What I learned living off Internet coupons for seven days straight

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We live in a Golden Age of Coupons. Every morning when I open my email, I see offers from Gilt City, Daily Candy, Living Social, and Groupon scattered among news briefings and actual correspondence. I signed up for these missives because I love a good deal, but for the most part I delete them unread; I can’t forget my mother’s folk wisdom: You can go broke buying wholesale.

I guess not everyone’s mother told them that: Groupon, the best known of the Internet-discount services, was valued at $30 billion in its June IPO.

Intrigued by this ludicrously large sum, I resolved to stop ignoring Groupon’s emails and to see what all the fuss was about. Because I’m fitfully prone to extremes, I also decided to test the usefulness of Groupon on a micro scale. For one full week, I spent money on only Groupon deals. Groupon was, effectively, my sole currency.

First I implemented a few ground rules:

  1. I limited my spending to $200, a number meant to encapsulate all my non-rent/non-recurring-payment expenses, including food, and to be roughly equivalent to what I spend in a normal week.
  2. I did allow myself a few emergency purchases like a subway pass, toilet paper, etc., and loaded up on groceries beforehand.
  3. I could use only newly purchased Groupons, not stockpiled ones, and
  4. My goal was to spend them all within the seven-day period.

    (One of the genius/terrible aspects of Groupon, depending on your perspective, is that people often fail to use them before they expire—resulting in a burgeoning secondary market. I wanted to avoid this particular kind of suckerdom.)

Read how his week turned out in the full article on Slate.com…

 

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