Happy Hour can be an excellent time to catch up with your friends or network with your colleagues, but despite lower prices on select food and drink items, many of us fail to actually spend less when we are drinking and eating between the hours of 3:00 PM and 6:00 PM. The whole idea of “getting a deal” at Happy Hour can easily lure us into spending—as well as eating and drinking—more than we typically would. Buuuuuut…..Happy Hour IS FUN! So Sam and I have developed some Happy Hour guidelines that allow us to have a good time while resisting the urge to throw cash at every good deal the Happy Hour menu has to offer.
Look at Menus Online Before you Hit the Restaurant: If you know that you are going to want to try multiple food items but are not familiar with the restaurant you are going to, looking up the options and prices before you set foot in the restaurant is a good way to stay on track with your spending goals while avoiding the social stigma of doing a math problem to decide if you are going to get the sliders or soft pretzel to go with your sweet potatoes fries.
Go Full: Who says you HAVE to order food?!?! No one, that’s who! Go to Happy Hour on a full stomach, and just enjoy the conversation and drinks!
Limit your Alcohol Intake: There is no drink minimum at Happy Hour, and you can have as few as ZERO drinks while you are there. Don’t let the cheaper prices coax you into buying a couple drinks at the discounted price and then another at full price once Happy Hour ends…and then another…and another…and wait! What?! Last Call??
Buy One Food Item yourself and Split Dishes with a few Friends who do the Same: I think of this as the “Taste-Everything-but-Pay-for-One-Thing” strategy. If you and a handful of friends each buy something different and share with one another, you can satisfy all of your cravings without paying for them—and so can they!
Don’t forget your Primary Reason for being at Happy Hour: Sometimes it is hard to pass on a “good deal,” even when we aren’t all that interested in the product. When tortuous thoughts of wasting opportunities to make unwanted (but discounted!) purchases begin to cloud your better judgment, remind yourself of the number one reason you came to Happy Hour—to see your friends! The best things in life really are free—I’m laying the cheese on thick today 😉
Don’t get Happy Hour Tunnel Vision: It’s easy to put blinders on and forget that there is still a regular menu that you can choose items from, and some of those items—like a cup of soup or a side salad–might actually cost less than food items found on the Happy Hour menu. You can also get drinks at Happy Hour prices and split a regular priced appetizer or entrée with a friend or date for less than some “discounted” food options.