If you sign up for daily deals, your inbox will be flooded every morning with discount offers for restaurants, movies, deli lunches, kitchen tools, dental work, house cleaning, massages and everything in between. For example, this morning I was offered French lessons, painting lessons, weekend getaways and all types of restaurant meals. And that was just from Amazon Local! So, how do you decide if a deal is worth it? What should you be looking out for?
I have used offers from Groupon, Living Social, BuyWithMe, Google, Amazon, GiltGroup, RueLala and several local NYC deal companies. Here are some lessons I’ve have learned (mostly the hard way!) from using the deals:
1.) Only buy deals for items or services you’d buy anyway. Movie ticket deals are great, six fat-reducing treatments maybe not. That $25 dry cleaning coupon for $50 worth of cleaning may be from a super expensive place that you would never use and ends up costing you more than your regular corner cleaner.
2.) Read the fine print. It’s so obvious it’s often missed. Most restaurant deal specify that you can only use one deal per table, so no double dating with friends. Or that massage deal may be limited to times when you cannot use it. Or the photographer deal may not include the head shots that you wanted for your social media profiles.
3.) Beware of restaurant deals that offer a special “deal only” menu. The “deal only” menus tend to have only a few choices from the cheaper end of the regular menu. The best possible restaurant deal is when you can buy, for example, $80 worth of dining from the regular menu for $40 at your favorite neighborhood place. And if you like to have a drink with your dinner, getting a great dining deal from an expensive place may get blown out of your budget with premium drink and wine prices.
4.) Remember to include the tip to the deal cost, based on the original price not the deal price, when you consider a deal. That upscale hair salon’s $150 cut, that you can get for $50. Not such a bargain when you add a suggested $30 tip.
5.) Check out the location of the deal. If the deal is far from your regular travels you are more likely to miss using it. If the deal is for a place you pass by daily, not only do you know that the deal is legit, but chances are it gets used quickly.
6.) Keep track of your deals and use them quickly. Print out the coupons immediately and file by expiration dates or save to a separate folder on your computer. Also mark a reminder on your calendar a few days before each deal expires. According to some research close to 22% of deals go unused. Try to use your deals quickly, because the vendor may go out of business, and even though you may get your money back, it’s a hassle you don’t need.
7.) Ignore Rule # 1 once in a while. Daily deals are a great way to try something new. Tango lessons for $25, why not? Neighborhood gym offers a deal on trying spinning or Pilates, test it out!
This post has been modified and reused with permission from MyFirstApartment.com.