One way people often look to save money when they’re struggling financially-which many families are today-is by cutting back on eating out in restaurants. Certainly you can save money by eating out less, or by eating in cheaper restaurants. Another way to save is to get into the habit of using restaurant coupons when you eat out.
A couple of quick general notes about restaurant coupons: One, coupons are often for multiple people; they sometimes don’t fit the person dining alone. Certainly there are exceptions, but it’s quite common for restaurant coupons to take the form “Buy a meal and a beverage and get a second meal free” or “Buy a meal and get a second meal at half price.”
Two, coupons tend to be much easier to find for chain restaurants, especially things like fast food establishments and pizzerias. Again, there are exceptions, but there are typically a lot more coupons floating around out there for Domino’s than for the classy non-franchise Italian restaurant down the road.
In the past, coupons were something you cut out of the Sunday paper, or that came in the mail as a form of mass marketing. While you can still find coupons in those places, in recent years the Internet has become the primary place to go for coupons, as it has for so much else in life.
So for restaurant coupons specifically, where can you go online?
A good starting point is to see if the restaurant that you’re interested in has a website. If they do, they may well have a page with coupons or other discounts. Beyond that, here are some more general websites you might want to check out for restaurant savings:
* Deal Locker
Deal locker is a one-stop savings site, covering all different types of products and services, with coupons and other kinds of discounts. There’s a whole section devoted to restaurants specifically.
* Entertainment Book
Most people are familiar with the Entertainment Book, the book of perforated coupons of mostly 2 for 1 deals for restaurants, movies, sporting events, etc. An easy way to obtain your Entertainment Book now is online. Just enter your zip code, and the website will find the Book that has your local merchants.
* Fat Wallet
Like Deal Locker, Fat Wallet is a general money saving website, with dozens of categories. Restaurants is one of the categories, though be aware that for now it’s a category that tends to be a little thin. (So maybe they’re “Thin Wallet” when it comes to restaurants?)
Restaurant.com can be a very valuable resource for dining out. Enter your location at their website, and that’ll bring up a list of available offers. Their discounts generally take the form of gift certificates at reduced prices. For instance, for $10 you can get a $25 gift certificate to a specific restaurant. (Be sure to read the fine print for conditions though. You may have to order a certain number of beverages, it may be dine in only, you may have to have a certain minimum number of people in your party, etc.) Sometimes they’ll run specials where the discounts are further discounted, so that $25 gift certificate that’s usually $10 sells for $5 or less.
The Valpak mailer full of coupons, including local restaurant coupons, is so ubiquitous that by now almost everyone is familiar with it. But if you’re somehow not getting your Valpak in the mail, or you inadvertently threw it away, or it’s for a limited geographical area and you want to go to a place outside that area to eat, they have a website now where you can download all the coupons. Just enter the location you’re interested in, check out the list of available coupons, and print the ones you want.
* Wow Coupons
Like Deal Locker and Fat Wallet, Wow Coupons is a general site that provides links to coupons for a wide variety of products and services. They have a Restaurants section, and it tends to be pretty full, though like most others it’s heavily weighted toward fast food and other franchise restaurants.
Start with these sites and maybe do some Googling for some more, and you should find plenty of money-saving coupons to make it a little easier on your budget when you dine out.