Eating out can be fun, but it's easy to splurge and end up with a higher bill than you necessarily expected. Sometimes this is your fault, but sometimes you're lured in by tricks they pull to get you to spend more. Here are a few of the most common traps and how to avoid them.Photo by Javier Lieva
MSN Money details several ways restaurants try to pull a few extra dollars out of your pocket. For starters, if you've ever found that restaurants have made you wait for a table even when there are several, clean tables available, this is for two reasons. First, if you wait you'll probably be hungrier when you're actually seated. Second, it gives you a chance to go to the bar and order a drink and/or appetiser while you wait to be seated. Either way, this means more money for the restaurant. Avoid sitting at the bar and mention the empty, clean tables to be seated faster.
Specials are also sometimes fake, in the sense that they're made from food the restaurant is trying to get rid of (because it's going to spoil soon) or it's just an entree you can order on the menu with a fancier name. Special prices are often equal or greater than what you'll find on the menu, so be sure to search the menu for similar items and compare the price. If you want the special, often times you'll find a comparable entree for less money on the standard menu.
If a restaurant ever offers you anything for free, don't take it if it has a high sodium content. Lots of sodium will make you thirsty and that will get you to buy drinks. If you do want to eat the free, salty food, just ask for a water. Not only is it free, but most sodas contain a higher amount of sodium than you may realise.
These are all really simple things to avoid, so as long as you're aware of them you should have no problem overspending when you eat out.
5 ways restaurants get you to spend [MSN Money]