My grandmother was a very frugal woman who often told me “if you will mind your pennies your dollars will mind themselves.” I hope to share here some of her wisdom and the wisdom of others I have learned over the years

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


We all already know that dining out, and convenience foods can end up costing you not only in the pocketbook, but in your waist line.  But did you know other forms of conveniences can cost you money too? 

Getting cash back at Wal-Mart and other places is so much more convenient than going to the bank right? But did you know that if you are using a credit card to make your purchases and you say yes to cash back you can be hit with cash advance fees and/or higher interest rates?  

Even though you don’t ask for cash back there has been a rash of scams lately where your receipt says you got cash back, but it was actually the cashier and the person in line behind you, the cashier’s partner in the scam, that got it.  Always read your receipt before you leave the register, whether you use credit cards or debit cards to avoid being caught in this popular scam. Or better yet, use cash envelopes and pay for everything in cash.

Last night my dh took me out to dinner at Chili’s.  The meal was good. The wait staff was very attentive and deserved a decent tip.  However, we don’t give a flat percentage of the bill as a tip.  We tip on merit, not the cost of the food. Give us lousy service and your tip will be lousy.  Great service a sweet tip.

Don’t get me wrong, we never stiff a server, but I have waited tables as a teen and I know that tips are meant to be a comment on your service. 

It is our feeling that no matter what type of food establishment you are in whether it is a Sonic carhop, or a waiter at a very expensive restaurant, putting forth a good effort to make the customer’s dining experience more enjoyable takes the exact same amount of effort by the wait staff.

Therefore, we have set amounts we pay for the various degrees of attentiveness.  Our waiter last night was excellent.

She would have made the bar maids of the original conception of tipping proud.  For those of you who don’t know the history of tipping it started back when taverns were where you ate, drank and often slept overnight.

When your cup was empty and you wanted a refill you put your coins to pay for the next beverage in your cup and clanked it around to get the barmaid’s attention.
She would then “tip” the coins out and the purchaser could tell them to keep the change or not.

Of course we didn’t have to put coins in our cups last night.  That sort of thing just isn’t done any more, but she did make certain we had ample beverage, napkins, and all our other needs were met before we even realized we had a need. Therefore, she was destined to get a higher tip than many of the wait staff get.

Chili’s is one of the restaurants that is starting to switch over to more and more automation.  On our table was a tablet that allowed us to pay our bill using our debit card and the server never had to even touch it.  You can also order dessert and drinks through this tablet, or for a fee play games. Thus cutting down the amount of time a server spends at your table.

Since dh is all about electronic toys he opted to use the tablet and laid our receipt from the server on the table in front of me.  That’s when I saw how a supposedly innocent looking convenience on the ticket can cost you money.  When I mentioned it to him he checked the tablet and discovered it had the exact same tip scale on it.

Chili’s is one of those who has that handy little scale on the ticket to tell you what your tip should be based on percentages.  Only the math was wrong, very wrong.
Our bill for the meal and appetizer for the three of us was $31.68 before taxes.  After all it’s suppose to be 15% on what you bought, not what you give the Uncle.

The chart showed the following numbers:
15% = 6.07
HUH?  15% of $31.68 is 4.75! and 22% is 6.96. 
OK, so where did the amounts they were  showing come from. Maybe they included the free queso that we had an electronic coupon for in the amount.  

That was a $5.69 value, which would have brought our before tax amount to 37.37, That is still only 5.61 for a 15% tip.

So did they calculate it on the tax too? Add another $2.09 to our total bringing it up to 39.46. No the tip at that point with both added in would still only be $5.92 for the total for a 15% tip and $8.68 for the 22%.  So where did they get their numbers? Simple, they had just decided what they felt the tip should be on that amount.

The difference in what a tip based on percentage should actually be ranged from as little as $.15 to as high as $1.94.  I know some say that those differences aren’t worth the calculation time, but multiply this amount by how many times you do it a year and in varying restaurants with varying price ranges and it can really add up to use that convenience.

Plus if you are still using credit cards (and I ask again why would you be?) you are very likely paying interest on that extra little tip you got hit with.  

So do as we do and have a set tip scale you use for the amount of service you receive OR do your own math.  The savings can really add up.  After all as Granny always said “Mind your pennies and your dollars will mind themselves.”

Jan who was surprised to see this on the receipt and wonders how many other restaurants have such errors in them.