Buying Power Versus Disposable Income

A few months ago I did a post on what I could sum up as when I made a $100 back in 1980 it was awesome but when I make it now it can be considered a good night.

Not good in the sense that when you made that back then it was abnormal but it went a whole lot further. Today the least you would expect is $100 given the fact if everyone tipped accordingly you should make well above that, wouldn’t you think?

Now I am not complaining I do okay but here is my point. Today I bought a jug of milk that went up 40 cents in price since the last time I bought one 4 days ago. About an 8% increase.

Let me ask you a question out there to all my fellow waiters who have been in the biz for a couple of decades , Have your tips kept up with inflation?

When I started out in the business back in 1980 I saw a lot of married men with families with children to support doing their thing with the gueridon and flambes right at the table. They were real professionals doing a fine job at their craft. The money they made paid for gas , mortage, car payments etc..Most of the time back then the wife didn’t even have to work.

Today do you see a lot of older married men who are empty nesters plying their trade out there? I will tell you this if you do, take a picture cause these people are the last of the dinosaurs out there.

It is just my opinion but this industry here in North America anyway the only people you see are single , or with a partner and no kids. Or gay and not that I have anything against gays but they do not generally have kids.

Okay finally who out there is doing this full time as a primary income that is married , has kids , a mortage and if you don’t would you be able to depend on the same income you make to support a family?

Think about it. This profession will just be a bunch of part timers soon. No experience necessary just carry the plates and take the order.

I don’t want to sound like a pessimist but when I bought a jug of milk today that costs me 40 cents more I don’t think in the next 10 years being a waiter is going to be that great. You will make the same then as you do now and that price of a jug of milk will double.


What do you think???


  1. I have been in the business for over 15 years and I definitely agree that things have changed considerably. The biggest change I see from when I was growing up in the 80s is that peoples' expectations of going out to diner have changed. When I was younger, a restaurant meal was a rare treat, reserved for special occasions and requiring special attire. Now, it seems like people dine out more often and with lower standards than before. This, of course, drives away professional servers who know all of the subtle nuances of the trade, or, at the very least, it doesn't leave them the room they need to exercise those nuances. I think that is sad for both servers and patrons.

  2. Shananana….Yes that is true I remember when I was a kid we use to go this one restaurant weekly to get a hot chicken sandwich. That was a big treat. Great comment.

  3. I'm coming from the other end. Part time waitress thru uni and in between other work and looking at it from this perspective I don't think I could waitress full time and support a family. I definitely wouldn't rely on my tips (but then in the UK tipping isn't such a big deal). Most restaurants I've worked in through my youth have been staffed mostly by part timers and that's how the management like it. Even if I was full time it's minimum wage. No thanks!I guess times have changed.

  4. Maxi….I cannot blame you. In many places now it is just part time whereas 30 years back it was a full time occupation with benefits. It is all about cutting costs now. Part time only. A secondary income to most. Thanks for your comment and especially having worked in the UK myself living on what you make their as a server and having to depend on that is difficult to say the least.

  5. We don't usually eat out anymore due to finances and my restricted diet, but I did notice something while on vacation and it goes against the point you are making, especially with the cost of milk.We decided to splurge and go to a few well known and loved eateries in the town we were [re]visiting from 3 years ago. These are well established, fine restaurants and we knew the food would be good. It was.What shocked us were the prices. For lunch my daughter's favorite BLT and my beloved hamburger had increased in price by almost 4 dollars a piece from our previous visit. It was almost a a 40 percent hike. When dining in the evening the steaks, chops and seafood had jumped quite a margin too. Where we could once dine enjoyably for 100 dollars, plus tip we were now facing 150 dollars plus tip.Same food, same service, but now the prices have gone up and so have our tips. Instead of $20 on the @100 tab, we are giving $30 for the $150 tab.So, yes inflation is hard, but your tips should be rising accordingly with the cost of the food.And, yes, I know not everyone tips 15% or 20%, but that has ALWAYS been the nature of the biz. If people tipped accordingly you wouldn't be feeling the pinch the way you describe it. Sorry to disagree, but in a tipped based field this is always going to be the way.

  6. SkippyMom…Just to play devil's advocate you hit it right on the nose when you said you don't eat out as much due to finances as one reason.Hasn't everyone been affected by the cost of going out? So while you may tip more due to the price of a meal that tip goes out to paying bussers, bartenders, hosts, cooks, sometimes even managers. So in the end what is left is a shade over what you use to make 20 years ago. Meanwhile the price of essential goods goes up. When will the time come when you will not go out at all? Food prices and meals in restaurants are not going down ever again just like gas. So there will be a tipping point that will arrive. When you will perhaps go to a less expensive restaurant just because your favourite restaurant has become too pricy. I hope you will always be able to afford it of course but we here really must consider where we go and how much is it going to cost. I say here we eat out twice a year for dinner and about 5 breakfast. That is it. It is just too dear and earned money goes elsewhere.

  7. Good play on the devil's advocate Steve, but our finances have been cut due to my heart condition and inability to work any longer. It really hasn't been the economy so much as we don't have "disposable" income anymore. But you are so very right that the costs of goods has gone up at a greater pace than my husband's yearly salary.

  8. SkippyMom…I kinda avoided the health issue and I certainly did not want to appear insensitive. It is difficult to survive on one income but you are so positive on life you never appear to let your health condition affect you. You are a great example of how one deals with health issues. Especially in the States I am not sure how the health system is.

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