Increasingly Brazen Tip Requests

Will we eventually enter an era where a tip is expected for just about any service?

I ask this question because of what I’m seeing lately in terms of where tips are expected, and how this is expanding into increasingly direct requests for money.

Now, from my experience it wasn’t that long ago when a tip was given only in certain situations. If we focus this discussion on restaurants, we can see how the trend is that some businesses are becoming tip-focused these days.

Before we go into these examples, let me share my view on tips.

  • I respect the work that restaurant servers and quick serve/takeout employees do. It may not be glamorous, but it’s hard work and they don’t make that much money
  • To show appreciation for their work – and to compensate them for their low base wages – I tip servers 15% to 20% of the bill. I almost always do this, and very rarely go lower, unless the service is atrocious. 99% of the time, I’m leaving a tip.
  • The aforementioned servers don’t ever expressly ask for a tip, or at least they shouldn’t. It’s bad form to come out and ask. However, as I mentioned, I pretty much always tip.
  • I don’t tip employees at quick serve/takeout places, as that’s not been the custom. Additionally, their wages can be different based on my understanding.
  • Thus, keeping in line with how things have generally been over the years, I only tip servers and do so at a very fair percentage.

Having said all that, let’s go through 3 levels of Brazen Tip Requests

Level One – The Tip Jar

I’ve written about this before, but it seems to be more prevalent with each passing year. I recall one place this year where there was a tip jar placed front and center at a coffee shop, right in front of the cash register. The sign read:

“You’re not required to tip, but we would prefer if you did :)”

Well, okay then!

I don’t see this as a place where a tip is in any way required, so I agree with them. But why put up a sign asking for a tip, and telling your customers that you’d like them to spend more than required?

Level Two – The Touch-Screen Tip

So, I was at a sub shop getting a sandwich to go, when I was all set to pay by credit card. As I was in the process of swiping the card and paying, there was an option for different levels of tip…along with an option for no tip. And oh, by the way, the employee who rang up the order was staring right at me the whole time.

I don’t see how wrapping up a sub in two minutes, as a part of a job, warrants a 15% to 20% tip. Frankly, this type of job has historically not been one that received tips. Therefore, I used the stylus to hit the no tip button. And off I went.

To me, this is more a more brazen request than the tip jar.

Level Three – The Verbal Request for a Tip

I was at a different place very recently where I was again at the register paying for my food. This time I gave my card to the employee as she rang up the order, and she proceeded to ask:

“Would you like to add a tip today?”

This at a take-out/quick-serve type of place where there are no servers. You wait for your food and pick it up. And, just as with the aforementioned sub shop, the employee was looking me right in the eye as the tip request was made. Though this time, it wasn’t via a screen – it was her directly asking me!

While I’m not at all a confrontational person, and generally an easy person with whom to work and interact (from what I’ve been told, anyway), this was not a situation where I was going to be afraid to say no. She got a very nice, but direct, “No thank you”. I don’t think she liked it, but I don’t see how a tip should be given for a fast take-out order, much less asked in this way.

Are things changing?

I think they are. As I look at my reaction to these events, I’m confident that I reacted appropriately and that my belief that no tip is warranted in those situations is totally fair. However, I wonder if 10 years from now, tipping in those situations will go from being unusual to expected. And, that brazenly asking for a tip where none is warranted will then become unnecessary, as it might eventually be seen as brazenly rude to not leave a tip for a take-out or quick serve counter worker.

We’ll see. But I’m sticking to my story for now!

My Questions for You

What are your thoughts on tipping at take-out or quick-serve places? Do you see this as being under a different set of “rules” and expectations than tipping a restaurant server?

Do you find each of the three tip requests I described to be brazen, or just one or two of them? Or, perhaps none? If you think this is all totally normal, feel free to share as well – I’m welcoming different points of view here.

Do you think we’re potentially moving to a situation where tipping becomes much more widespread in different situations in the future?

3 Easy Ways to Kickstart Your HR Career

Every successful business needs well-drilled HR advisors.

Whether it’s a multinational in Malaysia, a warehouse in Wigan or a shop in Singapore, dealing with employee relations, sorting out salaries and coordinating training is just the tip of the iceberg for busy HR professionals around the globe.

Get it wrong and a company is likely to feel the retaliatory wrath of its staff, with a long line of unhappy workers making an angry beeline for the HR department, holding burning torches aloft and baying for blood.

Perhaps a tad dramatic, but you get the drift.

Get it right, however, and you’re all set to enjoy a challenging yet rewarding vocation – although there are a number of things you must take into account if you’re looking to kickstart your own career in human resources.

Here are three easy ways to get the inside track …

Gain the Relevant Skills

While many facets of modern HR are automated, HR professionals still require a solid educational background. Whether it’s a dedicated degree in human resources or a qualification in another discipline, prospective employers are keen for you to have a good grounding in academia.

After all, a university degree will provide you with the transferable skills – organisation, multitasking and communication, among others – and the confidence you need to thrive in this fast-paced industry, which should help your career flourish.

Learn to Network Effectively

If you’re anything like the rest of us, hobnobbing with individuals on the same wavelength at networking events is something you’ve considered but never followed through on. Indeed, a recent survey has found 62 per cent of British adults have never attended a networking event.

However, networking is one of the best ways to make useful contacts in the HR industry, allowing you to gain the names and numbers of people likely to help you take the next step in your human resources career.

Display Your Flexibility

Enjoying a successful career in HR requires you to be something of an organisational gymnast, offering your company a diverse range of skills in an effort to accomplish the defined objectives outlined by the business.

This often means a flexible approach to work, which may involve working from home or job sharing, depending on the needs of the company. Typically, however, this enthusiasm for bending with the business will hold you in good stead for climbing the ladder.

Now it’s over to you …

Are you involved in the HR industry? What tips would you give to someone looking to make moves? Is there anything our list has missed out? Please let us know by leaving your comments below – we’d love to read your thoughts on this subject.

Sometimes Working Less Can Make You Wealthier

Working late into the night, burning the midnight oil, is something I’ve heard many people do. Be it consultants, investment bankers, or even folks such as bloggers, many people like the idea of working late to get ahead. Actually, for some careers, it can simply be a part of how things go. You’re simply expected to work some super late nights.

To me, the flaw with that thinking is the notion that you can just give up something that’s supposedly less valuable (time), and spend it to get something that’s supposedly more valuable (money). That line of thinking implies that the one thing holding someone back from making such a tradeoff is effort. In other words, those who work late are actually working hard, and those who refuse to are actually lazy.

The reality, as I see it, is that such “hard work” is a waste of time. The smarter person is the one who will choose not to work inordinate hours, and will do his or her best during a shorter period of time.

The smarter person is employing the practice of doing less to make more money.

I’ve noticed this concept in my own life, during times when I worked late into the night on projects. In retrospect, I don’t know that it was necessarily worth it.

Here is what I observed. If I worked until a super late hour – as in 10pm (after starting the day at 8am) for example, I would absolutely get more done on that day than I would had I left at 5pm. After all, a 14 hour day provides more time to get things done than a 9 hour day.

However, by working late, it meant that I went to bed later than usual. Let’s say that I went to bed a couple of hours later than usual. If I got up at the usual time the next morning, that means I shortchanged myself by 2 hours of sleep.

Well, actions often have consequences. With less sleep, I might be okay for part of the next day, but then by the end of the day my productivity wanes. When you get tired, it’s just not likely that you’re going to be nearly as productive as when you’re energized and refreshed. So, your gains for the day before could be offset by less productivity the next day.

But for some of us, less sleep also means having less energy to get personal things done, less energy to exercise, and even less willpower to eat healthy food. If you go stop taking care of yourself, eventually the ability to make money will be compromised. I’ve written about how different parts of life are interrelated in a post on the role of money in life. What do you think?

I simply have to look at my own life and see that when I compare the long-term overall productivity I had when getting a solid 8 hours of sleep per night on a regular basis versus getting maybe 6.5 per night regularly, the former did more for my wealth-building efforts (not mention overall quality of life) than did sleeping less but trying to get more done.

So shut down your computer, go to sleep, and instead of counting sheep perhaps you can count dollar signs instead :)

My Questions for You

Do you think a good night’s sleep is essential for being productive and making wealth-building decisions?

Do you ever “burn the midnight oil” to get more done?

The Binary Approach

Money management is a popular topic, and one that offers many different choices for people to make in terms of what vehicles to utilize. Some of these can be quite passive, and others can be more along the lines of being very active.

With respect to the former, “passive” doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing as what is commonly described as passive income in some personal finance circles. That might mean royalties, or simply money earned with next to no effort and really even much further investment of money or time.

In this case, when it comes to passive, let’s consider it to mean one that is more conservative. In other words: low risk. This can absolutely have its merits, and can be especially valuable in old age. After all, later in life capital preservation just might be the name of the game for many people. Some examples of this might be savings accounts, super safe government bonds, or perhaps even this very simple, no-frills approach: holding money in cash.

Some people in the past have gone so far as to bury money in the back yard, though I think that brings about some real risk :)

The, there are more “active” approaches to allocating your money, which involve more risk but potentially some more return. One example, which just might be the one that comes to mind for a lot of folks, would be stocks. Yes, equities are traded around the world and at a staggering volume each trading day. Here in the U.S., just think about how much money is put into equities by 401(k) participants on a regular basis!

There some other choices people can make as well. Another example is investing in a small venture through crowdfunding. Yet another example could be online trading of options. One in particular is binary options. With these, the “binary” term reminds one of the 1’s and 0’s that come to mind when thinking of math or even coding. In this case, the idea is that there is either a nice return or the alternative of no return. Like many other things, where there is some risk there can potentially be some real rewards too.

Money and Karma

money karmaWhen it comes to money you reap what you sow.

Or, if we want to get a little more esoteric in our thinking, positive energy put forth can result in positive energy coming back to us.  This may apply to money, like many other things in life.  A little “New Age” personal finance for you, right here at Squirrelers :)

I had a couple of recent examples where being straightforward and above board in some money-related situations proved to be a good thing.

The Grocery Store

First of all, this example is not at all one that involved a lot of money.  Keep in mind that it’s the bigger idea of integrity paying off that I’m exploring.

I was at the checkout aisle, and emptied the cart while the cashier was scanning items.  Spinach, bananas, oatmeal….the items were scanned one by one.  Then, the case of sparkling water I wanted to buy (in lieu of soda, which I gave up a few years ago) came up for the cashier to scan.

He tried to scan it, and nothing came up.  Tried again, and once again didn’t the result he wanted.  At that point, he turned me and asked me how much it was.

Instinctively, I told him how much I thought it was: $4 for the case.  He seemed surprised, and said that sounded like a lot.  He asked me if I was sure that it was $4.

I told him, yes – I’m pretty sure it was $4.  Not 100% sure, but that’s the price I recall seeing.

The guy said that it seemed like a lot, and since he wasn’t sure of the price himself, he’ll just charge me $2.99 for it.  I told him that I’d gladly pay $4 or wait for someone to verify the price.  He told me, to my surprise, that I seemed honest by giving him a price that sounded reasonable or maybe a bit more, so he felt like he could just charge me $2.99 and all would be cool.  If I had given him a low price, he would have gone to check.

In a subsequent trip to the store, I did see that the cases of sparking water were in fact $4 each.   So, I was in effect “rewarded” for being honest (with no agenda) by getting a 25% discount.

Parking Garage

This example happened some time ago, but also illustrates how there can be some “good karma” in terms of money.

I had parked in a city garage on a day when parking was really tight, and the garage was basically full.  This was a garage that had to be at least 6 or 7 stories high.  On that day, people were circling around, driving up and down the garage to no avail when trying to get a spot.  It took being lucky and being at the right place at the right time to swoop in when somebody got their car to leave.

So, I was fortunate to find a spot, and then stayed for a couple of hours.  The cost would have over $25 if I recall, and the only reason I was there is because I had an interview.  So, it was totally out of pocket for me.  Not cheap!

The only thing is, I did something quite unusual for me: I lost the parking ticket.  I normally don’t lose things like that very often at all, but that day I did.  So, when trying to pay, I couldn’t the “autopay” machine and had to go to the customer service desk to explain that I had lost the ticket.

When I approached, the first thing out of the lady’s mouth – before I could say anything – was something to the effect of “did you have trouble finding a spot”?

She was probably going to waive the cost, I would think.

However, I told her that no, I actually did find a spot and was there for a few hours.  The issue is that I unfortunately lost my ticket.  So, I wanted to know if I could pay her since I had lost the ticket.  Frankly, I was also worried that they would charge me for the day.

My worries were eased, as she mentioned that since I was being honest, she would just waive the cost and let me through.  If I recall, an attendant let me get past the gate.

Now, perhaps she was lazy and didn’t want to deal with going through the process of charging me.  Who knows.  But the way it worked out was that my being straightforward and not playing games ended up rewarding me.  In this case, it was a 100% discount!

Bottom Line: Being straightforward in situations where the could be some wiggle room to avoid spending could bring some good money karma that helps you anyway!

My Question for You

Do you have any examples how being straightforward and ethical have directly paid off in such ways?


Little-Known Ways to Save Money While Traveling

There are plenty of places to find out ways to save money during a vacation. The problem is most of these methods are things that you already know. They are the same tips being rehashed again and again. If you want to find some new information on this subject, it can often be very difficult to obtain. That having been said, there are quite a few money saving tips that do not get a great deal of publicity, for whatever reason. However, just because these tips do not get talked about a lot, it does not make them any less effective. Cancun travel tips can be easily acquired on a wide variety of websites. Here are some of the best little-known ways to save money while you travel.
1. Book your airport parking in advance
Many things in the travel industry require advance booking in order for people to receive a big discount. While most people are aware that booking your plane tickets and hotel room in advance will result is some nice savings, it may surprise many travelers to learn that you can also do the same thing for parking at the airport. If you are going to need to park your car at the airport during the entire length of your vacation, you should book your parking space as far in advance as possible. The savings you receive for doing this can be quite significant.
2. Consider the airport you are using
Most people simply use the airport that is closest to where they live. This is because they would never suspect that the price of airfare could be impacted by the airport that you choose to fly out of. However, this is the case. It may be significantly cheaper for you to fly out from an airport that is further away from your home. Even if you include the added cost of gas for your car, or fare for a bus or taxi, the overall cost of using a different airport could be worth the slight inconvenience of having to travel longer to get there. You can research the cost of using various airports by looking online. Then you can determine if the money you can save is worth the added effort to get to the other airport.
3. Do not stay in the city you are visiting
Millions of people make the mistake of booking a hotel in their destination city. This is a mistake that causes lots of perfectly good money to be flushed down the toilet. This is especially true if your destination is a city that is known for being expensive. For example, if you are going to be visiting New York City, the worst thing you can do it is book a room in a Manhattan hotel. The price you will pay will be outrageous compared to the prices you can get elsewhere for similar rooms. All you need to do is go across the river to New Jersey. You will find that the hotel prices will drop dramatically once you leave New York City. You will still be close enough to the city so that getting there will not require a lot of time and money in transportation fees. This is just an example, but it applies to many cities around the world.
This post was provided by Fiona Moriarty of Hipmunk, a travel website that helps you to locate the best deals on transportation, accommodations, and more.

Why Students Prefer Writing Services

Students who are looking for effective ways to create 100% unique and plagiarism free assignments must hire writing services. There is an abundance of custom college essay writing services over the internet. Students just need to browse through the internet and they will come across a large number of writing services, which will provide unique, enticing and genuine articles. There are several reasons for taking the help of these professional writing services. First and foremost, they have a team of professional individuals who are experienced in writing papers on different topics.

Where you might take several hours to finish a simple assignment of 1000 words, they will do it in an hour. Students are not confident if they will be able to do the task in a proper manner or not, as they haven’t done anything like that before. The assignments given to the students are of huge significance, as their scores are included in the final academic scores. So, if any mistake is found in these assignments, then it is going to dent the score of the student. A professional writing service knows how to start and finish the article.

Reasons to prefer a professional and reputed company

They will perform their tasks in the best possible way. Moreover, you don’t have to worry about deadlines because your work would be in at the right time. It is true that there are several companies available on the web, which make use of the unethical ways to write papers. It is vital to check the reputation and experience of the company before handing over the task to them. If you get a paper, which is re-written or reproduced will easily be pointed out by the concerned authorities and then, it will be you who will have to face the music, not the writing service.

Therefore, it is better to hire a professional company who also has a good reputation over the internet. You can check benefits of writing services, as it is one of the leading writing services in the world. If you really want to improve your academic performance, then you have to take these papers very seriously, as these will pave the way towards the successful academic record. Any mistake would lead to forgettable blunders.

Consequences of submitting poorly written papers

Students who submit poorly written papers get penalized because of bad writing skills, even if they have done well in the class. This is a kind of hurdle which can only be crossed by doing smart work instead of hard work. If you are not a writer, then don’t try to be one because in such a short time span as it is not possible for you to learn all the concepts of writing and create a paper as well. The best way to make the best use of the moment is by hiring a professional writing service and let them handle the writing task. The website that I have mentioned above is a pioneer in writing sensational write-ups, so you should prefer hiring this company for your papers.

Tips to Improve Your Bad Credit Today

Your credit score is an indicator of trust. Fail to pay back your loans and meet your payments on-time can destroy your rating. If you have a bad rating, or no rating at all, you’ll find it difficult to access the best credit cards, and in many cases the chance to make property and car purchases.

But even the worst credit score in the world has a remedy. You can act today to improve your credit score and open up a golden financial future. And it doesn’t require half as much as you think.

We’re going to give you five fantastic tips for how to improve your bad credit score today.

Cut the Credit Portions 

Believe it or not, it’s considered a bad sign if you borrow too much against your limit. You never want to borrow anything more than 30% of your overall limit.

This is considered a bad sign because it demonstrates you’re relying on your credit cards and your loans to survive. Get your ratios down and, if possible, try to pay off a large portion of any maxed out credit cards early on.

Remove the Nuisance Balances

Nuisance balances are any smaller balances on credit cards you rarely use. On your credit score, one of the ways you’re ranked is on the number of credit cards that have balances.

If you have any of these, pay off the smaller balances first and remove the card from use. You should try to constrain your spending to just a couple of cards.

Arguing Over Paid Debt

People are afraid that the car or house they just paid off is going to hurt their credit score for the next seven years. This is how long it takes for a debt item to disappear from your report, but really it’s a fruitless exercise.

Debt you’ve paid successfully is considered a good thing. It’s actually how you build your credit score, so be happy that that item is still on your credit report.

Let the item stay on your credit report. A paid debt is like getting an A+ in high school.

Pay Bills at the Right Time

Stop trying to extend your payment terms, if at all possible. Make every effort to pay bills now.

One of the big mistakes people make is they will also take into account the 60-day extension after the deadline. Whilst this is available if you really need it, don’t use it every single time. It damages your credit score.

Imagine it doesn’t exist and try to pay off your bills on-time. And especially don’t opt for saving over paying bills. This applies to both minor and major bills, and it’s more common than a lot of people realize.

Also, it can help to find a lender that works with people that need bad credit loans. Getting a loan and paying it on time each month can help increase your credit score.

Be Consistent

Hinting at risk is one way of sinking your credit score. One of the easiest ways to do this is to pay a lot of money on a bill, and then pay significantly less. This is a sign of your income suddenly dipping, and it makes lenders nervous.

At the same time, don’t borrow a huge amount of money out of the blue (exceptions being student loans and mortgages). Try to keep your borrowing and payment of balances consistent. This will help keep them calm.

As you can see, these are five easy ways to improve your credit score. Anyone can do them and all it requires is a slight change in your behavior. If you can master this style of financial discipline, you’ll find it much easier to improve your credit score and gain access to those better interest rates.

Injuries and Accidents: Top Tips for Dealing With Insurance Adjusters

A lot of people hate insurance adjusters, believing that they are what is standing between you and a pile full of cash. But, do you know what an insurance adjuster does? Most people don’t. Here’s what they do, and how to handle them when they are working on your claim.

First, Understand What They Do

An insurance adjuster works either as an independent agent or directly for the insurance company. The adjuster’s job is to investigate claims made by individuals and assess damages or losses incurred that are payable under the insurance policy.

Most property and casualty insurance policies list perils for which a policyholder can file a claim against. When the named peril occurs, and a policyholder suffers a loss, an insurance adjuster analyzes the situation and tries to determine the best possible course of action which will result in a fair payment to the policyholder.

Some people believe that adjusters serve as gatekeepers for insurance companies, helping them keep more of policyholders’ money, shuttling legitimate claims, and denying payments.

While there are likely some adjusters out there who do this, a dishonest adjuster becomes a liability for the insurance company, which can be sued by policyholders for non-payment of a valid claim.

Because the insurer has a responsibility to all policyholders to pay valid claims, the insurer must make fiscally sound decisions about how much to pay for each loss. Sometimes, a policyholder won’t agree with an adjuster, and this is where the negative perception of the adjuster comes in.

The Claims Process

The claims process is fairly straightforward. First, the policyholder calls the insurance company, notifying them of a loss they believe is covered under their insurance policy. Next, an insurance adjuster visits the individual to assess the nature of the loss and tries to estimate the damages to the policyholder.

Finally, the adjuster makes an offer to settle the claim. This settlement offer is supposed to be for an amount which will pay for all of the damage to the insured’s property. Depending on the policy, however, it may not be enough to replace the loss of the item.

Some policies only cover the cash value of the item in question.

When “cash value” replacement is elected at policy issue, an insurance company is only responsible for the full market value at the time of the loss. In other words, the policyholder will have to accept that he or she will not get the full replacement value of the loss due to depreciation of the item.

For example, if a policyholder has the contents of his home insured under a “cash value” type policy, then he will only get the market value of those items at the time of the loss. If the policyholder has old items which have depreciated in value, they may not be worth much, so the claim amount will be rather small.

Contrast this to “full replacement value.” This is a method of adjusting where the insurance adjuster can offer the full replacement value for all items covered under the policy. So, continuing with the same example, if the policyholder suffered a loss of the contents in the home, he or she would be entitled to an amount of money which would be sufficient to buy new items of the same or similar quality.

Obviously, this results in much more money being paid out.

Protecting Yourself From A Stingy Adjuster

Some insurance adjusters just want to successfully resolve a claim in a fair and equitable manner. But, some are out to minimize the amount of the payout. And, they must get an approval from their supervisor to pay out more than their authorization limit.

In other words, while adjusters may not necessarily be out to get you, some of them aren’t exactly on your side, either. A good Personal Injury Lawyer can help you by being the counterbalance to the opinion of the adjuster, assessing whether you’re being treated fairly during the claims process.

Sample Questions You Might Be Asked

You should hire a lawyer if you meet with an adjuster personally, or if you don’t understand the claims process. An adjuster is trained to ask you for information like your name, the date and time of the incident, pictures of the accident and damage, a copy of the police report, copies of medical bills and documentation from your medical care provider to prove injury, and the costs of your initial hospital stay, if there was one.

Your answers to these questions influence how much money is paid out to you.

Peter Ticktin is an insurance claims associate. He likes sharing his insights online. His articles can be found on many legal and insurance websites.