A large chunk of the average family’s paycheck goes to eating meals out. This might be anywhere from fast food lunches to sit down dinners. It’s great to set aside some money to be able to eat out even once a month. You should check out ways to save on groceries, shopping malls, and online shopping so you can free up some money for entertainment. However, there are numerous ways for you to pinch your pennies and keep a bit more of that paycheck to go towards other expenses.
Coupons: The Entertainment Book is a great avenue to save money at your favorite restaurants. There are many buy one, get one free specials at both fast food joints as well as sit down restaurants. You also might find a free drink, appetizer, or sandwich with no other purchase necessary. Don’t forget to go beyond the book and look for online specials available through Entertainment Book. JCPenney also partnered up with Entertainment Book and have a program called JCP Family Fun Perks. This is available exclusively for those who purchase an item online or via catalog and exclusive to JCPenney. Last but not least, look through the Val-Pak mailers and advertisements in your mail. It seems there is always at least one valuable coupon for a popular restaurant chain, such as Olive Garden, Mimi’s Cafe, and Ruby Tuesday.
Buy Gift Cards: Many restaurants offer special rewards for buying gift cards. It might be a free food item at the restaurant when you purchase a gift card, but more often than not is receiving a bonus $5 gift card for yourself when you buy $25 or more for gift cards. You might be thinking you don’t want to buy gift cards for other people as they are impersonal or you don’t want to spend that much money on one person, but it doesn’t say you have to give the gift card to anybody. Keep the gift card for yourself! That way your meal is prepaid and you get bonus cash just for buying a gift card! Other rewards programs, such as JCP Family Fun Perks, also offers these same incentives when you purchase gift cards online.
Join the Mailing List or Frequent Eater Card: Restaurants nowadays ask you to register so you can be rewarded for dining. Places like Silver Diner actually mail you a gift certificate for a free meal for your birthday by joining their free birthday club, but also email you valuable coupons to save you even more throughout the year. Frequent Eater Cards are also usually free and are fantastic. Lettuce Entertain You is a relatively small chain of restaurants where you earn points for every dollar spent. They also mail out a $15 gift certificate to you for your birthday, and you can redeem your points for free meals or other rewards if you so choose. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting rewarded for dining. Many pizza delivery companies email you specials that aren’t available in the coupon mailers or even broadcasted online so it never hurts to be on their email list.
Buy Certificate Vouchers Online: Even through its popularity, many still haven’t heard about Restaurants.com. This is where you purchase restaurant vouchers from your favorite restaurants for a fraction of the price. There are four levels of certificates to buy, $15, $25, $50, and $100. How it works is you might purchase one of these gift certificates for as low as $2 if they have a really good sale going on, and that voucher acts just like money. Just read the fine print as you usually have to spend $10 more than the value of the certificate, but some restaurants require that you rack up even twice as much as the voucher is worth for you to use it. The 18% gratuity is also already tacked onto your bill so know you will have to pay something out of pocket. This is also a great way to give somebody a dining certificate at a fraction of the cost. Better yet is Restaurant.com is a partner with UPromise so if you have registered to earn college savings, a percentage of your total purchase will be stashed away in that fund.
Stay tuned to specials and daily deals: Many sites can email you daily specials in your area. RedPlum and Specialicious are two sites that will email you great finds for the day. RedPlum might comprise you of the fact that it is National Donut Day and how to receive a free donut, or offer coupons to save money on a particular place. Combine coupons with everyday savings so you can find the best deal on goods. You also might just find out about specials by television commercials, though it’s usually done via the internet more often than not these days. Also pay attention to restaurant specials, which are usually during the week to try and draw in more of a crowd. After all, why would you go and spend $20 more for the same meal on Sunday than you would pay if you went on Monday? Whether you find a restaurant that offers for kids to eat free or cheaper prices, you might decide to go to one restaurant over the other due to the specials that they offer.
Last but not least, use a credit card that will reward you with points with every dollar spent. Whether you get Best Buy money using the RewardZone Mastercard, get a percentage or certain amount off of buying electronics, air travel or points that can be used towards entertainment or restaurants, or be cash back, you are ensured you get something more for money well spent. Keep your eyes peeled for specials, take advantage of coupons, and you will find your dining out budget goes a lot further.