By Mel Bondar
After a few years of celebrating Groupon (GRPN) and LivingSocial, many bloggers seem to have turned on these sites. Lately, I've noticed a trend in people stating that one of the best ways to save money is to just stay away from coupon sites altogether. I couldn't disagree more.
Don't get me wrong, if buy Groupons and LivingSocial coupons and never use them, then these sites are not for you, but for budget shoppers, Groupon and LivingSocial can save a lot of money and offer new experiences, too. Here are five reasons to reconsider group coupon sites:
1. If You're New in Town
Groupon and LivingSocial both have terrific coupons for local events, restaurants and activities. If you've just moved or are interested in getting to know your town better, these should be your first stops. With discounts topping out at over 75 percent, you can find coupons for activities like photography classes, karate classes, painting classes, comedy clubs, museums and more. It's a great way to dip your toe into a new hobby or check out a new spot in town without fully committing your wallet, too.
2. If You're Looking for Gifts
If a friend moves to a new location, check out Groupon or LivingSocial for an affordable, local restaurant coupon. Groupon has done a good job of developing its image into a place that offers you new and exciting experiences. That can help make a coupon from the site feel like a welcome housewarming gift.
Birthdays, holidays and thank you gifts can all be covered through these sites, as well. LivingSocial has a section dedicated to gifts, with a subsection called "under $25" for you frugal shoppers out there.
3. If You Like to Shop
Groupon and LivingSocial can be fantastic places to shop for home furnishings and electronics. You can find things like a $90 sewing machine for $20, a $3,400 mattress for $1,300 and a $400 luggage set for $130. I also saw a $60 bathroom set for $18.
These sites also have deals on clothing for men and women. Did you know that Groupon has a clearance section? You can snag some great deals at bargain prices right before they disappear.
4. If You Like Traveling
If you have flexible travel plans, Groupon and LivingSocial provide incredible savings, especially if you live near a major airport. How about $999 for a trip to China that includes flights, hotels, several meals and a tour guide? You have to be able to go on Feb. 27. For those not ready to head that far or that fast, you can pick up a coupon for an all-inclusive resort in Cozumel for less than $400.
Headed to Vegas? Check out the LivingSocial deals for hotels. You can get the Luxor for as low as $35 a night. These coupon sites can even make a romantic weekend getaway much more affordable. It's pretty common to find deals for local adorable bed and breakfasts, too.
5. If You Like Hunting for Coupon Codes
Be sure to check Groupon or LivingSocial for coupon codes at the store you're shopping at online, such as Nordstrom (JWN), Kohl's (KSS), Home Depot (HD) and PetSmart (PETM). (Don't forget RetailMeNot for more codes.)
By Mel Bondar