Daily Deals are Dead, Long Live Coupons

Recently, the newspaper headlines have been stating that daily deal sites, like Groupon and LivingSocial, aren’t practical, cause impulse buying and encourage people to spend more money. Instead, they’ve been encouraging consumers to get back to their couponing roots, where you can save money on the essentials that you’re buying.

They’re right, daily deal sites tend to be on luxury goods, restaurants, personal care and vacations. These are items that you probably wouldn’t purchase if you didn’t get such a good deal. When you buy something that you don’t need, because it’s a good deal, then you’re not saving money, you’re spending it. It doesn’t matter how good the deal is.

On the other side of the argument, many people complain that couponing is inconvenient. You have to get the newspaper, scan them regularly, cut them out and then remember to bring them to the store. How many times have you put some coupons aside, only to have forgotten them when you’re in the checkout line? It happens to me all the time. While you can take efforts to plan your shopping trips better, there’s still the possibility that the coupons won’t get used in time.

So should you just give up deal sites and coupons all together?

No! With the advent of digital couponing and mobile coupons, it’s getting easier and more convenient to carry your coupons on you. Some coupons can be scanned off your phone, while others may need to be printed out or have the coupon code entered at the checkout. I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve opened a retailer’s email on my smartphone, flashed my digital coupon, and gotten the discount right on the spot. While not all retailers will accept a coupon code without it being printed out, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Daily deal sites can be useful when you’re shopping for special occasions, like a Mother’s Day outing. However, use these sites in moderation. Don’t visit them unless you have a specific purpose in mind. Make sure to read the fine print, especially if there are blackout days. If you’re not sure that you’ll use it or need it, skip the deal…after all, there’s always another deal coming out tomorrow.

So what’s your take on daily deal sites? Are they dead? Or do they really have a place in your life? Sound off in the comments and let us know what you think about couponing and daily deals.

About the Author

The following post is from Kathryn Katz, a Certified Personal Finance Counselor who works for Consolidated Credit in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Their credit counseling agency helps families through financial crisis using credit counseling, debt consolidation and financial education.