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Beware the pitfalls of going for a bargain...

I'm a sucker for a bargain. If it's discounted I want it. Or think that I need it. But things have gone beyond a joke now and I need to rein myself in. I mean, I need to stop buying stuff just because I think it's a good deal.

There's no point being penny-wise and pound-foolish. Coming up to Christmas I realised I must stop spending mad money on ridiculous stuff and so have decided to unsubscribe from the plethora of deal sites that I am subscribed to.

When the discount deals first started bombarding my inbox, it was all terribly exciting. Money off massages, manicures and microdermabrasion. Botox bargains, discount dinners and nights away for half nothing. I was hooked, I tell you. For the first time in my life I was living the life of a lady of leisure. Or was I?

After a while I became disillusioned. That luxurious pampering day at a salon with champagne turned out to be no more than a cubicle in a dodgy city centre backroom with warm, flat cava that was totally undrinkable. The so-called pampering day included a relaxing facial that was anything but. The woman in the cubicle next door seemed to be getting her legs waxed and shrieked all the way through the process.

Next up there was a massage, but I couldn't relax as I kept worrying about my car getting clamped.

These wonderful discount deals in the city centre don't include parking, and by the time you've driven around and around looking for a car space, you begin to wish you'd just stayed at home altogether.

I found myself getting stressed trying to use up my discount vouchers before they ran out. I would ring up a week before the expiry date to try and frantically arrange an appointment. "We've nothing at the weekend," I would invariably be told. "Would 9:30am next Tuesday suit?"


Well, no actually, but I'd take that time anyway just because I didn't want to waste the voucher. But really, for what it would cost me in petrol and parking to cross the city, I'd have been better off paying full price for a salon near home, at a time that suited me.

I remember using up a voucher for an Indian restaurant. They could only fit voucher people in on a Monday. When I arrived with my son, we were the only people in the restaurant. Our meal was very nice, but there was no atmosphere.

A month later I walked past the same venue. It was boarded up and closed.

As for the half-price hotel voucher? At the time I considered it a steal. But you could only go from Sunday to Thursday and I couldn't get anyone to go with me. As I'd booked my car in for a service, I had to take the DART to the bus station. Then the express bus seemed to take two hours longer than it would have had I been driving. Then I got a taxi from the bus station to the hotel. The next day I needed the same amount of buses and taxis to get home again. I spent far more money on transport than I had on the voucher.

Was it a bargain? In a word? No.