Many college students are broke. This is a known fact. We also love going out to eat with friends and avoiding the responsibilities of being an adult. In order to keep your wallet from crying when eating out this semester here are a few things you should do:
Never order a drink. Soft drinks have one of the biggest markups in the restaurant. The restaurant pays a few cents for each glass of soda you consume. Paying three or four dollars for soda is ridiculous when you consider that in the time that you are in the restaurant, you drink only about two glasses. At the end of the day, if you really want soda, go buy a two-liter bottle at the grocery store and drink it at home.
Always use a coupon. Coupon apps like Retailmenot and Groupon are a lifesaver! I personally use both and save so much money. However, you need to be careful and read the fine print or else you might end up spending more money than what you intended. Remember, just because there is a deal, that does not always mean that you are saving money.
Timing. The time that you go out is super important. Restaurants usually raise the prices during dinner time and the weekend. If you want to eat out and save, make sure to go during lunchtime. Many restaurants also have early bird specials or happy hours. Go during these times for extra savings!
Research your restaurant. If you are going out with a group of friends, communicate with them about what you want to order. Maybe someone else in the group wants the same thing and is willing to split an entree. Also, in many Chinese restaurants, they have family meals that are much cheaper than ordering separately and gives you a ton of food! On the topic of family, I know that some of us have children. Research restaurants that have certain deals where kids get to eat free!
These are my tips for eating out on a budget. Use all that money that you saved from this to really treat yourself in the future!