Squirreling away my $50 bills

My least favorite thing about the Christmas season is that I spend more on tips to my building staff than I do on my mom and 3 sibs. That’s just so…wrong.

Christmas tipping is a dilemma that every New Yorker has to deal with, and everyone has a different theory about how to handle it. All buildings have a super, many have doormen, and quite a few have a repertoire of service staff. My building has 1 super, 4 concierges, 3 doormen, 4 maintenance staff, and 4 porters. Some people tip periodically throughout the year for things like dry-cleaning/package receiving, transport of groceries, etc. and less at Christmas. Some don’t tip at all (full-time doormen make $70K a year on average, before tips!). And a lot of folks lie when asked how much they give, and you never know what their agenda is – are they saying less than they really give so that you’ll tip less and get worse service? are they claiming more so they don’t reveal their cheapness?

For the first few years, I gave the doormen, concierges and super $50 and the others $20. Last year I increased that to either $60 or $70 (damn, can’t remember) and $30. If doing the math makes your head hurt, that adds up to roughly $750. As hideous as that sounds, it often feels like a very tiny thank-you for keeping me safe, which is a priority for someone like me who works alone from home, dealing with naked strangers every day. Five years, no incidents, and I’m sure my vigilant building staff and lobby security cameras play a significant role in that.

With Christmas just 2 months away, I’m starting to stash any clean, crisp $50 bills I get paid with. I need 8, and right now I’ve got 4 that pass muster. It helps me sort of pre-pay for this aspect of my holiday expenses so that I don’t feel the full pain of a $750 hemorrhage all at once.

Feel free to share any of your quirky strategies for easing the pain of holiday spending!

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2 Responses

  1. Wow, that’s a lot! I’m glad the tipping culture isn’t so huge over here. That’s more than I spend on gifts for my immediate family!

  2. Thanks for this post. Makes me remember the things that weren’t so great about NYC.

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