Eating out is a big expense. It can even be a budget buster. Cutting it out entirely would save you big bucks, but not all of us can do that.
So how do you save money while enjoying a meal at one of your favorite restaurants?
There are three easy ways to slash your dining dollars.
Tip number one is to join a restaurant fan club.
On your birthday you shouldn't have to spend money on a meal and several restaurants agree. A lot of eateries offer birthday or fan clubs.
You sign up on their website and get freebies on your special day.
Ben and Jerry's emailed me a coupon on my half birthday. At Firehouse Subs, just show up on your birthday with an ID showing your birth date, and get a free medium sub.
Scholtzky's also sends coupons year round if you sign up for their on-line E-club. In fact, 2,500 local residents are already members.
"It gets the traffic flowing and it makes people aware of Schlotzky's and it gives them a sense that they are saving money too," Schlotzky's General Manager Scott Walterscheid said.
Tip number two is to use social networking sites to learn about restaurant deals and steals.
The twitter account, DealsPlus, tells you about the best deals of the day.
I found a coupon for Jamba Juice for two smoothies for $5. Also a free crunchy taco from Taco Bell, if you like the company on facebook.
Also become a follower of local hotspots. Downtown Uncorked tells you about its daily specials. Fro Yo Yo Yogurt does the same. You just have to guess the weight of your yogurt on Wednesdays and get the sweet treat for free.
Tip number three is to use sites offering half price gift certificates for restaurants.
KBTX has Half Price Thursdays. Spend $12.50 for a $25 gift certificate to use at restaurants like Casa Rodriguez.
However, log on quickly because these deals go fast
Two other sites that are quickly gaining popularity are Groupon.com and Living Social.
But you'll only find coupons to use in major Texas cities.
You sign up and everyday you get a coupon in your email inbox for half off or more depending on how many people buy.
You'll find coupons for restaurants but also everything from spas to painting lessons.
However, if you are looking for something local that will save you money, KBTX is currently developing a mobile coupon solution.
All you need is your smart phone to access coupons to local business, including restaurants. There's no printing necessary. You just show the coupon to save big bucks. The application, COUPONROVER.com is expected to debut within the next month.
You can find more information by clicking on this link.
For links to the other money saving sites mentioned in this story, click on the links below.