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Six Easy Money Saving Tips For Eating Out

We're turning our focus on saving money, and every week we're going to tackle a new way to save on things you’re already spending money on.

By taking action and doing some of the stuff we’re talking about here in this series, you can build your first emergency fund and pay down tons of debt.

The next tip we’re sharing is how to save hundreds of dollars on eating out.

First, I want to drop this statistic on you. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend $3,000 per year on going out to eat. That comes out to $250 per month, and $8.21 per day.

That’s a lot of money! Also, remember that’s just the average. That means that some people are spending less, and some people are spending a LOT MORE!

The point of the post is NOT to tell you to STOP eating out altogether. Instead, let’s eat out with a plan and let’s make sure we aren’t going into debt to fund our eating out habits—nothing like eating your food now and paying interest on it for months and years to come. Eating out also shouldn’t be stopping you from saving money and paying off your debts.

Here are six tips to plan, save, and make the most of your eating out budget.

1. Set An Amount

Eating out is by far the biggest budget buster for many people. Why? Because they have no plan, so they spend and spend and swipe cards, and they wonder why it doesn’t ever work out. That ends today!

Decide how much money you want to spend on eating out each month by using your budget and stick to that amount. How much money do you set aside? Take a good guesstimate based on your eating out habits or go through your bank statements and start with that and you will learn to adjust as you go. 

2. Meal Plan

I’m not talking about meal planning at home, although that’s important and a HUGE money saver. I'm talking about meal planning for when you go out to eat. If you wing it, you’ll be out of money quickly. So take time to plan on how you will use that money in the upcoming month. Will you be doing lunch? When’s a good time to get takeout for dinner based on your schedule? Our family loves the weekend breakfast at the local diner. If you have a plan for this money, you’ll be surprised at how much further you can stretch it.

3. Look For Deals

Now that you have an amount and somewhat of a good plan for the month, now you can look for the best deals, discount gift cards, and coupons at your favorite places. We regularly get coupons in the mail, online, and we know when our favorite places offer the best happy hour specials and prices. If you’ve got kids, you probably know that many places let your kids eat FREE or even $0.99. Take advantage of those days when you plan your month.

4. Don’t Go Hungry

This tip is an easy one. Eat a snack before you go. You will be less hungry when you arrive, and you won’t be tempted to order too much food because your eyes are bigger than your stomach, which ultimately drains your wallet.

5. What Are Your Specials?

When you sit down, ask what the specials are. I love to have a few beers or a cocktail when we go out to eat, but I'm also not willing to spend my retirement on alcohol because it is the most overpriced item on the menu. When it comes to specials on food, you could potentially save even more by taking advantage of the daily specials they're offering.

6. Sharing Is Caring

Admittedly, I used to hate sharing my meal when my wife and I first started dating. However, that all changed when she showed me how much we could save. Now, we'll order a small appetizer most times and share the main meal because the serving sizes are ginormous at most restaurants. Seriously, sharing is caring and it saves a ton of cash and stretches that out to eat budget.

With just a few simples changes and spending a little time, you can save yourself tons of money, freeing up cash to save your first emergency fund and pay down your debts! Go ahead and get started and I can't wait to hear how much you save!

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