I have been in school for FOREVER! I never took a summer off or taken a gap year, which is something that I regret now. But anywho! I got into a nationally acclaimed Ph.D. program but I saw all that because I have learned to cut corners since its only me (for right now). So I’m going to lay out everything I did to save money while still having fun with my friends in this series, “On A Budget”.
Let’s start with food. I absolutely LOVE great food! My undergraduate years were fulfilled in a city that was known for its seafood so I had to be very cautious when it came to funds.
- Find out who has happy hour/daily specials. I had a restaurant for every weekday and I knew most happy hours. Moe Mondays ($5 burritos), Buffalo Wild Wings ($0.60 wings, bone in on Tuesdays and bone out Thursdays), & Hooter on Wednesdays. Those are just the ones I can think of right now and it alters with cities because of local restaurants. BTW, most happy hours are around 3-7pm or 9pm-close.
- Buy enough for multiple meals/order a meal for the next day. If you’re eating out, you might as well get extra food which can easily equate to 3 extra meals if you like reheating your food.
- Eat appetizers as meals. Some restaurants have appetizers that are full meals, those are usually the nachos and sampler platters.
- Only order water. If you are like me and barely drink anything with your food, then buying a soda for $2.50 and never get a refill then your throwing away money. However, depending on the food I HAVE to order a soda to burp and if I don’t I stop by a gas station and get a drink or McDonald’s if they have $1 large drinks. Most of the specialty lemonades and teas do not get refills so ask if refills are possible before ordering.
- Avoid purchasing alcohol. I like beer, especially Angry Orchard and Redd’s ale. One bottle of Angry Orchard normally is $5-6, a case from Publix is about $10 on a good day for 6, which is less than $2 a bottle. Unless it is happy hour and it’s a great deal, purchase a bottle or case before you get home and stretch out your money.
- Eat out during the week &/or lunch. There are usually daily specials during the week which can cut your bill in half. Lunch menus are always cheaper but beware, sometimes they offer a smaller portion size.
- Fill out surveys on receipts for free food. If there is a survey on the receipt, the company is usually offering a free dish or dollars off your next order…THAT IS FREE FOOD. Get into the habits of filling out the surveys within 48 hours because after then you forget or lose the receipt.
- Sign up for every rewards program. Most restaurants have some type of rewards program which offers incentives if you keep returning. McAlister’s has a punch card, Starbucks has their star program, and there are many others!
- If they have an app download it. Apps are awesome for a variety of reasons: your order is already saved, you get alerts about new items, and the company usually has incentives for you to download it.
- Use your birthday perks! I can eat free for most of my birth month with all the emails I get just because I was born.
- If they have an email program, sign up. Refer to tips 8-10.
- Limit how many times you eat out per week. This is the most obvious tip.
Try out these tips and let me know which ones changed your life in the comments section below.
Tell me some of your secrets to saving money while eating out, I want to try them!
DISCLAIMER: I am in no way endorsing any business included in this post, I’m merely giving examples.