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It's hard to resist a good deal, especially when so many sites offer one-day-only local and online deals at 50%, 70% and sometimes even 90% off. But, with a little thought and a small amount of research, you can find out if buying that daily deal can really help or hurt your budget.
Here are five things to consider before clicking your way to checkout on Groupon, LivingSocial, and other daily deal sites.
1. Are there any hidden costs? Consider the total cost of what you'll be spending, after you redeem your coupon. If you're buying a daily deal from an online retailer, the deal might not include shipping. Or, free shipping might be available, but only if you spend double the amount of the deal value. In that case, your discount might only be 20% instead of 50%, which in the Krazy Coupon World, isn't that great of a deal. Some restaurant deals require a minimum spend, which means you might have to end up ordering more food than you can eat. Make sure to factor in the cost of tax and tip, which you'll have to pay out of pocket.
2. Will buying the deal tempt you to spend more? Sure, you might be getting a great deal on a fancy holiday dress, but then you'll have to buy shoes to match. When you got such a great deal on a 5-course dinner, you might be tempted to splurge on a bottle of wine. Think about the additional costs of buying something you couldn't have afforded otherwise. You'll save more money by borrowing a friend's dress or having your hubby cook steaks at home.
3. Does the business offer its own special offers and discounts? Visit the business website to see what they have to offer. Online retailers often offer their own discounts, promotions, or free shipping if you sign up for their newsletter, especially around the holidays. Restaurants also offer discounts for signing up for newsletters, and many have specials during the week where you can save a considerable amount of money. Oftentimes, these "internal" special offers cannot be combined with a daily deal. See if you can save more money by going through the business itself rather than buying the deal.
4. Could you get the same or a similar deal elsewhere? Daily deal sites tempt us to think this is the only time we can get this particular deal. That's not necessarily true. As a Krazy Coupon Lady knows, almost everything can be purchased at a discount; all it takes is a little patience and sleuthing. A daily deal might offer discounted yoga classes, but another studio might offer free community classes. You might be able to buy a daily deal to put towards something you want to buy, but you might be able to save more on Ebay, Craigslist, or even Freecycle.
5. Is this a deal you'll actually use? Since these deals are usually live for 24 hours, we don't have as much time to think through these purchases. One of the most important rules of being a Krazy Koupon Lady is don't buy something you don't need or want. If it's a restaurant deal, take a look at menu first to decide if it's really somewhere you'd like to eat. If it's for an online retailer, window shop on the site and mentally total up the cost of the items you'd like to buy. You don't want to get stuck adding random items to your shopping cart just to meet the deal value. It's not a deal if you were better off not buying it at all!
This has been a guest post by Betsy from Chicago, IL
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