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Easy Ways to Save Money on Dining Out

Americans spend an average of $2,787 a year, or $232 a month, on dining out, according to 2014 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you’re always looking for ways to save money on dining out and are on a tight budget, you can take advantage of some great discounts and restaurant deals at your favorite places — you just need to know where to find them. You can also save money by making some smart decisions when ordering and making reservations.

Here are some easy ways to save on the cost of dining out:

Look for Local Dining Out Deals

Daily deal sites are a great resource for finding deeply discounted deals and vouchers for meals at area restaurants. Your local newspaper and magazines may also have a deals section where you’ll see exclusive deals from new restaurants opening the area. Don’t miss the chance to try new restaurants offering up to 20% off for first-time visitors or buy one get one free menu items.

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Use a Savings Plan

You can get discounted dining certificates to your favorite restaurants and other coupons with a savings plan. These membership-type plans give you access to unpublished discounts where you enjoy hundreds of dollars in savings per year. You pay a low annual fee and can take advantage of all benefits for a full year with these types of plans, saving money every time you dine out.

Enjoy Early Dinners

Take advantage of happy hour specials at more expensive restaurants so you can pay half of regular menu prices. Many restaurants need to fill their seats between the lunch rush and dinner time so they may offer 2 for 1 specials and discounts on appetizers. Plan on enjoying an early dinner to save up to 50% on your bill.

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Order It To Go

Many restaurants now offer online ordering for pickup and delivery orders. Save time and money on the cost of restaurant food by placing a to-go order. You’ll save on the cost of parking and tipping your server extra for the dining experience. If you’re having food delivered and the restaurant offers free delivery in your area, you’ll also save some money on gas. Restaurants offering online ordering may also extend a discount for first-time online orders, shaving a few extra dollars off your total bill.

Save Money with Online Freebies

Many chain restaurants offer free meal coupons on their websites and exclusive discounts to people who subscribe to their newsletter. You could receive coupons for free drinks and meals in your email and a free meal on your birthday. Hop over to your favorite restaurant’s website to pick up a few freebies before you head out.

Eating out doesn’t have to be expensive when you know how to find the best deals and discounts at your favorite restaurants. From happy hour specials to savings plans, use these tips to save on the cost of dining out month after month.

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