How many times have you gone to the mall and left with full shopping bags and an empty wallet? We’ve got tips to help you shop ‘til you drop (but make sure your budget’s still standing)!
Malls (and all stores) are designed to make the shopper think less and spend more. The good news is, you can beat the retailers at their game, enjoy your mall-shopping experiences, and all within your budget, too. Here are seven tips for saving money at the mall.
1. Before you buy an on-sale item, ask yourself one important question.
Don’t assume a marked-down item is a great bargain. Before you grab any item that’s on sale, ask yourself: Would I buy this if it weren’t on sale? If the answer is no, you’re not getting a great deal; you’re spending money you shouldn’t be spending on something you don’t really need.
2. Say no to store credit cards.
The salesclerk can make it sound like the best thing since the internet, but store cards are very rarely worth the hassle. They do come with some perks, but the interest rates on unpaid bills tend to be exorbitantly expensive. They can also lead to overspending as the shopper tries to meet a minimum transaction amount or qualify for additional perks. When the clerk offers you a store card at the counter, just say no.
3. Shop with cash.
If you absolutely cannot stick to a budget when shopping at the mall, leave the plastic at home and shop with cash. Take only what you need for the day’s planned purchases, and you won’t be able to blow your budget. If you’re shopping with friends, share your plan before you head out and tell them not to lend you money while at the mall under any circumstance. Shop with cash, and you’ll leave the mall guilt-free.
4. Hit the outlets.
You can pick up fabulous finds at your favorite retailers for a fraction of the cost at an outlet mall. Most major retailers have outlet locations that are not too far from their regular stores. Look them up online and head over for bargain-priced shopping.
5. Ask for price adjustments.
Don’t you hate it when an item goes on sale just two days after you bought it at full price? Many retailers will actually refund you the money you overpaid if the item’s been marked down within a specific time frame. Hold onto your receipts (paper or email) for at least a month after a purchase and check the website of the retailer that sold the item to you. If it went on sale, bring the item and the receipt to the place of purchase so you can get some cash back in your pocket.
6. Shop during off-peak hours.
Afternoons are prime time for mall-shoppers, but if you can hit the stores during another time of day, you can save big bucks. Consider doing your shopping in the early morning or late at night. The crowds will be a lot thinner, leaving you less pressured and with more time to make financially responsible decisions. If you shop early, you’ll also have first pickings at sale items.
7. Map out a route.
The less time you spend at the mall, the better off your budget will be. Before spending yet another afternoon roaming aimlessly until you find what you’re looking for, jot down a short list of your intended purchases before heading out and then create a route of the stores you’ll hit to look for them. Most malls offer a printable map on their websites to make this task a little easier. Have your route pre-planned and do your budget a favor.
The mall and your budget are friends again! Follow these tips to save money at the mall.