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Reduce Spending

In our article last month we demonstrated how to put together a budget. For families who have never done a budget or at least an electronic budget, the biggest shock for many was they spend more money than they earn and need to turn things around. 

To read the last months budget article click here.

Over the next few months I will show how most families who have a budget can reduce their spending by approximately 8%.  In this edition, I will cover dining out & entertainment.  This can often be the first area people crack down on spending and it’s usually the least fun.

Having a budget doesn’t mean life has to be boring and you limit socialising or going out for dinner, it just means you need to spend wisely and perhaps in some cases reduce the frequency.

10 ways to cut costs when dining out

It’s not intended as a how to guide exactly, but if you want a list of ideas from someone who has experience, many of these ideas have helped us raise a family of eight children and remain very social whilst not blowing the budget.


  1. Dine out on Mondays through to Thursdays, as most venues will offer specials and on occasions, two for one dining or kids eat free.  Restaurants try and drum up extra business in quieter times, an extra benefit is you usually don’t require a reservation.
  2. BYO restaurants can be your best friend. If you partake in alcoholic beverages, this can usually total approximately 40% of your bill. Corkage of just a few dollars is a great saving.
  3. Dining out is more about the experience rather than filling up. In some cases, a light snack before heading out is a great idea.  Today many venues serve tapas, these will suffice and can be very social when sharing with others.
  4. Heading out doesn’t need to be at a restaurant, invest in a good quality picnic basket, large rug and table clothes and do scenic location breakfasts, lunches or dinner.  Here on the Sunshine Coast, I have identified 20 picturesque locations to dine with family and friends.  I frequently budget approximately $50 to feed around 12 or 16 people.  People love the invite where they don’t need to bring anything.

  5. Eating in doesn’t have to be boring either, consider a round robin of inviting close friends to one another’s home for themed dinner nights. Much more fun than restaurants and for a fraction of the cost.  Very big in 70’s & 80’s.
  6. Fish and chips and barbecues can get boring. Sometimes taking a fantastic home cooked meal like a curry or Mexican to a Parkside or Beachside location can break the monotony. Consider taking paper plates, not only cheap but fun and no washing up.
  7. Shopper dockets. Most people throw these away but if collected and categorised accordingly, you can save lots of money. Special offers include cheap bowling, theme attractions, restaurant vouchers and most certainly petrol discounts.
  8. The Big Screen.  I can’t remember the last time I paid full price for cinema tickets.  Look out for RACQ & Telstra movie tickets which are generally half price (cant be used after 5 PM on Saturdays) or Cinebuzz have a movie of the week for $10, look out for those.
  9. Gig Guide. Look out for your local Gig Guide for a full list of usually FREE entertainment including live music, comedy nights and trivia evenings.  Weekend festivals and markets are a great place to get social and keep the spending to a minimum.
  10. Cocktail evenings. Nowadays with alcoholic beverage prices skyrocketing, with craft beers for between $10 & $12 and the average wine costing $15 and don’t talk to me about cocktails, many now are around $20. When was the last time you and some friends made a much cheaper night with a cocktail night or similar?

These are just the start of many ways where you can look at your spending differently. Reducing spending on a budget doesn’t mean you have to stop socialising and become a home hermit.  

Next issue we will take a look at where most of the savings in a budget can be made, financial commitments like mortgages, insurances and utilities.

Happy ‘REDUCED’ Spending

Written by Darren Lockwood – Omnia Group