According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2008 more than 2.2 million Americans were working as servers and another 1 million as baristas and bartenders.
In this financial climate, the last thing you want is over 3 million people with no money to spend. This causes a hopeless cycle where people don't spend their money, so the economy suffers, then people have even less money to spend, and it goes on and on from there.
I know tipping is annoying and sometimes we wished we lived in Europe, but we don’t. Unfortunately, American wait staffs don’t get paid like they do across the pond. In some parts of the country the hourly wage for waitresses can be as low as $2.13 an hour. This equals roughly $17 for 8 hours of non-stop standing and cleaning up after people’s half-eaten scraps. What you put on that little tip line on your receipt is how your waiter or waitress makes a living. It's not a bonus.
I'm not telling you not to save, I'm just suggesting you spend your money in ways that help instead of hurt our current economic situation.
When our financial market dwindles like it has lately, our initial instinct is to hoard our money. But the only thing that can revive an economy as bruised as ours is to spend it, there’s the rub.
Hard economic times call for cutting back costs, but in the right places. Springing for the steak but leaving a smaller tip is not the most effective way to save. We’re all in this together, after all. Since the recession, my mother has made it a point to go for the lower priced items on the menu so that she can leave a bigger tip. By giving more money to your waitress and cutting back your meal cost, you know exactly where your money is going.
Think of it as buying American.