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Tip #12: How I’m saving $2,000+ on eating out in 2009

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This is Tip #12 of the Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge.

food-coupon.jpg

Today’s tip is to save money on eating out using services that offer incredibly steep discounts. I eat out a lot, so this one is saving me tons of money.

You can get big discounts on eating out if you plan ahead and are willing to use coupons at a restaurant. If you live in a city and restaurants tend to be more expensive, saving 10% or 25% or 50% per meal — even once a week — can add up quickly. Here are the tips I’ve started using for a huge drop in my monthly spending on eating out.

1. Restaurant.com is offering 80% (!!) off its gift certificates. Note: This expires on 11/20/08 11/24/08.

Remember, those deals expire on 11/24. Use code “SURPRISE” to get the discounts.

2. The 2009 Entertainment Book
Remember these from elementary school? They used to cost $40 and seemed unreasonably expensive…until I started having to buy my own food. I bought a copy of this a couple days ago after checking out the site to make sure their coupons were good for my area. I’m forcing myself to use at least two coupons per month — so if I’m planning to grab dinner with someone, I’ll consciously grab a coupon from this book (which I’m going to keep on my desk) and try to pick a restaurant that applies. Note: This works if you already eat out, but if you buy the book and then force yourself to use it — spending more than you normally would have — that’s probably not the best way to save money. Duh. These are $25, so check the coupons to see what it will take for you to save money.

I ordered mine a couple days ago.

entertainment-book-order

Check out the Entertainment book site.
3. Along the lines of involving your friends in the 30 Day Challenge, here’s a tip I’m using to save money on eating out. The other day, one of my friends was talking about she loves to cook, but hates cleaning up. My eyes lit up because I don’t mind washing dishes, but I’m horrible at cooking. Could there be a win-win situation here?

trade-dishes-for-home-cooked-food

Everybody wins: We all get to hang out, eat food instead of letting it go rotten, and my friend doesn’t have to worry about cleaning up. If each meal saves a $20 dinner out and you do that three times/month, that’s $60/month.

There are also a bunch of other coupon / eating services out there, so if you have suggestions, leave them in the comments. It depends how much you eat out, but to share my friends’ biggest expense, it’s eating out by far, so this tip alone will save most of them over $1,000 over the next year. If you eat out a lot, it’s even more.

Total saved: $50 to $3,000

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Last thing to do
1. Check out the other tips in the Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge
2. Leave a comment on this post describing how much you’re saving with this tip and any unusual techniques you use to make this tip work.

If you liked this tip, check out my Premium tips — one long, tactical tip per week. Save money or get a 100% refund.

scrooge

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56 Comments

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  1. Wow, is that for real? I’ve never heard of Restaurant.com before but I just bought myself a 12 month subscription and the discount code worked a treat. Great tip!

    As you say, I think there will be a tendency to use the existence of the coupons as an excuse to eat out, but I think I can handle it. My wife and I don’t eat out at often as some people but do go out at least a few times a month, so this will pay for itself in no time

    I’m also happy to see that my favorite Ethiopian and Indian restaurants in the East Bay are both members, as well as one place I’ve been meaning to try.

  2. Great tip! However, I’d recommend to any fellow Canadians out there to look for similar books produced and sold in Canada. These sites look great and I’ll for sure keep them in mind for my next trip to the US, but I’ve seen similar books offered here in Canada that have more stuff included and don’t involve shipping across the border or pay in USD. I’ve often seen these books offered through the local chamber of commerce or through school fundraisers. (Ramit, I don’t know if any of them offer affiliate programs, sorry).

    Another place I’d suggest people look is their local or state/provincial tourism bureau. You can find discounts like these online and you can have books with coupons for attractions and restaurants shipped to you for free.

  3. Hey, this is a great tip! If I’m eating out anyways, might as well get myself a massive discount.

    What I found pleasantly surprising is that I can identify only two of the restaurants out of the entire list in my zip code. Wow. I thought I was well-heeled in my local cuisine, but apparently not so!

    But I think many that are listed are rather posh locales with a rather expensive menu, so that probably explains why I haven’t gotten around to them. Still, with decent coupons like these, I just might give one or two a try!

  4. When eating out at lunch remember to ask for the lunch size meal. Lots of restaurants like the Cheesecake Factory offer lunch size portions meals that cost less, but don’t always mention the option. Lunch portions not only cost less, but are smaller more reasonable portions.

  5. Great tips – do you know of anything like Restaurant.com for your Canadian friends?

    z

  6. Hi – I just found your website/blog a couple days ago and THANK GOD I did – I just bought my family’s Christmas gifts (the 12 month subscription of restaurant gift certificates) for 80% off (of course, I bought a year’s worth for me and my husband, too – since we LOVE to go out to dinner at least once a week!) – So, basically, $900 worth of gift certificates, just cost me a fraction of the actual face value!!! You go, Ramit!!!

  7. Life is full of money saving opportunities, if you know where to look. Coupons are more than readily available on the internet, if you dine out a lot this is perfect for you.

  8. Just an FYI – the $25 certificates for $2 are showing up as sold out.
    Ramit, I am sure you have helped swamp their site. : )
    Thanks for this great tip. A co-worker and I are going to split the Dinner of the month club membership…a $12 savings for each of us!

  9. Wow, great tip. This has gift potential too.

  10. sure this works great for those of you who eat out regularly, but since i live in the middle of the north yorkshire moors….. it’s not very relevant. Keep up the good work though, coz my savings to date = £107 week one [with a month’s credit card savings included]
    £85.40 week two
    £80 week three [including a month’s energy bill savings]

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