One of the most terrifying and frankly hilarious times of year for me is usually in December, when the different banks I have credit cards with send a "yearly summary" of how much I've spent and in what categories. Needless to say, the major group that I spend most of my discretionary income is - and you will be shocked - food and drinks.
That being said, the end of the year is a pretty tough time for most of us, when the additional costs of the holiday period start to rack up, in additional to regular day-to-day expenditures. From tempting Black Friday deals to presents for family and friends to additional holiday parties and get togethers, it gets much harder to stay on top of everything from a financial perspective. Here are a couple of tips that will hopefully help some fellow food-conscious readers to save a bit of cash without sacrificing the need for some decent grub.
MAXIMIZING YOUR HAPPY HOUR AND BRUNCH STRATEGY
As I've written about before, finding the right happy hour deal can often mean being able to order enough food and drinks at a reasonable price that it basically replaces any need for dinner. The same strategy applies for brunch, which, as we all know, is DC's favorite weekend past time. I can't recall the last time I actually needed to eat dinner after a bottomless brunch (finding a place that offers both bottomless drinks and food is the way to go).
Here are a few of my top bottomless brunch choices in DC which offer the biggest bang(er, with eggs) for your buck:
More tips on how to stay on top of that cash after the jump.
staying on top of local deals and seasonal offers
There are a plethora of local "deal-oriented" websites which offer limited-time discounts on everything from museum admissions to fancy dinners out and these websites can run the gamut from low-brow (Groupon) to high-end (Gilt City). The holiday period is actually one of the best times to bookmark these sites and check them on a regular basis, as retailers, restaurants and different merchants will want to capitalize on the seasonal spike in shopping activity. For example, when I checked Gilt City's DC page today, there were over 40 different deals on everything from home-painting services to discounted caviar, compared to something like 15 to 20 deals on a regular day during the year.
What's even more interesting is that sometimes these sites offer activities and events completely for free. As an example, we recently attended a Scotch tasting hosted by The Glenlivet, through two free passes I obtained through Gilt City. At the event, part of The Glenlivet's Nights of Passage event series, attendees enjoyed free cocktails and passed hors-d'oeuvres before being taken through a tasting session of The Glenlivet's 12, 15 and 18 year expressions. It was tons of fun, I actually didn't leave hungry and I can actually say I learned a great deal more about Scotch than I was expecting. Again, the total cost of this was free, thanks to our Gilt City vouchers.
Another great way of being able to still eat out, have a great dining experience but still save cash at the same time is LivingSocial's new Restaurants Plus program*. Recently launched in Washington DC, the program lets you tie a payment card to your LivingSocial Restaurants Plus account, and also offers a mobile app where you can also search for restaurants near you who are participating in the cashback deal - in my last search, I found local restaurants offering everything from 5% to even 20% cashback at different times of the day. Participating restaurants in DC include places like Ella's Pizza (speaking of good happy hours), Toro Toro (speaking of good brunches), and many more.
Once you finish your meal at your chosen restaurant, you just pay with the card you've tied to your account to and you automatically get the cashback as credit. Here's a quick video which explains how it all works:
The Restaurants Plus program is probably the most seamless way to do this kind of "pre-arranged" discount - once you've connected your payment card to your account, there's no need to worrying about printing out any vouchers, pulling up the app where there isn't service in a basement restaurant, etc - the cashback just appears in your account once you've paid your bill.
Hope everyone can use these tips in some way and stay sane in the lead up to the holidays! Let me know in the comments if there are other good deals around town that I should check out.
*AUTHOR'S NOTE: The post above contains some sponsored content from LivingSocial, who offered me LivingSocial credit for trying out their new Restaurants Plus program. However, the thoughts and opinions included in the post are strictly my own.
One woman's journey to eat all the food. Or at least, most of it.