Coupon Faux Pas?

By Linsey B. Knerl      

Being smart with your money is one heck of an admirable skill. And your desire for a deal's nothing to hide. But what happens when you're looking to save smack in the middle of a social situation? Here are some basic tips for dining out with friends and saving money!

Be smooth. Having your friends kick in cash for that dinner you put on your loyalty card is fine. Just make sure that it’s a seamless process and that you don’t make a big fuss over the perks you will be earning. Because remember, they're not earning them--only you are! Even better, suggest that your fellow guests sign up to become eligible for the same rewards you're entitled to and share the wealth. Either way, seek your savings as naturally as possible and with little extra stress to your server.

Be professional. Gatherings with the girls are great opportunities to earn towards future rewards. Lunch with a client or dinner with your boss isn’t. Everyone loves their punch card and "Free appetizer" coupons—and some clients might actually applaud your frugality. But when formal business is involved, with a client you don't know well, we say use it later, under more casual circumstances.

Follow the rules. If the coupon specifies conditions for redemption, don’t try to undermine them. Your server will appreciate that you didn’t put them in an awkward situation, as will your buddies. (You don’t need more than one order of free nachos, anyway!)

Earn another way. If you are unable or unwilling to use a restaurant loyalty card, don’t give up hope of being rewarded! Pick a credit card that will give you cash back or airline miles for your purchase, and swipe your way to savings. Some cards will even reward you extra when you dine at certain establishments.

The desire to save should never interfere with your ability to relax and enjoy your meal. Nor should you ever feel embarrassed for wanting to pay a little less for something you’re going to purchase anyway. Balancing the two is easiest when you’re dining out with great friends and well-known co-workers. If you find yourself in a more formal dining environment you may have to pay a little more, or simply use the covert coupons we mentioned above.