7 Ways to Save Yourself From Overspending at the Mall

Shopper money
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Shopping malls are designed to separate shoppers from their money.

In order to maximize sales, malls tempt shoppers to spend with oversized “sale” signs near store entrances. Impulse items, such as jewelry and perfumes, are arrayed by cash registers to catch shoppers’ eyes at checkout. As people walk from store to store, sales people working kiosks hawk specialty products to passers-by. Even the odors that waft through the air are designed to trigger spending. Marketers use scents to connect with shoppers on an emotional level.

But you can arm yourself to avoid unnecessary purchases. Here are seven ways to avoid spending temptations at the mall so you can make better choices.

1. Never buy on impulse

African American woman shopping
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One way to fortify yourself against making unnecessary purchases is never to buy on impulse. Impulse sales are the foundation of retail marketing. Stores strive to convince shoppers to buy things they weren’t seeking. Don’t be swayed by advertising that creates a sense of urgency, such as today-only sales. That’s just a ploy to get to you act before you’ve had a chance to think. Delay such purchases until you’ve had a chance to mull them over.

For more tips on this subject, check out: “18 Ways to Slam the Brakes on Impulse Purchases.”

2. Make a shopping list and stick to it

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One way to resist temptation at the mall is to make a shopping list in advance. A day or two before you go to the mall, consider carefully what you really need. That way you’ll have time to change your mind if you realize that something on your list isn’t necessary. Using a list makes you less likely to make emotional decisions on the spur of the moment.

3. Never buy something just because it’s on sale

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Sales are powerful marketing tools. They make shoppers believe that they’re getting something for an unbelievably low price that won’t come again. They prompt us to make purchases of things we don’t need — and often end up stored in a box in the attic or hanging at the back of a closet. Remember that buying something you don’t need is never a good deal, no matter how little you spend.

Learn more about sly retail strategy: “Beware These 10 Retail Sales Tricks That Get You to Spend More.”

4. Begin shopping at the clearance rack

Surprised woman in store.
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If you begin your shopping excursion by visiting the clearance rack, you can save a great deal of money. You may find exactly what you’re looking for at a fraction of the cost of regular-priced items. It’s true that you may have to hunt a bit to find what you’re looking for. That’s because clearance racks are notoriously disorganized. Retail stores don’t make an effort to keep clearance racks tidy because they’d rather that you purchased full-priced items. Don’t let that dissuade you from hunting for bargains.

5. Eat before you leave home

Woman eats breakfast
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Going to the mall hungry can be an expensive proposition. Shopping malls have food courts for a good reason. Shoppers often get hungry and decide to purchase lunch or dinner before they leave. If you have several family members in your shopping party, this can add up to a big expenditure. You may end up paying more for food than the items you actually came to buy. You can remedy this simply by making sure to have a satisfying meal before you leave your home.

6. Avoid the kiosks

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If you’re worried about overspending, avoid shopping at kiosks when you visit malls. This can be a challenge since kiosks are located in the middle of the walkway between stores. They often are staffed by aggressive salespeople who address shoppers as they walk by, hoping that they’ll be too polite to go on their way without stopping. If you see something you really like at a kiosk, you don’t have to reach into your wallet. Instead, make a note of the price and see if you can purchase it for less someplace else.

7. Say no to retail credit-card offers

Man with credit cards
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One way retailers get you to buy more is to offer an in-store credit card in return for a 10 or 20 percent discount on your current purchase. Just remember that credit cards make it easy to overspend. Because you don’t need to come up with the cash right away, you can carry a balance that grows with interest over time. It may seem like you’re getting free money, but each time you fail to pay off your full balance within the monthly billing cycle, you pay more in interest.

What tricks do you have up your sleeve for saving money at the mall? Share them in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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