It’s A Mixed Bag
Cil Burke BSN
School will be starting back soon, if it hasn’t already. Kids out grow their clothes as fast as a speeding bullet, and besides, last year’s clothes can be so…last year. The back to school shopping season is in full swing to meet the needs of parents and their little shopping prodigies.
The talk at work has centered on this topic, as it does every back to school season.
- Where to shop for the best deals?
- What’re the latest styles?
- How much to spend?
- How ridiculous the new styles are!
The conversations are always the same-year in and year out. Empty nest does have its advantages….
A popular destination shopping spree here, from our rural area, is an outlet mall in a coastal community several hours away. It’s a common occurrence for groups of parents and children to make the trip into a weekend getaway.
Shop ’til you drop during the day, hit the beach in the late afternoon and then eat at a favorite night spot/restaurant. The crew arrives home Sunday afternoon with the car trunk full of shopping bags and stories of the best deals, the crowds and time to start that diet.
In a WSJ video, with a buyer beware sub title about outlet mall shopping, gave some timely advice for those who plan on this sort of excursion.
Know this about outlet malls:
- They are typically 40-60 miles outside metropolitan areas where over-head is cheaper.
- Buyers often spend more (rather than less) because they made the special trip.
- Name brand shops (such as J Crew or Gap) may be selling lesser quality merchandise than found in their non-outlet stores.
- According to a large retail chain buyer, only 10-15% of merchandise found at Outlets was ever intended for the ‘real show.’
- Fake price tags are a standard scam to pull the unwitting consumer down a fools path thinking you got a great buy: this designer purse was marked down an amazing 70%!… Not!
You can certainly snag a deal at knock off malls, but like most personal finance, you’ve got to pay attention and have a plan.
Here are some tips:
- Watch it! Don’t spend more just to rationalize the money you sunk into the trip.
- Remember to add the cost of your trip to your shopping budget. If you spend 800 bucks on room, gas, and food and save 100 bucks on your clothes….I’m just sayin…
- Forget the mark downs on the price tag since they’re probably fake anyway. If you think the merchandise is worth the price, go for it.
- Become an expert on the quality of your favored designer’s merchandise.
- Consumer Reports went to the source-shoppers-to get the scoop. Check it out.
Short circuit buyer’s remorse by simply being a savvy shopper. Know what you want and what the best price should be. When you ‘re being towed around by finicky teen age shoppers, the difficulty scale just shot up.
How to go shopping with a hormone raging teen with an attitude even when he/she is hangin’ with their buds is fodder for a whoooole ‘nother post.
How ’bout you?
Do you shop at outlet malls for back to school? What’s your secret to not blowing the budget with barely or should I say rarely bottom-dollar buys?
Don’t forget to check out the latest Two Guys and Your Money Podcast. Dean had audio problems (did you know microphones can just plain die?) right at taping time that kept the panel from getting his erudite opinions, but I’m sure it was good anyway. Our friend Barbara Friedberg was a guest on the panel.
Carnival of Financial Camaraderie at Money Counselor
Yakezie Carnival at See Debt Run
Yakezie Carnival at The College Investor
The Carnival of Retirement at Young Family Finance
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Photo Credit: Jason Paris