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Going out for a meal’s a treat. You’ve enjoyed some good food and someone else is going to wash up – but then comes the bill and the embarrassment of figuring out how much to tip. Some simple maths tricks can help you finish your night out with a nice mint chocolate rather than embarrassment and getting tied up with sums.

Why tip?

Different cultures and different establishments vary in their attitude to tipping. But in most British restaurants and cafes, waiting staff don’t get paid very much. Owners justify this by pointing out the extra income that comes from tips, a bit of extra money left as a recognition of good service.

It’s not obligatory to tip, particularly if the bill is very small, and many waitresses and waiters will understand if young people don’t. They normally don’t have a lot of money themselves. If you’ve asked for extras, though – maybe getting the bacon taken out of a salad, or having starters brought at the same time – it’s nice to acknowledge the extra effort. Most staff interpret not getting a tip, or at least a thank you, as a way of saying their work could be improved.

WaitressPortion size

A good rule of thumb is to tip about 15% of the total bill. You can work this out easily using some mental maths.

1. First, take the total bill: let’s say £22.52.

2. Move the decimal point one place to the left, giving you £2.252. This is the same as dividing by 10, which gives you 10% of the bill (since 10% is equivalent to 1/10).

3. Divide this number by two – rounding is fine here, we’re not looking for precision. Here, you might says that £2.25 is about £2.30, so half of it is £1.15. This gives you 5% of the bill.

4. Add the 5% to the 10% to get your 15% amount to aim for. £2.25 + £1.15 gives you £3.40.

Follow these simple steps to work out 15% of any total!

Forking over the cash

Now for the final stage: how to pay? A handful of coppers is just as awkward for the server to carry as it is for you to lug around in your wallet, and they’ll probably go straight in the charity box. You might want to round down and leave less rather than donating a pile of scrap metal.

If you’re paying by card, it’s normal to make the charge a nice round number which includes both the cost and the tip. To guess this quickly in your head, round both the cost and the tip to the nearest pound and just pay that.

Sweet endings

Remember: most servers will be grateful for anything you can give, but if you want to be sure not to give offence, divide by ten, divide that by two, and add them up! Smiles all round.