Being smarter about ordering at restaurants

When financial experts talk about the biggest ways in which consumers spend money they don't have to, it often comes up that people typically do so too much when it comes to dining out. This can indeed be an expensive habit, but it's also understandable that it's nice to get out of the house and not have to cook every once in a while. And besides, there are plenty of ways to save money on dining out on occasion.

One of the big ones that people may not always think about when making their dining decisions is that it's often far less expensive to go to a restaurant at lunch time than during the dinner hours. This is, of course, something that may not always be easy to pull off, simply because people have to work, but on weekends or holidays, taking a trip to a local eatery around noon is often a pretty good idea. The fact of the matter is that most restaurants will shave a few dollars off entree prices during lunch time (and maybe shrink size of the menu a little bit), but often don't skimp on the portions too much, meaning that customers can save while eating many of the same things they always enjoy.

Other ways to save
In addition, one of the big expenses that people may not think about when they go to a restaurant is the cost of not only their food, but also their drinks. Even a person who "just" orders soda is probably paying as much as $3 for something that costs very little for restaurants to actually sell, much like the cost of popcorn at movie theaters. It's a huge markup for something that consumers don't actually need, and isn't that healthy for them either. This may be especially true of drinks that don't come with free refills, which has become common for many types of soft drinks but not necessarily things like iced tea and lemonade.

Instead, it's usually a good idea to just order water. Not only is it healthy, but it costs nothing. And while the difference between $3 for soda may not seem like a lot, one must think about how much it costs for everyone at the table, and over the course not just one meal but an entire year's worth of meals.

Getting smarter about fancy meals
In addition, many consumers who like dining out and live somewhat close to large cities might also have the option to save a lot on eating at expensive restaurants if that city has a "Restaurant Week." With these events, diners can often pay a relatively small amount of money and dine at some of the city's finest establishments for little to no added cost.

Consumers who save this kind of money can then do the responsible thing and put it toward building an emergency savings account or paying down outstanding debt. This, in turn, is going to have significant financial benefits throughout the year.

Want to learn more?