Avoiding Money Traps in Coupons and Daily Deals

Julia Trello
Julia Trello
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Source: ready2spark.com

The daily deals phenomenon has invaded the global economy, undeniably becoming a hit online sensation rivalling the likes of Justin Bieber and even Facebook in popularity. Discounted daily deal offers such as those from Groupon, Living Social and Yipit have mushroomed all over dynamic economies, providing a whole new business platform for enterprising digital businessmen, an alternative to costly marketing and advertising for both new and established businesses and giving some form of cash reprieve for the budget-conscious consumers.

Despite differing industry outlooks about the growth and survival of this new marketing platform, most deal patrons are inclined to believe that daily deal offers are here to stay for still a long while. In fact, because of the brisk sales and upward growth despite changes in industry player profiles and changing strategies of business model pioneers, media and technology research firm BIA/Kelsey expects that daily deals spending will hit $4.2 billion in 2015 from almost $1 billion in 2011. True enough, from pieces of cupcakes to entire catering services, from Brazilian bikini waxing to Bora-bora tropical getaways, daily deals are indeed hard to resists.

Indeed, who wants to miss a great deal? But wait, before going on a charging spree of your credit card and pushing your debit card limit to zero balance, here are some no-nonsense reminders on how to get the most out of those myriad of daily deal offers, and ensure you really are getting the better deal, and not the bitter end, of the offer in terms of savings, quality of product or service, and enjoyable
experience.

THE LURE OF DEALS VS. WHAT YOU REALLY NEED

First, focus on YOU first, which includes your needs, as well as that of your family. Is there something that you have been saving up for, either for yourself or for your loved ones? If yes, what is that? Of course, you also have a few “wants” once in a while. Been craving for a dainty bottle of Pleasures perfume for months now? Is your teenage son’s been clamouring for a cool Dr Dre Beats headset since last Christmas? How about that diver’s watch that your hubby has been setting sights on every time you visit the mall?

Finally, whether it’s a need or a want, assess your budget. For a really important need, like a car seat for the new baby, chances are you have been setting aside some stash for the eventual purchase of these things. For the “wants,” think of it this way. Can you spare some cash for it and still go on without running short on regular purchases and bills payments? Is it okay to dip into your savings if a good purchase opportunity comes? It’s really all up to you, or with anybody you may have a joint savings funds with. If the answer is yes, good for you. If some arguments arise, or you are not that secure getting some money for unplanned purchases, better stick to your needs.

Sure, it seems only a natural born filthy female can pass up that lipocavitation and diamond peel self-pampering combo for $30, just like what the deal website suggests, but do you really need it? Chances are, no you don’t. Do you want it? Maybe not very much. By sticking to your daily deals priority, you are really setting yourself up for an experience that would translate to wise purchase decision and great savings on your part.

CHOOSING YOUR DEAL

Now that you know what you need or want, it will be easier to look for deals from products and services category that your daily deals subscription or listings provide. If what you have in mind is not really an urgent purchase to be made, you can just browse on daily deals listings, and wait for an offer that you’ve been waiting for. With an array of products and services, and hundreds of merchants joining daily deals sites as service or product providers, it won’t be long before the one you’ve been waiting for comes along.

When that moment arrives, don’t let your excitement get the better of you. Exercise some self-control and take time to examine your deal. Read and understand the fine prints. If it’s a product, is the delivery service part of the discounted price? If it’s a service, how far is it from your home or workplace? If redeeming the product or getting the service will entail way over $10 equivalent of gas, plus your retrieval time and effort, do you think it will still translate to a real deal? Think, weigh and then decide.

EXAMINE YOUR DEAL

Check the redemption period. Most daily deal sites give three to six months redemption time for voucher buyers. Knowing this will give you time to reconsider the deal, checking if you can include redemption with an errand in the same location, or if you can hold on to your voucher for a more appropriate redemption time, like your mother-in-law’s birthday on the next month for that nice velvet cake deal.

Check the mode of payment. Does the deal website accept only credit cards? Debit cards could be more practical for those who do not wish to incur add-on interest for their scheduled payments. What about over-the-counter bank payments for those who simply want to pay in cash along with their scheduled bank errands? Study the payments available and see if you are amenable to them and if it will entail some time and effort on your part to fulfil the payment.

LOOK FOR VALUE ADDED TREATS

Most daily deal sites reward their customers when a referral is made which translates to real purchase. These rewards may be in the form of cash vouchers for use in subsequent purchases, or new discounts on top of the standard deals. Customers are usually encouraged to simply forward the daily deal website or a deals webpage to their online network of friends for possible new rounds of purchases and referrals. If you are game to this task, chances are you can accumulate discounts on top of the standard ones in no time. Easy work, great savings.

READ, READ, READ

Finally, before making any daily deals purchase, click on that Terms of Use. It’s there for a reason, and chances are, it contains disclaimers and safety nets for either the deals website or the partner merchant when the deal you purchased proved unsatisfactory to your expectation.

Know what your rights are. Just because it’s a discounted offer does not mean you also accept possible shortcuts and shortchanging attempts along the way.

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Julia Trello

Julia has been covering the finance beat for four years now. She has been writing professionally as a freelance talent for the Los Angeles Times and Forbes.com. She later moved to The Washington Post, where she covered news on politics, business and special features for two years. Julia is now part of our editorial team, where she writes features and tips to promote wealth creation and management for everyone.

Category: Frugal Living

3 Comments »

  • Ann Robinson says:

    I like to use a little cheating in terms of looking for deals. I follow and build relationships with enough various industry people as a consequence of my job, that I’m frequently able to get what I need simply by tweeting a question. My piece of advice to those interested would be to locate the brands that are social and will most probably interact with you.

  • Michelle Parker says:

    This a very useful piece of writing. Being a consumer myself I really enjoy finding daily deals on various coupon websites. Although, if my user experience is not good at the very least I hardly ever return to such a site. I believe that if a company wants to give daily offers they simply must be able to impress their clients and have a loyalty element already present.

  • Becky Delgado says:

    Here’s what I can tell you about discounts. I’m a manager at a store where we offer our products at discounted prices that are in fact below the depreciation cost of the product itself. Where are we getting our money from then? We get them because customers usually buy extras. Obviously, not everyone will buy some additional products along the way, but in most cases we’re able to earn about $10 per customer with this approach.

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