Do Daily Deal Sites Really Save You Money?

Groupon. Saveology. Living Social. Unless you're living under a rock, chances are you've probably heard of at least one of these sites. Websites that hook the consumer up with local business services at a deep discount are big these days, and it seems new similar sites are popping up on the web often. But do these sites really save you money?

Know Your Stuff

One of the first and foremost ways that you can tell you're getting a good deal on anything is to know that anything's average price. Once you have pegged down what something usually goes for, it makes it that much more easy to see if you're paying way too much or grabbing it at a great deal. This same principle applies itself to these online daily deals. So my first rule of thumb on deciding whether or not the offer is a good bang for your buck is this: know the average price of the item/service being offered.

Read the Fine Print and Do the Math

I could also title this one "make sure the deal is a good fit for you." Say you saw a local coffee shop offering up $10 worth of java via a gift certificate for $5. Great, right? You often stop there for a caffiene shot, so it makes sense to save a little money while getting your morning pick me up. Make sure you read the fine print of the offer. When does it have to be used by and are there days you won't be able to use it? Are there only certain locations you can use the offer at? Does the deal have any restrictions on what it can be used for?

Going back to our example, it could be the gift certificate requires you to use the full amount in one fell swoop; not a big deal if it's a pizza joint and you can spend the whole thing on a Friday night, but other gift certificates (like the coffee shop one) sometimes just don't lend themselves to a spend-it-all-now philosophy.

Also, some businesses participating in sites offering up restaurant gift certificates will often impose a merchandise minimum plus a hefty gratuity percentage when you go to use your heavily discounted certificate. In the long run, it might be you end up spending as much as you would've pre-certificate. Homework never hurt anyone, and in the case of daily deal sites, it could help save you money you otherwise wouldn't have spent.

Budget, Budget, Budget

One final thought: make sure you have room in your budget for these stellar deals. They could present a slippery slope to some in that the thought of saving so much money (fifty percent or more!) gives you a retail high, so you're encouraged to spend more – all for the sake of saving money. So, use caution and good sense when purchasing these deals, just like you would when you're out at the store shopping.

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Anonymous's picture

AverageJoe wrote:

Thu, 03/15/2012 - 17:55 Comment #: 1

I realized early on that I'd go broke from "great deals" if I didn't rein in my attachment to these sites. Great advice!