Groupons + Facebook = Jackpot ... or How I Just Got $120 Worth of Meals for $20

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So you know how your mom always told you, "If something sounds too good to be true, then it is too good to be true." Well your mom was right ... most of the time.

First off, she never met me. (So humble, I know!) And second, she never experienced the fabulous windfall that can occur when the wacky, wonderful worlds of Facebook and Groupons converge.

Personally, I've never been a coupon guy, and I'm always late to the table when the Nashville Originals have their discount certificate sales. But the Groupon emails arrive in my inbox once a day like clockwork, and after my recent Groupon experiences, I pay attention. For those of you who haven't jumped on the bandwagon, Groupon sends out a daily deal from a restaurant, store or service, almost always for half-price.

What's really made this such a bargain for me is that every time I've bought a Groupon, I've posted it to my facebook page. And for every person who clicks on the link on my page and goes to the Groupon site and buys her or his first Groupon, I get a $10 credit toward my next Groupon purchase.

And that synergy has led me to get $120 worth of meals for $20 in the last couple of weeks. Here's how:

There is a potential downside to buying too many Groupons.
  • There is a potential downside to buying too many Groupons.
• A couple of months ago, I bought a $40 certificate to Far East Nashville for $20.

• I wound up with a $10 credit for a Facebook referral, and a couple weeks later bought a membership for two to the Belcourt ($75 value) for half-price... minus $10. It cost me $27.

• I wound up with two more $10 credits for referrals. Next up, I bought two $30 Family Wash certificates for $15 each ... minus the $20 credit. So it cost me $10! Sixty dollars of meals at a place I love for a sawbuck.

• Then I got two more $10 facebook referral credits. And last week I bought three $20 Sky Blue Cafe certificates for $10 each ... minus the $20 credit. So another $60 worth of meals for $10!

There are a few factors to remember here when it comes to, as Pacman Jones might say, making it rain food certificates:

• First, I have 531 friends and counting. The more friends, obviously, the greater the likelihood of getting a referral credit.

•┬áSecond, most of these certificates expire within a year. A lot of folks buy these and never use them, so it's money down the drain. That's how operations like Groupons make a lot of their money. If you're the type who forgets to spend gift cards, etc., this may not be for you.

• And finally, when it comes to getting Facebook referral credits, the law of diminishing returns will catch up to you. The credits only apply to people buying a Groupon for the first time, so eventually, the gravy train will pull out of town. Regardless, Groupons are still a great deal, assuming it's a place that you'd frequent anyway.

And one last note. When you begin the process of buying your Groupon, there will be some sort of prompt to allow Groupon to access your facebook settings. You DO NOT have to allow that access to get this benefit. Even if you deny Groupon access, when you're done with your purchase, you have the option of posting it to your wall. That's all you've got to do.

I'm not on Twitter, but if you are, the same referral credits apply there.

So start becoming Facebook friends with people you hated in high school, creepy strangers, your aunts and uncles, everyone! (But only if they live in Nashville.) Heck, you can always delete 'em later!

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