DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: I’m in a bicycling club, and we plan our Sunday rides so that we always wind up at a cafe. There, some of us order lunch, while others just have coffee drinks of one kind or another. I’ve noticed that the coffee drinkers generally tip 15 to 20 percent on their drinks, and to me that’s not enough, given that they’ve taken the table for over an hour. But no one else seems to think this is a problem. Am I wrong? — Chris
DEAR CHRIS: We’d bet the servers think it’s a problem.
If the coffee drinkers are taking up seats that otherwise would be filled by lunch customers — if, in other words, the cafe is busy — then your companions should be making the server whole for the tips he or she missed out on while serving them only coffee. And even if the cafe is largely empty, the server probably deserves a dollar or two for checking on the table for over an hour, not 15 to 20 percent of the price of a latte.
Bottom line: When you occupy a table for an extended period and the tab is only a couple of bucks, you need to think of the tip in terms of bills, not coins.
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Reciprocate when appropriate
DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: I’ve often been the houseguest of my girlfriend’s parents at their vacation home. To reciprocate for their hospitality, I usually bring them a bottle of good wine and take them out to a nice dinner. On my next visit, however, my girlfriend’s sister’s new boyfriend will be there, and I know he’s unemployed right now and has very little money. So what should I do?
I don’t want to show him up by bringing an expensive gift and taking everyone out to a pricey meal, and I certainly don’t want to make him feel obligated to do the same. But my girlfriend’s parents are very generous when they entertain us, and I want to reciprocate in kind. Also, these folks probably are going to be my in-laws someday, and I wouldn’t want them to think I take their generosity for granted. — M.R.
DEAR M.R.: And people think that folks with dough don’t have money problems.
You’re right to be concerned about your fellow houseguest’s feelings and budget. But, happily, there’s no law that says you need to reciprocate for your girlfriend’s parents’ hospitality at the time it occurs. Just ask her to explain to her folks that you’d like to take them out at a later date.
Go ahead, though, and take that bottle of wine. Your girlfriend’s sister’s boyfriend is unlikely to know what it cost. And besides, regardless of his finances, he should be bringing a house gift as well.
Check state laws when there’s no will
DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: At the time she died, my paternal grandmother’s home was full of valuable antiques, plus she had some stocks, and she owned the house outright. Since she didn’t have a will, her three living children just divided up her estate among themselves. Because my dad is deceased, my sister and I got nothing. But I don’t see why her estate wasn’t divided by four and my dad’s share given to his children. Weren’t my sister and I entitled to our father’s share of our grandmother’s estate? It seems only fair. — Lynn, The Great Lakes
DEAR LYNN: Each state has laws that dictate how the estate is to be divided should someone die without a will. In other words, it wasn’t up to your aunts and uncles to decide who got what; they should have followed the law. And in many places, the law favors you and your sister. So talk to a lawyer in the state where your grandmother resided. He or she can tell you whether you and your sister are entitled to a portion of your grandmother’s estate and, if so, how to go about claiming it.
Email your questions about money and relationships to firstname.lastname@example.org.
| King Features Syndicate