One of our most popular articles on this blog is the one Young wrote concerning sites like Groupon and Living Social, as well as lesser-known sites that offer similar discounts. The problem for me is that the whole coupon and discount thing is one area where I really struggle when it comes to personal finance. I just don’t buy very much stuff (I wouldn’t consider myself a devotee of the whole minimalist lifestyle, I just don’t need many things to be happy – I am addicted to the internet and books). When you hate shopping malls and you don’t buy much stuff, your knowledge of how and where to save money kind of atrophies I think. In fact, the term atrophy would imply that I had something there originally, and I was never a very good “shopper”, so it is kind of a misnomer. I also live rurally, so activities like stepping out my front door and going for a run, or going duck hunting don’t often show up on Groupon. Consequently, until recently I was put in a quandary while trying to think about a unique angle on these type of daily discount sites that would help the best/most loyal readers in personal finance bloggerdom, while at the same time sounding somewhat legitimate and authoritative on the topic. I couldn’t find anything other than, “Hey look, you can probably save a lot of money with this stuff, but you already knew that and have likely used the service more than I have.” The interesting thing is that I sort of stumbled on this original idea totally organically and didn’t have to think that hard about it when I went to my brother-in-law’s wedding in Denver, Colorado this summer.
Discovering Denver – America’s Hidden Gem
First off, if you haven’t been to Denver, it is a sweet city. It’s small enough that it isn’t too intimidating for a little prairie boy like myself, but large enough to have its fair of cool attractions. Those are in addition to the obvious magnetic pull of the Rocky Mountains which are breathtaking and cool for recreation as well as site-seeing. Plus, to top it all off here is one fact I did not know in advance about Denver: It is one of the sunniest cities in the USA!
Because I’m one of those good-for-nothing government employees that has their own classroom (you can read all about us in the paper these days), Mrs. TM and I had the time on our hands to head down to Denver a week or so before the actual ceremony. My in-laws put us up and acted as tour guide extraordinaires while shuttling us all around their fine urban playground. Because they are much more cool and hip than I am (also of note, EVERYONE who is out in public in Denver is under 35, a physical fitness nut, and super cool in a Subaru/granola kind of way), they are used to checking out Groupon, Living Social and some of the other unique local daily discount sites in order to save a little cash. Discounts for museums, the botanical gardens, and several cool local restaurants ensued! When I totalled up the discounts in my head, I’m sure we saved well over $100, which is nice when you are on holidays and trying to keep costs down but at the same time enjoying yourself.
The Internet Is a Beautiful Thing
If you’re not fortunate enough to have sweet in-laws who know the local daily discount scene, I definitely recommend checking things out before you go. In addition to the big bad boys of the discount playground like Groupon and Living Social, most big cities in North America have more local sites that can quickly be flipped through as well, and are usually pretty easy to find simply by firing up Google. If you’re at all like me and consumed more touristy stuff and restaurant meals in a week than you likely did in the year that preceded it, then you might have no better opportunity to use these discount sites than when you go on vacation. So after using Travelocity or whatever travel search engine you like best to book your cheap tickets, take 10 minutes and see what attractions you can get 50% off of once your wheels touch down. After all, that means your travel budget can go twice as far right?!
I’m sure I’m not the first person to realize that Groupon worked in more places than just their home city. Anyone else out there saved some hard-earned cash in this manner before?