Shopping at malls, especially nationally renowned mega malls like the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, can do a number on your wallet. It's seldom easy to plan exactly how much you're going to spend since you don't always know ahead of time exactly how many items you'll want to purchase or how much they'll cost.
There is, however, plenty of useful advice you can follow to help save you money, even hundreds of dollars in some cases. People sometimes dismiss these pointers as insignificant penny pinchers, but each tip can add up to significant savings in the end.
Reserve airline tickets and make hotel accommodations early if you're traveling to the Mall of America long distance. The earlier you make your reservations, the less you typically have to pay.
Go during sales seasons. The holiday season is usually a good time to shop thanks to widespread sales on a variety of items at most stores.
Visit the Mall of America store directory and make a note of all the stores you want to visit. Visit each store's official website for information on sales, specials and promotions. You can also sign up for each store's mailing list so you're alerted when they have a sale.
Take advantage of Mall of America's visitor resources, which include a visitor's guide, a mall map and directory and a group travel planner.
Carry only what you need. Leave purses at home and use pockets instead. This will enable you to carry more shopping bags and avoid having to use the Mall of America lockers, which cost anywhere from $6 to $13 to rent, as of the publication date.
Bring your own stroller if you're bringing along a child that requires one. Renting one at the Mall of America can cost up to $8. You can even use the stroller to help carry more bags and avoiding renting lockers.
Eat before you go. Getting hungry at the mall can be costly. The money you save eating at home instead of at the mall is sometimes enough for few articles of clothing.
Use public transportation. You may be surprised how much money you save on gas just searching for a parking spot during sales seasons.
Purchase a $2 Mall of America Super Savings Coupon Book at one of Mall of America's four guest services desks. You can also order the coupon book online, but buying one when you arrive at the mall instead will save you $12.50 in shipping and handling.
Take advantage of store credit cards. These can often save you 10 to 20 percent. But be sure to pay the bill on time. Interest on unpaid bills can accrue to the point where you pay considerably more than you would have without the card.
Eat at the food court if you get hungry again. Food there usually costs less than it does at stand-alone restaurants elsewhere in the mall.
Keep track of every dollar you spend. If you're using cash, this is easier to do. If you're using a credit card, record every purchase and add-up the total regularly while shopping.
Hosam El-Aker's digital media career began in the 1990s, when online journalism was still in its infancy. His range of work includes published pieces in the fields of technology and electronics, website development, sports and world politics. The Washington, D.C. native has worked in Web development for 10 years and earned his Bachelor of Science in journalism from West Virginia University.