Ugh, the economy. Sure, some academics out there may be making optimistic prognostications, but anyone outside the ivory tower will tell you that times are still pretty tough. When faced with the reality of eating Top Ramen for the 45th day in a row, buying something fun seems about as likely as stumbling across a field of unicorns. Cheer up, penny pinchers: A bumper crop of online coupon sites make it easy and affordable to purchase something fun every once in a while and support local businesses in the process. Thanks to such sites as Groupon (www.groupon.com/stlouis), Hot Sauce (https://hotsauce.saucemagazine.com) and LivingSocial (http://livingsocial.com), mega-deals are delivered to St. Louis inboxes each and every morning. The variety is staggering: Subscribers might get a sweet discount on a Swedish massage one day, half-off wine the next and a family package to a baseball game the day after that. Local businesses, including Straub's and Robust Wine Bar & Café, report upticks in business as a result of daily-deal coupons, and the deep discounts don't seem to be hurting owners' pocketbooks one bit: Many coupon wielders become repeat customers. Hot Sauce, Sauce Magazine's coupon microsite, sweetens its deals by donating a percentage of weekly proceeds to local charities.
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