in high school and college. But I never expected a tip in a circumstance other than waiting tables. When I worked as a front desk clerk at a hotel, I helped dozens of people unlock their cars using the old-fashioned hanger trick. I never accepted a tip even when I was offered one. It was part of my job to provide service – end of story.

Now I find myself wondering if I am being an ass for not tipping or not tipping generously enough when the tow truck driver shows up or when the appliance guy drops off a new refrigerator. It’s absurd.

I guess I am still a traditionalist on this one. I will tip 15% to 20% for great service at a sit-down restaurant when I get great service. Even if the food is not up to par, I will not blame the waiter or waitress if the service is great. For a buffet, the maximum is going to be 10%, and for takeout, it’s a big fat zero.

As for the valet, if it’s free then I will pony up anywhere from $5 to $10 depending on the convenience, the availability of parking nearby and the cost of that parking. If I am waiting half an hour for my car, that number will fall. And for the $47 hotel parking valet, it’ll be a buck or two at the most.

The coffee shop will get loose change, and the vet will get nothing.

All these new tipping “opportunities” are like a new 15% tax on every dollar I make, and that adds up quickly!

How about you? What’s your take on tipping? (Please keep it clean!) Join the conversation in the comments section here.

Good investing,