It’s easy to get sucked into daily deal sites, like GrouponLivingSocial and Gilt City

.

 I mean, who doesn’t love 50% off their meal or massage? But do the savings really add up or do these promotional deals cost you in the long run? Personally, I’m all about purchasing vouchers through daily deal sites, however there are a few rules I follow before clicking “buy.”

5 Tips to Follow

1) Make sure you check the terms of use prior to buying the deal. Many times vouchers are only good at certain locations or online. If that deal you like is convenient to your location, or online, grab it before it sells out.

2) Don’t let your gift certificate expire. Again check the terms of use for the specific date range. I like to make a note in my calendar a week or two prior to expiration. That way my deals never go unused. Another trick (usually good for spa use), make your appointment the minute you get your voucher. If your voucher does expire, you can usually redeem it for the amount you originally paid.

3) Buy items/services you already use. This will be the biggest money saver of all. If you see a merchant or restaurant offered you normally use or have been meaning to try, buy that voucher. For example, I recently purchased a Whole Foods voucher from Groupon because I’m a sucker for their salad bar, so for me that was a smart purchase.

4) Check the refund policy, LivingSocial

 allows shoppers to:

  • Get a full refund on any unredeemed, unscheduled Voucher within seven days of purchase.
  • After the first seven days, you can exchange an unredeemed, unscheduled Voucher until it expires for the paid value in Deal Bucks.

Groupon has a very similar policy depending on the voucher purchased.

5) Don’t blindly buy an item or service, reviews are your friend. Check out the reputation of that cleaning service or nail salon before you open that wallet of yours.

There is no need to swear off GrouponLivingSocial or Gilt City

, just be smart about it. Happy deal hunting!