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Tips on holiday tipping when you're broke

How much do you tip the person that cuts your hair?

Is your budget being blown by holiday tipping? Marketplace Money host Carmen Wong Ulrich talks to etiquette expert Thomas Farley about how you show your appreciation during the holidays without going broke

On top of charity and giving back to our communities, here's one more way we give this season: Tipping

You may be happy to show some extra gratitude for the helpful folks in your life, like those who cut your hair to taking care of your kids to walking your dog. But you have a budget, we all do.  

That's why etiquette expert 'Mr. Manners' Thomas Farley shares some of his tips for holiday tipping:

What if you don’t have enough money to tip as much as you'd like?

“If you feel you can’t give anything, you are just aboslutely tapped out, you have no budget, you can still do something," Farley says. He suggests a card or something homemade. "You might want to just indicate in the card, 'This has been a really difficult year for me financially. I’d love to give to you like I have in the past, unfortunately I can't, but I hope you know that’s not a reflection of the great job you’re doing. Somebody getting a card like that is not going to have that resentment versus somebody who just gets nothing from you at all."

Find something unique

"In the case of a day-care worker, or a babysitter or a nanny, involve the child. Have the child do a homemade card too, that is something that’s really special," he says.

But don't go overboard with cutesy ideas. "What I really do hear a lot of from folks [like] teachers and dog-groomers, they don’t want any more kiddy-themed items as gifts. They don’t want cute cat calendars if they’re somoene who takes care of the cat," Farley says. They want a gift card, they want the retail gift card, they want some money.

Sharing is caring

If you need gifts for a whole team, Farley suggests catering to everyone's sweet tongue instead of individual gifts. "Maybe it's a plate of fresh-baked cookies. or chocolates," Farley says. "People are working extra hours, they need that sugar rush to keep going. They may even remember your amazing chocolate chip cookies more than they’ll remember a few dollars here and there."

About the author

Carmen Wong Ulrich is the former host of Marketplace Money, APM’s weekend personal finance program.

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