Color of Money Live: Let's talk about tipping

Oct 10, 2019

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Thank you for joining me today. Already have a lot of questions so let's just jump right in.

I "retired" from civil service five years ago. I knew I could live on my CSRS pension if I had to, but my finances would be tight. Very tight. I still had a mortgage. I had almost no savings outside of TSP, and I knew I didn't want to start drawing on that. I waited a while, then took a job in the private sector. I learned a month ago that my firm is downsizing and my job will be eliminated. My last day is tomorrow. I still have my CSRS pension, which is enough to pay tithes and live comfortably. I still have $140K in pre-tax retirement savings. I have almost $5K in a life happens fund. I have a new car, so I'm not expecting any major repairs. I was on track to pay off my mortgage in another two years, but I wanted to get rid of it totally. I knew I could pay it off and still have almost a year of living expenses if I combined all my other savings. Still, I was hesitant to retire the mortgage - the prospect of spending that much at one time was daunting. Nevertheless, I paid off the mortgage last Friday. Hallelujah!!! I'm so glad to have that monkey off my back! I'm confident I'll be okay if I never work again, and without the mortgage payment, I will still be able to save. But I do plan to look for other employment, and spend some of those savings on some much needed repairs to my home. Thank you for all the great advice over the years, Michelle. I haven't always followed it, and don't always agree with you, but you have changed the way I think about and handle money. You're the best!

After all the folks cussing at me about the tipping column, I needed this. 

So thank you!

And I'm so very happy for you. I heard the scream :)

Funny, I literally was just trying to get my husband to agree that when he hits that magic number 59 1/2 (he will be first) that we maybe pay off the remaining of our mortgage. He's not there yet but I'm going to show him your note. 

I really WANT that monkey off our backs.

Michelle I was really disappointed at the level of cruelty and insults thrown at you in the comments following your article on tipping 20%. I myself am on the fence on this issue, but the reason I read a financial column is to educate myself on financial decisions. Your column has sparked many a lively discussion on financial issues in my home and I attribute that to your skill in writing these columns and assisting people in making good financial decisions. There is no excuse for how badly people treated you in those comments regarding tipping and all I can do is encourage you to "keep fighting the good fight" for the rest of us who admire your abilities and advice.

Thank you!

I appreciate that you understand my role. 

My job is to give advice and write commentary. I take a stand on something and then hope people will consider it and then act in their best interest. I don't mind when readers disagree. I'm not perfect. I get things wrong (not often, though). So, let's talk about it. Why do you think I'm wrong? What's worked for you? 

This money stuff is hard and I really try to get people to think outside the box and take things further than their own perspective. It is literally my full-time job to give advice and spark debate, discussion. 

But I was completely dismayed at the comments. Not just the personal attacks and insults but the way people kept turning it back to what they don't get, such as: "If I don't get extra money for my work, why should a server." 

Just selfish thinking. 

Or completely degrading people who work in food service such as, go get another job. For many people, that is the only way they can work. Or the shift hours allows them flexibility they need to care for others. 

Anyway ...

In case you missed the column here it is: Poor service? You still have to tip 20 percent, no matter what.

And the following newsletter on the same topic. It came out today: Tipping on a sliding scale. People have a lot of opinions about it.

But is it, really? If the returns on your investments and the tax benefits of your mortgage exceed your costs, is it smart to tie up your money in your house?

But it's more about money. It's also wanting to be free. Plus, don't forget the cost of hanging on to a mortgage via interest over the years. Additionally, many people do not take the tax deduction for mortgage interest but the standard deduction. 

You are dead on right about tipping. Ignore the haters. And, haters? Get out there and advocate for eliminating the ridiculous sub-minimum wage tip credit if you don't like the situation as it is.

Right on!

Sure, in theory, you could tip when your service is egregiously bad. But I've worked in service jobs, and watched countless customers treat me and coworkers terribly for normal things. One server got 0 tip after a busy brunch because the customers had to wait for a refill on mimosas. The server had been leaving them full pitchers on the table to refill themselves, and bringing fresh pitchers within 10 minutes of them emptying. That server lost money for 2 hours of work because despite getting 0 tip he still had to tip out the bartenders and bussers at the end of his shift. When I worked at starbucks I was yelled at by customers for the parking prices at the zoo (I did not work in the zoo), had money thrown at me and yelled at for not making a drink fast enough because the customer was parked illegally, and was laughed at after I spilled scalding hot milk on myself. So if you're not going to tip the person making less than a living wage, do everyone a favor and stay home. Especially if you can't be a decent human.

Wow! People can be so rude and mean. 

I know it's not as exciting as getting all worked up and swearing, but I think you need to find a happy medium between the original purpose of tipping (reflecting value of service) and the modern reality (majority of employees' salary). I vary the amount I tip, but my bare minimum for bad service is 15%, unless it's truly awful and clearly traceable to the server (which may have been once in the past 10 years). So for me, it's 15% for bad, 20% for normal, and 25% for excellent. I will also tip proportionately more at a diner than at a fine dining establishment; it feels cheap to leave less than $2 as a tip, even if the check is $7-8. I mean, a valet gets $5 for five minutes of work, and a server is running to serve me for a bare minimum of 30 minutes.

I see your point. Thank you. 

Please share your thoughts on tipping at fast food or counter-order/pick up restaurant places. It seems like every restaurant has a tip jar or a line for tipping. If you are handing me food, does that mean I tip you? Thanks, Washington DC/female/she/her

It depends. It the food is stored so the person at the counter just turns around and hands it to me, I might not tip. But really, often I look at who is working and see that they are sometimes students or young adults so I put money in the tip jar. Plus, I'm that customer who has all kinds of special requests, which means making my things fresh. 

Honestly, lately as I get older and watch my kids count their little savings and then as I help people manage their money, when I can I err on the side of just being generous. I can afford it and it will mean a lot to someone at a low wage job. It's not that I don't get annoyed at all the tipping -- I do. But while trying to advocate to change the system, I still give to the people who are left trying to make ends meet. 

I work and I am the chief cook and bottlewasher. I am so GRATEFUL that when I eat out tht someone asks me what I want to eat, brings me my food, asks if it is ok, and takes away the dishes for me NOT to wash and clean up. All of this for 20% extra. I hate all you can eat buffets for that reason.

Thanks for this perspective. 

Hi Michelle - I'm writing because I see a train wreck about to happen and unsure what to do about it, so here goes - 1. My paternal grandmother passed away earlier this year leaving behind property and car,but no will. Fortunately, she had insurance to partially cover funeral expenses. 2. She named my dad as the beneficiary, upsetting his older brother. Some decisions were made during the funeral planning resulting in hard feelings. My dad and his three brothers aren't talking. 3. My cousin stayed with my grandmother to help her out, and now she wants to move and doesn't qualify for a place on her own because of a lack of credit history. 4. Fast forward several months and the estate is unsettled - property taxes are unpaid, penalty fees are building, the brothers still aren't speaking. I've offered to help my parents settle the estate. They say we'll talk about it, however don't follow through. I found an apartment for my cousin, who also asked her dad to co-sign, however something on their credit is holding things up. I worry an even bigger train wreck is coming with this whole situation. I've always been diligent about maintaining good credit, having an emergency fund and a life happens fund (thanks to your guidance). As much as I've tried to help, I feel like my hands are tied and I'm frustrated that they don't listen to me. Do you have any tips on how much to step in and financially help (or not help) out family members? Or is it up to me to decide how much I'm willing to financially help?

I've so been here -- a lot of times. 

I've learned you can't make people do right. So offer help, suggestions, even sending paperwork (information from the courthouse on how to open an estate, name of a good attorney, etc.). Then stand back and wait for the fallout because you are correct. It will happen. 

You might even set aside money to help if that's what you want to do -- pay the fee for a consultation with an attorney (many charge for that now). 

But only commit the time and money you can truly afford. And by time, I mean don't get so invested in fixing things that you go crazy. Grown folks will do what grown folks want to do.

So the house may go for unpaid taxes. The brothers will fight until whenever. 

Not sure about the cousin but if she lives near you, perhaps one solution is to have her come live with you. By the way, given all the financial uncertainty I would not recommend your dad co-sign for the cousin. That puts him on the hook for the rent. 

To sum up, do what you can do and then try to find peace that you may not be able to help them sort out their mess. 

In many countries it is standard practice to add a flat percentage to the bill for service. Would you like restaurants here to do that (clearly disclosed, of course)?

I would. Just tell me what I owe, upfront on the menu that I often look over before deciding to eat at a place. 

Just be transparent. 

My husband was laid off in January and is still looking for a job. Meantime, he didn't feel right collecting unemployment so he's driving limos for peanuts. But my point is: since we are paying for our own health insurance now, paying off our mortgage nearly 3 years ago prevents me from tearing my hair out from stress each month. I don't know if we would have saved money on taxes or investments by not paying it off -- that's like looking back at what you paid for an airline ticket 3 years ago and kicking yourself for not getting a better deal. The sense of freedom, the lowering of stress, the knowing we won't be homeless -- those feelings are priceless and WORTH IT. Love you Michelle! Don't let the tipping haters get you down!

I feel like you feel. And I just LOVE the airline ticket comparison. Brilliant! 

Something I didn’t see mentioned was that many restaurants require servers to pay “tip out”- at the chain restaurant I worked at, I was required to pay 1% of all of my sales to each bus boy and bartender on duty, even if I ended up busing all my own tables/didn’t make a tip from those tables. So if someone decided to not tip me, I was not only not paid, I was literally paying to wait on them. If you truly want your servers paid a living wage so you don’t feel obligated to tip, you’re going to have to harass your legislators. People at the serving level don’t have the resources to strike, and yes MANY of them are looking for other employment (I audibly snorted at the people who mentioned that “maybe they’d be motivated to look for a better job.”). For our part - both I and my spouse waited/bartended - it’s rare we leave anything less than 20%. I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve done that - and it was only for pretty egregious neglect. And during those rare times, we still left enough to cover any tip out scenario. (She/her - NC)

Grace wins the day. And yes, people please get the law changes by supporting representatives who truly represent your interests. 

I just see how hard people work for such little pay. I generally eat in low cost diners so 20% really isn't that much to me. Now I just "round up" everything. It doesn't cost me much more and they seem to really appreciate it. If you can make someone's day for a 25% tip, go for it. You get more pleasure from seeing them smile.

You are so right. And even if you don't see the smile, your heart knows and isn't that worth the price to err on the side of generosity? Even -- yes -- when people aren't giving you the gold star service you feel you deserve. 

I judge a person's character by how they treat people less powerful than them. I have no patience for people who criticize "lazy" poor people for not pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps, and then turn around and justify stiffing people who are trying to do just that by claiming it's their own fault for not getting a "good enough" job. I'm going to do what I can to support people who are working their butts off trying to help themselves. I can hate the system while still feeling for the people who are stuck within it.

Can I get church here? 

AMEN!

This is just plain imprudent financially. The OP's husband PAID for unemployment insurance, it's not a handout or charity.

Actually, I did have that feeling too. Unemployment insurance taxes are paid by the employer however. But one could argue that the tax may suppress wages. Still, I agree that the husband shouldn't feel less than by taking unemployment. But I also read it as the husband wanted to work, needed to work.  

I am sorry that you received vitriol for your tipping column. I think people are heated up in general and take any excuse to blow off some of that pent up anger and frustration. We can have a discussion without animosity. A few years ago your chat addressed tipping the housekeepers at hotels. At first, you were not in favor of it. I wrote in to say that I appreciated the hard work that went into keeping the room tidy and providing clean towels and linens, and that we tipped daily when we stay in a hotel. It is not a big output for us, but can add to someone's quality of life. You very graciously saw that side of the argument and said you would consider a tip in the future. No arguments, no animosity, just an exchange of ideas. Let's try to be civil, people. Thanks, Michelle, for the column, the chat, and the work you do.

So you were the one! 

Thanks for changing my perspective. 

When I visited Greece, they still had a tip line on the credit card receipt. But Greece doesn't have the tradition of tipping. I filled in my tip anyway. The owner told me that the banks didn't take the tip and that I should leave a cash tip if I wanted to. I suspected he was scamming me, but when the credit bill came in there was no tip added. He was right.

I love the freedom of not tipping overseas. And like you this does not mean I don't tip. In fact, in some places when I tried the server or person helping refused the money. 

There is NO shame in collecting unemployment! I've collected it three times in 10 years. You do what you have to do, it's your money!

No shame at all. 

Unemployment compensation is a funded insurance benefit. Your husband's former employer paid premiums so that its employees could get unemployment benefits if they were laid off. The money is there to help support you while you are looking for work that actually utilizes your skills and, hopefully, pays a comparable salary to the last one. Please look to see if it is still possible to make the unemployment claim, and then tell your husband that looking for a job is just as time consuming as working one if you do it right. When I was a really little kid, my dad was laid off and my grandparent let him come over to their house (they were just a mile and half away) and use my grandfather's home office to job search. So, he had a phone and a desk and no little kids running around his ankles. He *worked* at finding a new job and it happened. You can't do that when you are exhausted from driving a limo.

Really kind and thoughtful response. Thank you. 

All this mortgage monkey stuff just makes me never want to get one at all. Why let him climb on you in the first place!? :)

Lol!

Still, I love having a home that I hope will eventually be mine when I pay off the mortgage. Yet, a lot of folks think what you think because a home is not always a money saver. It can be a money pit.

Too many people seem to want to wage war on everyone, and use every opportunity to do so - including eating at a restaurant. So much anger; it seems like they are angry at everyone, but really they are angry at themselves. And this is just about the amount of tipping! I presume you have seen the articles about bigots who refuse to tip waitstaff for being a particular ethnicity or race; the "religious" people who leave fake tips that appear to be money; or those who claim they can't support the waitstaff's XYZ (marital status? presumed gender? presumed sexual orientation?) and therefore won't tip them.

Yes, yes and oh definitely yes. I've heard from so many in the business who talk about how people don't tip for all kinds of reasons. So much anger. It's heart breaking. 

Danny Meyer is a NY restrauranteur who has owns restaurants from the Shake Shack to more high end eateries. A few years ago he eliminated tipping or an automatic percentage on the bill. He just pays his employees a better wage and provides health care and leave. He hoped others in the industry - especially at the top of fine dining and at in demand restaurants - would follow. But they haven’t. Even wealthy owners of expensive dining establishments prefer to leave their employees behind.

Yes, I wrote about this, which is why I had the followup that sparked so much swearing. 

Some servers did leave because they felt they could make more with tips. But these folks worked at very high-end restaurants. It's a tough issue. But I think overall for most servers it's better to have a salary that is steady and can help take care of their family without having to rely on the whims of customers. 

Read: How much to tip when the service is bad

 

Thanks, everyone. He wanted to try and earn enough on his own, even though I reminded him he'd paid into the system. Turns out, limo driving is not lucrative (he depends on tips for 1/2 his weekly income). So he's still driving and the unemployment office deducts the difference between a full benefit and what he earned. I still think he deserves to just look for work full-time, but once he took the limo job, he's stuck -- he can't quit it because then he'd lose all the unemployment. Catch-22.

Wow. At least he was trying to make a bad situation better. Good luck to you and him. 

I help run volunteer events in hotels and have always had a "tip for every thing the house staff do for you" rule - water service refilled, trash cans emptied, tables moved around (outside of the usual scheduled room turns). I've sometimes heard push back from other volunteers, but regret none of it. It makes sure our spaces are treated well, and it's meaningful to the staff, who are often treated so poorly by other guests.

Good for you! I love it when people think through to how they can help others.

I have to thank you for your perspective and for all your advice, and for sparking important conversations within my own family! Before we were married I sent my husband some of your columns and we are both committed to saving what we can and keeping our debt low. We purchased a home for much less than we were approved for, keeping my paid off car as our vehicle, cooking our meals and bringing lunch etc. As it happens, his best friend from high school was buying a home and having babies at the same time. Whenever drive home from visiting these dear friends my husband always wistfully notes the new ATV, or new his and hers cars, or the 3rd bathroom, or redone deck, etc. Well the other day we were all chatting together and I mentioned I'd had some unexpected dental work recently, and writing that 1,800.00 check out of the emergency fund really stunk. Our friends looked at us with bug eyes absolutely amazed we could write that check and not put it on a card. Driving home that night my husband was proud as a peacock. It's easy to feel like you have "less than" when you're comparing material things, but the peace of mind in being able to take care of each other and our family is priceless.

Okay, all of you are making me tear up. Because I was low. I'm a columnist for The Washington Post. So I expect feedback, pushback, etc. but the level of insults for the last column was just too much. I mean it's tipping for goodness sake. People aren't going to miss out on retirement because they tipped a few extra dollars. 

Anyway, thank you for sharing this story. Just lovely. 

What is this "You will die!" business? I'm sure not planning on it.

I know you are joking. 

But people get your house in order.

Read: You will die. Don’t exit leaving a hot mess behind.

 

My dad died suddenly without a will. Fortunately my siblings and I get along and pushed through without much drama. After that, my oldest sibling (a financial adviser) pushed for everyone to get their documents together, especially my mom. Just over a year later my stepdad died without his new will signed off by the lawyers, and my mom is still trying to sort out some of the accounts 15 months after his death, SMH. While we need to update our will to include our upcoming child, I have some comfort in knowing our burial plot is paid for and all our financial accounts have beneficiaries assigned. Question though - if we don't have an updated will but beneficiaries are okay on my accounts, will they pay out to beneficiaries with no issues?

Another reminder to get you estate in order.

Insurance and such with named beneficiaries are not impacted by the lack of a will or an updated will. So you are fine. But be sure to have secondary beneficiaries too. 

The problem I face in tipping the housekeeping staff is that I often don't have cash with me to be able to tip each day (and it was pointed out during a conference that we should tip each day because the staff changes). Are there any clever ways to handle this, other than remembering to stock up on smaller bills before traveling?

I know right. I just try to make sure I have cash when I'm traveling. I sometimes forget but trying to get better at it. 

When you put the trip on your calendar also include a note to get cash. 

You are right about tipping for poor service...it's not like wait staff are driving Ferraris. Now that I'm older, I'm trying to make up for my poor tipping (mea culpa!) during my young poverty-stricken years. Additionally, the Federal rule that mandate employers make up the difference between the given wage and tips should be enforced. I don't care if this drives up the cost of eating out - it reflects reality.

You are so right.

I was someone with a vague interest in personal finance for a while, but never really took any of the lessons to heart (sorry, The Billfold!). It wasn't until I started reading your columns and more importantly, participating in these chats, that I really started being serious about managing my finances for the first time. My emergency fund and savings account have you to thank for their existence.

Thank you for this.

Remember to let someone else know the passwords to your phone and computer! And any on-line accounts. Friends have had relatives die and the phone becomes a useless paperweight, the computer a doorstop. Also if you are executor make sure to get enough death certificates - you always need more than you think you will.

Good advice. 

I was struck by how many people refused to tip 20% because it was the restaurant's job to pay the workers, but said they would pay a hypothetical "mandatory service charge." If you truly had no problem paying, then it shouldn't bother you if you pay it on the tip line instead of baked into the meal price. I agree that restaurants should pay their people better. But in the meantime, this is the system we have now. This comes off as a dodge - claiming that the whole way we've paid servers should change and so until it does you are not going to personally meet your obligations. I was also struck by how much of a power trip it seemed to be for some people to make servers hop for a few extra bucks, maybe they should just stay home and stream Downton Abby for that fix? Personally, I tip a baseline of 20% and then go up from there for great service. If I am dining with my kid (who is well behaved and whom I supervise attentively) that baseline becomes 25% AT THE VERY LEAST. I do wonder if there is a generational difference here. I am a millennial and 20% is the norm in my cohort. And before anyone piles on, yes, I am saving a good deal in all my buckets. But I am not going to do it by screwing over others.

Word!

We married at 19 and 22 and had nothing. Forty-five years later, everything we have is held jointly and we are the primary and the kids the secondary beneficiaries on our savings/retirement accounts. So, why would we need wills? The odds of us dying at the same time are quite small and the kids would get it all in that case. I can see a point in a will when there is only one of us left, but don't see any point in spending the money to have one drawn up until that point.

There is more to a will than just your stuff. What if you are medically incapacitated? Who will make decisions for you? 

And families travel together, what if you are all in a car accident? We drive around with all three of our kids all the time. We travel together on vacation.

Besides if you won't beat the odds, you don't want to leave confusion behind. And trust me people will fight over a plate. 

Even the kids who may appear to get along. 

Stop eating out and/or getting take-out food so much. You'll not only save on tips, but also on the cost of the food if you make your own meals.

True. Particularly if you have debt -- credit card, student loans, etc. 

My mother has early onset dementia at age 62 and is unable to continue working. Her only income is social security. She owes $1400 on one credit card at 8% interest. She owes almost $5K on another at 24% interest. She struggles to pay the minimum payment on both. If she defaults on the higher balance/higher interest one, she can pay off the other in a year. I can't imagine that she will ever need credit again. Other than moral/ethical reasons, is there any reason not to default on one or both? (Hampton, VA, she/her)

For now, call the credit card lenders and explain the situation. You might even be asked to supply medical documentation. It's possible the lenders will suspend the interest or reduce the amount that your mother needs to pay. 

Also reach out to a nonprofit credit counseling agency. Go to debtadvice.org

Your mother may also be a candidate for bankruptcy, something you can discuss with the nonprofit. 

Please let me know how things are going. You can email me at colorofmoney@washpost.com 

If it was mandatory for everyone to spend some time working in a service industry it would be culture changing. Your column revealed how hard hearted some people are and how much they think they have earned everything they have by 'hard work' when really they were born on third base.

I was stuck by the hard hearts. And I mean hard!

Be sure to check your beneficiaries! My primary is pretty straightforward - my spouse. But I realized that I set up a lot of accounts after my first kid was born so she is my secondary beneficiary. Fast forward and I'm realizing that I never added my second kid! Wouldn't that be a cruel surprise for kiddo #2?!

It would and could cause a lot of animosity between the two of them. 

Your house and cars and other physical assets are going to have to be sold when you die. Do you want your kids fighting over who gets them?

Exactly. 

My teenaged daughter is in a group where the different chapters meet Saturday nights and then all meet up at a local diner (and boy is it crowded). As the tables split the bill, I make sure she has cash. I've told her to calculate the cost of her food, add 25% (local tax plus tip and the math is easy), and then add $2-3. Why the extra? Because the waitstaff is often very busy and, unfortunately, others might undertip. And $2-3 won't make a difference in our wallet but probably in the waitstaff.

You are teaching your daughter well. 

For those hotels that have a self-serve hot breakfast in the lobby as part of the room charge, please remember the person stocking it, and cleaning the tables. My elderly mother and I tipped a lady in NC at a hotel and she was so touched, she DID start to cry and said that in all of her years doing this NO ONE had tipped her.

Wow. I promise to remember this. 

My father-in-law lived comfortably within his means. Occasionally he would tip very well (think 50% or more). He did it at greasy diners and nice restaurants, wasn't a jerk of a customer with lots of demands, and never mentioned the tip to the server. It was always a pleasure to see the waiter/waitress come back and really thank him for a generous tip. It made their day! We carry on the tradition when we can. It's a tribute to him and we know we are helping others.

What a legacy!

That is always first on my pre-travel checklist. I get enough cash for each day of my stay, set it aside in a separate envelope and lock it in the room safe. While we were taught to tip housekeeping as kids, it was what Ted Kennedy's son said at his funeral that solidified that teaching. When as a kid, he found cash left on the bureau in a hotel room, he gave it to his father "You forgot this." The senator replied firmly that he didn't "forget it." "Making beds all day is back breaking work and it doesn't pay very well. The housekeeper earns this." Backbreaking is right!

Good tip.

When I travel, as I check out of the hotel, I leave an envelope with my name, room number, and dates of stay containing $3-5 in cash per day with the desk. Then the money can be distributed appropriately among the housekeepers.

Hadn't thought of this. 

You need a will at a minimum to name an executor or co-executor. I'm an only child, my parents were of modest means, my dad went first, then my mom. I was one of those cut-and-dried cases. But that will helped in that by the court declaring me executor right away, I could get going and start dealing with the assets and taxes due. One thing that could have been done better was a structured trust to shelter some of my mom's modest savings from probate taxes, but it was only a few hundred bucks to pay it so not the end of the world. Anyway, your case sounds simple, so an attorney could do one up in a jiffy. Or maybe there's a simple software program out there for DIY. Whatever you do, PLEASE put all relevant information in one place. Before my mom lost her marbles, she put it all in a big envelope and told me where to look. When she died suddenly, I was reeling, but I had the envelope. In there was the will, bank info. birth certicate copies, marriage license copies, my dad's death certificate. I'm middle aged, but I do need to do this for my kids (one young adult and one in school yet).

Thanks for sharing this.

I just wanted to say hang in there, you are RIGHT about tipping. Try not to let the incivility get you down!

I'll try.

So sorry but I have to wrap up. Thank you for joining me today. I needed every kind word -- every single one. 

As always, please know that if I didn't get to your question today I look at all the comments and questions. And often address them in a column.

Take care and see you next week. 

In This Chat
Michelle Singletary
Michelle Singletary writes the nationally syndicated personal finance column, "The Color of Money," which appears in The Post on Wednesday and Sunday and is carried in more than 120 newspapers.

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