How to Have a Successful Day of Shopping

Shopping--for some, it's a day well spent, and for others, it's a word of contempt! No matter what your attitude towards shopping may be, there are some ways to streamline the experience without breaking your back, wallet, or patience!


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    Before you venture into a shopping center, make a list with two categories: Things you need and things you want. This will help you sort out your priorities. Vow to yourself that you won't buy something you want at the expense of something you need.
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    Put yourself in a good mood. None of the employees in the stores want to deal with anyone in a bad mood. You'll get much further being pleasant while requesting help or looking for an item. Remember this even when you call stores for an item. No one wants to be yelled at by a perfect stranger while they're doing their best to do a good job!
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    Do some preliminary research. Find the approximate price of the desired items to make sure you are getting a good deal, and also locate the stores where these items are being sold. The Internet is always a good place to start. Write the lowest price you found next to the item on your list. That way, you'll have more options, especially if you find yourself coming dangerously close to the limits of your...
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    Budget. Decide how much money you'll allow yourself to spend. If possible, leave all your credit cards at home and withdraw enough cash from the bank to support your grueling day of shopping. When you're dealing with cold, hard cash, it's harder to go over your budget. However, it may be a good idea to keep one credit or ATM card with you in case of an emergency (emergency pairs of shoes or boxes of chocolates don't count!) but put a note on it that says "Use ONLY in case of a real emergency!"
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    Pack a bag or purse the night before that include your list, a map, a water bottle, some snacks, some emergency cash, a credit card and ATM card, a cell phone or coins for a pay phone or a phone card, and a positive attitude! It is better to be more prepared than to be left in an unsafe/undesirable situation. Also, keep in mind that you might not be able to bring your tote into the store, so make sure you keep valuables (money, phone card, etc.) in a safe, next-to-body layer. This will additionally help prevent theft.
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    Plot out your plan of action on the map. Figure out the most efficient course and stick to it.
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    Try everything on. It is better to spend more time in a store initially than to be unsatisfied with what you buy and return later to wait on the Customer Service line. Fully inspect all items before you try them on for safety and sanitary reasons.
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    If you are purchasing many items, inquire ahead of time about locker rentals at the mall. You don't want to slog around like a luggage-laden wanderer at an airport.
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    Reward yourself with an ice-cold beverage or a snack from the food court at the end. You've had a long and busy day, and you deserve it!


  • Wear comfortable shoes and sensible and versatile clothing to ensure a pleasant experience. Ladies, this is not the time to wear those cute new 6-inch stiletto heels!
  • Save ALL of your receipts, just in case you need to make a return later on. They can also help you manage your money!
  • If you are going to use your car as a storage locker, put your items in a trunk or somewhere not visible. Then move your car and go to a new mall or shopping center. Or if you are not finished shopping, simply relocate your car to the other side of the mall. This may seem to be a hassle but so is having your car broken into and claiming the loss and damage.
  • Buy outfits, not single items. This way you will be less likely to have hodgepodge outfits composed of random pieces.
  • Bring a friend along. This makes it less likely for you to hugely overspend and also makes for a more enjoyable experience!
  • Don't go shopping at your favorite stores every time;Try new stores you haven't been to.
  • If you see something you really love, consider your budget. If you want to spend the money that's left, go ahead! If you don't want to spend the money, wait until next time to buy the item.


  • Guard your personal belongings, so that you do not fall victim to theft.
  • Using your car as a locker is not a good idea unless you want someone to break into your car and steal those "new purchases." Your car is not as secure as you think and it does not matter what brand of car you drive. They all can be broken into within seconds with or without an alarm. There are people who scout parking lots and garages just to find someone who has dropped off a purchase in their car. Many times they will make their judgements by how expensive your ride is and what store your shopping bag advertises. This determines a potential break-in. An expensive car and a shopping bag(s) from nice stores plus BONUS if they can see a stockpile of other shopping bags in your car before you lock-up you become more of a "mark."
  • Mark out areas with low visibility or potentially unsafe conditions. Stay away from these areas to protect yourself and your purchases.
  • If under 18, it is wise to shop in groups to be safe.

Things You'll Need

  • Backpack/nap sack
  • Map of shopping area
  • Cell phone/phone card/coins for pay phone
  • Pen or pencil
  • Credit card/ATM Card
  • Cash
  • Large tote
  • Snacks
  • Emergency list of contacts
  • Small folder to carry receipts (optional)
  • Lemon-soaked wipes (optional)

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