How I Save Money At Bars and Restaurants Without Being CheapJanuary 29th, 2013 | Posted by in Saving Money
When trying to save money, one of the first things people do is stop eating out at restaurants and going to the bar with their friends and coworkers. While this might work for some folks, I like going out too much to sit at home and watch Netflix every Friday and Saturday night while eating something out of the freezer. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll do this all week with no problem, but I start to get the itch to do something when I’m pulling out of the parking lot on Friday at around 5:01PM.
This post will outline a few hints and tips that I use to go out pretty regularly, without having to blow up my paycheck.
Don’t go for dinner
The lunch menu at a lot of restaurants is often very close to the dinner menu when it comes to options and variety. The main difference is price and portion size. If you’re reading this and you live in the United States, there is a good chance you don’t need MORE food in your diet anyway. Save a few bucks and go to your favourite restaurant during lunchtime and cook something at home for dinner. For all of you single (and dating) folks, this is also great because if you take someone out on a lunchtime date, not only will you save money on the bill, if everything goes well, you’ve given yourself the option to meet up again later on in the same night.
Take it to go
I’m not a cheapskate, but I hate tipping (well maybe not hate, but it’s not fun for me). I don’t like the idea of paying people to bring my plate and refill my water. To avoid tipping without feeling guilty, I sometimes order my food to go and then eat in a fun location. This could be a park, an outdoor exhibit, or any place that’s different from your house or apartment. This saves you the 15-20% which you would have tipped!
If you must drink something that isn’t water with your meal, consider going to places that allow you to bring your own beer or bottle of wine. Often there is a “corking fee” of $10-$12, which is much less than paying for a few drinks.
Skip the desert and appetizers
Rarely do I ever see people eat 100% of their dinner at a restaurant. Given that you’ll be throwing food away anyways, why pay an extra $20 ordering an appetizer and a desert? Just for a quick taste? Go look at your credit card bill, those tastes add up over time! Leftovers can be good, but often remain in the fridge until they go bad.
Don’t be too cool to ask about prices!
A lot of bars have a drink list which omits prices. Bar managers are clever and know that a lot of people are too embarrassed to ask how much something costs. This has been me on a few occasions and then I’m shocked to find out my vodka soda was $13. If you’re getting something other than a Miller Lite, it pays to ask how much a certain drink costs.
No one thinks you’re extra cool because you order Grey Goose instead of Smirnoff
In my college years, I’ve done (and seen) plenty of unofficial taste tests with all sorts of vodkas, rums and whiskeys. Time after time, 99.9% of folks can’t taste the difference between top-shelf and a halfway decent liquor. Unless your pallet is super-sophisticated, there is no need to order something that is $7 more expensive. I have never in my life been impressed by someone who orders some premium brand. Credit cards enable all of us to feel like we have Jay-Z money. You’re not fooling anyone.
Bring your own
I know, I know. You can get asked to leave the bar if caught, but bringing a flask or those airplane sized bottles of liquor with you to the club (or bar) can save you TONS. Why pay $25-$30 (at least) for a few drinks in a night (not including tip) when you can buy one from the bar (for good measure) and then ask for (soda)pop for the next few. The bartender will probably think you’re trying to fit in with friends or sober up so they’ll usually oblige.
Before you email me or comment on this post that you only live once (YOLO), please spare me. Dollars here and there really add up! If you’ve fully funded your 401k and IRA, invested on your own, save a big chunk of your income and still have lots of money left over…then by all means, spend the money and support the economy. For the rest of us, cutting a few corners here and there aren’t huge drags on our quality of life and give us a little bit more financial security in the future.
What do you all think?
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