Do you use the daily deal sites to snag good entertainment deals? I do! I love to use the deal sites to stretch our entertainment budget. From dining out and massages, to tasting tours and theater tickets, there are a bunch great deals if you’re dying to get out of the house, but want to stick to your budget.
I started browsing the daily deal sites shortly after I paid off my monster student loan debt. I wanted to go out to eat and indulge in little beauty treatments, but couldn’t bear the idea of spending my newly “found” money on the things I’d “cut out” of my budget for so long. I was obsessed with saving my money and didn’t want to splurge on anything that wasn’t a necessity. When I found the deal sites I was super excited because I could try out some of the local restaurants and salons without spending full price and feeling “guilty” (self-imposed guilt is the worst, and I’m so good a guilting myself).
But with good things in life, moderation is key. Living in a major city, there’s always a deal that appeals to me. So I’ve had to learn to be judicious with my deal purchases. Here are a few tips about staying within your budget when buying from the deals sites that I’ve learned the “hard way”– if you know what I mean-wink.
Avoiding the “Dangers” of the deal sites:
1. Buy with your budget in mind
I have to admit when I first found AmazonLocal, Groupon and Living Social I was so obsessed with the idea of “saving” I went a little overboard and spent more than I’d planned. The only way you can stretch your entertainment budget (and get more value for your money) is if you actually stick to your budget. A $50 voucher to a local restaurant for “only” $25 might seem like a good deal, but not if the average meal costs $100 per person and you’re trying to stay within a $50 dining out budget.
2. Pay Attention to the restrictions
There are sometimes restrictions on the days you can use the voucher, the items you can purchase and the number of vouchers you can buy. Sometimes substitutions are allowed, but a lot of the time they are not. Keep in mind, if you live in a big city, some locations of a particular chain store or restaurant might not be participating. My local Coldstone Creamery has a sign right on their front door that states they do no participate in any of the daily deal sites-bummer!
3. Make sure you buy in the right city
Sometimes I get so excited when I see a deal on one of the coupon blogs I rush to buy the voucher without paying attention to the city the voucher is good for (Dumb! I know!). This actually happened to me just a few months ago. I saw a great deal for a voucher at the Body Shop. I excitedly snagged 2 vouchers before I realized I’d bought them from the Living social Orlando site, oops.
4. Read the fine print
When I first “found” the deal sites, I bought a bunch of vouchers for local restaurants and services and only used about half of them before they expired. These days you keep at least the “paid value” of the voucher, but when I first started using Groupon many of the deals expired completely on a certain date (it said so in the very fine print at the bottom of the voucher). If you didn’t use the voucher by that date you lost your money (not very frugal!).
5. Think before you buy
Do you really need the item or service you’re buying? It’s easy to get excited about buying something when there are “only 500 left” or there are only 30 minutes left to buy (they do that on purpose of course). Carefully consider if you really need the item you’re purchasing before you click “buy”. Don’t let the group buying mentality suck you in.
Daily Deal Sites I Love:
Tip: Did you know you can use ebates to buy Living Social and Groupon vouches (to get a percentage of your purchase price back!)? Currently ebates is offering 4.6% cash back on Groupon purchases and 6% cash backon Living Social vouchers.
What are your favorite deal sites? How do you use them to stay on budget?
**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, if you sign up or buy from one of them, thank you!