New Year, New You: How to Save Money on Dining

(Photo by Jay Wennington)

Note: Since good gifts are worth giving twice, this is a reprint of my New Year’s blog–and gift to you. Enjoy!

We’re starting the year with more restaurants than ever springing up all over Palm Beach County. That means more opportunities to find a favorite dish (or five!) and a chance to try a cuisine you haven’t had yet.

How about Indian? Turkish? Vietnamese? If you’re afraid to spend money on something new, I wanted to give you a New Year’s gift: Restaurant coupon sites that help ease sticker shock.

When I head out to a restaurant, which I admit is more often than most, I first check these coupon sites to see if I can pair where I’m going with saving money. It’s a smart move, since I usually find a deal six times out of 10. They all give users the opportunity to see only restaurants in specific areas, which is great.

You need to sign up on these sites with your email and a password, but all are free to join. You purchase coupons using credit cards. Usually the certificates/coupons are good for 90 days after you print them or receive them in the mail (some of the sites offer mail service). You can spend $25 to receive a $50-off coupon, $15 for $30 off and so on. With CharityDine, part of the price you pay goes to charity and it’s included in the certificate cost, so the charity doesn’t cost you extra.

Read the fine print on the coupons—some exemptions include days of the week (primarily weekend nights and holidays) or times of day. If restaurants close, which happens far more than we wish, most—if not all—of these sites will refund your money or swap the coupon for a different restaurant.

Try it once. I think you’ll be hooked. Here’s to a year of new discovery at the dining table. Join me in exploring!

LocalDines South Florida

This site, started in 2001, is headquartered in Port St. Lucie. There is a regular registration as well as a VIP Club, which sends daily emails with promo codes, new dining deals, giveaways and more. You can request certain dining areas, Boca Raton and Delray Beach, for instance. You’ll usually receive one email per day per area, but you can unsubscribe at any point.

LocalDines says it donates $1,000 to a different local non-profit each month. Diners can also contribute when they buy coupons, if they wish. Coupons are offered at 50 percent of the face value.

Website: localdines.com/southflorida

Charity Dine

This is one of my favorite sites because charities benefit along with the diners. When you register on the site, you choose the charity you’d like to support. This is one site that offers the certificates to print at home or in the U.S. mail if you choose. The charities receive 15 percent of the certificate purchase price.

Website: charitydine.com

LivingSocial and Groupon

These two marketplace sites are devoted to giving you money off on everything from spa getaways to riverboat cruises, shopping and food. And—surprise!—Groupon bought LivingSocial in 2016. Of course, it did. The websites look alike and act alike, with daily specials for local restaurants as well as things going on all over the country.

It works the same way and features different restaurants each day with special deals. It is definitely worth signing up for the restaurant deals.

Website: livingsocial.com

Opentable.com

This is a reservation site, and does not give specific restaurant coupons, but it does allow users to earn points that can then be used to save money when dining. Started in 1998, this deals with restaurants around the world, as well as every state in the U.S. OpenTable donates to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.

Website: opentable.com

Boca Mag Membership Deals

While this isn’t free, the cost is minimal for what you get. All Boca magazine subscribers get access to exclusive membership deals around town, and that includes at restaurants and bars. So not only do you get the magazine delivered right to your mailbox, you’ll have deals from a percentage off your meal to free appetizers and drinks. Always be sure to check what special deals are going on!

Website: bocamag.com/deals


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