For a while, it seemed as though daily deal sites were proliferating like rabbits. While according to TIME, deal sites may not be as popular as they once were, you might still be greeted with a slew of deal messages when you check your email. The sites can be a great way to trim your expenses and save money as on things you need, but if you aren’t careful, daily deal sites can throw your budget for a loop. Think twice before you buy to save yourself a headache.
Go for Deals You Know You’ll Use
Pick and choose the deals you buy carefully. Spending $25 to get a $50 meal at a restaurant you’ve heard amazing things about can seem like great way to save money on dining out. But if that restaurant is in a part of town you’re never in, you’ll be less likely to use the deal before it expires.
Before you purchase a deal, ask yourself a few questions. Is the restaurant, store, or service provider easy for you to get to? Is it something you were going to purchase anyway? Does the deal make sense for the time of year it’s offered or for your lifestyle? Getting a family pack of tickets to the movies for half off is a great offer, but it won’t save you money if you usually go to the movies with just one other person.
Do Your Research First
Find out as much as you can about the deal before you decide to buy. For example, if you spend $25 for a $50 certificate to a restaurant, you want to find out how far that $50 will take you. Will it be enough to pay for the meal and drinks of everyone in your party, or will you have to spend more money once you get there? In most cases, the certificate doesn’t include tax or tip, so you’ll still be on the hook for that. Some certificates also limit what you can purchase. For example, you might not be able to buy beverages with it or you may be limited to a few selections from the menu.
You might also want to make sure the deal is really the best out there. In 2013, Groupon offered an $18 deal to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It turns out that you didn’t really need to buy that deal, though, as the Met’s $25 admission price is actually just a suggested donation, as the Huntington Post points out. Look around at other retailers or sites first to confirm that the deal you’re getting is all it’s cracked up to be.
Take a Peek at the Fine Print
Every daily deal has a fine print. It’s up to you to know what it says before you buy. Find out when the deal expires and what it means when it does. In most cases, after the deal itself expires, you’re still entitled to the amount you paid for it for at least five years, Money Crashers notes. That means your expired $50 certificate for a restaurant could still be worth the $25 you paid for it. Learn about any restrictions on the deal, too, such as times or dates it’s not valid.
While daily deal sites can save you money, if you’re having trouble getting your spending under control and are learning to budget, it might be safest just to click unsubscribe. Deals have their place, but when you’re just getting your financial life back on track, they can do more harm than good.
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