Recession Etiquette: How to Live Cheaply Without Being Cheap

September 22 2009, 7:14 AM
As I talk with local bars and restaurants about their specials and happy hours, I've been hearing more and more frustration from the waitstaffs. It turns out that while we've been trying to live affordably, some of us may be exploiting the specials. I've taken notes on the complaints and created three simple rules on how to take advantage of discounts but stay on the good side of your server: 1. Budget for the tip. So you've discovered your bar of choice is offering $1 drafts, which is very exciting. But before you gather those dollar bills, remember that a $1 draft does not include the tip. I have a limited budget, so I tend to take out only the cash I can afford to spend for the night. No matter what that amount may be, I always add a dollar to every drink for the tip. In my world, it's better to have two beers and a happy waitress than three drinks and the stink eye. 2. If you get free drinks, tip on them. It's always a welcome surprise to see that a few of your drinks have been left off your receipt. But be sure to show your thanks by tipping on the drinks as if they were part of the total; your server is going above and beyond by sliding you some freebies, and you should definitely show your gratitude. 3. Don't exploit the free food. I admit: I'm guilty of one of the most popular complaints. I enjoy going to places that offer a plate of free bread or a basket of chips and salsa, and then ordering whatever drink is on special. Now that I've heard the dissent from the waitstaff, however, I'm definitely more prone to finding a way to modestly order something from the menu. Adding an extra $5 often means you and a friend can split a small pizza or appetizer.