Oct 30

Adventures In Tipping: FinCon 2017

I just got back from FinCon 2017. FinCon is a massive financial content expo/conference with over 1700 attendees this year. In other words, it is where financial bloggers go hang out every year and have fun/share ideas/network.


I’m tired of writing about depressing things like my back pain or burnout or suicide. I mean this is The Happy Philosopher after all. This doesn’t mean I won’t write about those things from time to time, as we need to dive into the darker side of humanity to give contrast to the light. Exploring depression, pain and all forms of suffering will paradoxically move us to a better place, but we should periodically come up for air.


This post has nothing to do with happiness, philosophy, or really much of anything. So feel free to stop reading, go about your day and wait for the next email from me alerting you to a new post. That one will probably be the official FinCon write-up.



I always tip, as in gratuity. I’ve heard of cow tipping where people go and knock over sleeping cows (which are standing up for some reason), but that is not what this post is about. I believe in tipping, unlike the iconic Mr. Pink from Reservoir Dogs. The only time I don’t tip is when I either have no cash on me or I simply forget (or the service is truly terrible). My wife is a much more generous tipper than I, maybe a bit too generous. You can be the judge. I will put our restaurant tipping scales in perspective:


Service Level

Mrs. Happy Philosopher

Mr. Happy Philosopher

Above and beyond the call of duty 28% up to our entire net worth 20-25%
Good service 25% 18%
Marginal service 22% 10-15%
Spits in our food 18% Nothing
And steals our credit card information 15% Calls police



I think you get the idea here…

[Mrs. Happy Philosopher: This is a slight exaggeration]



Well, I found myself at FinCon with only credit cards (all earning cash or points of course), a $20 bill and a $100 bill. Not exactly a perfect blend of assets to tip housekeeping for a few nights, so I went down to the front desk to make change. I patiently wait my turn in line and eventually find myself face to face with a very nice woman at the front desk. Everyone is so darn nice here in Texas. I explain to her my situation. She smiles and she says no problem. I handed her my $20 bill and she walked back to some room where I’m guessing they keep the money.


Several minutes go by and I’m getting a bit curious. Where did she go and why is this taking so long? Is she alright? Was she just getting ready to go on break? Maybe a bathroom emergency? Maybe she went to an actual bank?


Well, I wasn’t in any hurry or anything, so I patiently waited, trying to look the part of blogger/philosopher (in case any of my 3 fans were watching).


So she finally returns, smiles politely and places my change on the counter…


Now there are two loose categories of events that happen in your life.


  1. Those that are expected (you order food at a restaurant and they bring it to you)
  2. Those that are unexpected (You rent a car and instead they bring out a horse)


You know what to do in both of these situations.


In the first case you smile, eat your food and probably leave a tip (see tipping guide above).


In the latter case, you will insist that you rented a car, pull out your rental agreement and politely ask for a Chevy Malibu or whatever else they use for rental cars these days. You simply refuse to rent the horse.



But then there are those events that are somewhere in the middle…


Like when you ask for change for a twenty and you are handed two rolls of quarters.

Is that a roll of quarters in your pocket or…?


It’s technically what I asked for (change) but sort of weird enough that it’s unexpected.


I was at a loss. I didn’t really know what to say but I did know that the silence and inaction were becoming a bit uncomfortable. Did she really think that I  wanted quarters to tip housekeeping? Did I look that cheap? Was this some sort of trick and I was on camera? I wanted to go to the conference and I didn’t want to wait another 10 minutes while something worse happened.


I thanked her, sheepishly picked up my quarters (thank God they were in rolls and not loose!), and walked back to my room. Listing a bit to the right due to the weight, I wondered if this was going to mess up my back further for the rest of the conference. Nah, I could always switch them to the other pocket about half way there. Nobody will notice in the elevator if I’m discreet.


It was only about five minutes later, as I sat on my bed staring at the horribly ugly carpet in my hotel room that I thought of all the clever things I could have said like:


“Yeah, I was really looking for something smaller like nickels.”


“This will make that trip to the strip club later a little awkward.”


“Hey can I get a luggage cart to make transport a little easier.”

or maybe

WTF am I supposed to do with all these quarters?!?!


Oh well, I had a conference to go to and I needed to move on with my life. I sprinkled a handful of quarters near my pillow each morning (which looked like the work of a drunken tooth fairy) and hit the convention floor.


*Insert legit FinCon post here when written 😉


As I boarded the plane home, with a smile on my face and some good memories in my pocket (along with a bunch of left over quarters) I was just thankful I didn’t hand her the $100.

*Housekeeping did a great job and my stay was wonderful. Official FinCon2017 post to follow shortly. I haven’t written anything in a while and wanted to give you something today 🙂

**Note to self…bring small bills to Orlando in 2018


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    • Andy on October 30, 2017 at 4:58 pm
    • Reply

    Hilarious post! That’s very odd about the quarters. I can only assume that she somehow perhaps misunstood you, but that’s funny nonetheless. I once casually bet a coworker $50 on a football game (which is asinine because I don’t watch football at all). I lost of course, but to inject a bit of humor into my financial blunder I actually went inside the bank and waited 30 minutes while they retrieved $50.00 worth of pennies from the vault. I learned very quickly that not everyone shares my sense of humor.
    I too share Mrs. Happy Philosophers approach to tipping. Maybe its a trait related to personality type?

    1. Your question intrigues me. I do not know the answer, but it would be interesting to study.

    • fierymillennials on October 30, 2017 at 5:47 pm
    • Reply

    Ahahahahahajahaja hilarious!! I am always taken aback by people willing to ignore the social scripts. It’s amazing what happens when you just ask!

    1. Yeah, this was definitely outside of what I would consider social norms.

  1. I can’t believe you didn’t share this tidbit earlier! I too went to get change at the front desk but, despite asking for $20 in quarters, I was given $20 in dollar bills. Such a bummer! When I make it rain I like to hear the sound of money actually hitting the floor. 😉

    1. Hahaha, now that comment really did make me laugh out loud! I did share the story, just apparently not with the right people.

    • Physician on FIRE on October 30, 2017 at 5:56 pm
    • Reply

    Is that a roll of quarters in your pocket or are you just happy philosophizing?

    1. Yes.

    • Dr. Curious on October 30, 2017 at 6:05 pm
    • Reply

    Maybe she thought you were looking to park at a meter for 3 straight days.

      • Dr. Curious on October 30, 2017 at 6:07 pm
      • Reply

      Also, I will often go to the bank and get $100 in ones when traveling abroad to a location that likes American dollars for tips. I always feel compelled to explain myself, and I always get that “yeah-right-you’re-going-to-a-strip-club” look from the teller.

      1. Hahaha, better if you look kinda nervous and glance from side to side.

  2. I used Uber for the first time at FINCON17. After the ride was over, then I realized the smallest I had was a 20. Then I discovered I could leave a tip on the Uber app and the crisis was avoided. I like to leave good tips.

    It was nice to meet you at FINCON17.

    1. Yeah, great meeting you too Cory.

  3. I can’t imagine why someone would actually hand you change. That is so bizarre I laughed out loud!!! Sounds like a great time at FinCon though!!!

    1. It was a great time, definitely worth it in my opinion.

  4. I may just call you the drunken tooth fairy from now on, ok?

    1. Perfect, that is my next blog name anyways 😉

    • RocDoc on October 30, 2017 at 8:17 pm
    • Reply

    This was awesome! I never knew a story about getting change could be so funny but it’s all in the way it’s told. Hope you can lighten your load soon and sprinkle some more drunk tooth fairy tips on some other innocent victims!

    1. Well, I still have some quarters left over so…

  5. This is so funny … Maybe the lady knew FinCon was going and since we all PF bloggers are supposedly “cheap” maybe she thought that’s the way we roll when tipping … Just hilarious!

    1. Haha, yeah, I have no idea what the thought process was, and it was so strange I just had no response.

  6. The Mr & I pretty much just cried while reading this. That my friend is a great post! So nice getting to meet you and have lunch together this past week. You truly gave me a ton of inspiration for future posts. One could say a penny for your thoughts… or was it a quarter.

    1. Awesome. I can’t wait to read them. I really loved meeting you both!

      1. This post was so good that you just inspired me to create a list of blog posts that I want to remember. You are officially the first one on it. Apparently you just have a way to spark inspiration in me.

        1. Wow. I’m honored. The inspiration bar is set high for me now. I will try and deliver. 🙂

  7. This is easily my favorite FinCon Recap. No need for the Legit Recap, you win. Just bask in the glory and move on!! LOL!! I’m wiping tears off my cheeks as we speak.

    It was great to finally meet “the idiot that ran a half-marathon without training”!

    1. Lol! I still can’t believe THAT article was your entry point to my blog…hilarious! I will still write another article about FinCon17 though, perhaps more tears coming 😉

  8. Hilarious!
    I had plenty of singles but no quarters for the hotel washer and dryer. Guess we should have done an exchange. You made me laugh My Friend!

    1. Hahaha, I seems I should have told this story to more people…housekeeping may have actually gotten some bills!

    • hatton1 on October 31, 2017 at 4:33 am
    • Reply

    Very Funny! A quarter for your thoughts maybe. I won $50 dollars in quarters in a slot machine the first time I went to a meeting in Las Vegas. It was very heavy.

    1. Yeah they are amazingly heavy oddly enough.

  9. Oh nooooo!! Bahahaha! Omg I didn’t know that happened to you. I find it weird that the ritzy Sheraton didn’t have $1 or $5 bills hanging around. That poor woman was probably feverishly digging back there to find something that could work. But that is so flippin’ hilarious. Good on you for tipping housekeeping! I admittedly always drop the ball there, but I do tip generously when eating out. I prefer to tip with a credit card when I can.

    1. I know, right? It’s not like I’m the first guy to ask this question. You think they would have something a little more…conventional worked out in these scenarios, lol!

    • Frugal Professor on October 31, 2017 at 7:28 am
    • Reply


  10. I’m a good tipper for good service. I give small tips for bad service. I hope in those cases that when they see the tip they improve their service to the next guest as opposed to etching my face in their memory banks. :O)

    We were walking back from a training session with the XCountry team yesterday. A woman was walking a very small dog and a Great Dane. I impishly asked her if the Great Dane carried the little guy when he got tired. She didn’t seem to think I was funny. Apparently , the little guy always carries his own weight.

    I’m sure the housekeeping enjoyed telling the stories of their tips in quarters. :O)

    1. Maybe the front desk people do this to mess with the housekeepers and waiters? I’m still trying to figure it all out.

    • Matt @ Optimize Your Life on October 31, 2017 at 8:20 am
    • Reply

    Love it. And looking forward to the FinCon wrap post. I have no plans to write my own, but I’m enjoying reading everyone else’s. 🙂

    It was great meeting you and I am honored to be among the list of names you remembered on second meeting.

    1. Hahaha! I’m so bad with names it’s embarrassing. I think I just got lucky. It was great meeting you man.

  11. This is a funny story, so weird that she didn’t understand. At least you didn’t change the $100. Glad your back to posting positive

    1. Don’t get too comfortable. I’ve got lots of dark material coming. I’ll mix it up though, I had a lot of fun writing this 🙂

    • Ted Yaeger on November 2, 2017 at 6:51 am
    • Reply

    So how much do you (daily) tip the housekeeper? I usually don’t tip the housekeep until I leave. It seems to me that daily tipping is akin to tipping you waiter for each course during a meal…I have always wondered how many guests actually leave tips for routine housekeeping.

    1. I have wondered about this too. I usually allocate a dollar or two per day. I always put it down at checkout with a thank-you note. Sometimes those weekend staff are not the same as the weekday staff who maybe helped me the most. Maybe I should tip daily rather than at the end?

      1. I leave a tip every day, as the cleaning staff usually changes. I base my tip on the size of the room, how many people, the fanciness of the place. I think I left about $3 a day (but it may have been $2.75 or $3.25 – counting quarters before coffee is rough). Most jobs where tipping is involved are crappy, low paying and not fun, so I figure they will enjoy the money more than me. $3 a day is a fancy overpriced coffee drink for me, maybe a meal for their child for them.

          • Ted Yaeger on November 4, 2017 at 6:17 am
          • Reply

          They are minimum wage employees. They generally earn about $3+ -5+ for the 1/2 hour it takes to clean your room. So your generous tip essentially doubles that pay (no tax, either). I don’t tip the first day because I want to see how good they clean. Now the Waldorf-Astoria is a different story….

  12. So later after you told me this story, I heard someone complaining that the vending machines in the hotel didn’t take $5s or higher.

    I immediately thought of your story and figured that when you asked for change, the person at the front desk assumed it was for the vending machines… they went back to look for 1s, didn’t have enough, and gave you the quarters.

    This is reinforced by Miss Mazuma’s comment, above, where she got 20 $1s. I’m guessing they’re normally asked for change for the vending machines, so that’s why they try to give only 1s or below.

    1. Maybe. My leading theory is that she was trying to play a practical joke on both me and housekeeping. I think she would have given me nickles if she thought she could get away with it.

    • Donna on November 12, 2017 at 5:14 pm
    • Reply

    “As I boarded the plane home, with a smile on my face and some good memories in my pocket (along with a bunch of left over quarters) I was just thankful I didn’t hand her the $100.”

    There you go… glass half full! 🙂

    1. 🙂

    • Arrgo on December 22, 2017 at 2:35 pm
    • Reply

    Loved the tipping chart! Hilarious!

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