Tips for cheapsters

By Beth Teitell
Globe Staff / December 8, 2010

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Eating out is supposed to be fun. But if you’re worried about money, just the thought of a holiday meal with friends or colleagues can be stressful. We asked for advice from Jodi R.R. Smith, of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting in Marblehead, and financial expert and author Manisha Thakor.

Talk about it: Those three small words pack a powerful punch. You nip dinner dollar dilemmas in the bud when you address up front what level of restaurant you will eat at and how you will pay. M.T.

Pick a weekday: Many establishments are aware that customers have less disposable income. To bring people in during the early part of the week, restaurants have created enticing prix fixe menus. Avail yourself of those. J.S.

Pre-dinner drinks: Invite friends to meet at your place for a cocktail or a glass of wine before proceeding to the restaurant. Then stick to water to keep your tab low. J.S.

Twofers: When dining with close friends (who are aware of your dollar limitations) use coupons such as Groupon to get deals. J.S.

Eliminate the issue: Go to a restaurant where you each order at the counter and bring food to your table so there is no check to split. Have a heavy drinking friend? Go to a BYOB. Someone in your party always orders lobster? Pick a buffet-only restaurant. M.T.

Change the time of day: Instead of dinner, meet for breakfast, lunch, or afternoon nibbles. It will be much cheaper than dinner and you still get the eating out experience in your venue of choice. M.T.