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Tipflation

Tipping has become something of a controversial subject in recent years. An overwhelming 72% of American adults believe that tipping is more expected now than it ever was five years ago, according to a 2023 Pew Research Center study.

The study, which surveyed nearly 12,000 people, also revealed that 29% of Americans think tipping feels more like an obligation than a choice.

Nearly half (49%) said they only left tips in certain situations (such as dining out or getting a haircut versus using a rideshare or buying a coffee), which highlights the lack of a single set of rules when it comes to tipping.

“It’s not okay to put the responsibility of paying [the] waiter’s salary on the customer,” ZeroDollarsTips, a former waiter himself, told L.A. Taco. “It’s time for change.”

However, some commenters on his videos disagreed with that statement. “Service workers in LA live off tips,” one viewer wrote on ZeroDollarsTips’ video.

According to the BLS, waiters make a median salary of $31,940 per year — which breaks down to just over $15 an hour.

Although the exact amount of tips waiters earn on average can’t be accurately calculated, it’s estimated that wait staff make nearly 60% of their earnings through tips, according to data from restaurant inventory management system Binwise.

The company estimated that a waiter can take home an extra $100 per shift from tips. That an extra $500 per week — around $24,000 per year — can nearly double a waiter’s annual salary.

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Not tipping isn’t the only option

For many adults, leaving a tip after dining out can be a costly venture, especially given how expensive food is right now. The added expense just might be enough to inspire people to stay home instead of enjoying a meal outside the home.

If you’re looking to save money — and, in the process, avoid tipping altogether — there are a few ways to get more bang for your buck when it comes to food.

The biggest recommendation for those who don’t want to tip is to dine out less and make more meals at home. To help save money, you can opt for off-brand items when shopping at the grocery store.

In one viral video, popular TikToker Gary Bird went through a grocery store and compared the prices of name-brand and generic items. His bill dropped from $130 to $87 simply by switching to the off-brand alternatives.

Another way to save on food is by shopping with a budget in mind. This can be done by meal planning and only buying the specific ingredients you need for the dishes you plan to make that week. This will help keep costs down and result in minimal food waste.

You can also use coupons, take advantage of loyalty programs, buy cheaper items — such as frozen fish instead of the fresh options — and purchase non-perishable items in bulk to help you keep to a strict food budget.

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Sabina Wex is a writer and podcast producer in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Fast Company, CBC and more.

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