Jess Reiche

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Frugal Summer Fun Series: Fun at the Mall

Going to the mall sounds about as anti-summer and anti-frugal as you can get, but the truth is, it doesn’t have to be. Sure, if you’re going into every store and trying on clothes you’ll probably buy things you didn’t plan on buying. But this summer we have found a few fun things to do that cost little to no money and are fun for kids of all ages!

1 – The Disney Store

I had no idea The Disney Store still existed in malls but the Palisades Mall in West Nyack, NY pleasantly surprised us šŸ™‚ I know it’s nothing like going to Disney World but my kids didn’t. They were amazed at a store filled with all of their favorite princesses, muppets, marvel characters and traditional characters. Upon entering they got to play in a princess “castle” filled with mirrors and dress up clothes to hold up, pretending to be characters in their favorite movies. We then strolled around talking about our favorite Disney characters and trying to find them in the store. We visited with a big stuffed Sven and even found some prince dolls (finally!). We played with the muppet dolls, crawled through tunnels and enjoyed the animated Disney Store staff. And did I mention the huge TV screen playing clips and music from Disney movies? Unlike stores of the past where you just caught a glimpse as you shopped, this store had a sitting area, a kids table and even coloring for the kids. It was a lot of fun and didn’t cost us anything to get in šŸ˜‰

2 – The Lego Store

A store filled with Legos sounds horrible when you’re on a budget. But this store has kits out to play with, a ton to look at and even hosts free lego nights for kids to have fun building.

3 – Ride on toys and Carousels

We’re lucky to live fairly close to malls that have entertainment in them. Ride on toys for $1 that last more than 20 seconds are cheap entertainment options to break up the day. The Carousel in the Danbury Fair Mall in CT and Palisades Mall in West Nyack, NY only cost $2 per ride and the parent is free when your kid is too little to ride alone. They even offer a punch card to earn free rides after a certain amount.

4 – Discount Summer Movies

Mentioned here, don’t forget about the $1 Summer Express Movies for kids!

5 – Free Sampling

As teenagers many of us perfected “eating at the mall.” It meant doing a rotation around the food court collecting food samples until they told you to get lost haha. Well, I’ve upgraded a bit as an adult. Many popcorn stands offer free samples to those passing by. Teavana always has multiple options for sampling hot and cold tea (caffeine free for kids!) and many coffee places offer the same. Beyond food, sample scents at department stores, lotions at Bath & Body Works, try on funny looking shoes at Journeys and silly hats wherever you can find them.

6 – Cash Budget Clearance Shopping

Going to the mall and buying NOTHING is usually impossible, so here is a fun way to enjoy shopping and not go out of budget. Before leaving the house, visit Retailmenot.com and print out (or save to your phone) coupons to your favorite stores. Look on stores websites and join mailing lists to find out what’s on sale and what coupons are available. Print whatever you think you may use. Before arriving at the mall, stop at a bank or ATM and determine how much money you want to spend at the mall (non-food money). Take out that amount of cash and determine to not take out your credit card during your trip. While at the mall, visit your chosen stores and see what deals you can get! I’ve used this method successfully at The Children’s Place, Bath & Body Works, Old Navy, JcPenney, and a few others. Visit the clearance rack, ask the cashier about any coupons or deals, check the baskets around the store and at the register and have some fun!

The goal of your day at the mall shouldn’t be to buy things, it should be to have a fun experience with the ones you’re with. Break the shopping mentality and think outside of the box!

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