Whenever I head to the malls, I look at my overflowing wardrobe to remind myself, though usually fruitlessly, that I must exercise restraint. I do the same, when I browse my favorite websites online. The online stores offer irresistible deals, so this personal resolve weakens there considerably. And, when it’s about sales and discounts – whether online or in the real shops – even the constant reminders fail to work.I am sure that’s the case with most people, these days. After all, who would say no to the wonders of a nice shopping trip! However, what is important is that this ‘happy’ and ‘adrenaline-pumped, relaxed, de-stressed’ feeling remains (and escalates), even after credit/ debit card swipes.Unfortunately, that’s not the case – always. Once the colorful stuffed bags are in hands, the ‘happy’ feeling fades, getting replaced by guilt or remorse – for many. There have been instances, when I have instantly regretted a purchase. I have seen women cursing themselves for buying something ‘useless’, as they were influenced by a fellow shopper or coaxed by a pushy shop assistant.Some just cannot say no! Others decide to cancel, or worse, refuse Cash On Delivery orders. Cancellations and refund requests are a routine affair in the online shopping domain, and most ecommerce portals reel under the pressure created by incessant ‘returns’. Many of us just cannot seem to get the most out of our shopping escapades. And, a wrong shopping decision is not just about wasting the money – it’s also a great burden on our time strapped lives.Well, here we bring you some tips that will help you make the most out of the time, effort and money spent on every shopping trip you take – in the real or the virtual world.1. Think of Your Vital Expenses – for the month This is one thing that I have always seen working for my husband, who always mentally cruises through the current expenses list, before he clicks on the ‘Buy’ button. Start with the expenditures that are waiting payment or processing.Okay, it may sound like a depressing thing to do at the beginning of a, probably, uplifting shopping cruise, but it does make a lot of sense. You will be reminded of the priorities, so you will end up shopping only for the priority stuff.2. Don’t Go Shopping (even online) – when in a hurry (or just before a meeting)The feeling of ‘running around’ makes us stressed and anxious. We may not realize, but any frenetic, frenzied run-through is bound to leave you on your nerves.Purchases made in such a frame of mind are quite unlikely to fit in the ‘great’ category. Also, we tend not to be our resourceful best, in such a state of mind. Plus, hurrying doesn’t let us look for options. Buying whatever we encounter first, irrespective of quality – especially when it’s something essential (at the moment) – is quite likely in a maniac rush.That is precisely why planning ahead works well. If you have to make some purchases for some event, occasion, wedding or anything – even a gift – do so in advance, as you are unlikely to get something you ‘really admire’ in a hurried shopping trip. For the same reason, I now even avoid buying groceries and veggies in my lunch hour ‘free-time’. Doesn’t really work well, I realized!3. Don’t Go Shopping – when angry or hungry (or thirsty)!Cranky is bad, when shopping. If you are hungry, again you will be in a hurry to wind up the shopping, so you can eat (and drink). So, all we talked about in point 2 – applies here too.Most women decide to go shopping to beat stress or a bad mood, alright. But, ask these ladies, if they love their purchases made on those ‘seriously-need-a-mood-lift’ trips. The majority of answers will put you off doing this in future. Instead, go for a run, or to a park to play with kids, or simply take a stroll with your favorite music in your ears – to uplift sodden spirits. Shopping is best done, when you are in a balanced state of mind!4. Make a ListAs old-fashioned and clichéd as it sounds, preparing lists really helps in prioritizing and cutting out unnecessary buys.Contrary to the popular belief, making lists ahead of a shopping trip is not restrictive. Instead, it leans a direction and flow to your trip down the mall or street. And, at the end of it all, who is asking you to ‘not’ buy anything apart from what the list lists. Just start with the most important stuff, or something that you actually need, and then go to the peripheries and extras.It will also reduce your effort too. I recently needed a new Anarkali, which I forgot, as I entered the mall. I shopped for 2 pairs of shoes, which I don’t regret at all. But, on my way back, I realized I ‘really’ needed the dress for my dance class. Since I was already out, I did not go back to level 4 in the mall – to my favorite store. I bought one from a shop near my home, and I rarely wear that suit now. Get the point?5. Keep a Time-LimitOkay, I know it sounds quite contra-indicative to points 2 and 3, but ironically it still makes sense. So, you shouldn’t be hurrying while shopping, but you must also know that you don’t have all the time in the world. Your trip or virtual crawling need not be bound by strict time deadlines, making it impossible for you to ‘breathe’. But, you still must set a stipulated time, when you would need to finish you stroll through the mall.This will help you prioritize and avoid endless comparisons. It will also save time and efforts, as you will not dilly dally! Still not convinced? Try first and tell us later!6. Visit your Favorite Stores FirstAgain it’s about prioritizing. When you start your shopping stroll, you are freshest, perkiest and most sorted. Most of us know, what we want and what we need. So, things are clearer. And thus, it makes sense to head to stores that are your favorites, or where you know the fitting, quality, prices etc. are most suitable for you.So, instead of mindlessly drifting to the spots nearest to parking area or entrance (like my husband does), or getting enamored by biggest discounts and most vibrant hoardings – first head to your trusted labels. Devote the best part of your shopping trip to the places that are sure to fit your personal bill! Everything can come later.7. Pay by Cash – whenever, wherever you can… You know how it works. When we count notes to make payments, we better register – how much we have paid. Plastic money doesn’t let it seep in our mind – unless we see those humongous bills.8. Don’t Go with a ‘Friend’ – who is too haute, too self-immersed, too cranky, too critical, too rich, too careless – basically ‘too’ anything.We don’t need such influences, when we are trying to make the most of a coveted shopping trip. That’s the reason, shopping online, when at work, surrounded by colleagues with hundreds of divergent opinions doesn’t work well.Ask for opinions, suggestions, feedback – but not from someone, you know, would always disagree, or has extremely different likes that your own preferences.9. Dress up well, wear well-fitting lingerie and good shoesYou will, invariably, end up trying your clothes, so you must know how they will actually look on you, when you are ready to ‘go out’. So, don’t make the mistake of going shopping in flip-flops and shabby undergarments, especially with a shopping agenda to buy something special.Dressing up well also invites good attention from shop assistants, besides giving you confidence to say ‘NO’ when you want to. Look great, feel sprightly and shop right!