[Guest Post by Tara Allen]
When we’re talking about saving money, one of the easiest ways to go about that is simply to search for things we need at a highly discounted price, right? Right! Insert the new “daily-deal” phenomenon sweeping across the nation. If you haven’t caught the ever-so-contagious deal-bug yet, you should certainly consider signing yourself up! Almost all popular daily deal sites require that an offer be at least 50% of the original price. This is huge, especially for expensive services and products. That said, I called this a “bug” for good reason. It’s something you have to be smart and wary about. If, and only if it is used responsibly, will it truly benefit you and save you money. Here are some tips to keep in mind to make sure that your deal is really the deal you think it is.
1 If you didn’t need it/want it before you saw the e-mail, don’t buy it.
These sites thrive off of compulsive purchases. But, impulse purchases don’t actually save you money, because you wouldn’t have bought the item in the first place, and thus wouldn’t have spent the money, no matter how much the savings were. I suggest making a list of things you need/want to find, and then stick to waiting for those to come through in an email. If you need a haircut, put it on the list. If you need a gift certificate to a restaurant for a friend’s birthday present, put it on the list. Nothing that isn’t on the list gets bought. This way, you won’t be tempted to buy something that’s 80% off (it’s so hard not too!), but that you never thought of before and don’t really need now.
2) Check the original price.
Always, always go to the website and check to see what the real price of the service actually was. Businesses are bound to be smart enough to start slowly hiking prices in advance of an upcoming daily deal offering in order to be able to afford the percentage loss they’re going to take. Then, go search for local reviews to see if the service and business are really worth what they claim to be. Yelp.com is an excellent resource for this.
3) Consider the business itself.
When a business offers a discount of 50% to 90% off, not surprisingly, the response to such a deal usually multiplies a normal customer population to extreme numbers. One would assume the supply and staff exists to meet the sudden influx of new customers that will start flooding in. However, the business may sell more deals than they had planned on, so keep in mind a couple things: There is a chance your product will suddenly become out of stock and you may have to wait for the next batch. A restaurant may become over-booked for an extensive length of time, or you may find that the service you would normally expect just isn’t up to the par you would like it to be. This is especially true in small shops like cafes or yogurt shops where the staff just isn’t in place to suddenly meet an extremely large spike in customers in a matter of a few days. You should never lose money, but remember that you may not get quite what you wanted when you wanted it.
4) Is any part of your safety involved?
You will be amazed at how many “adventure” experiences are offered through these daily deal sites. I recently saw a deal come through for more than 70% off of a skydiving package. I’m not going to tell you never to do this, but I will say that when your health and/or safety are involved in any way, no discount is worth potential harm. Do your research thoroughly. This goes for things like waxing and acupuncture as well.
5) Set a budget.
It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of purchasing these deals, especially when they are things we do need and they’re so extensively discounted! However, set yourself a budget that you cannot and will not exceed within a given month. When you hit that number, put a temporary filter on those emails, send them directly to another folder that bypasses your inbox, and don’t look! Remember, the entire point is to save money, not to spend more than you normally would.
With these tips in mind, go find a couple deal sites local to your area. Groupon and Living Social are the two most popular, so they are a great place to start. You can score some great deals that will save you many dollars if you’re smart about it!
Photo credit: ripten.com
Photo credit: ripten.com
Author Tara Alley is a freelance writer who enjoys blogging and frequently writes about tips for saving money. She is also currently working alongside of Coffee Home Direct and researching fair trade coffee beans. You can follow her on Twitter @hopesiempre.