Chances are, you or someone you know is familiar with daily deals sites like Groupon, Living Social or Google Offers. These sites offer deals like "Buy One Get One Free" or "Save $10 off a $20 purchase." Sounds good, right?
Sure, if you can restrain yourself from getting sucked into the daily-deal habit that these sites make so easy.
I used be a Groupon and Living Social addict. I found the sites about a year ago off the recommendation of a friend who had saved $8 on a pair of movie tickets. After saving a few bucks here and there, I became addicted to checking the sites for deals every single day. Even if I had never been to a restaurant featured on the site, I found myself purchasing the deal. The same principle went with weekend getaway specials, spa packages and online shopping.
I gained a lot of new experiences this way, but they were not all positive. I've had two "four-star" hotel stays that were not worth the $99 a night I paid for them. The rooms weren't nearly as clean as a Super 8 I could have booked for $69 in the same city, which is probably what I would have done if I had booked on my own.
Similar situations happened with several of the restaurants I bought deals for. They were restaurants I never would have gone to on my own, but I thought the deals were at least worth trying. Sometimes this worked out well; sometimes it did not. It was really just a shot in the dark whether I'd enjoy my daily-deal experience.
Needless to say, I was incurring expenses I never would have otherwise. Worse is that I didn't always use the deals I bought because they would expire before I was ready to use them. After a few months of this, I decided it just wasn't worth it anymore. So, I removed my email from the subscription lists and never went back to the sites. Since then, I've done what has always worked for me in the past: reading reviews and joining VIP clubs. It might not be as deal-tastic as Groupon or Living Social, but at least I know what to expect.
*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a personal finance story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.
- Arts & Entertainment