The Commerce Department retail sales report released last Friday spelled good news for retailers:  consumer apparel spending was up 3% in September.  This happens each year, actually, as consumers head to the stores to pick up new season fashions and get ready for the weather change.  But results were particularly refreshing this year, as the summer’s high gas prices threatened to curtail spending in other areas for the rest of the year, including apparel and accessories.

The flip side is that many consumers are adding to their debt load to fill their closets.  If you’re one of them, remember that those “great deals” aren’t so great if you put them on a credit card and then take months — or even years — to pay off the balance.

How can you avoid doing that?  Simple:  take cash when you go clothes shopping.  If you can’t afford to pay cash for an item, you probably can’t afford it…