From bad tips to financial infidelity, the secrets of American money revealed


Few topics are harder to talk about than money, but money says a lot about who we are.

“When it comes to money, our character becomes apparent,” said Cassie Alongi, a real estate broker and co-founder of We buy any home in California. “Whether we are prudent or spendthrift, rational or wasteful, selfless or selfish. Just give a man some money and see what he becomes.

Learn: How much money should have hidden at home at all times
Find: 10 items that are always cheaper at Sam’s Club

Alongi is not judgmental – she also merges with this assessment. “At times I found myself saying ‘keep the change’ as if I had been programmed to say it forever. Other days, I don’t feel any reason why my money should stay in your hands or tip you.

In a survey of more than 1,000 American adults, GOBankingRates explored the ins and outs of money etiquette, and the results of what people were willing to share on this taboo subject might change what you think. in your own money ways.

Eating at a restaurant: should the quality of service determine the tip?

To say that restaurant servers depend on tips is an understatement. While the federal minimum wage is still unlivable at $7.25 an hour, the minimum hourly wage for tipped workers like servers is an almost comically low $2.13. That equates to about $17 for an eight-hour shift.

The good news for servers is that when they do a good job, most people are eager to reward them. About 75% of survey respondents tip at least 18% for good service, three percentage points above the standard benchmark of 15%. About 41% tip 20% and more than a quarter leave extra-generous tips of 25% or more.

If the service is poor, however, about one in three still tip at least 18%. However, 44% leave 10% or less, or nothing, if they are unimpressed with their server.

Even though the service sucks, we’re told the Scrooges are wrong on this one.

“It is never advisable not to tip at all,” said Rachana Adyanthaya, business etiquette and image consultant and founder of cr8mychange.

Keep in mind that it’s not just the server you’re punishing. Waiters usually tip busses, who usually work harder for less money, and sometimes dishwashers, who are even lower on the totem. Plus, you’re often punishing the wrong person – servers have little control over when food comes out or if the kitchen gets a wrong order.

“Personally, it would be better to approach the problem directly with the server or the manager to find a solution,” Adyanthaya said.

Take our survey: Do you tip for service?

Other tipped workers are often left behind

About 95% of survey respondents said they tipped waiters, 58% bartenders, and 53% carpool and taxi drivers. But less than half of respondents leave tips for:

  • bellhops
  • Hotel housekeeping
  • hotel room service
  • Valet drivers
  • Spa and Salon Employees

You need to earn just $30 in monthly tips to get down to $2.13 an hour instead of the less horrible standard minimum wage. The professions listed here generally all meet these criteria, so why do people close their hearts and wallets to them, but not to those who serve them food and drink?

“There is a lack of clarity about how much to tip and when tipping is appropriate for services such as bartenders, taxis, valets, spa/salon and room service employees,” said said Adyanthaya.

It could also be that these types of professionals are victims of the times.

“In an increasingly cashless society, people may not have cash on them,” Adyanthaya said. “And so those services can be overlooked.”

So, what are you doing ?

Asking a friend or colleague how much money they make has always been one of the biggest social faux pas. This is still the case today, although around 1 in 5 people now think it is okay to ask both colleagues and friends the question.

In nearly identical 80/20 splits, large majorities still think salary inquiries are taboo. According to cognitive psychologist John F. Tholen, Ph.D., author of “Focused positivity“It all depends on how you ask.”

“While it may be a violation of etiquette, asking a personal question is still at least acceptable as long as the requester is willing to respond graciously when the interviewee refuses to provide the requested information,” Tholen said. “Normal sensitivity would also require that the request for such personal information be preceded by a qualifying phrase such as ‘I know this is really none of my business and I will fully understand if the answer is ‘no’, but…'”

The reason for the survey often has as much to do with how you phrase the question.

“While a person’s financial affairs are personal, and there is usually a boundary of etiquette to cross to make such an inquiry, there are at least two circumstances that would justify doing so,” Tholen said, citing what follows :

  • When a close friend or relative complains about their income or asks for advice or financial assistance.
  • When you suspect unequal pay or want to use the information to negotiate a higher salary.

What is a marriage worth?

Someone else’s big day can be a big expense for guests, so how much are you supposed to spend on a wedding? Just over half of survey respondents cap at $75 – less than $50 for about 1 in 4. Another 30% or so will go up to $150, but most will cap at around 100. About 8% go up to $200 and much lower percentages spend $200, $250 or more.

“While no formula can accurately determine the most appropriate amount to spend on a wedding gift, careful consideration of each of these four factors should help most make a sensible decision,” Tholen said.

  • How close you are to the married couple and their immediate family members: An aunt of the bride, for example, would have to spend more on a wedding gift than a neighborhood friend of the mother of the bride.
  • The history of previous exchanges of wedding gifts between your family and the family of the couple in the process of marriage: When another family has been particularly generous with gifts, we may wish to return the favor to signal equal appreciation.
  • How much you can afford to spend: Reasonable people include cheaper gifts from those with limited discretionary income to spend.
  • To what extent do you want to convey special affection or appreciation to the marrying couple and/or their parents: The greater the value and thoughtfulness of a wedding gift, the greater the reported respect and affiliation.

Other results

When dining out in a large group, nearly identical percentages — about 41% each — split the check evenly or divide it according to what each person ordered. About 18% take turns covering the entire bill.

When it comes to lending money to family members, only around 62% expect the person to repay it. About 38%, on the other hand, don’t let family relationships compel them to treat a loan as a gift.

Finally, 3 out of 4 people in a committed couple have never hidden a major purchase from their spouse or partner. This, of course, means 25% did – although it’s unlikely they did because they thought they were practicing good money etiquette.

A note on age and gender

Gender-based divides appear in almost every study conducted by GOBankingRates. This study, however, was different. With a few rare exceptions – men tend to spend a little more on wedding gifts, for example – men and women answered the same questions the same way in nearly identical percentages in nearly every category.

The different age groups were also unusually close together, although younger respondents were more likely to break patterns. For example, 25-34 year olds were the least likely to tip badly for bad restaurant service and were more likely to tip over if the service was good.

Not surprisingly, older generations were the most likely to adhere to traditional etiquette standards. The likelihood of asking friends or co-workers about their salary, for example, gradually decreases with age – around 40% of Gen Zers agreed with this, compared to less than 5% of those 65 and older .

More from GOBankingRates

GOBankingRates surveyed 1,004 Americans ages 18 and older across the country between July 21 and July 24, 2022, asking nine different questions: (1) How much do you tip when restaurant service is poor? ; (2) How much do you tip when restaurant service is good? ; (3) How much do you typically spend on a wedding gift? ; (4) When you go out to dinner with a large group, how do you divide the check? ; (5) Have you asked your closest friends how much money they make? ; (6) Have you asked your colleagues how much money they earn? ; (seven) If you lend money to a family member, do you expect them to pay it back? ; (8) Have you ever hidden a major purchase from your partner or spouse? ; and (9) Which service workers do you regularly tip? (Select all that relate to it). GOBankingRates used PureSpectrum’s survey platform to conduct the survey.

About the Author

Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was previously one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the nation’s largest newspaper syndicate, the Gannett News Service. He worked as a business editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as an editor for, a financial publication at the heart of New York’s Wall Street investment community. .