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If you love dining out but don’t love the paying part, you’re in luck: The Star reached out to Stephen Weyman, founder of HowToSaveMoney.ca and creditcardGenius, sites dedicated to helping Canadians maximize their money.
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“There are so many places you can look for discounts, ranging from paid premium coupon books like The Entertainment Book, to group buy sites like Groupon, to apps like Yelp Deals and FourSquare specials,” notes Weyman. “Even restaurant receipts can have coupons for a future visit.”
“A great way to reduce your overall bill but still get 90 per cent of the experience is to skip the paid drinks, appetizers, and deserts – your bill will be at least half,” he says. “Those things are easy to do it yourself or buy ready-made at the grocery store, so consider doing that at home before or after you go out without much extra hassle.”
“The new American Express Cobalt card gives five times the points on groceries and restaurants,” says Weyman, noting some credit cards also offer you specials, discounts, and bonuses at certain restaurants. Watch the annual fees, though, which can add up to the price of a decent meal.
• Timing is a factor: Thinking about the time of the week – and the day – you eat out can also cut down on your bill. For example, some restaurants offer early-bird specials and happy hours during slower hours.
“Most people like to eat out later in the week and later in the day, and supper is the most popular — and expensive — meal,” says Weyman, noting Tuesday and Wednesday tend to be the cheapest days of the week to eat out. “Buck the trend by going out for breakfast or eating out earlier in the week when most restaurants offer specials to bring in more customers.”
• Take advantage of technology: Using an app like Yelp, UrbanSpoon or TripAdvisor to filter restaurants by price point and reviews can save you money, Weyman notes, and give you better quality and value.
“This can be a decent money saving strategy: order something large enough that you’ll have enough for lunch or supper the next day,” Weyman says. “Plus paying for food you can’t possible eat or feeling queasy from over filling yourself just aren’t very attractive options.”
• Tips and tipping: Order something you can’t easily make yourself at home to maximize your dining out experience.