Every now and then, it's nice to go out and grab a lunch at a café or go out to dinner with a friend and catch up on life. But the one thing that stops people from going out too much is that the costs add up quickly. One year, my husband and I spent over $10,000 at restaurants. My husband is a chef, but still, that's a lot of dough.
After looking at our spending, we had to sit down and create a budget for eating out because we should have saved up some of that money for the kids we have today. We decided that we still wanted to eat out, but we needed to be smart about it. We went to grand openings that offered free food, searched high and low on Groupon and Living Social and opted to try the Happy Hour menu -- something we never considered before.
Once we got familiar with all the ways that we could save money and still indulge in our favorite dishes at local restaurants, we started looking at apps that would cut our time in half while scoring the same discounts. Here are three of our favorite apps:
Savored (Savored.com): In recent years, Groupon has led the deal movement by securing incredible discounts at your favorite neighborhood restaurants and other establishments. It only makes sense that the company would come up with an app that would help you save money and make reservations at your local restaurants for free.
My city is Los Angeles which definitely has a happening restaurant scene, but there were only 66 restaurants available (New York City had 360 restaurants and Chicago had 74 available). Savings range from 15 to 50 percent. You pick your party size and date and the discount will be shown. You make the reservation and you just have to show up to the establishment and the rest is taken care of, but make sure you read the fine print because most restaurants will add gratuity automatically.
Scout Mob (scoutmob.com): We all like to save a few bucks here and there, but many of us probably don't carry a coupon with us at all times for a specific establishment. This app allows you to add a deal, which gives you 50 percent off at a participating business. Once you add it, you just have to show your phone screen to get the discount. Most places I looked up had a maximum $10 savings, so to get the best bang for your buck, you would spend a maximum of $20.
While it is easy to use, I was bummed to see that there were only five participating restaurants "near" me, which were all 15 plus miles away. Yes, the deals are amazing, since you get 50 percent off your purchase, but they need to add more places to make it more enticing for people to actually install the app. If you're a New Yorker, there are 149 establishments to choose from, which is a better sell. The app is free so it doesn't hurt to get it since you can save money at a participating business you may already frequent.
Blackboard Eats (blackboardeats.com): If you want a detailed review of a restaurant you want to visit and occasionally get some incredible deals, this app will do that for you. You can login to the app and tap on "Guide" to find restaurants near you. You can scan the list and find the restaurant you would like to visit. Once you open it up, you get a really detailed review of the establishment.
For someone like me who likes to know the 411 before I get to the restaurant, this is perfect. Plus, you can tap on "Specials" to see if there are any current or upcoming specials that you can get. When it's available, you can get a percentage off your bill or get something for free. Like most users on Android, I had an issue logging into the app. Once I reset my password from my computer, I had no issues and it worked nicely for me. The app is free and if you're a foodie who likes to research restaurants beforehand and get an occasional deal, it's is definitely worth it.
Susan Yoo-Lee is the editor of Savings.com personal finance blog and founder of Mommas in the House blog.
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