Tips for Eating Out on a Budget

There’s no greater pleasure in life than getting together with friends and family for delicious food and drinks at your favourite restaurant. We’d all like to do this more often, but it can be costly. The good news is, there are ways we can keep dining out without breaking the bank.

Check out these tips for eating out on a budget so you don’t have to sacrifice your love of great food and drinks!

Time Savings

Happy hour, cheap Tuesday and other weekly meal deals provide the perfect excuse to go out for drinks and food. You’ll be spending less, but still treating yourself. To find the best weekly deals or Happy hour specials in your area, do a quick search online. Apps like The Happiest Hour can help with this, so the only thing left to do is invite your friends and drink up.

Online Specials

Dining out on a budget has never been easier as long as you’ve got an internet connection. A simple Google search for online restaurant specials and coupons will provide you with a huge range of websites bringing the best online specials straight to you.

Some of our favourites include Scoopon, Groupon and Eat Club – a world-first app that works with restaurants to promote last-minute specials in your local area when they’ve got empty tables.

Be Open to New Places

The convenience and reliability of dining at your favourite local haunts is always tempting. However, eating at your usual dining hot spots can sometimes mean you’ll be paying a premium for your meals. Why not try somewhere new? With a little adventure, you could find yourself chowing down on the most flavour-packed Saag Paneer you’ve ever tasted (and at a fraction of the cost of your usual Indian restaurant).


Love to wine and dine? Instead of paying for mark-ups on drinks, look for BYO venues to reduce costs without sacrificing a delicious pairing of French red wine with your Buoef Bourguignon.

Typically, the cost of wine can be marked up anywhere from 120% to a whopping 250% at a restaurant, so there’s no doubt you’ll save some serious cash the next time you BYO.

Ditch the Soft Drink

Trading your soft drink for water is another great way to save money while eating out on a budget. A glass of Coca-Cola can end up costing you another $5.00 on top of your meal, so swap this for water and you’ll find that after 3 or so meals, you will have saved enough money to treat yourself to another restaurant meal.

Do Breakfast or Lunch Instead of Dinner

Research indicates that restaurants face more intense competition for night diners, which means they’ll often have similar dishes available for lunch at a cheaper price the next day. This also applies to breakfast too, so instead of going out for dinner, do breakfast or lunch instead to save money.

Skip Dessert

If you have a sweet tooth, you may think it’s preposterous to skip dessert entirely. But hold that thought! Trade your $15 single-serve of tiramisu for a $5 takeaway ice cream instead so you can satisfy your cravings for a fraction of the cost.

Get Rewarded to Dine In

It really is possible to get rewarded for dining in. How? Apply for a credit or debit card that’s paired with a rewards account to put cash straight back in your pocket. For example, the American Express Platinum Edge credit card will give you 1 point per dollar spent, which is about 0.5% cashback on your restaurant bill.

As you can see, there are plenty of strategies out there to help you eat out on a budget, because life should always be full of good food, good wine and good times.

Disclaimer: Please be aware that Cigno Loans’ articles do not replace advice from an accountant or financial advisor. All information provided is intended to be used as a guide only, as it does not take into account your personal financial situation or needs. If you require assistance, it is recommended that you consult a licensed financial or tax advisor.


Ordered by the Federal Court of Australia

The Federal Court of Australia has found that Cigno Australia Pty Ltd (Cigno Australia) and BSF Solutions Pty Ltd (BSF Solutions) have breached the law by engaging in unlicensed credit activity and charging prohibited fees.

In the period from July 2022 to 3 October 2023, over 100,000 consumers have been lent a total of $34 million, and charged fees of over $70 million, under the ‘No Upfront Charge Loan Model’ operated by BSF Solutions and Cigno Australia. At no time has either BSF Solutions or Cigno Australia held an Australian Credit Licence.

The Court also found that Mark Swanepoel (director of Cigno Australia) and Brenton James Harrison (director of BSF Solutions) were involved in these breaches of the law.

With effect from 24 May 2024, the Court has granted permanent injunctions preventing Cigno Australia and BSF Solutions from:

  • demanding, receiving or accepting fees or charges, including amounts of loan principal, from consumers in relation to credit provided under the ‘No Upfront Charge Model’; and
  • engaging in further credit activity pursuant to the ‘No Upfront Charge Loan Model’, including by entering into new agreements with consumers, for so long as they do not hold an Australian Credit Licence.

Cigno Australia was ordered by the Court to, by 5th July 2024, send written communications to consumers who between July 2022 and December 2022 entered into agreements with Cigno Australia and BSF Solutions under the ‘No Upfront Charge Loan Model’.

The Court will later determine whether (among other things) Cigno Australia and Mark Swanepoel ought to pay a pecuniary penalty in respect of this conduct, and whether Mark Swanepoel should be restrained from carrying on a business engaging in credit activity.

Cigno Australia, BSF Solutions, Mr Swanepoel and Mr Harrison intend to appeal the decision of the Court and have filed an application for leave to appeal. If the appeal is successful, some or all of the orders of the Federal Court of Australia may be set aside.

Where can you get more information?

Where to go for further support

You can access legal advice in your state at: Free legal advice –

If you are experiencing trouble with debt, or money worries in general, contact:

  • the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or online chat (9:30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday).

If you need someone to talk to, contact:

  • Lifeline on 13 11 14 (24 hours) or their crisis support online chat or
  • Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36 (24 hours) or their webchat