$ave Me: The $3,076 happy hour bill

The cost of a night out may add up faster than you think.

In 2011, consumers spent an average $2,620 on food consumed away from home and $456 on alcoholic beverages, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those figures are up 4.6 and 10.7 percent, respectively, from 2010.

To put that in perspective, the total represents about 6 percent of the average $49,705 in annual expenditures. But it's more than people shell out in a year for apparel ($1,740), gas ($2,655) or education ($1,051), according to government figures—and still more than you really need to shell out.

Get some of the best deals by checking in with a restaurant or bar via social media. Restaurants often reserve their best deals for loyal customers who follow them on Twitter or Facebook, or who have signed up to receive email newsletters, said Aaron Allen, an independent restaurant consultant. Chains including Pizza Hut and Burger King also offer deals exclusive to their apps.

By CNBC's Kelli B. Grant. Follow her on Twitter @kelligrant

Contact Digital Workshop


    Get the best of CNBC in your inbox

    To learn more about how we use your information,
    please read our Privacy Policy.
    › Learn More

Ask the Car Chasers

Off the Cuff

Big Data Download

Selling the American Dream

Death & Dishonor: Crisis at the VA

  • A pedestrian walks past the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) headquarters in Washington, D.C.

    The Veterans health care system has come under fire as officials reap big bonuses while patients suffer. CNBC's Dina Gusovsky investigates.

  • America has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and that opens up the door for companies to have a captive market -- literally. One of those companies is JPay, which provides electronic money transfers and other services to about 70 percent of state prisons. But in order to get that lucrative state prison contract, the state takes a commission as well. Critics argue all the costs are passed down to families and inmates, often burdening them financially. CNBC's Dina Gusovsky Reports.

  • This photo shows the aftermath of the accident, including the burned out shell of a truck. The Lindner minivan was so crushed its wreckage cannot be seen.

    Fatal truck accidents happen nearly 11 times a day. CNBC looks at the causes, who's to blame, and why it gets little attention.