Just go to a sit down place that doesn’t use servers.
Simple as that. Delis, Fuddruckers, Chipotle, Noodles and Company….there are plenty of places that have sit down atmospheres that don’t have servers so you don’t have to tip.
If you can’t afford to tip, just go to a place where you don’t have to. But if you insist on going out to a sit down restaurant, it’s expected of you to tip.
If the server did their job (which involves creating a pleasant atmosphere, making you feel welcome, correctly taking your order and resolving any issues that arise, etc…) than you’re expected to tip them.
If you don’t like this system, then help change it by lobbying law makers. Despite what you may think, most servers are not in a position to change this system because it involves going against the direct interest of their employers which could easily result in the loss of their job.
So if you can’t afford to tip, just go someplace where you don’t have to. You don’t force a waiter to lose money on a table, and you don’t have to worry about the quality of service.
Simple as that.