Brainy Chick Finance

Life Hacks

Holiday Tipping 101

Holiday Tipping 101
Here’s who you should tip — and how much:

As first posted by Nicole Lapin on

Personal employees: If you have a housekeeper, nanny, personal trainer, dog-walker, or any other person who is regularly working in your home, they come first. The custom is to tip them a day’s wages, but I also like the idea of giving them an extra day off if you can manage (after all, they probably have holiday shopping of their own to tackle!). If you do go the cash route, tuck it inside a festive card with a thoughtful note from the whole family. Gift cards are also a nice gesture, but unless you know their tastes, keep it generic (Visa or Target gift cards are usually a safe bet).

Doorman and superintendent: If you live in an apartment building or condo complex, your doorman and superintendent are the next group of people with whom you probably have the most day-to-day contact. Tipping varies wildly by region, just as rent does, so asking your neighbors (especially those who have lived in the building for a while) is a good way to start. If you’re still not sure, calculate 5% of your monthly rent and offer that as a cash tip. Homemade gifts like cookies and candy are also a nice reminder that you appreciate the work they do for your home.

Mail Carrier: You may not see him or her every day, but your mail carrier is probably the busiest person you know this time of year. Just remember that U.S. Postal Service regulations prohibit them from collecting a tip or gift worth more than $25. A small cash tip left inside a holiday card is fine, and how nice for them to open your mailbox only to find something addressed to them! Otherwise leaving out brownies, candy canes, and other treats is always appreciated.

Teachers: Don’t tip your teacher (or your child’s). Just don’t. It’s inappropriate for someone who is so intimately involved with your or your child’s development and could even be seen as a bribe. Instead, opt for a small, thoughtful gift like a wall calendar or plant for the classroom. And remember to keep it secular, especially if the teacher works at a public school. If you or your child has more than one teacher, it’s completely acceptable to award only those who have had a particular impact or with which you have formed a closer connection.

Beauty Squad: If you’re like many women, you’re probably going to see your hairdresser, nail technician, and other beauty experts during the holidays; after all, a gal’s gotta look good for the annual holiday card photo! So there’s no need to seek them out for a tip; just tack on an extra 5% to what you usually tip at your next appointment. You can adjust this amount based on how often you see them: if you only get your hair cut twice per year, an extra 3% is totally understandable. But if you’re an “every 4 to 6 weeks” kind of gal, you may want to ramp it up to 7% or even 10% for all the time you spend in their chair.

Servers and Bartenders: There’s no need for more substantial tipping at restaurants and bars around the holidays, but of course if you feel compelled go right ahead. Instead, remember that this is a hectic time of year for any waitstaff, and make sure to let them know you appreciate their service (if it’s good, of course). A quick “thank you” or “happy holidays” after your signature will be welcome cheer when they collect your bill at the end of the night.
…and remember, no matter who you’re tipping or how much, it’s the delivery that counts. Always include a personal note, especially in the event that you’re giving less than usual — or can’t afford to give it all. That way your recipient will feel appreciated regardless of the dollar amount inside. And that’s what this season is all about, right??

How the Presidential Election Could Impact Your Money

How the Presidential Election Could Impact Your Money

Watching the presidential elections always makes me think about my money. While there are a ton of important issues, I always relate it back to how is this going to impact me? And many of their positions and policies are focused around money or could impact my money in ways that I cannot control.

How the Presidential Election Could Impact Your Money

Regardless of which side you relate to most, regardless of who becomes President, their policies could impact your future. The presidential election could impact your money.


Their economic policies could cost you money. If you are working towards earning more, you could move up a tax bracket, causing you to pay more in taxes. One way to circumvent this is to put your money in as many retirement vehicles as possible that will tax you in a lower income bracket today versus when you get closer to retirement.

Recommendation: Max out your 401k, max out a Roth IRA

Increase in interest rates

With interest rates so low, there is nowhere for them to go but up. What does that mean if you are looking to buy a home, car, or even student loans? Basically, with the historical all-time low rates, there could be a chance that the Federal Reserve will raise them in December. For a big purchase, every time that interest rate increases, you can feel the sting.


Foreign Policy

While their decisions will impact foreign policy, and the outlook on foreign affairs, it could trickle down to the travel that you make.

Take for example, the Brexit vote a few months ago, not only did it affect foreign policy, but the pound is worth much less compared to the USD. In this example, if you are from the US and have any interest in traveling to England specifically, within the next year or so you might start to plan your trip. With the pound being down, our USD can go much further over there. Translation: it will be cheaper to travel and stay in England.

Oil Prices

Not to get too deep into the interconnectedness of the oil industry, but as of today, oil prices are relatively low compared to a few years ago. But that does not mean that they won’t fluctuate when a new President comes into term.

While your econ class might seem a distant memory, supply and demand does affect price, so you could see gas prices go up in the future. While prices at the pump might not seem like they change that much, a major jump like a $1/gallon could mean an extra $40 every time you fill up. And within a month, that can be close to $100 depending on your driving.

Recommendation: Evaluate your budget and if gas prices go up, can you budget support an equivalent to an extra tank of gas each month. If it can’t, look into cutting one thing out of your budget or look into how you can increase what you are making.

When it comes time to vote in November, make sure you look at how the policies could impact you and your wallet not just today but in the future.

The One Habit All Millionaires Have

The One Habit All Millionaires Have

The one habit that all millionaires have is that they are not afraid to take a chance, even if it might cost money.

What allows them to take the risk? They are set up for the fall out.

The One Habit All Millionaires Have

If an opportunity costs money, they are comfortable spending money to see the outcome. For example, every year the financial community comes together during the annual Fincon event. A typically ticket costs just below $200 and a pro pass can be around $500. Now the pro pass seems, to some, very expensive. But to a millionaire, they would determine what that $500 would get them before evaluating the cost.

If they can determine that the opportunity out ways the cost, they will take it. In this example, if the millionaire wants to heavily network, get great information on their hobby or expertise, and meet up with sponsors, the $500 might be a deal during this conference. Plus, in this case, the cost will also become a tax write off. They won’t let the initial cost of the opportunity be the reason they say no.

How they are prepared for the fall out:

Before millionaires take on risk, they protect themselves. Essentially, you want to make sure that your money will continue to work for you and that this one opportunity wont heavily impact your net worth. Each situation is different, but the main things millionaires will already have taken care of (or are in the process of) are:

  • Millionaires have either funded their 401k or the like for the year already or they have automated the process to complete the full contribution by the end of the year. If they are wanting the tax write off and want to put away even more money, they will do it as a Roth and make sure that they contribute to their Roth IRA as well.
  • An emergency can happen at any time and millionaires are prepared for it. Some not only have a rainy day fund (every day to day emergencies) but also an emergency fund that could kick in if they lost their job or a major occurrence happened. More specifically, they continue to fund these accounts even if they are past the minimum. How do they do this? Though automatic and reoccurring deposits. They set it up and forget it.
  • Diversified Portfolio. Chances are most millionaires continue to amass their net worth by keeping part of their income in investments. The easiest is the stock market, whether it is through individual stocks, mutual funds, or robo advisors, like Betterment. Their money will continue to grow even if the opportunity does pan out. Additionally, most millionaires also assess whether the opportunity will help them make more money in the long run. Whether it is an investment in another business or real estate, for examples, they will assess how much additional money they could make or if the investment could help them make more money in the future.
  • Tax Write Offs. Millionaires will minimize the impact through tax write offs. In the previous example, anything geared towards investment or personal finance can be considered a tax write off, so from buying a book or for attending the previously mentioned conference, you can try and recoupe as much of it back through your taxes as possible.

Most millionaires will never let the price be the initial factor that will stop them from saying no to an opportunity. The one habit that all millionaires have is that they are not afraid to take a chance, even if it might cost money.

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