Millennials, Stop Eating Out

Millennials, Stop Eating Out (1)This isn’t your typical dining-out-is-bad-for-the-budget post. Of course, you should eat out less if you’re trying to save money or repay debt. It is essential that your spending aligns with your priorities. So most millennials know–or at least have been told ad nauseam–to cut back on the fine and not-so-fine dining. However, from one millennial to another, I would like to go so far as to state that at least one-third of millennials should stop eating out altogether. Period. Forever. Or at least until they learn how to tip. 
Where does 33% come from? Let me take you down the rabbit hole that is my Twitter account. I am mesmerized by all things tip-related, primarily because I still have yet to find an answer as to whether or not I need to tip the fro-yo guy. So when Time tweeted an article about 21 restaurants that have done away with tipping, I had to click. That article linked to another article about 15 things that you might not know about tipping. That article linked to the results of a 2014 Harris Poll online survey that showed millennials are terrible tippers. According to that poll, about 1 in 3 millennials admits to tipping less than 15% when dining out.

These results are terrifying for several reasons:

  • People lie on surveys all the time. To make themselves look better.* My guess is that more than 33% of millennials are bad tippers. They just didn’t admit it.
  • Most teens have worked in food service at some point. So get some ginko, millennials. It wasn’t that long ago that you were blowing up my Facebook feed with tales of terrible tippers when you were touting the trays.
  • If you can’t afford to leave a proper tip, you have no business dining out. There. I said it. I’ve never had to wait tables. I have had terrible service before. And I still think that if an extra dollar or two makes that big of a difference to you, you don’t belong in a restaurant. You belong in your kitchen.

The most insulting part of the whole poll is the justifications given as to why millennials are terrible tippers. Some of the excuses? Millennials are used to eating at Chipotle. They don’t have a lot of experience dining out. They’re hard-pressed to find jobs. Quite frankly the best justification is a joke in the article: millennials can’t do math.

Sadly, none of these excused hold any water. The moral of this story is an easy one: If you can’t afford it, stop eating out.

*Source: My annual wellness screening questionnaire that I have to take for my insurance. I never experience any stress in the workplace. Except for when my students try to make rubber gloves out of Elmer’s glue. And cry when they pull the hair off their arms when they try to clean up. And then I remember that they are 12. Not 4.

So Tell Me…Are you a millennial? Do you know how to tip? Seriously, though, do you ever leave less than 15%?

Millennials, Stop Eating Out

27 thoughts on “Millennials, Stop Eating Out

  1. Oh my god I would never leave less than 15%, what is WRONG with people. I am so millennial that it hurts, and I can’t even imagine doing that to someone, no matter how horrific the service was. I am so lucky to have a job that involves regular hours and much less stress than they deal with every day, and 15% is the *baseline*. If they’re great, which servers usually are, I’ll tip above that.

    Of course, it’s easy when you don’t go out to eat very often and understand the *total* cost of doing so, but still. That 33% of millennials absolutely need to shape up or just learn how to cook at home.

    1. Emily, It seems that 20% is the new normal. I’d be fine with people making the case for 15% or 18%, but to consistently tip under 15% is unreasonable. If you’re consistently receiving that bad of service or whatever the excuse is, maybe that’s another reason to stay home 🙂

  2. I don’t tip at fast casual restaurants (Culver’s, Panera, Chipotle, etc.) where a tip jar is available, but at a real restaurant, I tip a baseline of 15% plus up to 25% for great service. I waited tables and made great money, but I also think I was a great waitress (or really a great salesperson).

  3. I’m a millennial and I’d be surprised to see anyone leave less than 15%. I had never heard that we were bad tippers before so this is news to me.

    I’ll generally leave about 20% on top of the after-tax amount, however recently I learned that the pre-tax amount is what the tip should be based on so I’ll probably tip on that amount going forward.

    Millennials should stop eating out so much, though. It’s blowing a hole in people’s budgets (if they even have one). Restaurants are so expensive in the big cities where most of us live – it’s really not worth it. At least focus on the cheap eats places.

    1. I was really taken aback by those statistics. As a fellow millennial, I feel like my friends and I tip well. Almost everyone I was friends with in high school and college worked in the food service industry.

      Since tax in my area is around 10%, I actually use the tax to calculate the tip by doubling it. Sort of lazy, but it works!

      And you’re right on about millennials destroying their budgets with eating out. When my husband and I were dating, we’d go out to a sit-down restaurant probably 2-3 times a week. Now we don’t even do that in a month! It’s a bit horrifying when you crunch the numbers.

  4. I’ll freely admit to tipping only 15% only if the service was abysmal and the food was terrible, but only if the wait staff gave no apologizes as to why it happened that way. The tip usually falls somewhere between 20% and 25% though. I really, truly hate that our country’s restaurants still rely on the the tip system at all. Our country is in the stone ages with the tip system. I shouldn’t have to pay the restaurant employee’s salary, but I will of course, until all restaurants change their policy.

    1. I think tipping 15% is fine, especially if service is poor. What I can’t wrap my brain around is consistently tipping under that regardless of the quality of service. I’m so with you on getting rid of tipping. It’s really an antiquated system.

  5. Eating out costs a lot of money, you can definitely make the same type of food for way cheaper. Don’t get me started on tipping. I’ve always thought tipping 10% before tax is good tip but now that move juts makes me look like a cheapass.

    1. Ha! I was taught that 15% is the minimum, but I have heard from others that they leave less. Maybe it’s regional. It would be interesting to see if the survey considered location and type of restaurant (Olive Garden vs. 5-star dining). That makes me feel better about the millennials stats – maybe people are just genuinely raised to believe different things.

  6. I’m a boomer, but I generally tip between 15-18% of the pre-tax amount (usually closer to 18%). If I tipped less than that, my gen x wife would kill me, as she thinks 20% is more acceptable. But I completely agree with your premise. While I don’t like the tipping system, if you can’t afford to do it properly, you don’t belong at a restaurant. And even if you do it properly, cooking at home should be the norm and eating out a special treat…it’s better for your budget as well as your health.

    1. I feel like if eating out is a special treat, I’m more inclined to tip well. I suspect that part of why those stats are so abysmal is because millennials eat out quite a bit and are trying to save a buck. Just a hypothesis, though.

  7. I’m definitely not a millenial. I tip well in full-service places. I can never figure out what to tip in places where I stand in line to order, carry my tray to the table but where the waitstaff fills my drinks and clears the table.

    1. Oh! Good point. That is tricky. The way the survey read to me, it seems that it was referencing full-service places. Proof that I’m totally confused by some tipping is in my post on frozen yogurt 😉

  8. Im a millennial and I very rarely tip and never 15% or above. But I live in England where waitresses wages are much higher (I waitressed and was on £7ph, about $10.50). There is also far less of a tipping culture and tips are given for good-exceptional service only (not just because they did their job, they need to have gone above and beyond expectations). It seems the issue is that the government needs to reform legislation so that the employer pays the pay cheque rather than the customer.

    1. You’re right that it’s completely different in the States. It’s definitely a broken system. But since I know how terrible the servers’ wages are, I feel pretty terrible not tipping well.

  9. I completely agree. Tipping is just part of the cost of eating out.

    I have not left a tip before but it’s only when bad service merges with rude service. It’s one thing to be incompetent and trying – or even not trying, but not rude about it. I dropped a plate of calamari all over a table and the patrons once when I was serving and was not one bit surprised to not get a tip, but if a server did that to me, I’d totally still tip them. If they were mean and nasty about it, I wouldn’t.

    1. As the Queen Klutz, I don’t think I could ever not tip someone for having a spill or whatever. The only time I’m tempted to tip less is when people are really rude. I figure I see such a small part of what serving really entails, who am I to judge? If I really get frustrated with a place, I tip and just don’t come back.

  10. Thank you!!!! I hate when people justify bad tipping. I used to work in service, and am technically a millennial. One of the sickest justifications I’ve ever heard is that they’re doing then a favor by motivating them to get a better job. I’m totally with you… If you can’t afford the tip, you can’t afford eating out. Similarly, if you can’t afford a tip, go pick the dang thing up yourself.

    I leave a $5 minimum then 20% once the percentages start going down. I don’t dine fancy very often lol. If it’s awesome service, I up my numbers. There have only been a couple times in my entire life when service was so wretched I left less.

  11. To be honest, I have been to a restaurant where I didn’t give a single tip. It may look bad on me, but to be candid I was still struggling to pay off my thousands of debt and going to a restaurant that evening was a treat I was forced to give myself in order to encourage myself and not to give up in quest to be debt free. Particularly, haven’t notice that large proportion of my income went into paying debts.

    1. I could be wrong, but it sounds like this was a rare thing for you, not routine. The poll makes it sound like these were people who dined out regularly and consistently did not tip well.

  12. I think this is horribly oversimplistic generalization of Millennials. Many of us work (or have worked) in restaurants and other service industries (Hello Uber!)
    In restaurants, I always tip 20%+ and sometimes as much as 100% for particularly enjoyable service. Uber drivers always get $5 from me, even on Minimum Fare trips.
    Having said that, I hate that our culture requires tipping. Pay your servers a decent wage and remove the need for a tip altogether!!! People say it will degrade service quality, but I think people would have a better attitude if they knew they were going home with a decent paycheck, not at the whim of poor tippers.
    And the worst tippers I know of are from “The Greatest Generation”, not Millennials. My grandparents tip a buck per person, no matter how much the bill was…. I always carry extra cash on me when dining out with them, so I can toss extra the server’s way on the way out.

    1. I don’t know that a survey can be anything other than a generalization. 🙂 If someone can’t afford to tip, then don’t go to a tipping restaurant. There are lots of other options for dining (and other activities) that don’t result in someone not getting paid. That’s great that you’re so cognizant of people who under-tip. I also think there’s a lot of interesting conversation about restaurants and other venues that have done away with tipping, which is why I included that link. It would be great if our culture made that shift, but until then…

  13. TJ says:

    I’ve always felt it dumb that tips are based on a percentage of dollars spent. If I order water and a appetizer, I pay less tip then the guy who orders a steak and a martini? Dumb. With as much water as I down in a meal, I’m probably more effort for the server than the martini steak guy.

    But it ‘s world we live in, so tip the standard 15%. More than that would be when it’s excellent service or if the bill is so low that I’m okay with it.

    I used to deliver pizzas…..and there’s a reason I don’t order pizza delivery anymore. It’s easy enough to drive or walk to pick it up myself and save the extra cash. 😀

    1. That’s a really interesting way to look at it. When I’m out at a bar, I tip $1-$2 a drink, not a percentage. I hadn’t really thought about it in terms of sit-down meals.

      As for delivery, we’ve never had a meal delivered to our house in almost four years. Like you said, it’s easier to pick it up or cook it myself.

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