I used to think I knew how to tip. Now, more and more I feel very uncertain if I’m tipping appropriately or not. When I was a teenager (maybe in middle school?), I was taught that when dining out, a 15% tip was given for good service. But, like babysitting rates, I feel like this has changed with the times.

Now, it seems a 15% tip is given for basic, average service. Was your waiter or waitress polite? Did they check on you once or twice during your meal, but you ended up missing some things, having to wait extremely long for something, or keep reminding them you needed a spoon? A 15% tip would be appropriate. Generally, I now leave an 18% tip when I feel the service has been good, my server attentive, etc. And, I would leave a 20% tip if I feel my server has somehow gone above and beyond in their service or I have done something that may have been an inconvenience to them but they handled it wonderfully (example: when I go out with girlfriends and we stay from 6:30 until 10. I leave a good tip since we have monopolized the table all night). But, is my personal tipping scale accurate? I have no idea.

And what about haircuts? Does the same set of “rules” or scale apply? At my recent haircut, I was so thrilled with the cut, my stylist and my whole experience that I wanted to leave a great tip. So I left a 20% tip. But I have no idea if that’s a good tip for a haircut not! I’ve also heard that if your stylist is also the salon owner, you do not tip. Is this true? And if it is true, why?