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We all know what coupon sites are designed for – spending money. We all also know what coupon sites pretend to be designed for – passing great savings on to you.

In fairness, sometimes you really can make great savings, so if you are looking for a specific product or service and know exactly what it is you want, it’s worth looking for.  However, with each great deal you come across you need to ask yourself – are you really saving money? Or are you only buying the product, or the experience, because it is 40% less than the original listed price and a “one day only offer”?

It's a well documented fact that scarcity marketing messes with your mind. Companies drive up the value of a product artificially by suddenly making it difficult to purchase, whilst at the same time promoting it through advertising. “One day only offers” fall into this bracket of marketing; making something valuable because you can only access it for a short period of time, forcing you to choose in an artificially pressurised environment.

To really get the most out of shopping with coupons, or on discount sites, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to make sure you really are making the savings you want to be.

1. Do some research

Are other companies offering similar offers? Look around and see. You can also try going directly to the product’s company website to see if they themselves are offering the discount too. Maybe you can get a better price in a different place, or an offer that runs for a longer time (thereby removing the stress factor of a one day choice).

For example, Groupon is one of the most famous offer sites that provides great deals on anything from meals out to new high heels. For every deal you see on Groupon that you want to take advantage of, you should also check to see if you can find it with its direct competitors; retailmenot and amazon. They may be offering a better deal on what you want in direct response to the offer run by Groupon.


2. Be savvy

Ask yourself is it actually a good deal. In fact, ask yourself these five-second finance questions before you make any purchase. These offers are designed to make you panic at the thought of missing out – don’t fall for it. A lot of the time they are regular occurrences, and if you don’t get the deal this time round, they will come around again.

After all, let’s remember that these sites all have one primary goal, and it’ not to help you out. It’s to make you spend money. So, no matter how much they design each offer to make you think it’s a "one time only-best chance you’ll ever get-you’ll regret it forever if you don’t" occasion, just remember that it’s not. If it’s an offer that they know is popular and creates sales, it is one that will come back around in a new incarnation.

3. Don’t get caught out

Once you’ve decided you want this item and you’ve clicked through to the correct page, it more often than not happens that the great deal price offered is not in fact for the exact service you had in mind. It’s for something ‘similar’. A “30% off cut and colour at top salon” actually turns out to be in a salon way across the city and only for a range of colours that no one has ever used in the history of styling. The price that you will actually have to pay is in fact far more inline with something you would normally expect to pay anyway.

The idea behind this is that once you have committed to the purchase, and clicked through to the sales page, in your mind you have already parted with the money. Therefore, although the price may be slightly higher than you anticipated, you will go through with the purchase anyway, because mentally you already have.

Don’t fall for this. Look at the offer and what it is really worth. Don’t be fooled into spending more money than you would have if you’d never seen that ‘one day only’ deal.

Saving money is also about spending well. Financial fitness comes with building solid financial habits over time.