Interrupter CheckmarkInterrupter IconFacebookGoogle PlusInstagramGroupRamsey SolutionsTwitterYouTubeExpand MenuStoreCloseSearchExpand MenuBackStoreSign in
Skip to Main Content

Tax Pro vs. File Your Own? Take Our Quiz!

Mind Your Manners: 7 Money Mistakes to Avoid at Restaurants

If most of us are honest, we’ll fully admit that we love going to restaurants.

Eating out is one of the biggest issues for people when it comes to tightening up their budget. That’s why some budget-conscious people will do anything to keep from giving up their eating-out habit—and that includes breaking some basic rules of money etiquette in restaurants.

So if you’ve adopted one of these habits as common practice in the name of saving money, then it’s time to come to the realization that you simply can’t afford to eat out right now.

1. Undertipping

If you tip less than 15% for standard, good service, then you’re a bad tipper.

Most restaurant servers don’t make the federal minimum wage of $7.25. The minimum wage for workers who make more than $30 a week in tips is only $2.13 an hour.

Waiters and waitresses live off tips. If you receive good service, then tip well. If you can’t afford to tip well, then you can’t afford to eat out. It’s as simple as that. 

Related: How to Tip in All Situations

2. Splitting the bill (unfairly)

There’s always one in every group. You order a salad and a glass of water. Your friend orders a burger, fries and a milkshake. When the check comes around, he pipes up and says, “Let’s split the check!”

Come again?

Your order cost $6, while his order cost $18. Split the check? No way! Tell him (nicely but firmly) that he needs to check himself before he wrecks his budget—and yours. Trying to split the bill without agreeing on it before the order is just bad form. Don’t do it.

3. Freeloading

Don’t be the guy who always seems to “forget” his wallet when he goes out with friends. Or the girl who “isn’t hungry” but somehow manages to grab a portion off everyone else’s plate.

You might be saving a few bucks here and there, but you’re doing yourself no favors in the end. Living on a budget is much more fun when you still have friends who enjoy being around you. 

4. Complaining about your food (after you’ve eaten it)

Your steak is overcooked? Your mashed potatoes are too salty? Then you should bring that up to your server right away.

Don’t eat half your steak, complain about it, and then attempt to get a free meal or a second portion out of the whole deal. That’s just a basic integrity issue, and you should never lie or gloss over the truth in order to save a few bucks.

5. You asked? You pay.

Use common sense here. If you’ve invited a bunch of friends out to dinner, you shouldn’t be expected to foot the bill—unless you’ve set that expectation in the past.

But if you invite that potential special someone on a first date, then it’s just basic common decency to pick up the tab. And if you can’t afford that, then you might need to settle in for a date night of ramen noodles and Netflix.

Related: First Dates and Coupons - A Controversy Like No Other

6. Taking advantage of the all-you-can-eat buffet

In other words, you’ve enjoyed four slices of pepperoni pizza, so you think it’s perfectly fine to grab four more pieces in a to-go box for lunch and dinner tomorrow.

We don’t think that’s what they mean by “all you can eat.” If you disagree, go ahead and grab a moving truck, back it up to the front door, and load up the entire buffet. It is all you can eat after all!

7. Hogging tables

You’re with a big group or a couple of friends, and you finished eating nearly 45 minutes ago. There’s a crowd standing in line waiting for a table.

While you chat, your server is losing money every minute. Be considerate. And if you do choose to talk it up a long time after finishing your meal, then you should tip very, very well—like well over 20%.

As long as you’ve budgeted for those restaurant meals, and as long as they aren’t breaking your bank, then there’s nothing wrong with eating out.

But just make sure your thrifty spending doesn’t include forgetting these basic common courtesies. You can get out of debt and be a nice person too!

Looking for an easy way to budget? Check out our free budgeting software EveryDollar! You can budget from your computer or the iPhone app.

Ramsey Solutions

About the author

Ramsey Solutions

Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners.

Related Articles

Two disposable Starbucks cups, one is larger than the other.

10 Starbucks Hacks That Can Save You Money

7 Minute Read |

Those trips to your local coffee shop can wreak havoc on your budget. Check out our list of 10 Starbucks hacks to help you save on your next morning coffee run.

Ramsey Solutions  Ramsey Solutions

Ramsey Solutions Blog

The Super-Size Challenge

3 Minute Read |

If the local restaurants are keeping you from building that emergency fund, it's time to get weird with the Super-Size Challenge!

Ramsey Solutions  Ramsey Solutions

How does leasing a car work

How Does Leasing a Car Work?

8 Minute Read | Debt

Let's be real: Car lease is just another term for rip-off. Let's talk about what a car lease is and how it works so you can avoid losing time and money.

Anthony ONeal Anthony ONeal