We all know that the economic recession has caused a lot of belt-tightening for families across the country. Families who were one accustomed to spending money freely may now find themselves having to to watch their budget closely, shopping differntly and even eating differently, being forced to cutt back significantly on the entertainment budget. Many families are struggling just to stay in their homes.
As adults often set in our ways, it can be difficult to give up the little extras in life. Kids don’t seem to mind so much (they generally bounce back quickly). But when you’re working long hours to provide for your family, the little things you do for yourself can make it all seem worthwhile. Giving up personal rewards like eating out once in a while can be a difficult thing to do, even when it’s costing more than you can really afford now. However, there are ways to have your cake and eat it, too (literally!).
For starters, you’re not the only one who’s feeling the crunch. While families are cutting costs and staying away from previous purchasing habits, businesses are looking for ways to drive consumer traffic. And restaurants are no exception. While you’re unlikely to find discounts at high-end establishments, many chains are now offering all kinds of incentives and savings to bolster their waning income.
You can find coupons, family discount days (kids eat free, etc.), and early and late specials that make eating out more affordable. And many establishments now have online clubs through their websites where members receive emails about special deals. So if you have a favorite restaurant that you’ve been missing out on because of your shrinking budget, look into some of these options to see if they apply.
Another good way to save is by planning, which is to say, frequenting eateries earlier in the day. If you know you’re going to want food from a certain place, find out if they offer lunch specials. Then you can simply pick up the items you want for a reduced cost. Often you will also get smaller portions, which is perfect for places that usually give you way too much food. This way you get exactly the amount you want at far less cost. And of course, you can always save a few bucks by ordering take-out and picking it up. You will avoid both delivery costs and a 15% tip for the wait-staff.
But eating out isn’t all about the price; part of what makes a dining experience great is the atmosphere. Not only do you not have to cook an entire meal, you also have the chance to socialize. However, if you simply can’t justify the extra cash required for eating out, consider, as an alternative, bringing the restaurant feeling home. No doubt your friends and extended family are facing the same troubles as you. So instead of insisting on public gathering places, opt to host a potluck night. Everyone can save money and cooking time by creating just one dish or side dish to share, you can all get the social interaction you crave, and best of all, you’ll have a great time without worrying about the extras. It’s like eating out, only better!