We already know that eating out is expensive, but a recent study at Cornell University found a tactic restaurants use to get you to spend even more. The study examined how customers reacted to lunch menu formatting at a busy restaurant in New York. What they discovered was customers given a menu without dollar signs spent significantly more than customers who had menus with dollar signs. Customers without dollar signs on their menus also spent more than customers with the word "dollar" written out instead of a dollar sign.
Photo by Elizabeth.
When you see dollar signs or the word "dollar" it triggers negative feelings that are associated with paying. So, the next time you're out to eat and you see the menu items are missing dollar signs, say the price to yourself in your head. Instead of, "this sandwich is 12.99" say "this sandwich is twelve dollars and 99 cents". It will remind you mentally that you're spending your money and not just throwing away numbers.
$ or Dollars: Effects of Menu-price Formats on Restaurant Checks [Cornell University via Business Insider]