We all love to enjoy a good meal with friends and our social calendars are usually filled with various birthday dinners and date nights out, but those events can quickly empty out our pocketbooks. You want to celebrate a friend’s birthday or your partner’s promotion, but you also want to be able to pay the rent. Luckily, there are a few dining out rules that allow you to still enjoy a good meal with great friends and also will make sure that you have enough money left so you can pay that rent of yours.
Order The Appetizers
How often do you order the expensive entree only to find that it is enough to feed a truck driver and NFL linebacker? Or do you find yourself ordering a fancy entree that you don’t even enjoy just to feel like part of the group? Do yourself and your pocketbook a favor and order from the appetizer menu. Most restaurants use their appetizer menu as a way to highlight the best items but on a smaller scale (and smaller price too). There is always the etiquette question on if it is ok to order appetizers instead of entrees, but it is your money to manage, and you want to save where you can.
Learn To Love Happy Hour
Happy hour is happy for a reason and that is because it is a fraction of the price you would normally pay. Just plan on having your date night a little earlier or later than usual, and your appetizers in some chain restaurants will be half off. Drink specials are also a staple of happy hour. Make happy hour your favorite time to enjoy a night out with your spouse or friends.
Don’t Order Alcohol Or Limit Yourself To One Drink
This one can be very hard to follow but you will do yourself and your money a huge favor by bypassing that wine list for some water next time you go out to eat. Drinks are where restaurants really make their money. Will Gordon, contributor for deadspin.com, dissects the drink markup in restaurants revealing that alcoholic beverages are marked up anywhere from 300% to over 1200%. That is insane to pay those kind of prices when you can have a fancy glass of wine when you get home from your night out for a fraction of the price. If you feel like a drink is in order to celebrate, do stick to the rule of one. Enjoy a glass of wine or a beer with your friends or family then enjoy the savings of not indulging with more to drink once your bill comes.
Whether it is celebrating a friend’s anniversary of sobriety or your little sister’s college graduation, you don’t have to miss out on nice dinners out. By adhering to these frugal dining out rules you can enjoy in the celebrations and festivities while still making sure you have money in the bank.