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How Much Do You Tip at Hotels? Mint Answers

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How much do you tip at hotels? Do you ever split the bill on a date, or should the guy always pay? How do you successfully save money if you want to avoid banks but don’t want to stash all your cash under the mattress? In a chaotic market, does it make sense to dollar cost average?

Here’s the thing about money: we tend to have lots of questions about it, not all of which we’re comfortable discussing with family, friends or coworkers. And let’s face it, sometimes the more people you can ask, the better answer you’ll get.

That’s where the newly redesigned Mint Answers comes in, a free question-and-answer service from Mint.com where anyone can join to ask personal finance-related questions, or answer those from other members.

The questions we’ve featured this week are just a few of the most popular topics discussed on Mint Answers. Click on the links to read more answers or to chime in with your response.

When staying at a hotel, who do you tip? How much?

When you stay at a hotel, who do you tip?  There’s housekeeping, doormen, valets, etc.  Do you tip every time?  And how much do you tip?

Answers:

1. I bet you’re going to hear a lot of opinions on this one. To get things rolling, here’s a guide from About.com: Tipping in hotels

2. I usually leave $1 to $2 per night if I ask the hotel cleaning service / maids to come in and straighten up my room.

3. Depends on the hotel quality. But my range is:

- Housekeeping: $3 – $5 per night

- Doormen: $0 (simply because I don’t use their services, i.e. manage my own bags, etc)

- Valets: $2 – $5 when arriving/leaving

- Bathroom Attendants: $0 (my parents taught me when I was 2 yrs old how to manage in the restroom)

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How do I successfully save money while only using cash?

I want to save money while still only using cash. I dislike using banks and don’t find them honest or trustworthy. I also don’t want to be one of those “under the mattress” kind of people, either. I need help finding ways to save without losing track, I suppose. How do I go about this? Is banking really the best/only option?

Answers:

1. Any FDIC insured bank is as safe as it gets. Up to $100,000 is insured by the government so unless the US government fails you’re safe. If you think the US government will fail, buy gold and guns.

2. Actually, the insurance limit for the FDIC is now $250,000.

As a former teller (6 years) I would suggest finding a small, local bank or credit union that you can build a relationship with.  Stop in once a week with your paycheck and make withdrawals from the tellers.  Tell the branch manager any complaints or (better) praises that you have.  Get them to know you by face and name.  You’ll develop a level of trust with that local business and hopefully you’ll be able to have your money more securely stored than keeping it on hand.

If you are afraid to keep your money in one place, try opening accounts with two or three banks so that you don’t have all of your money in one place.  Just remember that keeping your money in cash somewhere leaves it vulnerable to theft, and most insurance policies won’t cover money over a certain dollar limit. 

Saving money while on a date

On a guy’s part, is going Dutch on a date a stingy tactic or being practical? I’ve dated some guys who went Dutch, but most of them paid for the entire bill. I just wanna know what guys think.

Answers:

1. Significant others can be rather expensive. I usually pay for my gf for most things (sometimes she picks up the tab too)…

If you’re in a big city, sign up for something like Groupon or LivingSocial… killer deals that can make going out and paying for two rather cheap!

2. Generally for a first date I’ll pick up the check.  If it becomes a regular thing I try to pick up the tab more often if I make significantly more money.  This works out great for my girlfriend because she’s currently unemployed.

3. I’m old school, so I usually pick up the tab when dining out. If I can’t afford something, usually I try to avoid it.

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In a chaotic market, does it make sense to dollar cost average?

Just curious if I should keep investing in a chaotic market or sit on the sidelines until things calm down.

Answers:

1. Two observations:

1) The market is always chaotic. It’s not always as chaotic as 2008, but if you’re in the stock market, you’re going to lose and gain large amounts of money on a daily basis.

2) Dollar cost averaging never makes sense on a financial basis but may make sense for psychological reasons. Presumably you want to get into the market because you believe it will go up. If you’re dollar cost averaging, that means some of the money you intend to invest is “sitting on the sidelines” even though you believe the market is going to go up.

Here’s more on the topic from Larry Swedroe.

2. It depends on what you mean by dollar-cost-averaging. Some people use the term to describe what happens when you save and invest periodically over time (out of each paycheck, for example). This is sensible. Other people use the term to mean spreading out a lump sum investment over several weeks or months, as a way of avoiding a big investment all at once. In this second sense of the term, I agree with [the previous answer]. If you have the funds available, and you have determined the appropriate allocation for your investments, there is no good reason to delay the investment. The reason is that dollar-cost-averaging is no more likely to capture a bargain price than it is to capture a higher price when compared to a lum sum investment. The sooner you have your available funds fully invested in a properly allocated portfolio, the better your portfolio should perform. A final observation: too often dollar-cost-averaging is a salesman’s tool. It’s used to convince a reluctant prospect to accept in small doses a strategy that he couldn’t be convinced to pursue in the first place.

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Do you have a money question that you feel has no black-or-white answer? Go to Mint Answers and ask away! While you’re there, feel free to answer questions from other community members. Come back often, as we introduce new enhancements to this feature.