When Buying Daily Deals Makes Sense (and Cents!)

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During the recession, daily deals represented a smart way to experience all of life’s pleasures at a significant discount. Hoping to try the newest restaurant? Buy a Groupon. Want a blowout without blowing your budget? LivingSocial has an offer for you. Seeking an intro to Web design? AmazonLocal can help you with that.

Like many others, I was quick to jump on the daily-deal bandwagon and eagerly signed up for each site. Suddenly, my inbox was inundated with multiple emails from each provider goading me to save on everything from yoga to ziplining to Ethiopian cuisine. I found myself desirous of things and experiences I wouldn’t otherwise consider. And that’s where they get you — daily deal sites take full advantage of consumers’ desire to get a good bargain. One of our baddest buying behaviors is purchasing something for the discount and not for the product or experience itself.

Having purchased my fair share of these vouchers, I’ve come up with a list of when you should buy daily deals to get the most value.

1. You’ve been wanting to try it.

If you’ve been on the fence about something, a daily deal is a great way to try it out at a deep discount. For example, I’d been interested in the paint ‘n sip trend when a Groupon arrived in my inbox for 60-percent off the normal price. It was an easy purchase that I encouraged other friends to make, and together we had a great evening for much less than if we’d tried it without a daily deal.

2. It’s for a regular purchase.

I drink Starbucks coffee at home which means I spend a pretty penny on whole beans. That’s why I always purchase the $5 for $10 Starbucks daily deal when it comes around (about twice per year). Similarly, I snatch up deals related to the local frozen yogurt shop my mom and I enjoy frequenting during the summer. These expenses are ones I’ve already worked into my budget, so getting them at a big discount is just a bonus.

3. You’re planning to buy it, anyway.

Not having access to a daily deal site can cause you to spend more on something you’re already intending to purchase. During the holidays I needed to get a piece of original art framed and matted as part of a Christmas gift. I was pleased to find a coupon through Amazon Local to a new frame shop where I saved $90 on my custom frame. Perusing daily deals in search of something you’re already planning to buy is a smart way to save money.

4. It’s actually a deal.

Newsflash: Some daily deals just aren’t as good as they claim to be. My sister-in-law was tempted by a deal offering a massage and chiropractic exam for $35. She called the company to inquire about details, and apparently she had to pay for an initial consultation before redeeming the voucher. Not a deal! Reading the fine print is key to determining whether or not a deal is actually as good as advertised.

5. You can’t find it for a better price elsewhere.

Make sure the advertised deal is as good as you can get using coupon codes or shopping sales elsewhere. For example, Groupon is currently advertising a Champion Shape T-Back Sports Bra for 63-percent off. Smokin’ deal, right? I looked for coupon codes online and found out Champion is having a sale on sports bras. Guess what? That same bra is available for $4 less directly from Champion’s site.

6. You want an in-budget splurge.

Being on a budget requires self-control. However, establishing spending priorities and allowing yourself to splurge on what’s important to you can help avoid budget burnout. That’s where daily deals can be helpful because they enable you to eat at a restaurant, enjoy a wine tasting or get a mani-pedi at a reduced price. For example, my coworkers and I organized a ladies’ night around a daily deal we found for a new restaurant in town. We had a fun evening at a cut rate!

7. You’re committed to using it.

Unless you’re committed to using the deal in its entirety, there’s no reason to buy it. I purchased a deal for $29 that was good for 10 yoga classes and a massage. Amazing savings, right? I went to one yoga class and decided the style wasn’t for me and never returned again. Basically, I spent nearly $30 on a single yoga class! A friend of mine had it worse, though; she spent $200 on a daily deal for a multi-week boot camp workout class and never used it. Ouch!

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