Expect higher prices for T-shirts and jeans
Cotton costs twice as much as it did a year ago, and supplies are at a 20-year low. Fortunately, you have a few months to stock up before clothing prices rise.
If you're planning holiday gifts of clothes -- or need to update a drawer full of threadbare underwear -- you might want to buy sooner rather than later.
The International Cotton Advisory Committee (.pdf file) is forecasting higher U.S. demand for cotton. While it's great for the economy when Americans are out buying clothes, the committee also reports that the world stock of cotton is the lowest it's been since 1990, mainly because of natural disasters in major producers like China and Pakistan. Post continues after video.
You can guess what increasing demand and falling supply mean: The price of cotton is double what it was a year ago, and that could lead to higher prices for T-shirts, jeans, socks and underwear. According to an article from CNNMoney, cotton T-shirts could rise in price by $2 next year.
The pricing cycle has a few months' delay. That means higher prices won't be reflected among retailers -- and hitting your wallet -- until around the end of the year, so you have a few months to stock up.
Here are a few other things you can do to keep your clothing expenses down:
Keep an eye on clearance sales. The next time you're in a major retailer picking up odds and ends, make a quick detour through the clothing clearance areas. You can find items up to 80% off, especially when new stock is due in. Some retailers do this seasonally and many do it every month.
Make coupons a habit. If you're about to head out shopping and you haven't made a quick check for deals, you're doing it wrong. Using a coupon search engine takes only a few seconds and could save you from 10% to 50%. Subscribing to a store's Facebook page or Twitter feed is a way to be automatically notified of bargains. One other idea: Pick up an ad circular at the store's entrance and skim it while you're shopping.
- Bing:Online coupons
Give up designer brands. Stop paying for a label or a fancy design. Having money is better than looking like you have money. Plain T-shirts are often available for a quarter of the price of trendy ones.
Buy used. If you're not too proud to check them out, flea markets and thrift and consignment shops are the place to go for bargains. The prices are already much lower than retail, and some places, like The Salvation Army, slash prices even more on certain days of the week. I once found a like-new dinner jacket for less than $10. (It was marked for about $20, but that day featured 50% off men's clothing, too.) Just be sure to look carefully at the condition before you buy, because these places usually don't offer refunds.
If those tips are obvious habits for you, congrats on being a smart saver. But I'll bet there are some ideas you never thought of in this story: "18 tips to dress for less." Check it out.
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