How to dine out and tip the service providers on a budget
Have you ever thought how much money you spend on dining out? Yes, it is true that sometimes you need to dine out and keep that allowance in your budget. However, do you know that you can save significant dollars while eating out just by following some simple tips?
Tips to dine out on a budget
Here's how you can save money while eating out.
- Save money on beverage : Beverages like soft drinks and alcohol, available in most restaurants will definitely boost the cost of your dinner. A can of soda will cost you $3 at a normal restaurant. Tax ($12) and tip are extra. A glass of wine will cost you $10 to $12. Plus, currently restaurants often provide bottled water, that’ll cost you much higher than usual than Costco. The cheapest option will be to have tap water; it is the best choice. If you want to enjoy cocktails or wine, then you should have plenty of water at home before going out for dinner.
- Check out whether or not it is a BYOB restaurant : The BYOB restaurants let you bring you your own wine or beer and have only the entree. Even if you have to pay a nominal charge (about $10 for a beer bottle), it is always cheaper than ordering the beer or wine from that restaurant. And, alcohol is always cheaper at local bars or retail stores as compared to having that same beverage at a restaurant.
- Check out special occasion deals : Most of the restaurants offer certain discounts on special occasions. So, on your special occasion, while you check out the menu or reserve your place, call and check out whether or not they offer deals; if not, then check out elsewhere as several restaurants offer deals on your birthdays and anniversaries. You might get free desserts or meals at half-price or a free cocktail if you're lucky.
- Like social pages : By liking' the Facebook page of your favorite restaurant, you can get access to special deals and promotions. There deals are usually not mentioned anywhere else and only the chosen people get access to these. Likewise, certain restaurants post deals on Twitter, too. So, you need to follow such restaurants in order to get discounts or freebies.
- Use online deal websites : Two famous websites where you can save a lot of money are restaurant.com and opentable.com. The former one deals with discounted dining certificates, for an example - $10 certificates for $25 worth dining at any time. But, other websites also sell such certificates at a much lower price, for example, for $4 or $5. You’ll get different offers in websites, for different restaurants. Don’t forget to check the offers and verify the details before buying any discount certificates.
- Don't dine without a coupon : Use coupons to save more money while going out for a dinner. You may search the “name of restaurant” and available “coupon” for it online. You can also check the restaurant’s official website or their Facebook page. You can cut off restaurant free coupons from the newspaper coupons category, collect coupons from weekly newspapers and Entertainment magazines.
- Become a regular customer at your favorite restaurant : Several restaurants offer freebies if you become a regular customer. It is true that you will want to dine at new places but, if you regularly dine out, then it is better to become a regular customer at your favorite restaurant.
- Avoid meat and other costly foods : My parents are vegetarian, and I am a hardcore flesh eater. I need to have bacon or beef in my breakfast or dinner. Trust me, having non-veg items sometimes become very costly rather than the veg items. Having veg hot dogs and hamburgers for dinner are much cheaper than any chicken or beef menu available in the restaurant.
- Eat your dinner early : Get information about the restaurants at your area to find out which ones offer lunch at extended hours? You can plan your friends' get-together at such a place and have your dinner early. By doing so, you can have your dinner at relatively low price since the price of lunch menu are usually cheaper. Moreover, after dinner, all of you can also enjoy a dessert at your favorite place a little later.
- Look for happy hour food specials : Many restaurants provide discounts and great offers for the people who will dine there early or late. Sometimes they offer appetizers at half-price with a special drink. So, whenever you reach a restaurant, don’t forget to ask the waiter whether or not you can avail those special deals or happy hour specials in the bar or in a usual table.
- Split your specific meal in two proportions : Often the restaurants serve over-proportioned meals which is more than what a person can consume. So, you can ask to split your meal in two proportions. By doing so, you save money and also avoid having extra calories. If you're dining out alone, ask to split your meal in two portions and pack the second half in a to-go box which you can eat the next day.
- Bulk buying : Saving money on food is quite difficult for a 8 member family, rather than a 4 people family. It’s true that if you can modify your buying pattern a bit, it will save a lot of dollars. If you are going to buy snacks for your family from McDonalds, look for the bulk buying offers. They often provide meal-box service or heavy discounts on burgers if you buy in bulk. There are many food stores and restaurants who provide bulk buying discount offers on dining. You just need to keep your eyes open for such offers..that’s all.
- Look for kids-eat-free deals : Many restaurants offer fixed days or nights where kids can eat free. Some food stores require adults to buy a meal, and they will give another for the kid totally free. Stores also provide coupons for free meals, limited to one or two kids for each one kid’s meal ordered.
- Look for discounts on senior citizens : Some restaurants offer a special loyalty club for seniors, or a senior menu and sometimes a standard senior discount. If you can’t find a senior discount listed on the on the menu, ask the restaurant guy if they are offering such or not. AARP serves a list of restaurants who provide such offer discounts, normally 10% off to the existing members.
Tips on tipping: The best way to show your gratitude within budget
How much is accepted as tip? This is probably something very important that makes us thoughtful especially during the festive season. Giving return gifts to the service providers has become a tradition. However, you may see yourself in a big puzzle box while thinking about the tip amount.
You don't need to panic just because you've already spent a lot of money on food, and on other things during the holidays, as your simple acts of gratitude aren't going to break your bank. The main thing you need to take care of is that you don't exceed your budget.
Here are a few tips to tip your service providers.
1. Don't cross your spending limit
Tips are always admired, but they're not compulsory. You cannot be forced to give tips to your service provider. If you're handling a limited amount of money, then you do not need to give cash as tips.
2. Set a plan beforehand
Set a budget plan beforehand to avoid any sudden shortage of cash during the holiday season. Moreover, this will help you shortlist your needs to tip, and at the same time you can also track your total spending once the holidays are over. Try to make a realistic budget so that you can make all happy.
3. Make your own rules
If you've a limited budget for tipping purpose, then you need to set some criteria. As an example, in case you've been served an average quality meal at a restaurant, then you can skip the tip due to low-quality service. On the other hand, if you find the service is taking too long to be completed and you're not much happy with the service provider's work, then you're not bound to thank them.
4. Be organized
Try to put the tip inside a sealed card especially used in festive season and leave a handwritten note with some appreciative lines for their support and service.
Do you know that you can earn cash back by spending some minutes? Yes, it is absolutely true. The restaurants usually offer about 5% to 15% cash back when you eat out if you've signed up and completed a survey regarding your experience at the restaurant. So, share your feedback and enjoy your meals at a discount rate on your next visit.