While frugality is all about finding creative ways to save money, but there is a fine line between frugality and being cheap. Wanting to tighten up the portion of your budget dedicated to dining out is totally legit, but don't take it too far and act like a total cheapskate. These 7 tacky and cheap habits are not the way to save money when eating out.
1. Skimp on the tip
Tips aren't a bonus for the servers bringing you your food and refilling your drinks, they actually rely on tips as part of their wage. Servers are paid a reduced hourly rate with the expectation that you, the customer, will make up the difference with your tipping. If you are eating out, there isn't really any acceptable reason to skip tipping or tip less than 15 percent. Seriously, if you are too broke to tip, you are too broke to eat out.
2. Gorge on free chips & salsa or bread sticks
I love dining on chips & salsa as much as anyone else, but these free food items are served with the expectation that you are actually going to order a meal off the menu. Even if you are dining with paying friends, it is completely tacky to order water and make a meal out of the free bread sticks at your table.
3. Bring Tupperware to the buffet line
Jesus, no. This is not a cookout at your aunt's house. The "all you can eat" rule only applies while you are still sitting in your booth. If it ever crosses your mind to try to take extra food home from a buffet, you have crossed the line from frugal to cheap.
4. Order off the kid's menu
Ordering a Happy Meal because you aren't very hungry may be completely acceptable -- but at most dine-in restaurants, adults ordering off the kid's menu is just not done. Restaurants set age limits on certain menu items and they expect you to respect these rules. This one can get a little blurry, admittedly, since some restaurants don't have an age cap on their child's portions. As a rule, if you didn't get a placemat and crayons, skip the chicken fingers and fries.
5. Complain just to get free food
The customer is always right...unless that customer is complaining just to get a free meal. Restaurants can totally tell when you are trying to pull one over on them, so unless there is a bug in your food or there is something seriously wrong with the way it is prepared, don't send it back to the kitchen after you've eaten half of your meal.
6. Order take-out but eat in
If you order take-out at a restaurant, pick it up and take it out -- or at least eat it out in your car. Don't order take-out, find an empty table, and eat your food at the restaurant. This is not a clever way to avoid a tip that you've just invented. It's tacky and messy and just don't. Someone still has to clean up after you and you will be occupying a table that can't be used for a tipping customer.
7. Make lemons into lemonade
This trick is one that should be left behind in grade school. Ordering a water with extra lemon and adding a few packets of sugar is major annoyance to most servers. If you want lemonade, order it off the menu. Save your novice mixologist skills for your next house party.