Tipping Etiquette: Bars & Restaurants

I have worked in the service industry for most of my life.  At age 15, I told myself “I’m going to be an actor, so I should probably learn to wait tables.”  It’s really too bad I didn’t say “I should really learn how to rebuild cars!” or “Invest money in long term investments that will pay off when I’m 30.”  If you are 15 years old, do yourself a favor and learn a trade like reupholstering.  Am I projecting?  Yes.  I need a chair reupholstered.

Back on track!  Since I’ve been on the “service” side of the service industry my whole life, I figured I’d talk about tipping etiquette.

1.  20% is the new 15%.  I know Oprah said 15% is good enough, but it ain’t!  But Kimmy, what if my service is crappy?  Refer to number 5.


I’m serious douchebags.  DON’T DO IT!  When you eat a restaurant or go to a bar, you HAVE to keep in mind that it’s just not the price on the menu you are paying for.  Basically, your bill will be 30% higher than what you order.  First, tax (wherever you are, it could be 10%), plus tip is 20%.  And if you get booze, you add  10-25% to your bill with every round, plus

SO -If you want to spend $100 on a meal, you should only spend $70.  Service is something you have to account for.  Am I venting out loud?


Old Etiquette:  $1/cocktail or beer

New Etiquette:  $1-20%

There are a lot of different types of bars out there.

CLUB:  I’m not sure what to say about clubs.  Listen, if you go to clubs that charge $14 for a crappy gin and tonic or a beer – please don’t complain about tipping.  Remember, you can choose where to throw your money.  If you don’t at least leave $1, I’d be very very mad at you.  It’s usually the worst service and no one cares, but for the love of Booze, don’t punish the employees for their crappy club.  Just don’t GO there.   Remember, these places overcharge – all booze costs the same.  You are paying a “cool” tax.  You have officially been schooled.

DIVE BARS:  Sometime you can get really good deals, like $1-$4 beers.  Why NOT tip a dollar?  I have a soft spot for dive bars.  The staff is usually super friendly and they usually give out free snacks.  What’s not to love?  Would you really eat all of your friends food and drink all their booze without offering some cash.  Probably – BUT STOP. Be good and TIP.

CRAFTED COCKTAILS:  I work at a really fancy bar with only 12 tables.  It’s not your “flag down the bartender with your tits and a twenty” kind of joint.  It’s a real nice place for real nice people.  The bartenders spend 2-5 minutes on every single drink they make, cutting ice, muddling fruits – no short cuts.  These kind of bars are popping up around the big cities and officially deserve the 20% per cocktail.  These places are much more like restaurants for cocktails, so start thinking of them that way.

There’s a great article about this in the New York Times about the great tip debate.  Give it a gander.  http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/31/a-dollar-a-drink-and-a-debate/


I think one of my worst pet peeves is finding out people were dissatisfied when I see a passive aggressive “fuck you” in the form of a $2 tip on $100 bill.  Yep.  That happened to me not long ago .  The girl drunkenly gestured her cigarette at me and told me (misspellings/grammatical errors intentional) “You’re are the WUUURST waitress of all times.  I like that OTHER GIRL and that GUY…youb didn’t do nuth…how dare you ask me what wuz wrong and tip you not.”


Anyway, my takeaway, was that, from my prospective, everything was fine.  We pool tips, so we help each other out and trade off we can tell we’re just not getting along (as was the case here).  HOWEVER, I would have really appreciated if they had voiced it to me earlier.

Here’s the thing, most of the time, waiters and waitresses have no idea how mad or upset you are – because you PRETEND everything’s ok, EXPECTING them to know what’s wrong.  Talk to us, we will not spit in your food – unless you’re a douchebag.

So, things you CAN complain about:

*You’re dissatisfied with your meal/cocktail.  Say something right away!!!  However, if you’re picky, for the love of Sanity – just don’t go out.

*Something is wrong with your order.

*Someone is really rude – on this note – make sure YOU, the customer, are following the RULES as well.  When you enter a bar or restaurant, you are entering someone else’s house.  Just because you’re paying for it, doesn’t mean you can spit on the floor (also happened recently).

Sooooooo, there you go!  Please chime in with your thoughts and questions.  I hope to do a series about tipping in other places.  Just remember, just because you’re a cheapskate, doesn’t mean you don’t tip.




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Bing Cashback! Wiiiii!

Holy crapnards!
I just stumbled over bing cashback!
More on that in a sec –

Good ol’ Cheapskatewood is NOT doing a very good job this Christmas, in the art of Christmas shopping. And I apologize for my horrendous example. I’ve left my most important people until the last minute, leaving me in the dangerous “convenience tax zone.” I have officially overthunk (not a word) my decisions and am running late with everything.

HOWEVER! Yes, there’s hope! I have found some terrific things online. There are a lot of good deals online right now. Target is offering a lot of free shipping and percentages off.

If you are in the market for a Wii (fingers crossed) J&R (http://www.jr.com) is offering no tax and no shipping. Holy mother of tax-free!

Also, if you search through bing.com/cashback – they will give you something like 4-8% of your money back.

You search through bing.com, order what you want and then they’ll deposit money through paypal or direct deposit. Man, thank god for the google/bing wars – the deals are starting to FIRE UP.


That’s a quickie from cheapskatewood. I hope it was good for you.

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DIY Gift Baskets: Things I learned from being a poor artist

Being a starving artist has its ups and downs.  Mostly, emotional ups and financial downs.  It’s tough to wake up to “hopes and dreams” and go to bed muttering “Ahhh, sleep for dinner again.”

However, this economy has certainly made it very artist friendly.  Now EVERYONE understands what it’s like to hustle day in and day out.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying THIS ECONOMIC MELTDOWN IS AWESOME.  But THIS ECONOMIC MELTDOWN IS AWESOME.

Around the holidays, it’s always embarrassing and guilt inducing asking for a plane ticket home for your Christmas present.  Then everyone insists on giving you something to open, adding to the guilt parade.  I used to spend WAY too much money at Christmas to compensate for all of the generosity and support my friends and family give me throughout the year.  Then this year, I got a card from a family member — and realized that was really all I needed from them.  I know they just had a baby and don’t have tons of money.  Call me a slow learner – but hey, I’m a late bloomer.

*Cue fountains and swell music*  Not having a lot of dough doesn’t make you a cheapskate!  It makes you creative!

*Children’s chorus enters and sings Silent Night*

My friend Paula told me what she’s giving her extended family.  She’s doing a “Cozy Night In” gift basket.  She got some mugs, hot chocolate, a bottle of wine, and a DVD.  I thought that was brilliant!  A little bit of thought goes a long way.  Especially if you have lots of performer propaganda like I do! (The Apple Sisters have a CD!  Just in time for the holidays!)

Here are some ideas:

“Pick Me Up Basket” – Some coffee, an aromatic candle or lotion, chocolate,  DVD of “Up”

“Spoil Yourself” – Manicure set, nail polish, eye pillow, bottle of wine

“Holi-boozy” – Six pack of beer, Aspirin, Snacks, “Hangover” DVD

“Propaganda” – Apple Sisters CD, some Pink Wine, a pair of tickets to the Apple Sisters, and a candy apple

Come on, I had to!

Here are some additional tips for making your own gift baskets:

*Steer clear of bubble baths.  I don’t know anyone who actually uses the bubble baths they receive.

*Use DVDs, books, and music to build a theme.

*Don’t over think it.  Pick 3-4 items and you’ll be great!

*No need to overspend!  Go to Trader Joe’s or Target and get what you need.  Wine is only $3-$4 at Trader Joe’s – and it’s good.  Unless you’re buying for a wine connoisseur, don’t sweat it.

*Make your own cookies and snacks.  This is always a nice touch.  And also good on the wallet.

That’s all from Cheapskatewood headquarters.  I’m assembling my Apple Sisters themed gifts now!!

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Cyber Monday

It’s Cyber Monday everybody! Woo hoo? I thought this would be a good time to take about shopping on the Internet.

If you’re like me, I love online shopping. It’s so easy to bargain hunt and then it shows up at my house.

However, there are some pitfalls. It only really works if you know exactly what you want, in what color and what size. And when you spend on the Internet, sometimes it doesn’t feel like ‘real’ money.

I never buy clothes or shoes online unless I’ve tried them on (I made the mistake once and received a bizarre pair of stripey jeans that sound cool, but I assure you are not).

Sooooo, for all you shoppers out there, here’s a cheapskatewood tip! If you see something in the store and you have a handy dandy new-fangled phone with the Internets, always look for the prices online. Keep in mind tax and shipping, but you might just be able to save yourself some cash. When you buy something in a store, you often pay the, what I call the “convenience tax.” “I want it now and I’ll pay anything for it!” Any big event, you’ll always get stuck with it. So, if it’s significantly cheaper on the Internet and you can wait a week, wait to buy it online.

And here’s another secret to the net. There are a LOT of coupons online. And they are relatively easy to find if you are willing to add an extra minute to your search.

I order a lot of stuff from vistaprint.com for my comedy group. Sooooo – here’s what I do. Search “Vistaprint coupons” – and a list of coupon places will show up. Couponcabin.com is pretty reliable. I can find a coupon for 50% my entire order, sometimes with free shipping every single time.

Another tip, is make a list. Just like you would make a grocery list, make a list of things you need a STICK TO IT. These marketers are good at what they do, so don’t be suckered!

Back to Cyber Monday, I found some sites called cybermonday.com and cybermonday.net (They seem legit. It’s a good reference, though I’d probably just go directly to the sellers site and double-check). I recommend checking it out. But don’t get suckered into buying something you don’t need! And don’t be intimidated by time limits. “One day only” “30 minutes left!” “Buy or DIE!” Take your time and spend your money wisely.


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Bars and Parties

It is my birthday this Wednesday (thank you, thank you), so I was stuck with the inevitable “What do I do? Where do I go? Is everyone gone for Thanksgiving?”

Where to invite your friends to spend money has always been a real challenge. I really hate when I get invited to a super fancy $15-20 cocktail joint with a cover charge. Or even worse, the dreaded overpriced meal and you end up splitting the bill evenly.

These scenarios used to REALLY stress me out. But I’ve learned to deal with them a little better.

How to deal with it?
1. Buy one drink and nurse it.
2. Offer to take your friend out on another night
3. Always ask to be on a separate tab

It also depends on what kind of friend you’re dealing with.  Boyfriend or girlfriend – you BETTER be buying!!

You’re not being a douchebag by not overspending. If you have a tight budget like me, it would be supremely irresponsible of me to drink my rent money away. So be proactive and think ahead, so you don’t end up paying $50 for your  crab cake appetizer.

So, how do you pick a GOOD place? Good question, thanks for reading. It’s all about prioritizing what’s important. Who’s coming? What day of the week? What vibe do I want? Do they serve food? Indoor/Outdoor seating? Price range?

1.  Know your friends:  If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably not sipping champagne on your Rolls Royce (and if you are – send funding!).  Are your friend starving artists who can deal with a dive bar?  Or do you have a mix of work and play friends?  Know the mood of your party – because there are bars that have $1.50 PBRs (Cha Cha’s Lounge in Silverlake has a super cheap Sunday night – all night long).  Or, you can go to other places that have food and drinks that are reasonably priced ($5 beers/$9 cocktails)

2.  Day of the week:  Fridays and Saturdays are more expensive.  There are usually no specials and it’s super crowded.  No thanks.  The earlier in the week the better.  I had my birthday on a Sunday, which is a great day to have a party.  It’s not going to be a “party til 4am” vibe, but hey, that’s ok with me.  We had lots of space and attentive bartenders.  Faaaantastic!

3.  Food or no food:  I prefer a place that serves food.  Not only do you know they will have seating if you want it, but it will give your friends the option if they want to spend the dough – but don’t have to.

I ended up at Mixville in Silverlake.  It’s attached to a restaurant and they serve average priced beers ($5-6) and fancy cocktails ($9).  They also have great food ($10-20/entrees).  They had a beautiful outdoor area (it was a little chilly).  It was a perfect vibe for all my pals and I had a great time.

When the bar or restaurant doesn’t get in the way of you enjoying the company of your friends, than you’ve chosen wisely, Jedi.


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Water Bottles Suck!(ing your wallet)

An unknown silent robber-of-the-wallet is WATER!  There’s been enough in the media to convince me that I never have to purchase another water bottle again (I mean, unless, of course, I’m desperate).  What, with Dansani being basically recycled water (and wasted plastic) or Fiji being branded as “fancy pure water” (you catch my drift), but they abuse their employees in South America.  Dudes, it just seems like we were all duped into putting about $1-$4 down for something we can get for FREE.

I’m going to watch this documentary – http://www.bluegold-worldwaterwars.com/ – it’s about how water is being privatized for profit when poor people in third world countries can’t get fresh water for free.  Doesn’t sound like a great date night movie for most people, but my boyfriend and I love it.  Scratch that.  I love this stuff and I’ll trade a subtitled Japanese film for a heavy documentary!

So, we’re past all the gloom and doom.  We live in a country that has lots of free water that is clean.  Just remember we’re super lucky and if there isn’t a water fountain or water cooler, the faucet is just fine.  That’s right, EVEN THE BATHROOM FAUCET.  It all comes from the same place, so get used to it.

Buy a plastic or metal water bottle that is super cute and convenient to carry around.  I got suckered into the whole metal bottle trend (I know, I know plastic realize carcinogens, but really guys?  What doesn’t?)  Anyway, I went to Target and bought a slender one with skulls and argyle on it.  I mean, right?  Who wouldn’t want their water bottle to say, “bad ass but also kind of collegiate.”

Anyway, it’s small enough to fit in my purse and it doesn’t leak.  I also bought another one (black with large, bright circles – so artsy) that I leave in my car, just in case I forget it at home.  I’m very forgetful.

So plopping down an initial $10-$20 on a cute, reusable bottle can save you tons of money.  And you can also be sneakily green at the same time.  Let’s do the math.

$2 per day on water bottles X 365 = $730/year

$20 on two reusable water bottle X 1= $20/once

So if the green factor or the guilt factor don’t get you to stop buying water, maybe the good ol’ cheapskate facts will.  Give up your water bottle habit and you can save up to $710/year. That can buy a whole new wardrobe or a guitar lessons or a vacation or a nice sum towards your retirement.

We cool?  I’ll see you in the bathroom, filling my water bottle.


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Gym Deals

Gotta say, I love LA.  Working out outdoors all year round is great for the wallet.  I’ve got a bike and I can ride it in November.  However, if you’re like me, I like a little kick in the pants every now and again.  I like to sign up for classes or programs that force me to stretch and lift and squat.  And I’m also obligated to show up to a class (I was a A+, honor roll, perfect attendance nerd in school *SHOCKING*).

Thanks goodness I have friends who love to workout.

My pal and fellow Apple Sisters, Rebekka over at Sickshape.blogspot.com has been scouring Los Feliz and Silverlake for the best and cheapest places to workout.  All you cheapies can go on a mini tour and try things out for FREE or very cheap.  Here are my favs –

YAS (Yoga for Athletes) – you can print out a coupon (I love coupons!) online and take one class free. NICE! NOTE:  Rebekka and I went here and I forgot my coupon (foolish mistake).  They would NOT let me take the class, though they are required to take your name and address.  This is a stupid policy!!! (pant, pant, pant – throw fist up to the sky!)

I’ve been going to Pop Physique (best workout ever)!  It’s $100 for new clients- which is a little pricey for me – BUT – if you do plan on going 4-5/times a week, it’s a really good deal.  Individual classes are $20/each.  YOWSERS!  So even if you go 5 times the whole month, you’re getting a deal.

A note about LA gyms:  Coming from NYC, gyms seem pretty cheap out here in LA.  You can pay anywhere from 20-35/month.  That is awesome.  BUT, wisdom from the cheapskatewood -NEGOTIATE and don’t pay for it if you’re *thinking* about going.  Trust me, it’ll just rack up debt on your credit card.  And those salesman f*&*^# are really good at their job – so don’t get suckered in!  Seriously consider doing a trial run of anything before committing to a lifestyle change.  And also, keep on the lookout for deals.  January is a good time to buy gym memberships!


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