"Oh, I have just enough money for the bill," you say out loud to your roommate.
"But what about the tip?" they may respond.
"Oh, that doesn't matter … it's just a tip."
But for those in the restaurant business, "just a tip" might be the difference between making rent and not making rent. It might mean the difference between being able to pay a car bill and walking to work, or even as simple as living comfortably and living paycheck to paycheck.
According to state law, the minimum tipped wage in Florida is $4.91. Nationally, the minimum tipped wage is much lower.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor: "An employer of a tipped employee is only required to pay $2.13 an hour in direct wages if that amount plus the tips received equals at least the federal minimum wage, [if] the employee retains all tips and [if] the employee customarily and regularly receives more than $30 a month in tips. If an employee's tips combined with the employer's direct wages of at least $2.13 an hour do not equal the federal minimum hourly wage, the employer must make up the difference."
In college, every dollar counts. But in reality, if you make the choice to go out to eat, thus spending more money than cooking for yourself, you should expect to add a few dollars on top of that to account for service. If your service is good, let your server know by tipping generously. If the service is adequate, 15 percent is fair. Even if the service is bad, leaving a small tip is much better than no gratuity at all.
As college students, we get a bad rap for being bad tippers, or not tipping at all.
I have never worked in the restaurant business, nor do I ever plan to, but far too often I hear of friends or acquaintances complaining about getting stiffed by college students.
Because of that, I feel a need to tip a little heavier than I probably should. If I can tell the server is trying to be as accommodating as possible, I throw the scale out the window and tip whatever my gut feeling says. Typically it's a little more than the 20 percent that is typically recommended.
Think about it: On a Sunday, if you go watch the game at a sports bar, you're likely spending three hours at a table and not ordering that much food. Thus, your bill, and recommended tip, is on the low end. Your server is only making about $15 just serving you for three hours.
Why not leave a few extra dollars to make your server's day a little bit better?