Holiday meals and daily specials
The gimmick: Ever notice that when servers give you the “specials” of the day, they don’t mention prices? They probably hope you’ll be too embarrassed to ask, especially if you’re on a date, says Gregory Karp, who writes the Spending Smart column for the Chicago Tribune. Those meals often are among the most expensive choices, he says.
Another pricey choice is dining out on holidays. New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are the big trifecta of holiday meals, DeNinno says.
Prices go up because of customer demand and because restaurateurs are charged more by their vendors, he says.
“That gets passed on to consumers,” DeNinno says. “Valentine’s and New Year’s are big for lobster, which might be $5.99 a pound all year round. But a week or two before (the holiday), the price goes to $10 a pound because everyone needs it to run on their menus.”
Food for thought: Ask your server for prices on the night’s specials. Stay in and cook at home to save on holiday meals, or postpone your celebration until the following day or weekend.