Julie is a writer and travel expert who lives in Indianapolis and is passionate about sharing great deals in her home city. Find her on Twitter and Google +

Are you Indy’s top cheapster?

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Sep 222015

moneypenniesIndy on the Cheap is expanding and has a need for a publisher.

This is a great opportunity for someone who is well connected locally, has journalism or marketing experience and wants to be the boss of a hyperlocal news and entertainment site. You can find out more here.

The ideal candidate:

Lives in the city.
Has contacts in the local media and PR community.
Knows how to find and verify information.
Understands WordPress or has the computer skills necessary to learn it (it’s not hard).
Understands and participates in social media.
Enjoys meeting people and networking in person.
Wants to be his or her own boss.
Is willing to invest time to build up the business.
If you’re interested in hearing more, email Teresa Mears, teresa@livingonthecheap.com.

Sep 212014
When the sun goes down and your stomach starts rumbling, remember this post.

When the sun goes down and your stomach starts rumbling, remember this post.

We’ve all been there. Dinner ended a few hours ago, the sun has gone down … and you’re hungry. As you sit there after dark with your stomach growling, you start to contemplate your options. Going to bed hungry doesn’t appeal much to you, but going out and paying full price for what night owls often refer to as “Fourth Meal” doesn’t sound particularly responsible.

Not to worry, as we know of a few restaurants that run specials specifically for after dark. Hopefully you find something on the following list that can take care of that craving on the cheap:

Smokey Bones – From 10:00 p.m. to close every day at Smokey Bones, the menu heats up for the “Best Bites for Late Night” promotion. You can choose from a limited menu of items available for anywhere from $4 to $7 each. Check out the full menu by clicking the red lettered link, and then smoke our your late night hunger.

Steak n Shake - Speaking of milkshakes, we had to bring up the King of Shakes. Most people are aware that Happy Hour at Steak n Shake means half price milkshakes from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. What you may not recall is that Steak n Shake doesn’t discriminate based on p.m. or a.m. That means that from 2:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m., you can still enjoy Happy Hour after dark. And with new shake flavors including red velvet and salted caramel pretzel, you’ll be glad you did.

Applebee’s – Talk about things the go mmmm in the night.  Applebee’s locations start serving half-priced appetizers after 9:00 p.m. as part of their late night special.

Uno Pizzeria & Grill: Dine from 9 pm to close here on weeknights and watch the prices on some delicious food drop this season. Monday night, it’s the $3.50 build your own burger, Tuesday features the $5 individual deep dish pizza and Wednesday you can chow down on 50 cent wings or bites (minimum order of 4, please). This one is for a limited time only.

McDonald’s – While this offer isn’t necessarily available at every McDonald’s, many locations now offer After Midnight menus. These menus feature a combination of breakfast and dinner items so that whichever meal of the day you’re craving, you’ll find your fix at the Golden Arches in the middle of the night.


Jul 082014
restaurants, $5

Eating out is a beautiful—and affordable—thing

When I was in high school, my mom and I fought over whether I would take home-ec courses. I wanted room for drama and journalism classes in my schedule; she saw a practical skill I needed to learn for the ages. Finally, in that dramatic way only teenagers can pull off, I said, “I don’t need to cook. There are restaurants for that.”

Flash forward a (cough, cough) few decades and our society does, indeed, rely on eating out more than we did that day I wanted to win an argument in our kitchen. The problem? This reality comes at a financial price … unless you know how and where to find a restaurant deal.

So, if you still want the no-fuss option of not cooking tonight, or any other night, we at Indy on the Cheap want to share a few secrets on how to eat out for $5 per person:

1. Join restaurant loyalty clubs. They love to shower you with FREE entrees, appetizers, and desserts for your birthday. The drawback? You have a pile of valuable vouchers all expiring at the same time.

However, restaurant loyalty programs don’t require you to show ID, although some no-strings attached deals, like Denny’s b-day gift, do. So sign up with these programs listing 12 different birthdays, one per month. Don’t worry, you aren’t cheating the system. The restaurant still only honors this coupon once a year, which is what it budgeted with the loyalty program. Have your spouse or significant other do the same, making sure you don’t use the same birthday month for the same restaurant.

The cost of one meal when two walk away full is much better than one. And then there are the perks like these during the rest of the year for your loyalty, too.

2. Order pizza. Pizza deals are a consistent feature at Indy on the Cheap, and it’s rare when you can’t find a coupon somewhere for your favorite pizzeria. Pinpoint Perks, for instance,  currently lists 140 pizza coupons and that’s a drop in the bucket compared to what’s out there. They come in the mail packets, directory pages, on the side of the last pizza box you left in the trash. Any way you slice it, the per person cost of sharing one of these pies on the cheap is … well, cheap!

Tired of pizzas? Try the up-and-coming tacos and wings as the classy budget foods.

3. Watch Groupon. Honestly, many of the deals at this prepaid voucher site aren’t for my family. But restaurants are our most likely category to buy because it’s not difficult to find time in our schedule to use them. We do eat dinner every night. Some of the sit-down locations will not break down to $5 per person (although 50% off at any price is still a good savings) but sandwich place deals rock. Ask me how many times I’ve bought the Krispy Krunchy Chicken deal. On second thought, I may not want to confess that. (As always, get out your own calculator for the deal — if you are paying $25 for 5 $10 certificates that you can only use one at a time, this deal may sour your appetite.)

4. Take the surveys on the back of your receipts. Not terribly hungry? If you’ve taken two minutes to go online and take the survey printed at the bottom or back of your last restaurant receipt, you now have a deal for a FREE appetizer or a dessert with an entree purchase. Buy something under $10, and split the meal. Voila! Both of you are are satisfied and the price hasn’t skyrocketed. Unless you couldn’t resist the margarita on the menu.

5. Know when and where kids eat free. We add to this Indy on the Cheap feature weekly.

6. Buy an Entertainment Book. But not when they first come out in October and November. If you wait until the year is half over, the price for those same coupons drops to below half, and often the company throws in FREE shipping, too. Currently, the book sells for $9.99, and you still have until December 1 to redeem them—go for the BOGOs first. At that price, you could recoup the cost on the first restaurant (not to mention the other categories), so it’s well worth the late start. In fact, if you’ve used up your favorite coupons already, get out the calculator and see if it’s worth buying a second copy at that price.

7. Eat in the dark.   If you choose the times less visited, restaurants will reward you for being the odd man out. Since many of these deals coincide with times when you don’t want to load up on the calories anyhow, order just the specials to keep the bill under $5. Happy hours and breakfast were made for this.

See, Mom, I was right.

(And here comes the disclaimer: Deals change often, even faster than we can keep up with on the Internet, and some of the offers in the roundup articles may have expired. It’s always a good idea to ask ahead of time.)

May 202014
Papa Roux

Drawing a line in city for FREE po-boy delivery

Well, it’s FREE if you live or work in the lucky zip code.

Starting now, Papa Roux Po-Boys and Cajun Eats will offer FREE motorcycle delivery for lunch orders of $15 or more within eastside boundaries that include 30th Street to the north, German Church Road on the east, Brookville Road to the south, and N. Emerson A ve. on the west. The po boys (and other Cajun cooking items on the menu) will be scheduled for delivery between 11 am and 1 pm through the week, and you need to get your order any time after 10 am by calling 603-9861.

And because it’s via motorcycle, the FREE delivery is weather permitting. (Here’s a shout-out for BAM Chase, LLC to help you determine when to expect those raindrops that stop your delivery in its tracks.)

If you live outside the boundaries, don’t give up completely. Give Papa Roux a ring and they’ll try to work out a delivery time with a reasonable mileage rate that won’t break the bank, especially if you team up with other hungry co-workers for a one-stop delivery.


Mar 032014

If you haven’t yet heard of the Suspended Coffee program catching on nationwide, this will be a nice, warm wake up for your morning.

It’s pay it forward at it simplest. When you purchase a cup of coffee from a participating location, you pay for a second one and it’s held on account. Someone who can’t pay for a cup may then claim that coffee on account.

From the founder: “Each business will need to decide who they feel in need. I don’t believe it is for us to judge who is in need and who is not. Ultimately, if someone is approaching you to ask for a suspended coffee, they are probably in need in some way. When we say ‘in need’, it’s not just someone who is homeless. It may be a single mother of 7 children who can’t afford coffee that month in the grocery shopping. She may just need a coffee to get her through the day and a break while her kids are all at school. You may have a man walk in, well-groomed and dressed in a business suit … you may not think from appearances that he is ‘in need’, but he may be on skid row and in his 16th week of job hunting. It can be for a student struggling with exams. It’s all about using your judgement and spreading a little kindness by paying it forward.”

In Indianapolis, we can thank Chef Dan’s for stepping forward and running the program at his cafe location at Central Library on 40 East St. Claire downtown. Got a question or want to help? Call (317) 771.8765 or email info@chefdansindy.com

Jan 222014
Olive Garden

New and on sale

Olive Garden rarely does freebies or coupons, but the Italian restaurant chain isn’t adverse to running menu specials.

Like the current 2 for $25 pairings it’s touting as its best yet. Since OG has included new pastas in this price break, it is hard not to check it out on your next night out.

For $25, two people can order two small plate appetizers from the Tastes of Italy menu or a dessert to share, plus two full courses from any of these entrees:

Parmesan crusted chicken

Parmesan crusted prosciutto tortellini (guess which two are new? Yep. You’re looking at them.)

Spaghetti with meat sauce

Eggplant parmigiana

Fettuccine alfredo

And of course you get the unlimited breadsticks and soup or salad with the meal as well.

Still too much food and out of your budget? OK, Olive Garden has an answer for that as well. You can order a small plate appetizer for just $4 before 6 pm on any weekday. I’ve absolutely made a meal of white bean hummus before, but rosotto bites or pizza fritta Napoli or chicken meatballs and tortelloni al forno could fill you up, too.

Jan 202014

Here’s one reason to like Mondays, even the ones that aren’t holidays where the banks and schools and post office close. (And maybe your business, too?)

Every Monday, Claddagh offers its famous fish ‘n chips entree on a buy one, get one free status, as long as you buy two drinks. So those of you who drink water with your meals will need to consider something else. But hey! It’s BOGO fish ‘n chips. That’s the kind of fishy love that takes your mind off falling temperatures, shoveling snow, the fact that Seahawks Richard Sherman doesn’t much like the 49ers Crabtree, IU’s baffling loss to Northwestern, and figuring out which day trash pickup will be this week.

Maybe the luck of the Irish will rub off on you just for stepping into their downtown, Plainfield or Castleton location, and magically answer those other mysteries in life, too. If not, the fish ‘n chips are awesome.

Thanks to Deal Scout Lorraine for bringing this one to our attention.