The key to a fun shopping trip is remembering that it's all about the journey, not the destination. It's just as much about spending time with your besties as it is coming home with a new wardrobe. If you're one of those people who really prefers to shop by herself (maybe you're indecisive and want to go back and forth between stores without annoying others; or you're self-conscious about everyone seeing you in a bathing suit) you might want to save the serious shopping for another time and look at this more as a day out with the girls. Concentrate on buying something easy like a scarf or a bag.
And don't let your friends talk you into buying something way beyond your budget. If they want to search for designer purses, remind them you can always hit the outlet malls or off-price stores like TJ Maxx for great deals. Department stores have regular sales too, so you might want to plan the trip around that. For instance, mid to late summer is the time to get the best prices (if not the best selection) on swimsuits.
Above all, have fun! Finding an object of your desire on clearance can give you a rush like jumping out of a plane. OK, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but you know what we mean. Sifting through a pile of great stuff with red lined tags can get the heart of even the least enthusiastic shopper pounding -- especially if you're on a tight budget. What more shopping fun could you ask for?