Are Online Coupon Sites Really Good Deals?

by Derek Clark

Yahoo has an interesting article on 6 questions you should ask before buying buying the latest Groupon or Living Social deal. These online daily deals sites have become really popular recently, and I’ve seen some of the good and bad that go with them. Here are the 6 questions and my thoughts on each.

1. How much will this deal really cost? – You have to look at all the costs associated with a deal. If it is a coupon for $25 at a nice restaurant, you need to look at the menu ahead of time. If you “save” 25 dollars on a hundred dollar meal, you still went out and spent $75. Is that in your budget this month? If it is go for it, if not though you have to pass.

2. How else could I put that money to use? – Are you still in debt? Do you have 3-6 months saved in an emergency fund? If you answered no to either of those questions I can tell you for sure that that $25 off coupon to the really nice restaurant is a bad deal for you. Learn to cook at home. It’s cheaper and many times it can be just as good.

3. What does the fine print say? – Check for blackout and expiration dates. If you plan on using it next Saturday you are going to be upset when you can only use it during the week.

4. What does my calendar say? – If you are thinking about buying the deal you should go ahead and put it on the calendar. If you can’t fit in your schedule, you are probably better off not getting it. It might end up expiring before you get around to using it, or you may find you don’t even feel like doing it when find the time. If you can’t put it on your calendar before you buy it, you probably shouldn’t buy it.

5. Is this merchant worth visiting? – Seems that should go without saying. If you don’t know what the deal is why are you thinking about buying it? At the very least do a Google search for some reviews and see if the place is any good.

6. Will I really use this deal? Yahoo gives an example of someone who doesn’t like being outside buying a paintball deal. Seems obvious to me that you shouldn’t buy something that you don’t like, but apparently it happens.

I’ve had some good experiences with these sites so far, but most of the deals fall into the above categories as things I shouldn’t spend money on. On the other hand, I got a great deal on some Amazon gift cards from Living Social, and I recently got a nice deal from Groupon for the golf course next to my house. I think that is the real key. Buy the deals that you already plan to pay for. If you are getting lots of “deals” that wouldn’t normally be in your budget, you probably aren’t getting a good deal.

Have you tried the online coupon sites? Let me know how it has gone for you in the past in the comments below.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jason April 7, 2011 at 10:38 pm

It’s not a good deal if you don’t really need it.

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ross June 3, 2011 at 2:36 pm

I just signed up for groupon and i find myself wanting to buy things that i don’t really need. There are same great deals to be had, but there is also alot of temptation there too.
My wife has a big problem with that part :)

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