Best Ways to Shop for Deals

Lately, as I’ve been working with clients, I’ve realized that there is a NEW spending category that is starting to have a negative effect on some of our bank accounts: Groupon, Living Social and other programs.

A friend recently started tracking a similar website called Woot. She told me that there were amazing deals on the site and couldn’t believe she’d discovered such a treasure.

A couple months later I asked how Woot was going. She sighed and said she didn’t visit it anymore. “I great-dealed myself until I was broke.”

That’s my feeling about Groupon, Living Social, coupon clipping and sales. Only buy items you were going to purchase anyway and they’re wonderful opportunities. Buy items you weren’t going to purchase and you may find yourself beyond your budget.

Personally, I rarely visit these sites because I know that presentation is the key to marketing. I can’t examine a deal until I see the deal. Once I’ve seen the amazingly low discounted price, I want the product! Even if I didn’t want it before, I find 101 uses for the three-armed chair leg counter and backscratcher (on sale today only).

Here’s a better way to shop for deals:

  • What do you want to buy? Use Google or Bing to search for the product. (I use Bing because they offer a search reward program. I do nothing out of the ordinary and earn free points, which I can convert to Amazon dollars.)
  • Read reviews on the product. Look for suitable alternatives (often an Amazon search on a product will bring up a list of similar items).
  • Use a search engine again with the name brand you’ve chosen + the word “discount.” You’ll find coupons, offers and lower cost alternatives.

Remember that low cost isn’t everything if the retailer doesn’t have a good return policy or customer satisfaction rating. Use the search engine a third time to find horror stories about a retailer if you’re unfamiliar with the name.