One of the sad truths of my generation is that we love stuff. Whether it's the new iPhone or name brand clothes, we need to have it. With thousands of online shopping venues, we can get it the next day. Though I'm not a complete materialist, I have vices that keep my checking account relatively low. Friends joke about my habit of going makeup shopping before I buy groceries. I know where to draw the line, and don’t live entirely on the Sephora Diet, which would be a worthy follow-up to the miserable "Skinny Bitch" fad.
Going to the mall is never a good idea if you're an impulsive shopper with a low budget. Retail prices are ridiculously inflated, even if they're discounted. Most reasonably cheap stores aimed at young women have clothes that fall apart after a few wears. But thrift stores have become cool thanks to that silly Macklemore song. It means that more people shop at them, and more importantly donate clothes. If you've never set foot in a Goodwill you may be overwhelmed. It's comparable to a huge indoor yard sale, so there's a lot of crap. Sifting through it all requires patience, perseverance, and a sense of humor. Among hand-knitted cat vests and 1996 belly shirts, you're bound to find a cute top that still has tags on it. If it doesn't, be sure to inspect it carefully for holes or stains. Bad as that sounds, chances are the girl only wore it once. Items are randomly organized so you'll have to take your time. It's completely worth it to find something great for five bucks. Goodwill gets overstock from department stores and Target, so go through all the housewares and beauty products. I recently found a lot of high-end nail polishes for .59 cents each.
Boutiques are cute and it's nice to support local businesses, but they're often painfully expensive. I don't go in unless I have a few dollars to blow on something small for the sake of not looking like a douche. If you find yourself drooling over a dress or bracelet in a boutique window, look for it online. Amazon or eBay probably have the exact piece for a fourth of the price, plus you may find something you like more. The hunt is half the fun. When you go to an outlet or mall, you're merely paying for the convenience. Your lousy paycheck can't stop you from looking and feeling fabulous.