i The Frugal Law Student | 2007

Law School
Personal Finance

Why Tip?

Written by Mrs. FLS

Yesterday Brett posted a guide to tipping. To some it may have appeared that Brett and I like to throw our money around and hand out big tips to every Tom, Dick, and Harry. But it is important to note that most of the services listed in that post are services that, because we are frugal, we would never use. We don’t use a sky cap, we wait in line for the ticket counter; we don’t purchase tours, get massages, buy car washes, or use valet parking either. The point is, however, that if you did use those services, then you should tip. And really, if you are well off enough to afford those services, then you could most certainly afford to cough up a few bucks extra for the tip.

Some of the comments expressed negativity towards the whole idea of tipping in general. Several posters mentioned that they did not think it was necessary to pay above and beyond the actual cost of the service. For example CrazyPumpkin said: “My boss doesn’t ‘tip’ me when I finish a project ahead of time or do a task particularly well. He says thank you and I get to keep my job. He expects these things of me, it’s part of my job description.”

So I would like to discuss the point of tipping.

The difference between a regular job and the jobs that require tips is that they are service jobs, and they are called service jobs because they are serving you. They personally and intimately effect you. I agree that you do not need to always tip people like tow truck drivers or baristas, and you do not have to tip people for doing their job per se. But you might think about tipping people for the following reasons:

1) If the person went above and beyond regular service. It is just a way of showing gratitude for a job well done and going the extra mile. While many people work in professions that don’t receive tips per se, companies often offer bonuses after a project is completed successfully. And what is a bonus if not just a very large tip? When bonuses are offered, people do not generally say “There is no need to give me a bonus. I was just doing my job.”

2) To show your gratitude. Another word for tip is “gratuity.” Many people in service jobs are overworked, underpaid, and unthanked. At your job when you do something right, your supervisor says “thank you,” and “job well done!” Who says thank you to the trashmen? Many service jobs are jobs we don’t want to do, and we are grateful people are there day in and day out doing them for us. Our trash gets taken away, our mail gets delivered, our food is served to us. Their pay often does not match their effort. Who thinks that teachers’ pay is commensurate with the work they put in? Tipping is a way to say “thank you” to those who rarely hear it.

3) Tipping ensures great service. This is especially true of people who perform service for you regularly. If you tip a barista at a coffee shop you frequent, or a waiter at your favorite restaurant, they will give you even better service next time. For example, I used to work at a pizza place and when an order came in, if the pizza delivery guy recognized the name, and remembered they were a big tipper, they would bust their butt to get the order out. They would even take the tipper the order BEFORE orders that had come in earlier. If an order came up for a name they recognized as a bad tipper, they would deliver that order later. Similarly, when I worked at Jamba Juice, this one customer would tip us very heavily every time she came in. So during her visits we were practically falling over ourselves to get her order out. We would start making it even before she paid. And we would always throw in extra goodies. So in things you do regularly, tipping is certainly not essential, but can guarantee you better service.

In summation: Tipping is not always necessary. You certainly shouldn’t be throwing your money around. But it can be appropriate in some circumstances. If someone serves you in a way that makes a difference in your day, a few bucks is a nice way to show you are thankful.

The Frugal Law Student Month In Review- October 2007

Written by Brett McKay

October was a super busy month for me. With law review and job interviews thrown on top of my already busy law school schedule, I didn’t have much time for blogging. However, I did manage to write some posts that brought in a lot of traffic.

The Frugal Law Student saw a record number of visitors this month- 23,408 visits. That’s up from 8,466 in September. Why the huge increase? There are several reasons. First, many of you submitted some of my posts to Stumbleupon and Digg which brought in lots of traffic. Second, some of my posts went semi-viral and were linked on different sites thanks to some big time bloggers, like JD from Get Rich Slowly, linking to me. Finally, one of my posts was included in the Principle Financial Group’s monthly client newsletter. Those three things combined brought the traffic. So, thanks to all of you who Dugg or Stumbled my posts or linked to my articles! I really appreciate it.

RSS subscriptions also rose. As of this writing, there are 614 RSS subscribers. Thanks to all my loyal readers who subscribe. Seriously, you all keep me motivated to come up with new content each and everyday.

Popular Posts

  1. Hack Your Pocket Moleskine Into A Wallet. This was this month’s most popular post. It got Stumbled a ton and was included on several sites.
  2. 180 Money Saving Tips to Turn Your Life Around 180 Degrees.  I wrote this post back in May and its still one of my more popular ones. 180 Money Saving Tips was picked up by Principal Financial in their monthly e-newsletter to clients.
  3. Do It Yourself Pottery Barn Halloween Countdown Calendar.  My sister Shannon wrote this great how-to guide. Several other craft related blogs picked it up. JD from Get Rich Slowly was kind enough to include it in his weekly link round up at the beginning of the month.
  4. 13 Ways To Kill a Cold Without Killing Your Budget. Cold season is upon us which probably made this post so popular this month.
  5. 12 Meals That Are Easy, Cheap, And Healthy. This was a guest post written by FLS reader Erica. Lots of great ideas for quick frugal meals.

Calling All Guest Bloggers

With law school exams just a month a way, my focus will be turning more to studying. If you’re interested in writing a guest post for The Frugal Law Student, contact me. You can write about anything dealing with law school, personal finance, frugality, or productivity. If you’re a new blogger, guest blogging is a great way to get exposure to new readers.


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The Ultimate Tipping Guide

Written by Brett McKay


Skipping out on a tip is not frugal. It’s cheap. Not sure when it’s appropriate to tip or how much you should tip in certain situations? Here’s your ultimate guide on how to tip. (Note: Tipping guidelines differ from country to country. This guide is intended for those who will be tipping in the United States.)


  • Housekeeping at the hotel. A good tip for housekeeping is between $2 to $5. Don’t just leave cash on the nightstand. It might not be clear to your maid that the money is for them. Make sure to leave the tip in an envelope marked for housekeeping.
  • Tour guide. Tip between $1 to $5 per person in your group.
  • Skycap or bell hop. $1 to $2 per bag they lug for you. If you’re running late and the skycap books your luggage to your plane so you can get their on time, bump up the tip.
  • Doorman. Only tip the doorman at a hotel if he gives you a hot tip on the best places to eat or visit while in town.

Personal Services

  • Massage Therapist. Give 10 to 20 percent of the total cost.
  • Nurses. Usually tipping nurses at hospitals are not permitted, but don’t tell that to my wife’s grandma. She’s a retired nurse and believes you should definitely tip nurses and other health assistants. Any time she’s at the hospital you can guarantee she’s getting the best service because she gave her nurse “la boost.”
  • Garage parking. $2 for your car. When you valet park, tip the person who brings you the car, not the person who parks it.
  • Baristas/Smoothie Makers/ice cream scoopers. It seems like all these types of establishments have tip jars now a days. Spare change is always appreciated. If the barista starts making your order as soon as you walk in so that its ready for you by the time you get up to pay, tip a little extra.
  • Hairstylist. Tip 15% of the cost of the haircut.
  • Takeout. If you order takeout from a restaurant make sure to tip the cashier a bit. While they weren’t waiting on you hand in foot for, they did have to bust their butt to get your order together and ready. If they help you take your order out to the car, tip a bit extra.
  • Car washer. $3 bucks is good for a basic car wash. If they take extra time in your detailing, give 10% of the cost of the wash.
  • Manicure. 10 to 15% is a nice tip.
  • Tattoos/body piercings. 15% of what the total cost is. If the tattoo artist does an amazing job of capturing what your mother looks like on your arm, tip extra.
  • Tow truck. It depends on what services the person provides. If they jump your car or change your tire, tip about $4. If they tow it, $5 is good tip.
  • Bagger at the grocery store. Now a days people no longer tip grocery baggers. It’s not necessary, but definitely a nice gesture. $1 is a good tip.

Delivery Services

  • Newspaper deliverer. During the holidays, give them a card with $20. My in-laws do this every year and as a result, they have their paper delivered straight to their door instead of just thrown on the driveway.
  • Pizza/Meal delivery. 10 to 15% is customary. If the weather is bad, i.e. there’s snow and ice or a tsunami, tip extra.
  • Furniture/large appliance delivery. $5 per person. If they stick around and help you assemble or rearrange your furniture, tip extra.

Out On the Town

  • Waiters. 15 to 20% is customary. If they do an exceptional job, pay more. If you come in with a large group make sure to ask if gratuity is added into your check so you don’t tip them twice. (Of course, as a former waiter, I always appreciated it when someone give me a little extra in addition to the gratuity.)
  • Bartenders. 15 to 20%. Again, if they do an excellent job give more. If you come during happy hour and down 20 $.99 cent draws, don’t just leave 15%. Bartenders have to bust their butt to get those things poured for you and deserve more than just your change.
  • Casino. There lots of people you could be tipping at a casino. First, you have cocktail waitresses. 15% is customary. Many people tip dealers when they have a successful run.
  • Taxi. Standard tip is 15%. If they get you to your destination quickly, tip extra.


During the holidays, it’s customary to give a little more for the everyday services we receive. Here is just a short list of people you should consider giving “la boost” to during the holidays.

  • Mailman. It’s against federal law to tip to federal employees, but they can accept gifts of less than $20. During the holidays, give your mailman a non-monetary gift valued at less than $20. Baked goods are always appreciated.
  • Garbage/recycling man. These guys have a dirty job, recognize their work around the holidays by giving them a tip. $10 per person is nice. You can also just give gifts.
  • Teachers. If you have kids in school, its usually customary to give their teacher a small gift at Christmas time. It doesn’t have to be big. I remember when I was a kid, I usually gave candles.
  • Babysitter. A gift in addition to their normal pay is nice. Gift cards are always appreciated.
  • Cleaning person. An extra week’s pay or a nice gift.

Wash Your Hands Like A Doctor

Written by Brett McKay


Yesterday, I wrote about 13 ways to kill a cold without killing your budget. Washing your hands was number one on that list. That got me thinking. Most people really don’t wash their hands like they should. Next time you’re in a public bathroom watch how people wash their hands. First, you’ll notice that many people just don’t do it (eeewww). Second, those that do stop at the sink just run their hands under water quickly. That’s not going to do anything to get rid of those germs. If you want to get the germ fighting benefit of hand washing you have to do it right and no one washes their hands better than doctors. Here’s how you can wash your hands just like them.

When To Do It


  • preparing or serving food
  • eating food
  • inserting or removing contact lenses
  • treating a cut or wound
  • brushing and flossing your teeth
  • picking your nose (just kidding! But seriously, most bacteria from our hands infect us after coming into contact with our nose)


  • using the bathroom (no brainer)
  • being around someone who is sick
  • blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing
  • handling uncooked poultry
  • changing a diaper
  • picking your nose

How To Do It

  1. Wet your hands with warm water.
  2. Get some soap and rub your hands together vigorously for 20 seconds. A doctor friend of mine said 20 seconds is about the amount of time it takes to hum “Happy Birthday” twice.
  3. Make sure to wash all the surfaces of your hands, including wrists, palms, fingers, and underneath fingernails.
  4. Rinse hands thoroughly with warm water.
  5. Dry hands with a clean paper towel. Turn off sink with paper towel to prevent reinfecting your hands.

Bonus Tip: When you’re in a public bathroom, dispense your paper towel before you wash your hands. The handle on dispensers is probably one of the most germ infested areas in a bathroom. By having the towel ready before you wash, you can avoid touching the dispenser with your clean hands.

Bonus Bonus Tip: When you’re in a public bathroom, don’t throw the paper towel away immediately. Use it to open the door.  Door handles in public bathrooms are covered with bacteria, so protect your newly clean hands by opening it with the paper towel.

13 Ways To Kill A Cold Without Killing Your Budget

Written by Brett McKay


Cold and flu season is upon us. You don’t have to let getting sick get in the way of your financial goals. Here’s a list of 13 things you can do to save money this cold season,


The best way to prevent spending money on treating a cold is to avoid getting sick in the first place.

Wash your hands. Most germs, viruses, and bacteria are spread through our hands. Sick people wipe their runny nose with their hand and go on to touch their infected hands with other hands or places where other hands will touch. Wash those germs away by washing your hands frequently.

Get enough sleep. When you’re not well rested, your immunity system wears down and makes you more susceptible to sickness. Make sure to get your 8 hours each night.

Exercise. Studies have shown that exercise can build up your immunity system. But don’t over do it. Too much exercise can wear you out and consequently your immune system. All you need is 2o minutes a day to get the health benefits of exercise.

Eat Right. If you eat crap, you’ll feel like crap. Stop eating junk food and start bulking up on whole grains and fresh produce. Produce is full of immunity strengthening vitamins.

Stack up on vitamin C. If you don’t think you’re getting enough vitamins from your diet, try taking a supplement. My favorite is Vibrant C. Just add to water and drink!

Fluidize. Most people are walking around dehydrated. Proper hydration will make you feel better. Get your recommended 8-9 glasses of water a day.


Sometimes no matter what you do, you still get pegged with a cold. Here’s how you can treat it without spending a fortune.

Spice it up. If you’re congested, spicy foods are great way to unclog your nose. Rummage around your spice rack and bust out the curry and cayenne pepper on your food. Add some jalepenos to your potato or eggs. You’ll be breathing easier in no time.

Linger in the shower. When you’re feeling under the weather, jump in a hot shower. The moisture from the steam will help reduce throat inflammation. It also helps break up mucus in your sinuses and lungs which helps ease congestion.

Tea time. If you’re coughing up a lung, try sipping on some tea. The hot water will help reduce mucus in your throat making you less likely to cough. Bump up tea’s cough suppressing ability by adding lemon and honey. The honey will help soothe sore throats and the lemon has vitamin C and antioxidants to help fight a cold.

Savor some soup. Your mom was right. Chicken soup is good for you when you’re sick. Like tea, soup can help reduce mucus and help suppress coughs. Additionally, a study from the University of Nebraska Medical Centers found that chicken vegetable soup reduces the activity of inflammatory white blood cells, called neutrophils, that can cause cold symptoms.

Gargle Salt. Is your throat feeling tender? Put a 1/2 teaspoon of salt into some water and gargle it. It will help reduce inflammation in your throat.

Fluidize. When your body is sick, it needs more fluids to get nutrients to cells faster. Increased water can also help reduce the thickness of mucus, which can help ease up congestion.

Suck a mint. If you don’t have a cough drop on hand, substitute it with a mint. Sucking on the mint will help reduce the coughing reflex when you’re having a coughing fit.

Featured Resource

The best way to beat a Cold is not to get it, because despite advancements in Modernized Medicine a there is still no cure for a cold. The best things you can do it take proper preventive Health care. If you catch a cold, visit Medical Sites for tips on getting better faster.

What If I Were Debt Free?

Written by Brett McKay

I’ve been tagged in the “What if I Were Debt Free?” meme by Rocket Finance.

What if I were debt free? Man, that’s a heavy question. I sometimes forget the reason that I’m doing this whole frugal living thing is so I can become debt free as soon as possible. I focus so much on the process of becoming debt free, that I really don’t think about why I’m doing it.

After pondering on this question for the past few days, the conclusion that I reach is that I wouldn’t do anything different from what I’m doing now. 

Even after the debts were paid off, I’d probably continue living frugally. Saving money isn’t the only thing that attracts me to frugality.  Frugality forces me to be creative and come up with new ways to do things. It’s something that oddly excites and entertains me.  So, I think I would have a hard time leaving that behind as soon as my debts are paid off.

I guess there is one change that would occur. With the extra money no longer going to pay off debts, I would increase the amount I’m currently investing to build up my retirement even faster. It would be nice to retire early and devote time to volunteering, my family, or a hobby.

OK, I guess its my turn to tag some people. Let’s see…. who to pester?

What about you all? What would you do if you were debt free? I’d love to read your visions of a debt free future, so drop a comment in the comment box.