Daily deal sites: Beware these five things

While they're still relatively new, daily deal sites such as Groupon, LivingSocial, and Woot offer substantial discounts on everything from restaurant meals and kids' clothes to car detailing and getaways. Such websites are certainly worth signing up for to receive the latest news on deals and vouchers. However, if you're not careful, these bargains may end up costing you in the long run. Here are five things to keep in mind to help you save money:

1. Deals always have expiration dates

Brendan McDermid/Reuters/File
Groupon Chief Executive Andrew Mason (L) prepares for the opening bell ceremony celebrating his company's IPO at the Nasdaq in New York in 2011. One tip for shoppers at daily deal sites: Look carefully for a deal's expiration date.

All coupons from daily deal websites eventually expire, so if you purchase a voucher, make sure you redeem it before the expiration date. Most sites offer a refund of sorts, but it typically comes only in the form of a credit for a future deal. If you do forget to redeem a voucher, many merchants accept the coupon at the value you paid, so you at least don't lose your initial investment.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

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