How Happy Hour Can Stimulate Your Economy

06/24/2010 05:37 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

According to studies the average American eats out 5 times a week. The average drinker consumes 3 drinks per week.

Bottom line is, we're eating and drinking out multiple times a week as a nation, and I for one know that I am doing my part to raise the statistics. I eat out as much as possible. However, my love for restaurant dining adds up quickly, particularly the "3 drinks per week" that really hit my wallet hard.

But what I've realized is that I truly can have my cake and eat it too! In rural towns, big cities and everywhere in between, restaurants and bars are desperate for our business. I've seen an absurdly high amount of places that have drinks as low as $0.99 and appetizers as low as $1.99. Those prices are unbeatable even when compared to KFC's best deal on Mondays.

Even if you can't find $0.99, you can go to your local Friday's for a $2 beer and $4 appetizers.

Here is the set up of how to make my favorite time of the day, Happy Hour, enjoyable AND your cheapest option:

Four (4) beers @ $2 =$8
Two (2) appetizers @ $4 =$8
Total: $16

Tax 8.25% (Thanks, Villaraigiaso): $17.40
20%-ish gratuity: $3.48

Grand total: $20.88 for dinner for 2

Bring a dub (a $20 bill, Dad) in and call it a night.

Here is the lime in the vodka tonic -- happy hour usually ends around 6:00 or 7:00 which means you will be out of the restaurant by 7:30 (I worked at a restaurant for 3 weeks -- don't over stay your tip). I know this may sound like a meal plan from Sunset Daze, but doctors and nutritionists agree that the earlier you eat dinner the better. In fact, my pediatrician told me last week that I can eat anything I want before 5:00 PM and since his target prescription pitch is for those under 18, I'll extend it to 7:00. So see? Happy hour isn't just easy on your wallet, it's easy on you health as well. In the long run, this little gem of a dinner strategy won't just save your monthly food budget, it might just also reduce your doctor's bills as well!

Eat anything you want before 7:00PM.

When it comes to eating in general, here is a quote my Mom has told me for as long as I can remember:

"Eat breakfast like a King, lunch like a Prince and dinner like a Pauper."