Does Groupon Really Save You Money?

One of the best ways to save money, especially for college students, is to use coupons. With coupon and discount sites springing up all over the Internet, it's often difficult to see how some deals just aren't worth the spending. Here are a few tips for making sure those coupons are put to good use, and you don't spend extra money.

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Impulse Buys

Coupon sites like Livingsocial.com and Groupon.com offer fantastic deals on products and services every day. Sometimes these deals seem too good to pass up, but don't spend money on things you don't need just because it's a great deal. Yes, you can get a scarf with attached gloves for only five dollars, but were you looking for it when you spotted the discount? Even though it may be cool, if you already have a scarf and gloves, you likely don't need it.

This goes for coupons too. You may get $1.50 off of a tube of anchovy paste, but unless you're a gourmet cook or chef-in-training, you likely won't use it to cook in the dorm. So, decide if you should spend the extra coin to buy something that may go to waste.

On Two

A common coupon catch is the on-two. In the past coupons increased sales by offering an amount of money off when you buy a product. Today, grocers (or manufacturers) have gotten greedy and ask that you buy two in order to use the coupon. So, if you wanted to get a can of tuna but you have a coupon for a dollar off of two cans, you may be surprised to find that the store brand tuna costs less for two cans - even without the coupon. Or maybe you only need one brick of cheese but the coupon says you need to buy two. In the end you'll be spending more than you originally wanted just because you have the coupon. Make sure when using a coupon that it is on a product you need and will be worth it when you check out.

Restrictions

The fine print at the bottom of coupons needs to be read. You may have kept a coupon with the intent of using it when the item went on sale, only to find that the fine print prohibits it to be combined with any other deals. Once you're at the register you'll likely agree to pay the sale price without the coupon just to save face. Some Groupon.com restaurant coupons are restricted for dinners, dine-in or Monday through Thursday only. Once you've eaten, you have no choice but to pay full-price. Be sure you read the fine print! And always keep an eye on expiration dates. This may seem like a no-brainer, but there are often times when you rush out the door with the coupon and discover it sat on your desk just two days too long.

When to Use

Looking for a birthday gift or planning an outing with friends? Groupon.com and Livingsocial.com are great tools that can give you up to 60% off on gift certificates for spas, hotels, lessons, movies and restaurants. As long as you intend to use the deal and aren't spending money needlessly, than these sites are great sources. Keep an eye on these sites for the daily deals, or sign up for their daily e-mails. You never know when something you'll use will be posted, and popular items (like BOGO movie tickets) sell out fast.

Want to keep up with other frugal savings? Check out these money saving sites.

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