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Calculating a Tip

Did you forget this lesson?

Does your middle schooler/high schooler know the steps for calculating a tip properly? Sometimes as parents we don’t even realize the lessons we haven’t taught our kids that they need to know. Sometimes I see my teens struggling with a skill or task, and I think, “Oh, I didn’t even realize you didn’t know this.” This skill might be one that has slipped past you, but you are probably not alone.

I have had several of my kids come up to me at various times and tell me that they were out eating after an away game for school or out with friends, and the other kids didn’t leave a tip for the waitress. Trying to play devil’s advocate, I said, “Well, maybe they put it on their card.”  Then they went on to tell me that they had all used cash. I can totally see how a parent might have forgotten to teach this in the midst of trying to keep everyone happy, healthy and alive. So no regrets, let’s just start now.

They don’t want to look dumb.

Being a teenager is all about looking cool.  A teenager that doesn’t know how to tip would rather not tip than to ask his friend what to do and risk looking dumb. If they are going to learn it’s going to have to be from you. These days it is much easier to calculate. Even if your teen doesn’t have a phone, one of their friends will let them borrow one to use the calculator.

Make sure they know what percentage is acceptable. The accepted range for wait staff is 15% – 20%. A simple way to figure it without a calculator would be to take the bill (\$12.00), move the decimal one place to the left (\$1.20), and double it (\$2.40).  Or use good old fashioned pen and paper and some multiplication skills.

Why it’s important.

Make sure that your teen understands why it’s important to tip. Many of those servers only get a base rate of a couple of dollars an hour and are expecting tips to help them pay their bills. Other people that you might need to make them aware of are the pizza delivery person and the person that cuts their hair!

Talk to them about what they will do if they have a tight budget. Suggest they not order something that will use up all their money, leaving them short on the tip. They need to order something less expensive and maybe get water or ask a friend to borrow some cash. We don’t want our kids to be the ones servers dread seeing.

If you want to practice calculating a tip with your teen, I created a free worksheet just for you.

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