A night out is good for your relationship - but it can be bad for your budget. Here’s how to eat at a restaurant without breaking the bank:
First: Watch out for the “down sell.” Restaurant expert Tom Frank says that instead of encouraging you to order the most expensive thing on the menu, a lot of restaurants actually train their waiters to suggest low-cost items. But that boosts your bill by increasing the chances you’ll order other extras, like wine and dessert, because you’ll think you’re saving money.
Another restaurant trick: Wordy descriptions. Menu designer Gregg Rapp says people are willing to pay more for items with delicious descriptions. For example, you might be tempted to order the “Organic Bibb lettuce with Roma tomatoes, Maytag blue cheese, and glazed-apple-bacon vinaigrette.” But before you do, visualize the dish they’re describing. And you’ll be much less likely to spend $15 bucks for what’s essentially a BLT.
Another bill-boosting trick restaurants use: Menu layout. Most of us look at the top right of the menu first. So, that’s where most restaurants put the items with the highest-profit margin. things like pasta and pizza. Or the menu will put a box around certain items, which also draws our eye.
Restaurants can also bust our budget with those delicious specials that the waiter tells us about. The only problem is – the waiter typically doesn’t tell us the price! But the specials are made with the most expensive ingredients – so expect a price to match.
And the last thing that can boost the cost of your next dinner out: The background music. Research shows that classical music in romantic restaurants can increase spending by almost 30-percent. Because classical music makes us feel like we’re sophisticated and worldly – with the back account to match. So don’t get fooled by the Mozart – when you’re on a Bieber budget.