It’s not a coupon, it’s a Groupon

Now I’m sure most of you have heard of Groupon already. Perhaps you are already a member. But, if not, I’d like to take a moment to spread its Gospel.

When I first heard of Groupon, I was immediately skeptical (as I am with most deal sites) but figured I’d give it a shot. So I gave them my email address and was soon receiving daily emails alerting me to deals in my area. Pretty soon, I was purchasing said deals, albeit still with a bit of skepticism. I figured I would run into problems trying to redeem them, or they would turn out to be not such a bargain…ok, I seem to be getting a little ahead of myself. Reeeeeee! (That’s the sound of me rewinding).

I noticed I wasn’t really explaining what Groupon is. Essentially, it’s a daily deal site. You pre-purchase a coupon to a specific place, be it a restaurant, hotel, store, website…essentially any place you can purchase a good. That coupon will only be available for one day and can potentially sell out. No two coupons are alike, they all have different face values, different purchasing options, and different terms of use. Sound confusing? Yup, I thought so. So in order to explain myself further, I recently had a Groupon adventure, so that you the reader can understand more about this bargain service.

First, we have to go back to January. At that time Groupon offered a discount on a membership to LACMA. For $25 you could purchase the Indie Membership – admission to LACMA for one year for one person. This membership is ordinarily $50. I was pretty stoked about this deal, being an art enthusiast, and immediately bought one. For this specific deal, I was provide a code which I then submitted to the LACMA website. Soon after my membership card arrived in the mail and I was official.

(To note, when you purchase something through Groupon, you will always pay Groupon. They will then direct you how to further proceed, which usually is a printable coupon.)

Now the exciting thing about a membership to LACMA is that it also includes tickets to all of the special exhibitions which are ordinarily not included in the general admission. Because of that I was able to obtain, free of charge, two tickets (retail $20 each) to this years blockbuster exhibit, Tim Burton.

I do not know this woman

So already, this Groupon is totally paying off. For $25 dollars, I was not only able to obtain free admission to LACMA for a year, but I was also able to score two free tickets to an exhibition that would have cost me $40. Pretty snazzy! And let me tell you, the Tim Burton exhibit is sweet. I would, dare I say, recommend it at full value.
But wait, there’s more! I figured I’d extend the day with another Groupon deal and a more tradition one at that. A couple of months ago, a $20 dollar coupon to Canter’s was offered for $10. So, essentially I paid $10 to Groupon and printed out a coupon that was for $20 worth of food at Canters. Have you been to Canters? If not, go. It is delicious! And a landmark. It’s been in business 80 years. 80!

I was especially excited for this Groupon because Canter’s is not cheap. It’s no Ivy, but lunch entrees are still gonna cost you at least $10. As it was, the bill came to $32 for two drinks and two entrees. I used the Groupon and ended up having to pay $12 out of pocket. Not too bad. Essentially (as I had already paid $10) I got a $10 discount on our lunch. Pretty good for a place I would be eating at anyway.

So that’s basically the gist of Groupon, pony up the money first and get a discount later. Of course, there are terms of use for each coupon, but I find that they are always reasonable (but definitely review them before purchasing). I would say the biggest issue would be the potential to go overboard. There are a lot of discounts and one could easily go crazy. Keep in mind that they do expire, so don’t go too nuts. As a rule of thumb, I often limit myself to discounts to places I already go. This way I already know I like it, I have an idea of the prices, and I’m getting a discount to something I would pay for without one. For me it’s a win win.

So check out Groupon and let me know what deals you were able to score. Also, feel free to ask any questions about it, I know it can be confusing.

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