Tips for Saving Money While Dining Out

Who doesn’t love grabbing a meal at a restaurant? Whether it’s a national chain or a local mom-and-pop, the dining out experience is about enjoying great food and taking in a fun restaurant atmosphere. Unfortunately in many cases, it also means spending cash and putting a dent in your budget. Here are some tips to consider before visiting a restaurant, that can help save you money so you can enjoy a good meal out without feeling guilty.

Hit up happy hour
Happy hour isn’t always just about deals on drinks. Many establishments also have special food menus during certain times. So, plan ahead of time and hit up happy hour for cheaper food and drink selections.

Plan ahead
If you can’t make happy hour, once you decide where you want to eat, check out the menu right away. Then, you can discuss what your budget will allow and plan accordingly. The key to this tip is sticking to your guns; if your plan was to get a less expensive dish but once you arrive at the restaurant the specials sound tempting, don’t give in. You can still enjoy yourself and have a great meal while abiding by the budget you’ve put in place.

Buy the bottle
This tip applies to occasions when a large group plans to order similar beverages. Discuss what everyone’s tastes are and find a common ground. Then, instead of each of you ordering a $9 glass of wine, opt for the bottle instead, then divvy up the cost.

Skip dessert
When the server comes around and asks if you’re ready for dessert, it can be incredibly hard to say no. That chocolate cake always sounds so delicious. But use your willpower and just say no, as chances are, dessert menu items are overpriced. Instead, opt for the ice cream parlor down the road. Or, stop at the grocery store on the way home and pick out something more budget-friendly from the bakery.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

Buying New Stuff and When to Spend

Sometimes, it’s just nice to buy new stuff. But when will we get the best deals? Here’s a look at some common purchases and the best times to buy them.

TVs: It seems like a new TV is on the wish list every couple of years, and there’s no time better to make that purchase than the holiday shopping season. Your best chance would be a Black Friday sale, but decent deals usually run throughout November.

Furniture: New furniture is typically debuted in February and August, which makes January and July the best times to get a deal. Stores need room on the showroom floors, and you can take advantage of this need by helping them make some room.

Appliances: As the holidays approach, stores are eager to get old models out of the way to clear space for new arrivals. Take advantage of these savings and you get yourself some new appliances in September and October, just in time for Thanksgiving and the holidays.

Carpet: If you’re looking to outfit your home a with a new dance floor, the best time to do that is after the holiday season, usually mid-December until the end of January. Just make sure you don’t wait too late. Once the middle of February rolls around, tax returns start arriving and the sales cease.

Mattresses: As spring rolls around, the mattress industry uses Memorial Day weekend as their big push to clear out merchandise. Most holiday weekends will provide a deal, but Memorial Day weekend is the usually the best for your wallet.

A new car: So you’re tired of that old ride, huh? Sometimes you need a new car, sometimes you just want one. It’s fine to start looking – but you may want to wait until late summer to pull your wallet out. As dealerships start rolling out new models, it’s a great time to buy something from the previous year’s release. It also doesn’t hurt to shop on a less busy weekday near the end of the month to help salesmen pad their quotas.

A new home: If you’re buying a new home, you’ll want to look in the fall and winter. This is when you’ll find your best deals, especially in October, before the end of the year. Nothing would make a seller happier than unloading that property in time for the holidays.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

Turkey with a Side of Savings

Thanksgiving Day is a time for relaxing with family and friends and reflecting on life’s blessings. While the holidays can be hectic for some, it’s important to not let challenges, including financial stress, put a damper on the season. In order to fully enjoy and appreciate Turkey Day, there are a few things you can do to have a happy Thanksgiving without busting your budget.

Assign sides

One way you can surely save on Thanksgiving dinner is asking your friends and family to bring a side dish. If you take care of the big items such as the turkey and drinks, assigning sides for others to prepare and bring will save you time and money.

Think ahead

Prep ahead and don’t wait until the last minute. Many stores will feature holiday bargains leading up to the big day, so keep an eye on circulars and coupons.

Don’t overdo it

Once you know how many guests to expect, make plans for feeding exactly that amount of people. It’s natural to want to have leftovers for an endless amount of turkey sandwiches, but resist the urge to buy more food than what’s really necessary. Because chances are, your family will get sick of turkey and you’ll end up wasting food (and money).

Don’t use disposables

As cute as those festive paper plates are, don’t spend your money on disposable party supplies. They may be easier when it comes to clean up, but just think how much money you’ll save by using plates and glassware you already have.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

5 Ways to Entertain Yourself Without Breaking the Bank

Look for discounts: Some local Regal Cinemas have a value day – does yours? Find out when your local Value Day is here. Don’t have a Regal around? Look for a coupon code here.

Head to the library: Books are free to check out (as long as your return them on time) and there’s no better price than $0. Find something exciting to read and your weekend is planned. Don’t feel like reading? Check out your library’s DVD section and watch one of those blockbusters you never got around to seeing.

Volunteer: When was the last time you spent your weekend doing something for someone else? Head down to the local food bank or find out if Habitat for Humanity is doing anything nearby. Not only will you feel good when you’re done volunteering your Saturday, but you may pick up some skills that you can use in your own home.

Find free events: Somewhere in your town there’s something free to do. Grab a newspaper or check the window at your local coffee shop. And don’t forget to check out our Monthly Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth and Ocean Counties blog posts!

Go visit Mother Nature: Hike a nature trail, head to the mountains, or throw a worm in a pond and catch a fish. These are relatively cheap (if not free) options. Don’t know where to go hike? Check out Recreation.gov.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

3 Ways to Save During Football Season

While awesome, football season can also be expensive. If you’re planning on having big football weekends for the next few weeks, you’ll need to make sure you’re budgeting for all the money you’re going to spend. Here are 3 ways you can save this football season.

Raise some cash: If you’re going to spend a lot of money this football season, try figuring out a way to raise some extra dough to fund your fun. Having a yard sale could be a great way to raise some cash. Have a bike or some free weights you don’t use much anymore? Throw it up on EBay or Craigslist and turn it into some ribs and chicken for the game.

Do it right or don’t do it: We all love the big games, especially when our team is involved. When those weekends roll around, do it big! If you’re throwing a party, grill it up and stock up on beverages. Having a big event is always fun. If you plan on attending the game, plan out an exciting tailgate and do it right. When your team is involved in a lopsided matchup, keep it more low-key.

Split your tickets up: Feel the need to be at the stadium a lot this season? Try splitting those season tickets with a friend. You can go to games together or divide the games and take other friends and family. This way, you’ll each get to see 3 or 4 games for a decent price. You can even sell your tickets for one of the bigger games, avoid getting stuck in the crazy traffic, and maybe even fund the rest of the season.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

3 Easy Ways to Save Money this Fall

You probably spent a decent amount of money this summer on vacations and just having fun in general. Then you had to spend money on all kinds of things so your kids were ready to go back to school. The sad part? The holidays aren’t too far off. If you need a few easy ways to save money this fall, here’s 3 ideas for you.

Keep your systems off: You’ve probably been keeping your house frosty during these hot summer months. Now that it’s starting to cool down slightly it’s a good time to think about shutting it off before the cold weather arrives. If you can wait until closer to November to turn your heater on, you can probably save a few hundred bucks. That’ll come in handy on Black Friday!

Stop going out so much: In the summer, it’s fun to spend time and money doing fun things around town. Now that it’s cooling off, take advantage. Instead of dining out, break out that Crock-Pot, make a big batch of chili, and enjoy a hot bowl on a cool evening on your back porch. Haven’t been using that gym membership you bought back in January? Cancel it, and go for a run or a bike ride in the great outdoors.

Unsubscribe: Is your inbox full of promotional emails? As the holidays are right around the corner, it may be a good idea to unsubscribe to some of those. Sure, you might need some gift ideas for family, but you also may be tempted to buy a few discounted items for yourself. If you need help with unsubscribes, check out Unroll.Me.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com