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Enjoy a night out on a budget

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Stephanie Nelson Stephanie Nelson

By Dawn Baker - email | bio

ROSWELL, GA (WTOC) - Go out to eat much? Many of us are cutting back during these days, but you can still enjoy your nights out if you know how to do it.

The coupon mom shows us how to use her discount system to get the best deals at restaurants.

Stephanie Nelson knows a little research can go a long way when it comes to saving money. Many restaurant coupons can be found in the Sunday grocery coupon circular, but that's just one way to save.

"The other really great source of savings is the entertainment coupon book. The trick here is these come out in August or September at full price, but over the year the price goes down. They have a whole section of buy one get one free, other restaurants and lots of coupons for retail stores. It usually sells for $30, but now price is $15," says Nelson.

She buys it through her website www.couponmom.com and then goes to www.entertainment.com and registers the book which allows her to print even more coupons.

The most popular discount restaurant program is www.restaurants.com where she buys discounted gift certificates.

But she enjoys even bigger savings when she goes through her site. "Today our coupon discount is 50% off so instead of paying $10 for $25 gift certificate, you'll pay $5. Sometimes the discount is as low as 80% off meaning you pay $2 for the $25 certificate," adds Nelson.

She knows this may sound too good to be true, so we're going to try one of those deals for lunch.

The coupon mom bought a $10 off gift certificate for a popular restaurant. She would have paid $3 for that deal by going straight through restaurants.com, but since she went through her site, that gift certificate only cost 60 cents.

We ordered grilled salmon with zucchini and grilled chicken with zucchini. "That certificate is $10 off a $20 order. Our order was a little over $20. It brought it down to $10.56. We're paying $10.56 for two very nice lunches. At regular price, we would have paid $21.26, but with coupon from restaurants.com, through couponmom.com, we paid only $10.56," explains Nelson.

Let's face it many of us have a hard time keeping up with coupons. Have you ever gotten to a restaurant and realized you left the coupon at home or worse, you lost it?

The www.rewardsnetwork.com might be the best bet for us.

"This is a network that actually gives you discounts in the form of cash rebates into your rewards network account. When you eat at the restaurant, you don't show a coupon, you just get a cash rebate on your total order," says Nelson.

Sounds easy enough, but that's just the beginning. Of course the coupon mom has a strategy to get the best deals using both sites.

"What I like to do is open restaurants.com next to rewards.com and alphabetize the restaurants and which ones do both so that I use my coupon and get $25 off and them use rewards and get 20% cash rebate on what I actually spent," Nelson tells us.

By incorporating these techniques, you can enjoy great meals at top of the line restaurants without going broke.

Here's another tip that's even easier. Just go to your favorite restaurants websites or Google them to see if they have any coupons online. A lot of major restaurant chains give you coupons when you sign up for their newsletter.

The coupon mom says many will also ask you for your birth date or anniversary. She says tell them because many times they will send you coupons that you can use throughout those months.

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