At this point in time, there’s a real good chance that half the e-mails you receive and that aren’t immediately filtered to your Spam folder are for Daily Deals.
Sites like Groupon and Living Social bombard you with multiple intriguing offers every day, because when you signed up for their service, you apparently told them you desire to save money on everything ever created, no matter what.
The numbers always look rather delicious — 50-90% off anything is hard to resist — but don’t go tapping in your credit card number just yet.
Overdosing on useless deals will end up costing you more than if you had kept your card in your wallet and not purchased anything at all.
We all love to save money, but it can’t really be considered saving if we didn’t need the product in the first place.
So how to avoid going crazy with Daily Deals and waking up with financial regret the morning after? Kendal Perez has written an article for ModestMoney.com that breaks down the questions you need to ask yourself the next time you see an amazing deal that may or may not enhance your life. Steps such as …
Do I Really Need It?
Go on Groupon right now, and chances are you’ll find a bevy of deals for items as diverse as cookware, watches, LED shower heads, sonic toothbrushes, and other things you probably didn’t consider until you saw the ad.
Now, if you’re in the market for new cookware, or need a new watch, then these might just be the deals for you.
If, on the other hand, you have perfectly good pots and pans, or haven’t worn a watch since Clinton was in office, then why would you start now? Just because you pay $20 instead of $80? That’s still $20 too much.
Is It Really a Bargain?
Sometimes, Daily Deal sites intentionally mark costs up and then “drastically slash” them just to say they’re saving you money.
However, if you do a little digging, you might find you can get the same thing for the same cost without giving the Deal site any of your money. Perez explains further with an anecdote:
“Groupon is currently advertising a Champion Shape T-Back Sports Bra for 63-percent off. Smokin’ deal, right? I looked for coupon codes online and found out Champion is having a sale on sports bras. Guess what? That same bra is available for $4 less directly from Champion’s site.”
Does the Fine Print Void the Deal?
85% off a trip to Vegas? Sign us up!
Oh, wait: the trip must be taken during this one specific time-frame only, or else we’ll end up with an “air-only” ticket that doesn’t include hotel or rental, sticking us right back at square one and possibly costing us more money than if we had purchased the ticket outright. But hey, Vegas, right?
Look at the fine print on every single Daily Deal you look to purchase. If there’s language in there that guarantees you’ll end up paying the vendor most if not all of the original price, stay away.
There are some tremendous deals on these sites, but there are also rip-offs aplenty.
Will I Actually Use It?
If you sign up for a four-week painting course at 75% off, but only attend one week, you’ve literally saved nothing. If you blow the whole thing off, then you’ve paid money for absolutely nothing.
Perez similarly recalls …
“I purchased a deal for $29 that was good for 10 yoga classes and a massage. Amazing savings, right? I went to one yoga class and decided the style wasn’t for me and never returned again. Basically, I spent nearly $30 on a single yoga class! A friend of mine had it worse, though; she spent $200 on a daily deal for a multi-week boot camp workout class and never used it. Ouch!”
Only invest in a Daily Deal if you’re going to find a use for it. Do you drink a lot of coffee? Then by all means purchase a Starbucks gift pack at 90% off.
Want professional photos taken of your beautiful growing family? Those portraits aren’t cheap, so if you see a package offered for $15 instead of the usual $150, jump on that ASAP.
But don’t buy something like an iPad case, even if it’s 60% off, if you don’t own an iPad. That is, unless you’re 10000% sure Santa’s going to bring you one, because you peeked. Or you’re Santa.
Mary Hiers is a personal finance writer who helps people earn more and spend less.