As Crumb Savers, Al and I rarely eat out. We usually prefer to stay home and eat healthy, homemade food instead of fighting traffic, burning gas in the car, going through the dilemma of what to order, spending 25% of our food budget on one meal, and then having to leave tip after all that!
But every once in a while we would decide to splurge: birthdays, our anniversary, major events like when Al graduated with his master’s degree. Like good Asians we would skip breakfast, visit the best Chinese buffet in town, and do our best to get our full money’s worth out of our precious $15.
However, as budget friendly as that may sound, we no longer even splurge $15 on birthdays! Instead, birthday meals are now “on the house”.
A few years ago one of my friends posted on Facebook that she was headed out to get her free Red Robin birthday burger. I had never heard of Red Robin, but my ears perked up when I suddenly realized that free things were to be had on one’s birthday. I had been missing out! In a quick online search, I came across lots of websites on birthday freebies, but my favorite is still: Hey, It’s Free! Yes, even the name is alluring. isn’t it?
Hey, It’s Free! posts freebies such as free samples, free promotions, and free giveaways. But it also has a page that lists over 140 stores (mainly restaurants) that give you free stuff on your birthday, from buy one get one free, to $5 off your next purchase, to free burritos, burgers, and ice cream. They make it very convenient in that they list for you what freebie you get and link you directly to the restaurant’s signup webpage.
How It Works
Not every freebie is as fully free as you may think, so you do have to spend some time combing through the list to find the best deals. For example, if you have to spend $6 buying the 1st entrée to get the 2nd entrée free, but you never would have bought the 1st entrée in the first place, you haven’t gotten anything free. You’ve just been schemed into spending money that should have stayed in your pocket. However, a free Red Robin burger with no purchase necessary – just walk in, give them your order, and walk out with free food – sounds like a pretty good birthday gift to me.
Here are a few things I’ve learned in my experience:
- Search your locality – Not all the restaurants will have franchises near you. Do a quick search online to find the ones in your area.
- Sign up early – Many of the birthday freebie programs won’t email you your free stuff if you sign up too close to your birthday. So try to sign up at least 1 month before your birthdate.
- Expect email marketing – The whole reason that restaurants give you free stuff is to: 1) get you into their store, 2) lure you into trying something you wouldn’t have tried otherwise, and 3) procure your contact information so they can send you their marketing material. If you have a separate email address for your “junk” emails, you can sign up with that one. But remember, this is where your freebies will be sent, so don’t forget about it or accidentally delete your deals with all the other junk mail!
- Check your email – Many of these programs will send you a “welcome” coupon with your initial signup and then a birthday freebie about a week before your birthday. But the timing of each one will vary a little. I keep my previous birthday email coupons in a Gmail folder so I can refer back and see when they usually send them, how long before they usually expire, and then plan the timing of this year’s birthday freebies accordingly. Here are a few examples of freebies I got this year:
- Read the fine print – It’s impossible to go over each scenario, but just make sure and read the fine print carefully. Some say “dine-in only” (which means you’ll usually end up buying more for whoever else comes with you), “buy one, get the second free” (which means your bill is really only 50% off, not free), or “free entrée with purchase of a drink” (this has to be weighed, as sometimes the value of the entrée is worth a $2 drink). Because we otherwise would not eat out, we usually only go with the ones where the food is “truly” free or pretty close to it. If you plan on eating out anyway, more power to you, you’ll have more deals than you’ll need!
What You Get
Here’s an example of the deals Al and I got during my birthday week this year. Hopefully it will inspire you to get some free stuff too! (You can click on the restaurant logo to go straight to their signup page.)
*Al wanted me to make sure and mention that we didn’t eat all this food at once. We split it up into 2 weekend outings so we both got free lunch twice.
So, does getting free food on your birthday sound good to you? These are only a few of the birthday freebies that we happen to like best in our area. Your area may have a lot of restaurants besides these or you may know of some that we would love to hear about. Share them with us in the comment section and tell us about your birthday freebie experience.