Save Dollars While Dining Out -- Savings Experiment

Save Dollars While Dining Out
Save Dollars While Dining Out

While we all love dining out, most of us don't realize the one tool restaurants use to get us to spend more is the menu. It looks innocent enough, but if you're not careful, you and your wallet could be headed for a subliminal shakedown. Here are a few things to look out for during your next meal.

First, check the prices. According to a recent study at Cornell University, people tend to spend more when the menus don't include dollar signs next to the cost. The reason is obvious: dollar signs remind people that they're spending money. Keep this in mind, no matter how hungry you are.

Next, keep an eye out for flowery descriptions. Restaurants know what language works, so if you see a meal description that reads like poetry, don't overlook the price.

Some restaurants also use subtle strategies to control what you order, like offering a dish in two different portion sizes. This strategy is called bracketing. The larger portion, with a higher price tag, is usually there to steer customers into ordering the smaller size, which appears to be a great deal in comparison. Often times, any dish with a three digit price is only there to make the other stuff look like a relative bargain.

Also, watch out for the hard sell on the daily special. Specials usually cost more than regular items and generally don't have a price on the menu. That's no accident. Always be sure to check the cost or you may be in for a big surprise when the bill arrives.

Lastly, don't always assume your refills are free. While a lot of places offer free refills, people tend to think it's the industry standard, but it's not. If you're ordering refills for table of four, this can potentially add up to $20 to the tab.

In the end, you can still eat well while spending less. Keep these sneaky strategies in mind during your next dinner and see the savings for yourself.

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