Servers know that there is nothing better than walking away from the end of a busy Saturday night shift with a wallet bursting with freshly-earned cash. They also know the other side of that coin – how easy it is to spend that hard-earned money and, later, wonder where it all went. We asked a waitress for her thoughts on how to be responsible with serving income.
Earned Insight: Money tips from your waitress
My life as a server started in my teens when I worked at a corporate chain in the suburbs. My apron-wearing game continued at a hipster brunch café in the city, and later, during a stint at a country club in my early 20s where I eventually parted ways with the food service industry. Here’s what I learned about money along the way:
Good tippers are often those who appear simple and nondescript, whereas people who under tip have the tendency to be showy. As a general rule, those who have mastered the art of living within their means aren’t going to exude extravagance. Self-effacing yet successful citizens who are in touch with their rise to comfortable earning levels are more likely to extend generosity to servers because they remember what it took to become financially comfortable–perhaps, at one point, they were the ones waiting tables.
Focus on the standard, rather than the outliers
With an income range as drastic as gratuity, the standard always beats the outliers. For example, there’s that single guy who drops a $5 tip with his coffee. Or there’s that family of six that leaves less than 10 percent for a high-maintenance dinner of special requests for each and every child’s chicken finger dipping sauce. At the time, the big tip from the single guy seems like such a score, but when paired with the low blow from the big table, it’s clear that it’s best to assume steady consistent earnings outweigh the highs and lows of customers who disregard gratuity standards. This is a concept that can be applied broadly to something like investing in the stock market–statistically speaking, it’s true that over time the standard always beats the outliers.
Make it easy to track your spending
A server knows sixty bucks seems like a lot until it’s stuffed into your pocket and gone three days later somewhere between a coffee run and stopping to pick up new light bulbs. The best way to track your income, especially when you’re dealing with cash, is to deposit it in a bank account that’s linked to a money management program like Mint.com, which will even itemize expenses like the pack of pens you bought with a debit card at Staples, automatically categorizing it as part of your “office supplies” budget. By being aware of every dollar you make and spend, you’ll avoid those moments when you reach into your pocket to tip your server and realize you came up short.
What financial advice can you give about your industry? What types of workers should we interview next? E-mail or Tweet us @GoGirlFinance suggestions/tips for a chance to be featured in our next installment of Earned Insight.