As you know, I like to do fun things and go cool places. I enjoy pampering myself and dining out. Almost as much as having fun, I like to have lots of fun for little money. In other words, I have champagne taste on a beer budget. A cheap beer budget.
The last few of weeks have perfectly epitomized my desire to have fun and do cool things with little money.
Let's look at what I did in just one week earlier this month using Groupon, Living Social and Mulamu...
Friday, June 3rd: I pampered myself on our first Friday of "Summer Hours" with a 1-hour massage, hair treatment, scalp massage, and style at Teddie Kossof Salon using a Mulamu certificate. Cost $65. $135 value.
Saturday, June 4th: I took Mom to see Bridesmaids using a 2 tickets for $9 Fandango Living Social certificate. $21 value.
Sunday, June 5th: Read the Chicago Tribune thanks to a $13 Groupon giving me a 52-week Sunday-only subscription. $51 value.
Monday, June 6th: Christopher and I enjoyed dinner at La Tasca using a $30 value Groupon. Cost $15.
Wednesday, June 8th: My Forester Friend Carolyn and I lunched at Southgate using a $30 value Groupon. Cost $15.
Friday, June 10th: Enjoyed my pre-birthday manicure and pedicure at Hair Studio 626 using a Living Social certificate. Cost $29. $58 value.
In the next few of weeks, I'll be receiving a Bitty Box of organic fruits and vegetables from Door to Door Organics ($14 Groupon, $27 value), custom framing my five Christmas cards from President Clinton and one Christmas card from Vice President Gore at Grand Frame & Gallery ($49 Groupon, $125 value), enjoying dinner with Christopher at Texas de Brazil in Chicago ($25 Groupon, $50 value) and taking mom on the Architecture River Cruise with our Chicago Architecture Foundation membership purchased through Groupon for just $25 ($75 value). Before heading off to Watervale, I'll pamper my fingers and toes at Hair Studio 626 using a second Living Social certificate. Finally, before the end of the summer, I'll take a sail on the Tall Ship Windy with a friend (2 $15 Groupons, $60 value).
In case you're not familiar with them, Groupon, Living Social, and Mulamu are all daily deal websites. The basic premise is that a minimum number of people agree to purchase a deal and then the deal is "on." When you decide to purchase a deal, you put in your credit card information, but you only get the deal (and get charged for it) if the deal reaches the minimum number of buyers. On the off-chance the deal doesn't reach the minimum number of sales, your card doesn't get charged and you don't get the deal. You must make a decision quickly, however, because deals sell out and they're typically only available for one day. So if you snooze, you lose. Mulamu is slightly different from Groupon and Living Social. While it offers the daily deals and it works the same way Groupon and Living Social work, Mulamu allows you to choose a charity and a portion of each of your purchases will go to the charity.
The verdict is still out on whether or not these daily deal sites are good for businesses (and here)and attract long-term repeat business or if they simply bring in one-time customers, but I can tell you Groupon, Living Social, and Mulamu have been good for me. Of course, I purchase only the deals I'm going to use and then I use them.
My advice: sign up for the daily deal emails from Groupon, Living Social, and/or Mulamu and then see if you could save some money on things you'd do anyway or things you've always wanted to do. And then use your certificates. You don't save anything if you don't use the certificates.