While it's true that people aren't exactly flocking to daily deal sites like they used to, you can still find some great discounts if you play it smart. Here are a few ways to get the best deals for your dollar.
First, consider the actual value of the deal you're getting. For example, a 50 percent off coupon at a local restaurant might seem tempting, but if the meals there are expensive to begin with, you might end up spending a lot more money than you intended. Remember, saving money on an overpriced item isn't really saving at all, so do some calculations first.
Next, keep in mind that an out-of-range deal doesn't always mean out-of-reach. A lot of so-called "local" deals, especially ones from larger chains, are actually available nationwide, so try searching for deals in other cities to cast a wider net. Just remember to read the fine print to check the terms and conditions so you know exactly what you're paying for and where it'll be available.
Lastly, if you're looking to save time, try using a deal aggregator for your bargain hunting. Sites like Yipit and 8Coupons collect thousands of daily deals from across the web, so you can view them all at once without sifting for hours. In addition to coupons from Amazon, Groupon and LivingSocial, these aggregators will even include deals from Facebook and Twitter, too.
It's easy to get carried away on daily deal sites, but it really pays to play it smart. Follow these tips and you'll be able to reel in the discounts, without getting your budget hooked.
The Best Deals for Spring Shoppers
The Real Deal Behind Deal Sites -- Savings Experiment
Ah, Spring: When a shopper's mind turns to flip-flops, skimpy summer dresses and pastel jackets.
Big mistake -- at least for those who are looking for a bargain.
Good deals do abound during the spring months. Those who still have the fortitude to seek out warm sweaters, space heaters and other cold-weather merchandise will find them at clearance prices. But not all seasonal deals are so obvious.
In May, look for wardrobe staples like black suits and heavy trench coats at clearance prices, says Kathryn Finney, author of 'How to Be a Budget Fashionista.' "With the weather getting warmer, most people just aren't looking for these items," she says. But a well-made suit or lined trench can be worn through three of the four seasons in many parts of the country.
March marks the end of the winter boat shows and the beginning of the boating season. "People start thinking about getting out on the water," says Thomas Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, a trade group. You'll find sales on the unsold new models at shows, plus plenty of previously owned boats on the market.
Stores pull out the formal attire for babies and toddlers just twice a year -- at Easter and Christmas, says Alan Fields, co-author of 'Baby Bargains.' If you have a wedding or other fancy event to attend with baby before November, now's your best chance of picking up a suit or dress for a fraction of the regular retail price.
Look for pre-Memorial Day sales of ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, pickles and other picnic must-haves. By planning ahead, you can stock up without paying more than half price.
With so-called "resort collections," high-end labels have essentially created a fifth season, says Finney. These collections debut in January, when wealthy consumers are heading off to tropical locations. By late March, what's left is on sale -- just in time for warming temperatures at home. "It's perfect for those of us who don't have a second home in Saint Tropez," she quips.
Smart shoppers know to pick up an extra turkey at Thanksgiving, when the tasty birds are at their cheapest per-pound price. At Easter, the equivalent best buy is ham, says Teri Gault. "But they're slaughtering an awful lot of pigs to get those hams," she notes. So look for sales on other pork products, including chops and bacon, as butchers aim to sell off the rest of the pig.
We've got two words for you: holiday gifts. Both the airlines and the post office hold unclaimed or lost items for a minimum of 90 days, then sell them off. That means bags and packages lost around the holidays are just making their way back to the public in late March, early April -- and for a fraction of the price. (For more, click here.)
Between graduations, weddings and Mother's Day, there are plenty of suitable occasions to give pearls as a spring gift, says Antoinette Matlins, author of 'Jewelry & Gems: The Buying Guide.' Look for sales from late April through May as retailers pitch them again and again as gifts. Click here for tips on how to buy the perfect strand.
If you want the three-bedroom house with the white picket fence, marble countertops and two-car garage, the combination of both selection and price just doesn't get any better than in the springtime. In spring, more houses go on the market as families look to make their move between school years. And there aren't as many buyers as in summer and fall, so you won't face quite as much competition.
"The 2007 stroller models are just coming out [in April]," says Fields. That means the 2006 models are on clearance. "Of course, no one can tell the difference between an '07 and an '06," he jokes. You're not buying an unsafe or outdated model, that's for sure. Usually, the only differences are in fabric patterns, he says -- blue pinstripes, for example, instead of blue polka dots.
"It's a spring cleaning thing," says Carolyn Forte, home care director for the Good Housekeeping Institute. Between March and May, there are more sales on vacuum cleaners than during any other season, she says.
We'll help you make it, save it and spend it wisely.
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