There's nothing to fear about a trip to the mall—as long as you plan ahead and shop smart.
Step 1: Make a list Before you go, make a list of everything you need to get.
Step 2: Research coupons and ads Go online to research coupons, bargains, and sales. Bring copies of advertised deals, including price matching, and make sure coupons apply to in-store sales.
TIP: You may be able to find better deals online than you can in the store—in which case, stay home and save yourself the trip.
Step 3: Dress comfortably Dress comfortably in layers, and wear shoes that'll survive hours of standing and walking.
TIP: If it's cold out, leave your heavy winter coat in the car. You won't need it in the mall, where it'll just weigh you down.
Step 4: Consider valet parking Consider paying for valet parking. It may be worth a few extra dollars to avoid the hassle of an inconvenient spot and a long walk.
Step 5: Wear a backpack Wear a nearly empty backpack, and bring only the essentials: your wallet, keys, coupons, phone, some water, and a snack. Stow smaller purchases in your backpack as you go to keep your hands free.
Step 6: Make heavy purchases last Save your heaviest purchases for the end, so you won't be loaded down while you shop.
Step 7: Work your way down In a multilevel mall, most people start on the bottom and work their way up. Avoid the crowds by doing the opposite.
Step 8: Stay smart at the food court Eat smart at the food court by staying away from sugar and grease. Drink water and keep your energy up by combining lean protein and healthy carbohydrates.
Step 9: Use your debit card Use cash or your debit card. You'll be more likely to stay within your means, and you won't pile on the credit card debt.
Step 10: Go it alone Unless you have a devoted friend who you shop well with, go it alone and stick to your list. When you're solo, you can stay on track and get the most out of the mall.
FACT: The West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada, has its own water park and is home to the world's largest indoor wave pool.