Finance

Saving Money While Dining Out

Long ago, people rarely ate out. Mom would cook almost every meal at home. When they did eat out it was exciting and special. Times changed and eating out became an almost everyday happening. Times have changed again and we may have to revert to the old ways because dining out has gotten so expensive.

But, why should you? You work hard. You and your family deserve to eat out if that’s what you enjoy. Some read a menu from right to left checking prices first and then scan back to the left to see what it is. There are other ways to dine out and stay within your budget.

Select a restaurant you can afford. You may have eaten in restaurants where you feel the owner must be laughing at you for paying his exorbitant prices. You can get just as full in a reasonably priced café on quality food with friendly service. If you’re a big eater, an all you can eat buffet may be right for you. And, you can save on tipping.

Some restaurants offer specials on certain days and discounts for eating early. Do your homework by reading their ads or give them a call. If you’re a senior citizen they may have senior specials that offer smaller portions for a smaller price.

If you’re eating with no children in tow, try the happy hour lounge specials. For the price of a drink you can usually sample the heavy hors d’oeuvres. If you do have kids, some places have kids eat free nights.

For the two of you just order one dinner and perhaps an appetizer and share. Portions can be too large anyway. Most restaurants these days are happy to have your business and will be glad to bring you an extra plate at no charge. If you have leftovers take it home and eat it later getting two meals for the price of one.

Scan the newspaper and other ads for discount coupons but read the fine print and make sure it’s a bargain and not a come-on. Buying an Entertainment Book that usually offers buy one get one free can be real savings for the whole year.

Practice skipping when dining out. Yeah, that would be good exercise but try skipping a drink such as iced tea or soda and skipping dessert. Drinks can add more than four dollars to the check for just two people.

Order water instead and freshen it up with lemon and maybe a little sugar. Pick up a half gallon of ice cream on the way home for dessert the rest of the week. Fast food fare can be cheaper and if you’re careful it can also be healthy. Most fast food chains now offer salads and soups. For dessert try a container of fruit instead of fat-laden sweets.

Don’t forget to check your receipt. Some offer free meals or a reward if you take a survey about your dining out experience. Your experience should be fun and affordable. With a little planning and restraint dining out can always be special.

Finance

How Natural Gas Can Save You Money

Natural gas is one of the most versatile fossil fuels used in the United States with approximately 22% of energy consumption coming from natural gas. Most gas consumed in the U. S. is produced in the U. S., with some coming from Canada. More than 60% of U.S. homes use natural gas as their main source of heating. It burns cleanlier than other fossil fuels with demand increasing at about 6% each year.

Natural gas is a non-renewable fuel that’s odorless, colorless and tasteless. Then what’s that awful odor when you turn on a gas jet that some say smells like rotten eggs? It’s a chemical called mercaptan added before distribution as a safety device. Natural gas is moved from production fields to consumers and stored in large underground storage systems for use when needed.

Uses for natural gas include high efficiency furnaces and boilers, space and water heating, ranges, gas grills and fireplaces, spa and pool heaters. It’s also a major source of generating electricity.

Studies reveal many benefits of natural gas making homes more valuable and desirable. Natural gas furnaces last twice as long as an electric heat pump providing a more comfortable heat.

Water heating and clothes drying are done faster and more effectively with gas. When drying clothes, dry consecutive loads to take advantage of built up heat. Separate heavy clothes from light weight fabrics to reduce drying time and use the proper water level for your load size when washing.

Gas is safer to cook with since you can see the flame reducing the chance of getting burned. Adjust the flame to fit the bottom of your pan. If the flame goes beyond the bottom you’re wasting energy. Reach the desired temperature more quickly when heating food by using lids or covers.

Check and clean your furnace regularly to gain optimum benefits from natural gas. Have a professional tune up your furnace each year to save at least 2%. Turn off any pilot light if you’re going to not be using that appliance for a prolonged period. Caulk and seal doors and windows when drafts are detected to keep the cold out. Shut fireplace dampers and close doors and vents in unused rooms.

A gas radiator located near a cold wall is inefficient. Place a sheet of aluminum foil between the radiator and the wall to reflect the heat back into the room.

If you’re upgrading your appliances be sure and purchase the Energy Star models. With this program, you’re sure to get the most energy efficient appliance available. Rebates may be available when you switch from electric to gas on some appliances. Your dealer can usually help you with this.

More home builders and home owners are choosing to use natural gas, especially for heating. When you save money and increase your efficiency, you might say you’re cooking with gas.