Poughkeepsie Galleria
(Photo courtesy of poughkeepsiegalleriamall.com)

By Mallika Rao

Over the past two years I have learned one thing about living alone: it can sometimes be impossible to shop on a budget. And a girl certainly has to shop, especially at the mall. The average girl’s love affair with the mall is the longest lasting takeaway from high school. The only difference now is you most likely have a credit or debit card with a scanned amount of money and absolutely no idea what to do with it…until now.

I decided to take a huge undertaking this semester: hopping between four local shopping malls on a $100 budget, documenting my purchases for Mount Saint Mary College students, and ranking each mall based on which one was the easiest on my wallet. My first mall was my high school’s local hangout, the Poughkeepsie Galleria. My familiarity with the mall certainly helped me make smart and college-friendly purchases.

My first stop was at Custom T’s, a relatively new store that opened on the first floor of the two-story mall. True to its title, the store sells custom-made T-shirts with designs you can either find in the store or select for yourself online. The design that caught my eye was a Taylor Swift song lyric. Being the Taylor Swift fanatic that I am, I decided to buy a custom-made T-shirt with the lyric “we are never ever getting back together” from her popular tune of the same name. The shirt was a little overpriced at $25, but still worth it for a custom-made T-shirt. Another benefit of custom T-shirts is that no one else will ever be caught wearing that same shirt, and no girl of any age wants their fashion choices to be duplicated.

The shirt took less than an hour to make, so I decided to grab some dinner. I felt a little adventurous, so I went with some grub from the Bourbon Street Grill with a small lemonade from Nathan’s. The total meal cost me around $10.

Two of my favorite stores to shop at are Charlotte Russe and Forever 21, so I decided to hit those up after my meal. Charlotte Russe had both a clearance sale and a sale on camis. My biggest complaint about fashion these days is that most of the tops are see-through, so wearing a cami underneath is essential for any girl. I bought two camis for $10. Summer is almost over, so shorts are obviously on the clearance rack for next year. I bought a cute floral pair for $15, which can easily be worn with some black leggings in the fall for that extra edge. At Forever 21, I bought a striped skirt, which I can wear when going out dancing with girlfriends, for $6.80 and a pair of jeans for $7.80, since every girl has to have a reliable pair of jeans.

Bath & Body Works is a great place to browse for sweet scents, and they also have great deals on scented hand sanitizers and soaps, so you can prepare for flu season in style, obviously. There was a five for $5 deal on sanitizers and five for $15 deal on hand soaps. Finally, I stopped in at Target (commonly pronounced Tar-jay by us economical folk), where I found a great sale on DVDs. For that night when you’re not studying and just chillaxing with your friends over pizza and a great movie, a DVD collection is a necessity. Target has some great choices, from classics like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, to cult hits like Mean Girls, and to blockbusters like the Harry Potter series. I bought the Paranormal Activity movie, which I’ll probably enjoy sometime around Halloween with some of my good friends.

Here’s a recap of my purchases and how they fared on my budget:

Custom T’s: $24.99 T-Shirt

Charlotte Russe: $15.00 shorts and $10.00 camis

Forever 21: $6.80 skirt and $7.80 jeans

Bath & Body Works: 5 hand sanitizers at $5.00 and 5 hand soaps at $15.00

Target: $5 DVD

Bourbon Street Grill: $8.10 meal

Nathan’s: $2.00 drink

Total: $99.69. Just under budget!

Stay tuned for next issue’s edition of “A College Girl’s Guide to American Malls” as I venture to another local mall and engage in more shopaholic tendencies.