Save Money with Social Buying Sites

How to make sure you save with Groupon, LivingSocial, and other group-buying sites.

By SHARE

You can save a lot of money by taking advantage of the deals offered by social buying sites such as Groupon, LivingSocial, and SocialBuy. These sites have become extremely popular in the last year because of the great deals they offer. Using these deals can allow you to try things you wouldn't normally try or just get out more often.

The social aspect of these sites is that each of the deals is only good if enough buyers purchase the deal within a set period of time, for most sites the deal period is one day. If there aren't enough people who purchase the deal then the deal doesn't go through and you aren't charged for your purchase. Since these deals usually offer discounts from 50 percent to 90 percent off it is rare for a deal to not have enough buyers. The social buying site even gives you a deal for free if you refer as little as three other people who purchase the deal.

[In Pictures: 12 Money Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes]

These deals can be a great way to try out a new restaurant or service or just save money at places you already patronize. Some recent deals—such as a $20 Amazon gift card for $10—are almost like getting free money.

There are some potential drawbacks to using social buying sites. One possible pitfall is that seeing so many good deals will cause you to overspend. You need to make sure that you are using the deals to stretch your budget and not to increase your budget.

Another possible drawback is that the deal you buy is so popular that the business has a hard time honoring all the deals it sold. If that is the case and you aren't able to use your deal then you should complain to the social buying site. Their customer service should be able to fix the deal for you or issue a refund. When a company I bought a deal from went out of business the social buying site issued me a refund before I even requested it. With stiff competition between the social buying sites they should continue to take good care of their customers.

Be sure to read the fine print on the deals you buy to make sure they are what you really want. Some deals expire sooner than others so don't assume that just because the first deal you bought was good for a year means that the next one will be good for a year as well.

[Visit the U.S. News My Money blog for the best money advice from around the web.]

If you read the fine print and avoid the potential pitfalls social buying deals can be a great way to save money. Check the sites out and see what great deals you can snag in your area.

Andy Hough writes about frugality and living well on a small income at TightFistedMiser.com.