Save money eating outRestaurants rely on more than ambiance and the aroma of your favorite foods to get you to spend. They favor tricks to appeal to your mind — to get you in the door and push your bill higher. But there are ways that you can save money eating out at restaurants.

Restaurants hope that we don’t realize it, but a lot of energy goes into developing menus. They focus on every detail — layout, font, color scheme and so much more — every aspect designed to entice us to spend more money.

For example, have you ever noticed that many restaurants don’t put dollar signs next to prices? It’s similar to why casinos make gamblers bet with chips instead of real money. Dollar signs make us mentally associate numbers with a real cost. Leaving them off subtly makes us feel that the number isn’t associated with quite so high a price.

Most menus in national chains do not list food and prices in a straight vertical line down the menu. Customers can compare prices too easily this way. Instead restaurants often offset them from one another. It’s little tricks like these that force customers to work a little harder to understand and compare costs.

Save Money Eating Out by Minding Your Portions

Watching your portions can do more than help you keep your weight down — it can help you conserve your budget too. American restaurants continue to serve ever larger portions. Of course, with these increased portion sizes comes an increase in the price.

The worst thing that a consumer can do is simply ignore the fact that portions are excessive. You have to have a plan. Will you take half of your meal home with you? Split it with a dining companion? Or should you simply look for a smaller alternative? Your wallet and your belly will thank you for having a game plan and sticking to it.

Don’t Fall For ‘Free’ Gift Cards

I am a sucker for restaurants that offer deals if you buy their gift cards. You typically see these offers around the holidays or special occasions. Many restaurants offer a free additional $10 gift card if you purchase $50 in gift cards.
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Save with coupons on your groceriesAccording to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), food will get even more expensive in 2014 with a 2.5% increase in prices. Naturally, saving on groceries is a top priority for consumers. Today, it is possible to cut down your monthly grocery bill dramatically by using coupons, which can shave down the price on basic grocery items such as meats and fresh produce to staples like bread or eggs. You can save with coupons. Superstores such as Walmart and other, smaller grocery stores are all offering coupon specials. So, why should you continue to pay full price when you can get your food at huge discounts?

Start Collecting Coupons

Remember, the more coupons you have, the more savings you can get. For many parents, reading the paper is already part of the Sunday morning routine. Start collecting those coupon inserts for discounts on a wide range of consumer products. To get more coupons for your collection, check more than one newspaper to save with coupons. For the ambitious coupon clipper, try asking co-workers or friends for coupon inserts that they don’t plan on using. For a simpler route, make sure to regularly check Internet resources, for example, coupon sites like ebates.com for the latest coupons and online rebate deals.

Get Organized & Save With Coupons

As with any collection, you want to keep everything in order. Coupons have expiration dates and you will most likely forget to use them before they expire if you leave them in a pile inside a drawer. Coupon experts use protective binders to store and organize coupons in order to keep track of which deals expire first so they don’t miss out. Keeping coupons in a handy binder also makes it easy to bring them with you when you shop for groceries. You’ll always be ready for any surprise offers at the store. There are a number of ways toorganize your coupons, such as by expiration date or by category. Choose whatever works best for you. [click to continue…]

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