You know how to pinch your pennies, buying shoes only when they’re on sale and brown-bagging your lunch for weeks to buy that new pair of jeans… so why do you always cringe at the end of the month when it’s time to see how much you failed to save money when dining out? Charge card bills don’t lie, and wow, that “dining out” bill is huge. But sweetie, I can help, and no, you don’t have to become a cook-at-home recluse. Here are 7 ways to save money when dining out.
1 Clip Coupons
There, lurking amid the pages on the Sunday paper, is step one to save money when dining out: coupons. Most chains, and even some local eateries, have valuable, money-saving coupons just waiting to be clipped and used. Some restaurants even have customer lists you can join, so they can email you coupons.
2 Get an App
If you haven’t heard of Groupon, let me be the first to introduce you to it, its free app, and its many money-saving wonders. Every day, Groupon provides access to amazing one-time-only deals at local businesses… including restaurants. It’s all-electronic, too, so it’s the perfect way to save money when dining out, even for tree-huggers, like me.
3 Dine Early, or Late
Most chains and some local places will offer deals on meals before or after rush times, and some even offer specials during their busiest time, Happy Hour. If you’re not sure when cheap eats time happens at your favorite diner, find out… now!
4 Share a Meal
Let’s face it: most restaurants serve more than enough food for two people to share in what they call one meal. Rather than boxing up half your meal to take home, and let spoil in the fridge, why not share that meal with your bestie or sweetie?
5 Skip the Dessert
There are three exceptions to this way to save money when dining out. One, it’s a tiny, inexpensive wedge of cheesecake, made right there on the premises. Two, you’re dining with a girlfriend and one of you just got dumped, in which case, dessert of some kind (preferably chocolate) is a must-have. Three, it’s one of those super-cheap and mega-tiny shot-glass desserts from Applebee’s, which are at least somewhat diet-friendly. Otherwise, skip the over-priced and calorie-laden desserts.
6 Skip the Drinks!
Mixed drinks and beer and wine, oh my! They’re so expensive! If you want to save money when dining out, look for drink specials, and avoid adding them to your bill otherwise. The price of two good brews may just add up to being more than your meal. Yikes!
7 But Don’t Skimp Here…
One note, loves: if you used a coupon, Groupon, gift card, or other discount, please don’t skimp on the tip! Your server gave you just as much service and attention as she would have if you’d have paid full-price, so don’t discount the tip, too. Tip as though you’d paid full price.
With so many ways to save money when dining out, there’s really no reason to stay home this weekend, is there? This is especially true if you can somehow combine some of these tips, and save money when dining out like a sir! Which of these tips is your favorite? Have you used Groupon before? Or do yo have any other money-saving tips to share?
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