Overdoing the discounts
Tess Vigeland: Before we leave the subject of spending, a look at one of the developments that stood out this year in the battle for your dollars. It comes to us courtesy of the ever-multiplying number of daily deal sites. Groupon, LivingSocial, ever-save. They offer discount coupons on everything from meals to shoes to massages. And that can drive even the most excited bargain shopper, like commentator Kristina Wong to proclaim enough is enough!
Kristina Wong: I'm a recovering Groupon-aholic. This year, two-thirds of my credit card charges will be for group-buying websites, like Groupon, LivingSocial or one of their copycat competitors. I eat, groom and snorkel all via these discount vouchers that I usually buy in bouts of late night web-surfing insomnia.
I knew my hoarding hit an all-time low when I found myself at a Galaxy game. Apparently, Los Angeles has a professional soccer team. I'm not a soccer fan, but that $15 deal for the sideline ticket, beer and Galaxy hat had me willing to -- ahem -- spend it like Beckham.
I wish I could practice consumer monogamy with all the lovely businesses I've met via group-buy websites. I feel guilty that small businesses have sacrificed their profits to woo me into a long-lasting commitment. That even the businesses that have impressed me will never know me as more than a one-night stand.
For I'm part of a new subculture of Groupon hussies. I want to commit, but I get my fix from tramping all over town wherever a discount will have me. Can you blame me for strumpeting in and out of desperate businesses in all my cheapskate glory? When the Groupon craze has made it possible to never pay full price again?
You know, though, the explosion of Groupon-esque websites may actually both the impetus and end of my discount-voucher hoarding days. The market is now oversaturated with more than 200 Group clones nationwide. The flurry of deals makes it seem like there's a fire sale on every block. And with the evolution of real-time deals? It's too overwhelming for addicts like me to feel the pressure to buy Groupons the way I used to. There's only so much French food, yoga and horseback riding I can consume in a day.
I'm growing numb to high-discount margins and the timer ticking down to the end of a great deal, 'cause I know a simple truth: If I miss out on a great buy, on some other discount site, the discount will come back around.
Vigeland: Kristina Wong is a writer and stand-up comedian living here in Los Angeles.