5 Easy Ways to Save on Dining Out

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Dining out can strain any household budget.  In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the average household spent approximately $250 a month or $3008 a year eating out.  If you do not know your monthly spend, then take a look.  Your dining out habits could be killing your financial future.  Here are some tips that have served my debt-free family well over the years.

Gift Cards

The purchase of gift card can be an easy 20%-25% reduction of the bill.  My favorite places to purchase $100 of value for $75 to $80 is Costco and Sam’s Club.  Plus, an additional 2% to 4% rebate can be realized based on membership level and the credit card used for the purchase.  For example, I was able to purchase a $100 Simon and Seafort’s gift card at Costco prior to Christmas for $75 and earn a 4% rebate as Executive member using the Citi Costco card.  Overall, a nice value for one of Anchorage, Alaska’s higher-quality restaurants that my family and I enjoy going to – the restaurant also validates parking for a really nice bonus.

Happy Hours

Food and drink prices are reduced during happy hour.  Stack this opportunity by paying with a gift card and you are really saving some money.  The total out of pocket could be reduced by 50%.

Loyalty Programs

Sign up for a restaurants loyalty program.  The great ones will send you e-mails on exclusive offers and many times send out redemptions for free appetizers, deserts or vouchers redeemable during your birthday month.  Once again, stack these offers with a gift card and the cost of dining out is less painful.

Child’s Menu

This takes a little more research by visiting the restaurant’s website.  However, selecting a restaurant that offers a good children’s menu is worth the effort.  The ability to split an adult entrée at no charge should also be considered as a viable option or alternative to an age-based menu.

Lunch Before Dinner

This tip is on the Mount Rushmore of recommendations, but it needs to be mentioned again.  The prices during lunch are less than at dinner time.  What more needs to be said?  Paying less for the same food is an effortless way to reduce your dining bill.

Conclusion

I offer up these five tactics to help my two wonderful girls understand why their father was usually laying out gift cards and coupons to the server.  It was out of love, and once again, I figure they will need something to complain about as they hit their teen years.  Regarding personal finance, spending $2,000 instead of $3,000 results in $1,000 a year that can be invested to reach financial security or applied to debt.    Please remember, every little bit helps for huge savings over a lifetime.   I wish everyone the best in reaching financial security, freedom and adventure.

Post Script

  • Have a plan for gift cards
  • Dining out can be manageable
  • Use coupons and gift cards for maximum value

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