Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Stretching our Dining Out Dollars

We're fortunate to have a lot of nice restaurants in the vicinity of where we live. Although we don't eat out often, when we do, we like to enjoy the experience. So we prefer not to save money by eliminating specific items (e.g. drinks) or purchasing only the lower cost items. Here are the ways we choose to save money instead:

  1. Daily Specials - Many of the restaurants in our area have daily specials that lower the cost of the items we normally order. For example, one restaurant offers two free appetizers with two entrees on Wednesdays. Another has wine by the bottle at store prices on Thursdays. Another reduces their rib platter price from 33% on Saturdays and Sundays. One of our favorites has half priced appetizers all day on Sundays.

    Of course, savings involve limiting oneself to the specials, which we would have ordered in most cases anyway.

  2. Gift Card Discounts. Several restaurants in our area offer discounts or bonuses of 20 - 25% when purchasing a gift card value of $100. Thus, we sometimes get a $100 card for $80 or a $125 card for $100. While I usually don't like the idea of owning gift cards, a restaurant gift card can often be purchased and used up on the same day for a meal. Thus, one doesn't have the burden of carrying a gift card with a balance.

    A nice benefit of a gift card is that it doesn't restrict what one can order and it can be used to cover the tax and tip.

  3. Fixed Price Specials. Several restaurants offer three course menus at special prices, often at a 20% discount to a la carte. The courses usually include appetizer/salad, entree and desert. Beverages, taxes and tip are extra.

    Since these are promotional menus to attract new customers, they often have excellent selections and prices.
One approach we've tried but stopped is the use of discount coupon books. While the savings is usually attractive, it was just too much effort to manage the coupons and restaurant choices in the book. We'd rather just go to our preferred restaurants on the days they offer discounts.

Finally, we don't try to save on the tip for service. Usually, we give around a 20% tip for good service and a little more if the service is outstanding.

For more on Ideas You Can Use, check back every Tuesday for a new segment.

This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2009 Achievement Catalyst, LLC


Michael Musselman said...

Restaurant.com has some really great deals. You can check for restaurants in your area. Usually you buy a $10 gift certificate for $3 or a $25 gift certificate for $10. The only catch is that you usually have to purchase a certain amount but every time I have used one I usually end up getting my meal half off.

The last time I used them they had a special where I only paid $2 for $25 off a $35 purchase. I ended up getting a $37 meal for only $14.

You can buy the certificates and print them out right before you go so you don't have to worry about losing them or wasting the money.

Super Saver said...


Thanks for the comment and recommendation.

The last time I checked Restaurant.com, not many of the restaurants close to us were on the list. However, based on the deals you described I will check out the site again. Thanks.