Tricky ways restaurants get you to spend
NORTH PALM BEACH, Fla. (10/23/12)--Restaurants may become the site of the newest savings battle. Consumers are using online coupons to find restaurant bargains. They're also taking advantage of half-price hors d'oeuvres or entrees at happy hours, drinking tap rather than mineral water, or having drinks or dessert at home.
Don't be afraid to ask questions when it comes to prices, ingredients, or wine. Ask how much entrees cost--particularly specials--and what they include. Even ask how many scallops, if you want to know, or how big the salad is.
If you're not a wine expert, tell the waiter your price range and ask for recommendations. Expensive wine can be great, but so can moderately priced bottles.
Don't order the house wine--restaurants buy the cheapest kind they can and mark it way up. If several people at your table plan to have wine, buy a bottle rather than individual glasses--it's much less expensive.
Linda Johnson, vice president of conferences and meetings experiences at the Credit Union National Association, offers a tip for trying higher-end restaurants on a budget. "Many cities offer 'restaurant week' several times a year," she notes. "You can get a several-course meal for a lower price point because restaurant owners want to showcase their products. It's usually a really good deal and you get to sample nicer restaurants affordably."
If you can afford it and want to treat yourself, go ahead. Knowing what you're paying for helps you choose what to splurge on.
For related information, read "Negotiate Your Way to a Better Price" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.
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