Are Outlet Stores Worth It? Here's What Dave Ramsey Thinks

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  • Outlet stores claim to sell items at a discount, and many consumers visit them hoping to save money.
  • Finance expert Dave Ramsey provides insight into whether these stores actually offer savings.
  • While outlet stores can provide discounts, you should stick to a budget and avoid impulse buys.

Don't go shopping at an outlet store until you read this.

Outlet stores are everywhere, and they all provide consumers with a similar promise. These stores market themselves as a place to buy brand name or premium goods at a bargain price.

But before you head off to an outlet ready to enjoy all the discounts on offer, it's worth considering what finance expert Dave Ramsey says about whether they are worth it.

Dave Ramsey has some advice on deciding whether to shop at outlets

Dave Ramsey is famously anti-debt, and urges people to stay away from credit cards and borrowing in pretty much all cases with the possible exception of a mortgage. But when it comes to outlet shopping, he takes a much more nuanced approach. He doesn't discount the advantages of buying items at a bargain at these types of stores -- but there are some caveats.

"Usually, consumers do score a discount at outlet stores," the Ramsey Solution blog says. "If you don’t want to pay top retail price on items, then the outlets might be worth it." However, Ramsey warns that since you're in a physical store, it's hard to compare prices to assess whether any given purchase really is a good deal.

He also warns about the danger of impulse buying, which could end up being a costly mistake. "Buying things you don’t need just because they’re on sale isn’t money-saving. It’s money-wasting."

Aside from the possibility you could end up buying things you don't need, Ramsey also cautions that in some cases, brands manufacture cheaper goods specifically for the outlets, so you may not be getting the same quality of product you'd get if you paid full price at a traditional store.

And he warned that driving too far just to go to an outlet store could end up costing you so much in gas that you don't end up with any savings left. "After such a long drive, you might feel pressured to buy more because, after all, you went to a lot of effort to get there!"

Here's how Ramsey thinks you can actually save when shopping at outlets

While Ramsey has pointed out some pitfalls of outlet shopping, the fact remains that discounts are available -- and he offers some tips on making sure you're actually saving real money at an outlet.

Specifically, he suggests:

  • Double checking the price on your phone before buying anything
  • Making a shopping list before you go and sticking to it
  • Setting a strict limit for how much you are going to allow yourself to spend while at the store.

"Decide up front and on purpose how much you’ll spend on all the outlet shopping for the day. When you reach the limit -- stop buying. In fact, stop shopping! Don’t even walk in the doors."

This advice is rock solid, and if you are hoping to hit up any outlets in the coming months, it's well worth following. If you stick to visiting outlets close to you and you spend only the amount you can comfortably work into your budget, there's no reason not to take advantage of cheaper prices -- especially if you've checked your phone and confirmed the item you're buying really is on a discount and you aren't just falling for a marketing gimmick.

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