The Truth About Outlet Malls and How You Can Save More

Did you know that several popular name-brand outlet mall stores do not sell the same quality merchandise as their flagship stores? For example, Brooks Brothers, Chico’s, and the Gap produce lesser-quality clothing specifically to sell in their outlet stores.

Coach purses are not what you think if you get them at an outlet store. A Coach purse bought at a Coach outlet isn’t one of the same purses Coach makes and sells retail in their own retail shops and other department stores. Coach specifically makes purses to be sold at cheaper rates in their outlet locations.

If you’re looking for the same dependable quality you find in a flagship store, you may not find it in the goods you buy in the retailers’ outlet stores.

With this in mind, here are some ways to save more when you plan to outlet-shop:

1. Check prices before shopping. Look up on the internet the items you want to purchase. What are the prices? How much would shipping cost if you ordered them online? When you know these figures, you can then compare them to what it would cost to buy the item at the outlet mall.

* Don’t be surprised if you can get a better deal ordering some items online than you can buying them from an outlet shop.

2. When you get to the outlet store, closely examine items you want to buy. Notice the feel of items, and try to determine if they’re the quality you’re looking for.

3. Consider what you’ll be doing with the item or where you’ll be wearing it. For example, if you’re buying slightly lower-quality underwear that’s priced right and that you believe is made of comfortable material, then you can probably get your money’s worth.

* But if you’re thinking about buying a suit for work that is of “off-grade” (meaning some flaws are present) quality, ensure you try it on and look it over closely before buying. If there’s some crooked threading on the front of the suit jacket or the hem hangs slightly unevenly, will you want to wear the suit?

4. Ensure you’re aware of the return policies. Although you might take for granted that you can return practically anything when you’re shopping at a department store, outlet stores may have different policies. Just because you live close to the ABC store doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll accept a return for an item bought from the ABC outlet mall store.

5. Walk away if you’re not comfortable with the price or quality. Outlet malls often lure shoppers to spend big. But if you know you can get the same item online for less or a better-quality item by paying a dollar or two more, it’s okay to walk away.

6. Attempt to bargain with the store’s manager. Say something like, “Can I get a better deal if I buy all three of these items?”

* If you can’t obtain lower pricing, decide for yourself whether you want to pay the outlet prices for all three items, put one or two items back on the shelf, or refuse to buy any of the items.

Although outlet mall shopping can be an adventure, there are some things you should do. First, look up online the items you’re interested in buying so you can compare prices. Examine items you want to buy closely, checking for feel, quality, flaws, missing buttons, ripped seams, and the like.

Consider how you’ll be using the item to determine if it will work for you. Be aware of store return policies and know that it’s okay to not buy anything at all when you spend the day at an outlet mall. Try to get better deals when purchasing multiples at an outlet store.

If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll likely save more money when it comes to shopping at an outlet mall.

Does Brand Name Always Equal Better Value?

If you think back to your mother’s kitchen cupboards, and her mother’s before that, you’ll likely be able to identify a few brands of products that were always a staple. Whether they’re food products, cleaning solutions, or anything in between, the brands you always saw eventually became the brands you buy today.

That’s not so strange in a world where we live by example.

However, in a world where the dollar is of less use than it used to be, critical thinking should definitely be a part of the formula when you go shopping.

It’s important to ask yourself, “Does brand name always equal better value?” when buying items to stock your shelves at home. Of course, it’s difficult to determine the answer to that question without trying every single product on the market!

But how about focusing on the ones that have the most impact to you and your family?

Here’s what brand name almost always equals to:

1. Integrity. Because you’ve seen others from generations before buy only specific brands of products, you’ll automatically feel a sense of trust and integrity knowing that so many others before you trusted the brands. But does that mean the brand fits into your lifestyle in an evolving world? Maybe, maybe not.

2. Higher prices. You can almost always guarantee that brand name products will be more expensive than generic brands, and that’s simply because these manufacturers know their market is secure enough for consumers to continue buying the products even though the cost is higher.

3. Critical acclaim. Brand name products have been looked upon favorably by critics over the years, and that reputation tends to stick. That’s one reason why you’ll always see those popular brands at eye level on the grocery shelves!

But let’s dig down a little further into some specific examples

1. Fresh produce. Chopped veggies and fruit are brought to you by conglomerate manufacturers as well as small town farmers. Your instinct is to buy the brand your mom always bought, but when you read the labels, you realize both offerings have everything in common!

* Fancy packaging with a shorter shelf life shouldn’t make you choose a brand name product over an unknown brand.

* Freshness and quality should always be your bench mark for choosing perishable items.

2. Canned fish. Tuna, for example, can be caught in waters where there is or isn’t the possibility of endangerment to dolphins. Although it may be more expensive, brand name tuna will almost always indicate “Dolphin Safe” on the labels, and that might be more important to you than saving a few cents per can.

* To save money and still get the brand name, you can buy larger quantities of canned items when they’re on special or you have coupons to bring the cost down.

3. Purified drinking water. With the continuing rise in pollution, it’s important to be careful when buying drinking water. While your mom would buy a particular brand of “pure spring water” because it’s purported to be from a clear running spring, today you’re more likely to find the same purifying chemicals in it that are in your tap water.

* In fact, many brands of bottled water are simply tap water from whatever municipality the bottling plant is located in.

* Most water brands use the same purifying methods, but some try to earn a few extra cents by slapping on a readily recognizable label.

At the end of the day, the value of products, whether or not they’re brand name, is really dependent on the things that matter most to you and your family. Quality is certainly an important factor, but so, too, is relevance at a time when every penny counts!

Do You Struggle With Compulsive Spending?

Compulsive spending involves feeling compelled to spend money on items you don’t really want or need. In some cases, you might spend money on items you already have plenty of. For example, even though you love getting new shoes, if you already have 20 pairs of them, it’s probably safe to say you don’t need another.

Signs You May Be Spending Compulsively

Do any of these signs feel familiar?

1. You spend all your money as soon as you get it. On payday, you might pay some bills. Then, any money you have left over, you happily go out to spend. Maybe there’s a big clearance on home improvement tools or the dress boutique is having a going out of business sale. Whatever the case, you deplete the monies you obtain.

2. You use charge cards to buy items when you have no money. A financially dangerous habit, using charge cards to keep buying once the cash is gone can devastate your money and living situations.

3. You shop when you feel moody, anxious, or upset in some way. Your feelings largely depend on whether you’re shopping, since shopping comforts you during any stress.

4. You feel your spending is out of control. No matter what you do, you just can’t stop.

5. Your shopping causes difficulties in your life. You perhaps have arguments with your spouse about all the money you spend. Sometimes, you aren’t honest about what you spent.

How to Stop

If you experience even one of these points above, there’s a real possibility you’re dealing with compulsive spending.

Use these strategies to quell your urges to spend:

1. Make a contract with yourself to stop spending. Write it out and sign it. Find the confidence to change your direction.

2. For now, remove credit cards from your wallet. If you believe you have the fortitude to use a credit card only for emergencies, keep only 1 card in your billfold. Pay cash for everything. Budget your daily cash amount and when you run out of cash, you’re done spending (on anything) for the rest of the day.

3. Contemplate your money situation. How long has it been going on? How did you get started spending compulsively? Are there specific situations that trigger you to shop now? How do you feel when spending money? Work hard to gain an understanding of your drive to spend compulsively.

4. Charge yourself for spending. Every time you spend money for something other than groceries, gas, or utility bills, pay yourself $20.00. This means you must put back the $20.00 to have ready when the bill for the frivolous items comes in.

5. Write down all expenditures. When you see on paper the amount you spent and what you spent it for, it somehow becomes real. In a sense, you’re forcing yourself to think about and process what you’re doing.

6. Examine the possessions you already have. Do you like and use all of them? If you have several debts due to your past credit card spending, think about how you can return or re-sell some of the items you’ve purchased haphazardly. Then, use that money to pay off the debts.

7. Recognize spending money doesn’t buy you happiness. Be honest with yourself: has surrounding yourself with stuff you bought with your hard-earned money provided you the life you truly seek?

8. Empower yourself by becoming more conscious about how spending affects your life. List the ways your life would change if you had no debt and used money wisely.

9. Make contact with the Debtors Anonymous group in your area. Asking for help is the wise thing to do whenever you believe your spending is out of control. Going to Debtors Anonymous won’t cost a dime and can provide support for you to get your life back on track.

If you’ve identified yourself as one who spends compulsively, you’ve taken a first step in the right direction. Making a contract, avoiding credit cards, charging yourself for spending, keeping track of expenditures, and returning or re-selling unused purchased items will help you get a grip.

Also, listing how your life will change when you stop spending, realizing spending doesn’t make you happy, and going to Debtors Anonymous will set you on a positive path to real emotional and financial freedom.

Liberate Yourself From Impulse Spending

Wherever you go, retailers are trying to get you to buy more and spend more. If you want to stick to your budget and avoid purchases that you later regret, there is hope. Try these simple steps before, during and after your next shopping spree.

Steps To Take Before and After Shopping

1. Shop on a full stomach. Eating first has always been an effective way to spend less on groceries and it works on other items too. You think more clearly and feel less pressured when you’re well nourished.

2. Make a list. Etch your purpose firmly into your mind. You may still decide to pick up unexpected bargains, but you’ll be less likely to wander around gathering random stuff.

3. Reduce your exposure to advertising. Hit the unsubscribe button on those junk emails. Throw catalogs directly into the recycling bin. Go do some leg lifts while TV commercials are playing.

4. Conduct an inventory. Take a good look at what you already own. Maybe there’s an old desk in your attic you can spruce up with some paint rather than buying a new one. Pondering ill-advised purchases will also reinforce your determination not to add to them.

5. Research prices. Learn what constitutes a good value. That way you’ll be less vulnerable to extravagant claims. A jacket that’s marked 80 percent off may have started out with an inflated price.

6. Exercise your mind and body. A Washington State University Study found that students who performed regular mental or physical exercise for as little as two weeks were less tempted to engage in impulse buying. Take a daily walk or read more books.

7. Focus on nonmaterial rewards. Seek gratification from helping others, spending time with loved ones and improving your mind. It will make the mall look less interesting.

Steps To Take While Shopping

1. Limit your browsing. At the mall or online, make your purchases and leave. The longer you linger, the more items you’ll be tempted to buy.

2. Shield your eyes at the cash register. Grocery store tactics are spreading. Checkout lines everywhere are now surrounded with candy and other last minute temptations. Distract yourself by checking your phone messages or planning what to make for dinner.

3. Pay in cash. Studies show that customers who use cash spend less than those who use credit cards. Cash makes you more aware of how much money you’re forking over.

4. Give yourself time to cool off. Slow down and give yourself time to think before deciding to complete a purchase. The bigger the price tag, the more time you may want to devote getting it right.

5. Be skeptical about limited offers. Some marketing campaigns try to make sales by talking about limited time offers and scarce quantities. Vermeer’s are rare. Nail polish and sneakers are not.

6. Remind yourself of the disadvantages to any purchase. It’s easy to get caught up in how much you want that shiny new gadget, so keep the whole picture in mind. Most products are very temporary and you may have more important uses for the money.

7. Take along a friend. Shopping with family and friends may provide you with more objective feedback than you’ll get from a salesperson working on commission. A second opinion comes in handy when you’re trying to make a sound decision.

Protect your financial well being and get more pleasure out of your possessions by becoming a smart shopper. With a little thought and practice, you’ll learn to manage your impulses and feel good about your purchases even after you get them home.