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Tipping 20 per cent is becoming the norm in Canada.

Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

For a good meal well served, 20 per cent is becoming the standard tip. That's my sense after doing a lot of reading online about tipping expectations in larger Canadian and U.S. cities, and it's a guideline my wife and I use. But what's the custom across the country? Data from a recent Angus Reid Institute poll offers some answers.

Forty-seven per cent of the 1,505 participants in the poll said the standard amount to tip a server in a full service restaurant under normal circumstances is 15 to 19 per cent, while 42 per cent said 10 to 14 per cent. Eight per cent said less than 10 per cent, while just 3 per cent said 20 per cent or more for a tip. Regionally, Ontario and Quebec residents are most likely to say the expected tip is above 15 per cent, while those in Saskatchewan and Manitoba are most likely to say the standard tip is below 10 per cent.

A popular restaurant chain in Western Canada called Earls has begun an experiment at a Calgary location – a mandatory 16 per cent "hospitality charge" that replaces tipping. No-tipping policies are starting to gain some traction in the restaurant biz, although it's not for everyone. One Vancouver restaurant tried it by setting prices higher and telling customers not to tip. Then it backtracked, in part because of weird reactions from customers.

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The trouble with renting

No, it's not that you're throwing your money away. That argument is wrong if you invest the considerable amount of money you're saving by not owning. The real problem with renting is that it's getting more and more expensive in cities like Toronto and Vancouver. Here's where that trend might take us: In Britain, many parents are now subsidizing the rent paid by their millennial kids.

China's worried about our housing market

While we consider the impact of Chinese buyers on our market, Chinese media is warning of the dangers in Canadian residential real estate.

Why you should avoid the kids menu

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The case for paying more to have your kids order off the adult menu at a restaurant. Confession: Our kids ate off the kids menu all the time.

What you need to know about helicopter money…

The global economy remains so sluggish that economists are debating the idea of handing out money directly to consumers to spend. It's a bit frightening to think that it may come to this to get the economy moving.

…and negative bond yields

A good explanation here for why investors would hold a bond with a negative yield (basically, you pay to own it). Negative yields are supposed to be an incentive for people to spend money in the economy rather than investing it.

The lowdown on headphones

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A guy in a stereo shop explained to me recently that expensive headphones are the high end audio equipment of the millennial generation. A website called The Wirecutter is a good source of info on buying headphones.

Today's featured financial tool

Our new Down Payment Tool, designed to help people see when they will be in a position to buy a house, helped inspire a calculator that can tell you if it makes sense to take a pay cut to move to a smaller town.

Ask Rob

The question: "I have a solid portfolio of dividend-paying blue chip stocks. I would like to buy shares of Alphabet/Google but I only have $8,000 Cdn (under 2 per cent of my total portfolio) to put towards that purchase (about eight shares). My broker says that doesn't give me much "leverage," plus he doesn't follow tech stocks so he's not keen on this idea. I would like to make the purchase because I think that Google is a well-diversified business, it looks ripe for a stock split and maybe a dividend down the road someday. My question: Is there an issue surrounding only being able to purchase eight shares?"

My reply: No. Small orders for an actively traded stock like this should be no problem at all. I'm quite sure this company has many small shareholders like you.

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Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Questions and answers are edited for length.

Featured Video

I talk to an expert on housing about which demographic is feeling the biggest financial strain as home owners.

More Carrick and money coverage

For more money stories, follow me on Twitter and join the discussion on my Facebook page. Millennial readers, join our Gen Y Money Facebook group.

Send us an e-mail to let us know what you think of my newsletter.

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