- Personal Finance
How to Save Money when Dining Out
Trying to save money? For many people, the expense of dining out is one of the first places they need to look at cutting back on unnecessary spending.
Busy people have a tendency to eat at restaurants several days each week, either because they have trouble finding time to cook or as a way to socialize with friends and family members in a pleasant environment.
While eating out can be an enjoyable experience, when you're trying to save money it is important to evaluate whether or not (a) it might be possible for you to eat at home more often and (b) if there are things you can do to cut back on the amount of money you spend when you dine out.
The good news is that you don't have to cut out restaurant meals entirely to save money on your dining bill. Here are a few tips that can help you save money when dining out.
Tips for Saving Money on Restaurant Meals
1. Shop for Weekly Specials
Many restaurants offer special offers on the days of the week that they tend to be the least busy. Find out which restaurants in your community offer lunch or dinner specials each week and make a list of the special offers that are available. When you want to dine out, consult your list to find out where you can get the most "bang for your buck" on that particular day.
You can save a significant amount of money by choosing the days you eat out wisely and selecting restaurants that have specials. Typically, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings are the best days of the week to take advantage of specials, including "buy one get one free" deals and "kids eat free" specials.
2. Gift Card Special Offers
Restaurants that offer gift cards often offer a special deal for customers who purchase several gift cards at a same time. It isn't unusual for restaurants to run a gift card offer that provides purchasers with an extra $10 gift card for every $100 in gift cards purchases.
If a restaurant that you frequent has such an offer, consider purchasing the gift cards for yourself – assuming that (a) you will use them and (b) you would have gone to the restaurant whether or not you had the gift cards. You'll enjoy a 10 percent savings on meals at the restaurant.
3. Customer Loyalty Programs
Visit the websites of your favorite dining establishments and see if they offer a special customer loyalty program or e-newsletter. Many restaurants provide customers with coupons for free or deeply discounted meals in exchange for joining their customer appreciation programs or newsletter mailing lists. For example, you'll recieve a free appetizer just for joining the Longhorn Steakhouse e-club and a free meal for signing up for the Captain D's Club.
4. Restaurant Mystery Shopping
Consider trying your hand at restaurant mystery shopping. You'll have an opportunity to enjoy meals that you'll be reimbursed for in exchange for providing details about the quality of service and food you received. Learn more about how to become a restaurant mystery shopper in this hub.
If you have other ideas on how to save money with dining out, feel free to leave your thoughts in the Comments section below.