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Should tipping in restaurants be banned?

Should tipping be banned in Canadian restaurants?Tipping has been on my mind a lot. A few days ago, I read about a new restaurant in Parksville called Smoke and Water that will be banning the act of tipping (they don’t open until June). As someone who has really struggled with the concept of tipping, I find this really intriguing.

So instead of tipping, as you can imagine, the menu prices will be higher – about 18% higher. The owner will pay his staff a living wage (between $20-24/hr for servers and $16-18 for cooks), instead of having them work for less and rely on tips to make up the rest.

The owner will eliminate the tipping line on credit card/debit receipts altogether, and if someone does leave a tip, they will give it back to them. If they can’t get it back to the customer, they will donate the money to charity.

The newspaper articles I read about this restaurant said that this is likely the first in Canada of its kind. But I found that this is common in many places in Europe, and I know it’s the model of countries like New Zealand and Australia as well.

After the news broke about this new restaurant, I listened to a Freakonomics podcast about tipping, and a Wait But Why article called Everything you don’t know about tipping. And now I feel like the whole concept of tipping could be at its tipping point (hahahaha).

But the problem is, until the system is fixed – until workers get paid fairly – I will always feel a moral obligation to tip people in the service industry. When I get a massage or have my hair cut or go out to a restaurant, I often wonder how much of what I’m paying is actually going into the pockets of the people performing the service – and how much is going back to the owner. So I tip. Not necessarily because I got good service (bad service gets 10%, good service gets 15-18%), but because I feel like I have to. And that’s not right.

Related: How much do you tip?

Another thing is, why do some customer service jobs get tips, and others don’t? I’ve worked in retail and customer service for over 10 years, and never once got tipped. I had repeat customers, people knew me by name, I made them smile, and I worked just as hard as those people in tip-based jobs … except I only made a base wage. Doesn’t seem fair to me.

Recently BF has thought about not tipping as a mandatory practice. Instead, he thinks he should only tip when he feels he receives good service – and even though I agree with what he’s saying, I scoffed at that idea because the system is broken. We’ve never NOT tipped, but the man has a point. Tipping shouldn’t be mandatory, and it shouldn’t be expected. You should only tip if you want to, but unfortunately our society seems to be a bit tip-crazy, and a lot of people will openly judge if you don’t leave a tip wherever you go. Maybe these little changes could be the catalyst needed to make a big change to the whole system.

Related: The one where the waitress added in her own tip

It’s going to be interesting to see what customers think of seeing a significantly higher priced menu, and whether they will buy into the no-tipping model. For people who regularly tip less than 18%, perhaps that will be their cue to dine elsewhere. Or maybe customers and workers will start demanding this model be adopted by other restaurants.

What do you think about this no-tipping policy?

Do you think the Smoke and Water restaurant will be able to attract staff, as well as customers?

Luxuries vs. Necessities: GMBMFB Poll Results

Last week I bought my first television in two years, and that prompted me to write a post about luxuries vs. necessities. In that post, I cited a 2009 survey that polled over 1,000 Americans and asked what consumer goods they considered to be a luxury, and which they considered a necessity. The results were interesting, and I wanted to see if they have changed over the last 4 years so I conducted my own informal poll here at GMBMFB.

Just to recap, here are the results from the 2009 survey:

luxury_necessity2009

From the GMBMFB poll (338 participants to date), here are our results:

gmbmfb_luxuriessurvey

It’s interesting to see that the top 3 things we value in 2013 weren’t necessarily considered necessities just four years ago. A cell phone is now considered to be a necessity at 80%, whereas in 2009 a cell phone was only at 49%. Granted, I think that has a lot to do with people canceling their landline phones and moving over to something more mobile.

I would completely agree with the top 4 things on the GMBMFB poll: like I mentioned in the last post, all of these items are luxuries… but the top things on my list are a cell phone, high-speed internet, and a home computer. Having a car and a clothes dryer is also pretty nice, but I’ve lived without those things before. I’ve never had air conditioning, and rarely use my microwave or my dishwasher. I don’t own an iPad/tablet, cable TV, or a landline.

Do any of the results from the GMBMFB poll surprise you? Or were they exactly what you expected?

Is a TV a luxury or a necessity?

lg-tvI finally did it: I bought a television.

My original plan was to check out Black Friday/Cyber Monday flyers to try and snag an awesome deal. But I wanted a name brand TV with a lot of options, that wasn’t happening for me in my < $500 price range. :| I wanted an LG, and since I don’t think I’m going to subscribe to cable, I was really interested in their Smart TVs. So, I headed to Craigslist to see if I could pick up something used within my price range.

Thanks to a sweet Telus deal (where customers could get a 42″ LG SmartTV for free after signing up for a 3-year contract), Craigslist was flooded with these brand new TVs (MSRP close to $800 + environmental fee + tax) going for anywhere from $550 to $700. After lowballing a few sellers, I finally got somebody to sell me his for $450 – and with free delivery! :)

To help offset the cost of the TV, I sold my iPad for $350. When I first bought it a year ago, I thought it would be perfect for traveling. But even with the keyboard accessory, it is extremely annoying as a blogging tool. So I rarely ever used it. I’m also trying to sell my Canon G10 digital camera… but the $350 I got for my iPad means that the TV only ended up costing me $100.

Related: Can lifestyle inflation be avoided?

Finally having a TV in my house gives me mixed emotions. I know it’s not something I need (or have needed for at least two years), but it’s nice to have it. And I can honestly say that in the few days that I’ve had it, it’s been pretty great. Watching Netflix on a screen bigger than my 15″ laptop is nice, and I can finally have people over to watch movies, or to play on my Wii.

But buying the TV also reminded me of a report I read a long time ago (2009) about luxury vs. necessity. In this report, they polled over 1,000 Americans and asked what consumer goods they considered to be a luxury, and which they considered a necessity. The report is old, and it’s polling Americans and not Canadians, but I think it’s still pretty interesting. Here are the results:

ITEM IS IT A NECESSITY?
Vehicle 88%
Landline phone 68%
Clothes dryer 66%
Air conditioner 55%
Television 52%
Home computer 50%
Cell phone 49%
Microwave 47%
High-speed internet 31%
Cable or satellite TV 23%
Dishwasher 21%
Flat-screen TV 8%
iPod 4%

I would consider all of the items above to be luxuries… but would feel extremely inconvenienced and miserable if I didn’t have a home computer, high-speed internet, and access to a phone (landline or cell). Those items are borderline necessities for my current lifestyle (obviously I wouldn’t die and my health likely wouldn’t deteriorate as a result of not having these things), but they would definitely be luxuries if my lifestyle changed for whatever reason.

So for fun, I created the same survey for you to answer! It’ll only take a few seconds, and I think it would be interesting to see the data after a few days. Note, you’ll have to scroll a bit with the survey. :)

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

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