smart spending

Recover from a holiday spending hangover

Dine out without breaking the bank
Dine out without breaking the bank

While admonitions to quit eating out sound wonderful, few of us stick to beans and rice at home every night.

Hashmi's family uses two different approaches. One is to eat something light before they go, such as a small salad or half of a sandwich. When at the restaurant, they order an appetizer, which is often less expensive than a menu item but still full-size. At the restaurant, if they do order a full meal, they ask the waiter to "take half to go," and are served only half of the portion at the restaurant.

"Restaurant portions are huge," Hashmi says. It's also better for your health and pocketbook to scale back.

Or take a cooking class to learn to saute and flambe. "Learn a skill that will end up paying for itself," says Stephanie Ann Welbes, who blogs at "The Cheap Diva." "If fashion is your passion, take a sewing or jewelry-making class," Welbes says.

Community colleges are good sources for affordable, noncredit classes that boost your knowledge without depleting your bank account.

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