Say "Thank you" Without Breaking The Bank

Written by Brooke Wagner
DENVER (CBS4) – Tipping is one of the touchiest issues of the holiday season, especially during tough economic times.

The quandary now is many of those who work hard to make our lives easier also have had a tough year financially — so a “thank you” means more than ever. How can we reconcile the need to thank with the need to save?

It might be simpler than you think. Take off some of the pressure — you should not endanger your own family’s finances in order to say thank you or make a good impression, and certainly not to keep up with what another family is doing.

A home-baked or homemade gift is quite acceptable. Attach a card telling the person how much you appreciate all they do. In this case, it really is the thought that counts. Imagine how many of your neighbors never thank the trash collection crew. If you can’t afford a small tip, a nice card and some baked goods show you cared enough to make an effort — and doesn’t that make all of us feel good when someone else makes us feel appreciated?

Below are some traditional guidelines, with input from

First off, if you already tip the person at the point of every service, you may skip a holiday tip or give a small gift and a note. Also, consider how long the person has been working with you and if they’ve gone above and beyond this year.

1. Teachers: A meaningful gift that speaks to a teacher’s hobby or favorite things, or something needed for the classroom. Also, a small, handmade gift or card from your child — or perhaps a book for the classroom. No cash tips. Gift cards from the entire class have become increasingly popular, but they can seem like a contest to see who contributes the most. If your class goes this route, make sure to make it clear it’s voluntary, so no one feels uncomfortable or obligated. Even then, a gift card the teacher potentially could use for supplies is a smart choice. I also like thank the school principal, bus driver, office administrators, and anyone who’s worked particularly closely with my kids with a holiday card and small gift.

2. Live-in Nanny: Cash equivalent of one week’s pay or a gift (considering you probably know her or him well enough to select something). Along with a card or gift your child(ren) made.

3. Day Care Workers: Gift or tip for each person who works with your child. recommends $25 to $75 per person. Depending on how many people help your child each day, that could add up, of course.

4. Housekeeper/Cleaner: Tip equaling one service or one week’s pay

5. Stylist, barber, nail technician, personal trainer, pet groomer, massage therapist, etc: cost of one service

6. Newspaper Delivery Person, Trash/Recycling Collector, Yard Caretaker: Small gift or $10 to $12 cash.

7. Mail Carrier/Package Delivery Person: The subject of much debate. As most people know, USPS workers are prohibited from accepting cash, but did you know gift cards are also a no-no? Even larger food gifts must be shared with the entire branch. Baked goods, snack foods, or a small gift are good choices. Here’s a link to the USPS full policy:

Also, many package delivery companies frown on cash gifts, so yummy home-baked goods, a cookie tin, small gift, would be a nice way to thank your delivery person. A travel mug, gloves, or something to keep a person warm in these frigid temperatures provides another option.

8. Frequent Babysitter: Tip worth one night of babysitting, or a nice little gift. Makeup or bath kits, or school/sports items are good for young babysitters. Make sure your kids contribute a fun card.

It feels overwhelming to look at this long list, I know. Remember, if you’ve already tipped a person regularly at the point of service, a nice card, alone, is a kind gesture. And in these times no one will fault you for not giving out tips or gifts. These are just suggestions — we all have to do what’s right for our own budget — that comes first. So many people are simply trying to stay afloat in their own households. But it doesn’t cost a thing to say a heartfelt “thank you for all you do” and often, that means just as much.

Don’t forget our CBS4 Deals of the Day, and please pass along your thrifty tips in the comments section! I’d love to hear from you.

About The Blogger

– In her Brooke’s Bargains blog Brooke Wagner writes about finding bargains and saving money for her family. She calls it one of her favorite hobbies. Blog entries cover everything from the latest steals, deals, and freebies to cheap family activities, saving for college, and what to buy right now.


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