– A PERSONAL ESSAY BY MARY NO –
Almost every weekend, I drive past an outlet mall. For years, I never stopped to check it out. To me, outlet malls were where clothing went to retire; the thought of battling crowds for tired merchandise held little appeal. I like nice things (read: designer) and I used to think it was worth paying for them.
However, as I entered adulthood, I realized that maybe paying full price for designer digs isn’t the best use of my hard-earned cash. There’s retirement to think about, an emergency fund to build and maintain, etc. Most of all, I found that I’d rather spend my money on experiences than things. So, how to save for my goals and still dress to impress?
My answer had been in front of me (well, alongside me on the highway) all along.
Why I Shop at an Outlet Mall
I didn’t have high hopes on my first visit to an outlet mall. But after some browsing, I stumbled upon a pair of jeans from my favorite brand that usually cost $198. These were marked down to $80! Then, a trip to J. Crew (where I’d usually spend $600), rang in at only $240. Sure, I had to spend a little extra time sifting through things, and some of it was outdated. But, with a little extra shopping determination and an open mind, I was dressing in designer style on 60% off the retail cost! I swear, there is no better feeling than knowing that you didn’t pay full price for something.
Added bonus for the big city dwellers: In New York City, for example, there’s no such thing as a mall. You have to schlep from the Upper East Side to Bleecker Street and Soho to cover all the various shopping grounds. To have multiple stores all in one place is SO refreshing.
And even if you don’t live near an outlet center, simply getting in the habit of going to the online factory store versus the regular retail site is a total game changer. Thanks, Buzzfeed, for this list of 14 outlet stores that you can shop online.
Take the Outlet Challenge
I challenge you to take my “Shop for Less, Save the Rest” challenge. When you find an item you LOVE (that you WOULD have paid full price for in a normal store), take the amount of savings listed on the receipt and actually save it! Open up a savings account, start funding a Roth IRA, build your emergency fund. Or even better, rack up the credit card debt at only HALF the rate you used to! (totally kidding here).
But seriously, we work hard for our money and we should to have something to show for it (preferably something that we can eventually flaunt in public).