Frugal NationFrugal Nation

Cheap dates made even cheaper

Daily deal sites can mean innovative, inexpensive outings -- and sometimes you can get a discount on your discount.

By Donna_Freedman Mar 28, 2012 2:02PM

Image: Man feeding woman © Jack Hollingsworth/Brand X/Getty ImagesOver at Budgets Are Sexy, blogger "J. Money" offers a tip for frugal romance: Use daily deal sites such as Groupon or Goldstar for interesting (and discounted!) dates.


Since January, he's taken his grad-student wife out on three surprise dates. They weren't surprises because he never takes her anywhere, but because he didn't tell her where they were going.

She certainly didn't expect to be squired to a professional magic show, a modern-day "freak show" or the "Into the Wild" animal production with Jack Hanna


So how much did J. pay?

The tickets cost from $10.50 to $18.50 each and were "worth every last penny," the blogger notes.

"Consider this one more thing in your romantic arsenal to help woo that lucky lady/man in your life. And at a discounted price at that!" (Post continues after video.)

Way to keep the romance alive -- but let me tell you how to sweeten the deal.

Build a better Groupon

Recently I wrote about cash-back shopping sites, which offer rebates and other incentives for online shopping through their portals.

Guess what? You can buy Groupon deals that way, tacking on an additional 3% to 6% in savings. In other words, if those restaurant vouchers or theater tickets were 50% off retail, you'd be getting the dinner or the show for up to 56% off.

Currently Groupon is the only deal company set up to work with cash-back sites, according to Craig Cassata of Mr. Rebates

Cassata's site offers a 6% cash-back on Groupon purchases. The second-highest rate, 4%, can be found through

But don't overdo it

Daily deals create a sense of urgency because they’re offered for short periods of time. Too, the field is so crowded that you might get dozens of "Don't miss out!" e-mails every week.

Given the ever-changing variety of activities -- wine-tastings, Segway tours, pro sporting events, fire-juggling classes -- for relatively small amounts of money, it's easy to get hooked.

Some people buy so many that they need an organizational app like CityPockets to remind them when deals are about to expire. Others, stricken by (over)buyer's remorse, try to unload some of their vouchers on the secondary market.

If you're a careful consumer, then take J. Money's advice: Treat your sweetheart with daily deals, because your money will go farther that way.

But be sure to order through a cash-back site for the additional discount. A real frugalist hates to pay retail for a Segway tour.

More on MSN Money:

Mar 29, 2012 4:37AM
Coupons may offer discounts, but they're also a form of advertising for companies. Whether you clip coupons from the Sunday circulars or print them from Printapons, you'll see ads for hundreds of products in the process
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Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.


Donna Freedman

Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.