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After a wedding, followed by a honeymoon, which was followed by Christmas, I’m finally beginning to feel as though my bank account is returning to normal. And as luck would have it, today I find out that that feeling won’t last for long: The New York Times reports that by fall, we’ll most likely be paying more for basic consumer goods like food and clothing -- surely not just unfortunate timing for me, but plenty of other Americans as well.
According to the Times piece, many companies absorbed rising production costs during the recession, but are unable to do so any longer and must raise prices to protect profits. This increase will affect just about every household item you can think of: the cotton and polyester in your clothes, that leather couch you’ve been eying, those stainless steel appliances you were hoping to finally get this year, not to mention the corn, sugar, wheat, meat and coffee that make your grocery list each week. And the list goes on.
If you want to know exactly why this is happening, well -- read the Times piece. I’m more concerned that just as I get caught up, I’ll fall behind again. And I’m sure I’m not alone.
In the meantime, I want to devise a plan of attack. Unfortunately, I don't think my boss' offer to ease the space constraints of multiple Costco purchases with her sprawling garage is going to cut it. So I went to iVillage finance expert and author of The Real Cost of Living, Carmen Wong Ulrich, for some real-life tips. She recommends:
-- Get very friendly with online coupon and promo code sites. Do an hour or two of research to figure out your faves -- and there are lots -- such as CouponMom, Coupons.com, RedPlum (for organic coupons), etc. Make it a habit before every time you go grocery shopping to match your list against these sites to save.
-- "Friend" your favorite retailers on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. Big retailers such as Target will send specials and deals to Facebook friends and Twitter followers only. This is one “friend” who will actually help you save money!
-- Clothing is also supposed to go up in price this year by 10 percent on average -- factor this into your budget. Either cut back your seasonal shopping list or even better, make up that 10 percent and more by doing two things: Comparison shop online and grab promo codes (my favorites: RetailMeNot.com and FatWallet.com). Also, if you can hold back a bit from buying at the beginning of a season, say spring shopping right now, waiting three weeks can garner you a bigger sale.
All good tips for sure. Still, I wonder: How will you brace for the rising price of consumer goods? Tell me in the comments below, and they may be used in a later article to appear on iVillage.