The Groupon Trap

5747629074_0e8d37a0e8_oGroupon is great, right? It’s right up Mr. NYBudget’s alley. It saves you money while you experience things in the city. What a great deal!


When Groupon, LivingSocial, and Scoutmob  first arrived on the scene, I was all over them. I thought I was being a savvy consumer and grabbing some great deals. But the more I used them, the more I realized their true nature. These are just tools to get you to buy crap that you don’t want or need. Every day you get an email from them (or multiple emails) taking over your inbox. The emails themselves have become less and less Mr. NYBudget—friendly – years ago, they told you about their deal of the day and have slowly expanded to emails and landing pages FULL of deals.

A quick look at Groupon’s website now reveals that they have deals for restaurants, experiences, electronics, sporting goods, pet supplies, getaways, automotive supplies and services and way too many more to write here. The sheer volume of “deals” indicates to me that they aren’t about “the best deal”. They are about EVERY deal.

Nevertheless, I was a subscriber. Some days, I would open up an email and say, “look, there’s a Groupon for 50% off some restaurant. I’ve never heard of the restaurant before, but that is an amazing deal!”

Every once in a while, I found a deal for something I really wanted: the perfect birthday present for my sister or a new restaurant that that served food I had never tried. But, for every Groupon that was a perfect fit for my wants, there were 10 more that I bought simply because Groupon bombarded me with deals day after day. I found myself saying “what a great deal” without thinking “is this a great deal for me?”

We all have moments of weakness when it comes to purchasing. I certainly do. I buy things and then regret my decision later. For those moments of weakness, Groupon is always in your inbox, ready to capitalize.

So, Mr. NYBudget, are you supposed to stay in your apartment and never do anything fun? Of course not.

Paying full price for something you truly want to do is cheaper than paying half price through Groupon if you factor in the 10 other things you bought that you didn’t truly care about. As I always say in this blog, making conscious choices about how you spend your money (not sacrificing, but choosing) will do wonders for your wallet as well as your happiness. And if you are choosing to pay full price to go to that restaurant you are excited about, you can save in the long run by not spending money on the less important “deals”.

Plus, there are so many ways to have fun in the city without spending any money at all! But that’s for a future blog post.

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