Dining out with family is always a treat, and now, with a few timely tips, it can be even more enjoyable. So, for a smart, fun and affordable dining out experience with your family, try these thrifty techniques to save some extra cash and make it easy (and tasty) to stay on budget.
Have a Plan
Chances are if you have a plan to save on your meal and you stick with it, you’ll save money. For instance, limit your restaurant visits to what your budget will reasonably allow per month. Another strategy is to set a dollar amount for the evening and try to stay within that amount. Make it a fun game to see how much you can save.
Look for Deals
Whether you bring a coupon, order the daily special, take advantage of certain nights where kids eat free, or have a military or senior discount, the deals abound – you just have to look for them. Don’t forget to sign up for your favorite restaurant’s newsletter too. Sometimes just checking in via the restaurant’s app can trigger bonus discounts and freebies.
Birthdays are Savings Days
Visit your favorite restaurants’ websites and see if they have a birthday club. By signing up, you will typically receive a special meal or desert that is usually valid for a week or two before or after your actual birthday for some added spending versatility.
“Just Water, Please”
It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that restaurants often markup their beverage prices considerably to make a larger profit. By not ordering a drink or simply choosing water, you can avoid these excessive overcharges.
Lunch vs. Dinner
The time you go to a restaurant might affect the price you pay. Lunchtime hours typically offer better pricing than dinner (but not necessarily bigger portions), so having your dinner a little earlier in the afternoon may save a few dollars and maybe even a few calories too.
Appetizers or Meals?
Ordering an appetizer (or two) as a meal can often result in a smaller price. If you have a child who doesn’t always finish what they’re served, this smaller portion size may be perfect, and it may offer them more of what they like.
Stick to Side Orders
Kids tend to like affordably priced side menu items such as french fries, mac and cheese, quesadillas, chicken strips, etc. By ordering a few of these side orders for a meal, you may end up spending less than a regularly priced entree, while satisfying your kids’ appetites.
Split a Meal
Let’s face it. Sometimes restaurants put enough food on a plate to feed two people – especially if those two people are children. Requesting an extra plate for splitting a larger meal can go a long way toward lowering your bill.
See You at the Buffet
The lure of the all-you-can-eat buffet is hard to pass up for most of us. For one price, you can keep coming back for a variety of foods (usually with ample deserts) with controllable portion sizes. For a family on a budget, that’s a big cost benefit.
Take Home Leftovers
If you or your children can’t finish what you’re served, taking home the leftovers is an economical option. While you won’t save directly on your dining-out bill, your leftovers will pay off later as a ready-made meal. Just make sure to eat your leftovers before they go bad.
Just asking your server what deals are available from their restaurant may yield some interesting results. You may find that they have some lesser-known deals or loyalty reward programs that you may not have considered.
Making the most of your money is the key to sound financial planning and building toward a better future. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or want to refinance your mortgage or tap into your home’s equity with a cash-out refinance, New American Funding is ready to help you get started today.