Going Out on A Dime

Do you love going out for dinner or drinks but hate the high cost? Here are a few tips that will help you enjoy going out without the guilt trip.

  • Set Spending Limits: Give yourself a spending limit and don’t surpass it. This can make dining out fun by encouraging you to try all kinds of new menu combinations as you try to stay within your budget.
  • Coupons: There are a plethora of different online sites that offer discounts and daily deals that can save you lots of money and help you find new places to try. Sign up for Groupon or Living Social to get daily deals on restaurants, massages, travel and much more in your area for 30-75% off. Check out Restaurants.com to find deals on gift certificates for restaurants in your area, like a $25 gift certificate for $10. Remember, even if you use a coupon, you should always tip on the original amount. Tipping on the discounted bill is cheap, not frugal.
  • Happy Hours: Many local restaurants have fantastic happy hour drink and food menus that can save you a lot of money and allow you to enjoy food in smaller portions. Check out thriftyhipster to find happy hour deals!
  • Snack: Have a quick snack before you go out. Then you can order a smaller, less expensive meal like an appetizer or salad.
  • Save on Your Entrée: Most restaurants serve large portions, why not split an entrée with your dining companion? Or, just eat half of your order and take the rest to go. Check the appetizer menu, many restaurants offer smaller portions of their entrées as appetizers for half the price.
  • Kid’s Meal: If possible, order off the kid’s menu. This works really well at fast food restaurants that offer kid’s menus with nice size portions for lower prices.
  • Save on Drinks: Save on drinks by ordering water, to add some flavor to your water ask your server for some lemon, lime or a sprig of mint. If you want wine with your meal, call the restaurant ahead and ask about their “corkage” fee. Some restaurants will let you bring your own bottle and charge only a small fee to have the waiter serve it.
  • Skip the Extras: Adding appetizers and desserts can add a bundle to your check, either skip the extras or order one for the table. One great way to save on dessert is to have your entrée at a restaurant and then pick up dessert at a grocery store or bakery on your way home.
  • Take Out: Enjoy food from your favorite restaurant without the additional temptations by ordering take out. You save on the tip and get to enjoy dinner in the comfort of your own home.

Join the Conversation: Where are some of your favorite happy hours in the Twin Cities?

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