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How to save money at a restaurant

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While most of us find ourselves pinching pennies due to the current economic climate, there is still an affordable way to eat at restaurants. Follow these helpful hints to cut costs while dining out at your favorite restaurant.

- Use coupons.  Many local restaurants offer money saving coupons.  These coupons are typically delivered to your mailbox or found in your local paper. Some restaurants offer a percentage off your meal while others offer a buy one get one free entree.

- Split a meal.  Splitting a meal with your spouse or a friend will cut your bill in half.  Most restaurants offer such large portions that two people can easily be full off just one meal. You can always add an extra side or a salad if you feel it isn't quite enough.

- Order an appetizer as your meal.  Appetizers are usually half the price but just as large and filling as a main entree.

- Drink water.  Water is FREE, enough said.

- Carry out.  Order in from your favorite restaurant. By not dinning in, you save money on drinks and a tip. Typically drinks and a tip can add at least $10 to your bill.

- Take advantage of early bird specials.  Many restaurants now offer early bird specials such as half priced entrees or drinks. By opting to eat early you could save a few bucks.

- Visit the restaurant website.  Most national chains such as Firehouse Subs, Lone Star Steakhouse, Tony Romas, etc. offer FREE meals on your birthday just by signing up for their birthday club.  Also, by becoming a member of their email list they will periodically email you coupons.  Always check the restaurant website before you head out to eat!

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