Hello fellow college students and fashion enthusiasts! Fancy meeting you here… Now that school is back in session and we’ve been reminded how dry textbook reading truly is, I think I know what we all need…retail therapy. After all, we have to look good while we are sitting in library pretending to do homework, don’t we? There is only one problem: the infamous “college budget” (being responsible is hard). Well, friends, I am here to put your minds—and wallets—at ease with two words: outlet malls.

Outlet mall shopping is a great way to save money because incredible designer stores, such as Saks, Coach and Banana Republic, sell their merchandise for a fraction of the retail price. Personally, I like to shop at the Tanger Outlets because they have a great selection of stores and you can find one on almost any major highway (The Tanger Outlets Store Locator can be found herePremium Outlets are another great option, or you simply can google shopping centers near you! Not convinced yet? I once got a beautiful pair of white J.Crew jeans for $20 — Win!!!

And now on to the important stuff: saving even more. Not only do these outlet malls mark down their merchandise, they help you save in a variety of other ways if you know where to look, and lucky for you, I do. First, check the store directory online and then look around for any printable coupons. These can be found by visiting the website of the particular store you plan on shopping in, or for the outlet center in general; many times, stores allow you to sign up and receive emails about special offers and sales, which is a great way to save.

Next, look into buying a coupon book. These books are often sold at the outlet centers (or can be purchased online) for around five dollars. They contain coupons for most of the stores in the shopping center and, if you’re looking to shop a lot or with friends, will most likely save you a sizeable sum. Some stores also put coupons on their receipts so maybe you can help out a friend…or save it for next time.

And now my personal favorite: the student discount. A lot of stores do not advertise this, but many places offer a discount if you can present a college ID at the register (some places also give discounts if you’re a teacher, which may help if you’re shopping with a parent/sibling/older friend). So, when you get to the counter, ask about the store’s policy on student discounts, you may end up saving enough to buy that sweater you had your eye on two shops back…

So, if you feel the need to shop, and let’s face it, who doesn’t? There is a way to be responsible about it. Just take the time to do the research and you’ll definitely come out on top. Plus, if you drive with your friends you can save money on gas (See Mom, I AM being responsible!).

Jessica Errera is a Sophomore, double majoring in Dramatic Art and English at The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.  She loves theatre, reading, tennis and all things FASHION. She is also a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and a contributing writer for TalkNerdy2Me. You can follow Jessica on Twitter at @thisJESStin.