You don’t have to be stuck in the house just because you’re on a budget. Even though eating out can be expensive, there are some dining hacks you can take advantage of to help you get out and be social. Let’s take a closer look at a few ways to save money when going out to eat.
Build it Into Your Budget
If you haven’t already made a monthly budget, it’s time to do so (check out our post if you need help creating a budget). Once you’ve paid your rent, utilities and grocery bills, divide up the rest of your income to variable expenses, including entertainment and going out. If you know how much you can spend on eating out, you will be more likely to stick to your budget. Give yourself some room to splurge on special occasions and eat out at least a few times per month.
Take Advantage of Specials
An easy way to stick to your budget while eating out is to do a little research ahead of time. Find places that offer discounted lunch prices or great happy hour deals. Many restaurants also have specials and promotions for certain days of the week to get customers in when they’re normally slow, such as Monday and Tuesday nights. Just by adjusting what time and day you eat, you can save money. You also can look to see if your favorite restaurants offer any specials for new dishes or promotions to save a few bucks.
See Where Kids Eat Free
Going out with the whole family can be difficult. Not only do you have to find a restaurant that everyone is going to like, but the bill can add up quickly. If your budget is tight this month, look for restaurants that have kids eat free deals. Many of these are for certain days or times, so be sure to look at the deals closely before heading out. When you don’t have to obsess over your budget (or how little your kids actually ate of their meal), it will make your night out much more enjoyable.
Sign up for Coupons and Mailing Lists
Our final dining hack is to take advantage of restaurant coupons and mailing lists. You save money without any effort just by signing up to receive emails, app notifications, and snail mail with coupons and specials inside. You may see deals for free appetizers or desserts or be notified when they’re having a promotion. You also can buy entertainment books that offer a wide variety of discounts and money off, or sign up for gift card sites like Cardpool or Raise.
It’s important for you to stick to a budget and be financially smart, but you don’t have to deprive yourself of going out and enjoying your life. With a little bit of research and a few dining hacks, you’ll be out on the town in no time.