By Kelly Hodges
Seventy Five percent (75%) off teeth whitening! Fifty Five percent (55%) off auto detailing! Ninety percent (90%) off dog grooming! It seems like there’s a daily deal popping up everywhere you look these days.
There are local daily deals through sites like Groupon and Living Social. There are national daily deals through retail chains like Target and Walmart. There are daily deals specific for jewelry, or electronics, or children’s clothing, or for just about anything else you can think of. Everyone from Amazon to Google to Twitter is getting in on the daily deal action- and who can blame them? With industry leader Groupon going public earlier this month with an estimated company value of $13 billion, more and more copy-cat sites are popping up to try and get their share of this growing and lucrative market.
This is all good news for consumers who are the ultimate beneficiaries of these deep discounts. But the sheer number of deals available can make it a bit overwhelming, and it’s often difficult to sort through all the offers and separate the real deals from the duds. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when contemplating your next daily deal purchase:
- DO use a daily deal aggregator. There are so many daily deal websites that you can’t possibly track them all. Enter the aggregator sites like Yipit and The DealMap (recently acquired by Google). These sites accumulate the deals from the over 700 daily deal sites out there and pick out the ones most relevant to you. This means one email a day that includes all the deals you might be interested in, instead of tons of individual emails from each independent daily deal site.
- DO read the fine print. Many offers come with certain restrictions or expirations that you need to be aware of before buying. For example, last summer I bought a Groupon for a night’s stay at a water park and hotel for 50% off. The fine print read that it could only be used for a stay Sunday through Thursday night from Memorial Day through Labor Day. I knew this would work for our family, but others buying this may not have been able to redeem it if a Sunday through Thursday stay would not work for their schedule.
- DO expand your horizons. There are great deals to be had if you’re willing to try new things. Try out the new salon that’s offering a 60% savings on haircuts. You will need a haircut at some point anyway, so even if it’s not where you usually go why not take the discount and try it?
- DON’T buy things you won’t use. Just because it’s a 90% savings doesn’t mean it’s a good deal for YOU. A year of yoga classes might seem like a deal you can’t pass up, but if you’re not that into yoga then it’s not something you should spend money on, no matter how good of a deal it is.
- DON’T buy things you can’t afford. Yes, that luxury hotel room downtown is going for the deeply discounted rate of $200 per night instead of its normal $500 per night. It’s easy to pretend you are “saving” $300 by buying this deal, but in reality you’re spending $200 of your hard earned money. If it’s not in the budget, don’t get it.
- DON’T forget to use a cash back site. If you start your daily deal purchase through a cash back site like Ebates you will earn cash back on top of the already great deal. For instance, Ebates gives you 3% cash back on Groupon purchases, which makes the deals even sweeter. (See my previous post for full details on how to use cash back websites.)
- DO think before you click. These deal websites operate off the “get it before it’s gone” adrenaline-driven purchasing by consumers. By limiting the amount of time the deals are available it forces the purchaser to be impulsive. Don’t play into their tactics. Stop, think it through, phone a friend if necessary. If in two or three hours the deal still sounds as good to you then by all means get it, and if not you’ve saved yourself from a big daily deal disappointment.
Good luck and happy savings!
Any opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not in any way represent the views or opinions of her employer or any other person or entity.
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