Helicopter flight for two — 61% off!
Eyelash extensions – 50% off!
Four-course dinner at a 5-star restaurant – 56% off!
Four-day trip to Cozumel, Mexico – 43% off!
Daily deal sites came in vogue in the midst of a recession—at a time when bargains became cool. (We even celebrated people who took coupon clipping to extremes.) But do daily deal sites actually save you money, or do they do just the opposite? Do Groupon and Living Social actually cost you more?
We asked our Facebook fans and Twitter followers, and most people liked and used the daily deal sites, especially if one of the deals offered was something they were obviously planning to use. We conducted a poll about daily deals on our Facebook page and here’s what we learned:
60% said they would purchase daily deals if the product/service was something they already use or planned to use.
27% said they loved daily deals because they saved them money.
13% said they disliked daily deals sites or had never tried them.
On Twitter, here’s what our followers said:
@joshfrank: Great idea, but only occasionally great in implementation. You can only get so many spa coupons. Plus their IPO mess…
@hithatsmybike: I buy then forget to use them … they expire and I just waste money.
@TheSpimTadin: I always like the fact that even after it expires, its still worth whatever you paid.
@moneymaus: I’m picky & go with places I’ve been or what I know I’ll use.
@StuffedWitFluff: I rarely buy deals from places that are unfamiliar, unless I take time to research yelp.
@LifeTuner: If I wouldn’t buy the product/service at full price, why would I buy it at all? I suppose I’d be open to scouring for places I do love, but that’s a lot of effort for not a lot of payoff.
@as_green: Love them! But you have to be careful to read the fine print and only buy things you are definitely going to use.
It looks like the majority agree – consumers of daily deals tend to go with what they know. Helicopter rides are most likely a no-go, but a deal to a salon or restaurant you frequent might truly save you 50% or more.
Instructions for Using Daily Deal Sites
Gone is the daily deal – singular – as in one deal per day. Today there are deals upon deals: massages, restaurant gift certificates, vacations, you name it. You could spend an hour a day just wading through available offers. But how do you use these daily deals to your advantage and really save yourself money instead of just throwing away money on things you’ll never use?
Obviously, restraint is key. Fact: Websites—including daily deal sites—use psychological tactics against you. When deals have a fast-approaching deadline to buy, they get us to act when we otherwise might not.
To avoid being pressured into buying something you don’t need, ask yourself these questions first:
- Is the product/service/establishment something I use or had planned to use?
- Is the deal for something I’d been strongly considering buying already?
- Is the location nearby and convenient? (If not, there’s a good chance you won’t get there before the deal expires.)
- After researching the price, is it truly a good deal?
Keeping coupons and gift cards organized is another key to making sure you get the most from your money.
- Install the app for whichever deal you purchased. Flashing your voucher on your phone is easier than toting a paper voucher you might lose.
- Add to your calendar a reminder a few weeks before the deal’s expiration date.
- If you’re using the paper version, print the vouchers right away and file them with the rest of your coupons.
- Watch for e-mails alerting you to about-to-expire vouchers from the daily deals sites.
Remember that most daily deal sites will always honor the amount you paid for the voucher – even if the voucher has expired. So at least your cash out of pocket will always be protected.
Usually, A Win-Win
I know I’ve snagged a couple really great deals in the past that have made me a daily deals believer. When used properly (read: don’t binge!) daily deals can be a win-win for you and the business. If you practice a little restraint and intentional buying with daily deals, I think they can save you money (and make life a little more fun!).
What do you think? Have you snagged any great deals on sites like these? Made any mistakes with them? Let us know in a comment.