To tip or not to tip: that is the holiday question

(BPT) – When the holiday season arrives, so too does the enigma of holiday tipping. What’s supposed to be a sign of gratitude for great service, can quickly turn into stress as you try to decide if and how much you should tip the handyman, mail carrier, babysitter and many more.

Lizzie Post, co-author of “Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th edition” and great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post, knows the finer points of tipping during the holiday season, including who to tip, how much to tip and how to stay on budget doing so. Post has teamed with up Bank of America, and here are some of her suggestions:

Make a list – The key to holiday tipping is to plan ahead so nobody gets overlooked. A tip is appropriate for people who have provided their services throughout the year, like your dog walker, housekeeper, personal trainer, hairstylist, doorman and trash collector. Don’t forget to think of the entire family in the process, as well – it’s always good to recognize babysitters, day care providers and nannies.

Scale appropriately – The general rule of thumb for holiday tipping is up to the cost of one instance of service. However, this does not ring true for everyone on your list. Individuals who provide service on a more regular basis, such as an au pair or housekeeper, may require additional recognition, such as one week’s pay. Some people who may appreciate a gift, but most likely cannot accept cash, include your child’s teacher, health care professionals and government employees, like your mail carrier. By making gift purchases for these individuals with a rewards card, such as BankAmericard Cash Rewards(TM) card, you can earn cash back on every purchase, so when the holidays conclude, you have extra money in your pocket.

Leverage technology – The holiday season is a hectic time of year for many people, so leverage technology to make life easier. Using easy-to-use tools, such as Bank of America’s mobile application, you can stay on top of account balances for gift giving and set up alerts to get balance notifications. And, with advances in mobile technology, gifting money is easier and more convenient than ever. For instance, using Bank of America’s online or mobile banking you can send money to another person using only their email address or mobile phone number, saving time, energy and effort. Prefer to send a check? No problem. Customers can simply access Bank of America’s mobile banking app on their smartphone or tablet to securely deposit checks on their schedule.

Express gratitude – It’s important to remember that above all else, holiday tipping is really holiday thanking, extending a courteous gesture as a result of service throughout the year. No matter how much or what you decide to give, it’s always important to offer your thanks with a hand-written note or holiday card. After all, it’s the thought and sentiment behind the gesture that matters most, not the gift itself.

Consider these holiday tipping guidelines from Post:
* Barber/hairstylist – cost of one salon visit or a gift
* Babysitter – one evening’s pay and a small gift
* Handyman – $ 15 to $ 40
* Au pair or live-in nanny – one week’s pay and a gift from your child(ren)
* Garage attendants – $ 10 to $ 30 or a small gift
* Day care provider – $ 25 to $ 70 for each staff member or a gift
* Personal trainer – up to the cost of one session or a gift
* Dog walker – up to one week’s pay or a gift
* Housekeeper/cleaner – up to the amount of one week’s pay and/or a small gift
* Personal caregiver – between one week to one month’s salary or a gift
* Doorman – $ 15 to $ 80 cash or a gift
* Trash/recycling collectors – $ 10 to $ 30 each
* Pet groomer – up to the cost of one session or a gift
* Yard/garden worker – $ 20 to $ 50 cash or a gift

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