Being in a shopping mall can be an overwhelming experience – especially when you don’t have the cash to spend. But, there are ways to have a good time without spending a cent.
Before you go shopping, you want to make sure you look good. Visit a makeup counter and get a free makeover and look gorgeous while you walk through the mall. It’s also a great form of exercise.
First and foremost – know about samples. Rather than buying anything you need, you can always ask for samples of things and stock them for supplies. This goes for just about anything. For example, I had heard that there was this great hair product called Phyto and went to the mall to get samples every time I needed some. You can do this for face creams, body lotions, and many other toiletries.
Trying on new clothes for the fun of it could give you some great ideas to find cheaper versions of what you love at discount places or to get hand-me-downs from friends.
Once you’re done with looking your best, catch some entertainment by going into an electronics store and watching some of the stuff they have on their screens. Some really nice stores have chairs set up and might even have a new DVD on. You could always ask them to put on something interesting so you can see the quality of the latest flat screen monitor, without having the money to buy it.
What is this world without music? Even the smallest of malls will have one music store and the bigger ones will have more for you to choose from. The best way to find out what’s hot and what’s not is to look at the racks and see how the different CDs are ranked. You can even mellow out by checking out the listening stations in places like HMV and enjoy the tunes.
Speaking of how things are ranked – check out the bookstores for the bestsellers. Books from Dr. Phil or the upcoming biography on Bob Denver you can read for free at Indigo or Chapters. Take your time; some bookstores have places to sit so you can be there for a while. Or squat on the floor.
If you have a child, spend that special time in the children’s department of a bookstore reading to your little one. Toy stores are great ways to keep the kids occupied. Perhaps if they can play with that doll or toy truck in the store, they’ll tire of it and won’t hound you to buy it.
Get decorating ideas that you can do on the cheap from places like the Pottery Barn.
After all this excitement, go to the furniture department and take a nap on one of the luxurious couches of any of the big stores like Sears.
Now after you’ve experienced a fulfilling free time, look for loose change in pay phones and on the ground (it can pay to walk with your head down) go to the mall’s bank and make a small donation to Hurricane Katrina relief (every penny counts as you know).
If you do have a little cash to spend – The Dollar Store is always a great place. For example, I bought a pair of sunglasses for a dollar with black frames from there and took them to a one-hour optical place and paid way more for the prescription lenses than the frames. People are telling me all the time they look like $300 glasses – but I didn’t spend anything near to that.
When you get hungry, try checking out places like Baskin Robbins and many others for samples to get a quick fix. If you go to enough fast food joints for samples, you might even end up feeling full.
All this will make your shopping experience pain-free for your wallet and enjoyable. Have a good time and remember to throw a penny in the waterfall if your major mall has one!