4 Ways to Save Money at the Bars
We all love to go out with friends, but I for one am hesitant to pay $8 for a glass of wine at a bar when I know I can buy the whole bottle at my friendly neighborhood wine store for only a few dollars more. Here are a few tricks I've developed to pinch my pennies without hurting my social life:
Shop Around for Happy Hour Specials
It might seem obvious, but my un-budget-conscious friends tend to go where we always go rather than considering deals. So, suggest a new locale. To find deals, you could try a site like www.happy-hour.com, but in my smaller town I've had more luck simply Googling "happy hour specials" and going with a local site (ours is compiled by a local magazine). Or you can also check out the websites of different establishments to get an idea of current specials.
Check Out Restaurant.com for 40-60% Off Coupons
These can be used on food as well. One caveat to these coupons, however: Read the fine print carefully. The restaurant whose coupon you’re purchasing generally sets stipulations regarding the coupon’s use, including days of the week that they can be used, minimum dollar amounts of purchases, etc. Also, smaller towns have a more limited selection of participating locations. If you’re hung up on the fact that a minimum purchase is required, try convincing your group to go in on one. A bonus for signing up for a free Restaurant.com user account is that you can choose to receive e-mails that will regularly offer you 70% – 90% off the coupon price. I recently bought three $25 coupons for a total of $6.
Eat Before You Meet
Planning a later happy hour or time to meet friends gives you the opportunity to eat at home beforehand. I know, sometimes the point of meeting friends is to have a fun night out that includes trying new restaurants. If it’s more about the socializing, though, pushing back your meeting time gives you the chance to eat at home, which is almost always a more frugal option. Another plus: You have time to take the dog out and change out of your work clothes, an opportunity I always welcome. If you are actually excited to try the food somewhere when meeting friends, you can always eat at home first and then order an appetizer or dessert with drinks, which will also cut down on overall spending.
Drink Less, or Not at All
To some, this sounds like a terrible idea. But I promise you, drinking less (or teetotaling) is not the worst idea I've ever had. In the past several years, medical research has pointed out the benefits of consuming alcohol in moderation, including reducing your risk of developing heart disease, dying of a heart attack, or developing diabetes. If you feel awkward not having something in your hand at all times, try ordering a "mocktail." Alternatively, you could try alternating alcohol with a glass of water — not only will it rehydrate you and prevent you from drinking too much in one evening, but it will also prevent you from lightening your wallet by spending too much on alcohol!
What tricks do you use to save money at bars? Share your ideas in the comments!