Who doesn’t love Anne Taintor’s biting humor? I have a small collection of her vintage-meets-bitchy goodies. And when it comes to shopping, two of my favorites stand out: One, a coin purse, pictures a coiffed blonde and the words “Frugal is such an ugly word.” The other, a notebook, pictures a classy lass clutching a purse. Above her are the words, “hmmm. … What can I buy today?”
Suffice it to say that these were WAY funnier when the economy wasn’t in the tank. But the shopper in me can’t stop. And besides, sometimes you have to spend a little to save a lot. I know, it’s counterintuitive. But it’s true. And so is Anne Taintor’s take on scrimping. Frugal really IS an ugly word. So is recession. But savvy shopping is always in style.
SKIP: the dry cleaning.
SPEND: Dryel ($10.95, Kmart).
SAVE: an average of $17 on four sweaters, $9 and up per suit.
Overzealous dry cleaning is hard on your clothes, the environment and your wallet. Unless you’ve dropped a chili dog on your best suit or mustard on your fave blouse, try Dryel first. In my experience, it doesn’t exactly provide the promised just-like-dry-cleaning results, but for freshening, it’s pretty darn good.
SKIP: the new shoes
SPEND: at the cobbler (Yankee Shoe Repair, State Street, Bangor.
SAVE: the sky’s the limit.
Those Manolos that Samantha and Co. teetered around on in “Sex and the City” were fab. But who has that kind of money? Heck, who has Nine West money? Save your soles — and your bank balance — by taking your stilettos to the cobbler. The results are wonderful. Trust me.
SKIP: the nail salon.
SPEND: Seche Vite top coat, about $7, Sally Beauty Supply.
SAVE: $12 per manicure; $24 per pedicure.
Yes, a salon manicure looks and feels better than the at-home kind. And since I am totally in love with Phuc Nguyen at Beautiful Nails, I feel guilty even suggesting this. But if you’ve gotta scrimp, Seche Vite top coat gives you the supershiny look of salon nails at a fraction of the cost.
SKIP: the venti half-caf skinny latte.
SPEND: a Bodum French press ($39.99, Bed Bath & Beyond) or a Melitta filter coffee maker (12.90-$14.90, Rooster Brother, Ellsworth).
SAVE: upward of $4 per coffee, per day.
You’re a complete coffee snob. That’s fine. And coffee made at home stinks, right? Not so fast. The reason coffee from the ’bucks (or Dunkin’) tastes so much better than home-brew is the water temperature. Your Mr. Coffee can’t touch it. But boiling water poured over fresh grounds in a French press or a Melitta manual coffeemaker can. And you can taste the difference.
SKIP: the new wardrobe.
SPEND: at the tailor (I love Linda’s Alterations on Acme Road in Brewer).
SAVE: hundreds annually.
The jacket you bought at Marden’s is a little big in the shoulders. And the pants from T.J.s are a hair too long. Before you bring them to the Goodwill, see what a tailor can do. I swear by mine, and I’ve saved a ton of money — and many beautiful pieces of clothing — in the process.
SKIP: the bottled water.
SPEND: on a Britta ($12.99-$39.99, Bed Bath & Beyond).
SAVE: a little less than a buck per bottle.
Bottled water is good for you, but it’s less than great for our landfills and your rapidly shrinking change purse. Filter your own water and pour it into a glass. Better still? Pour it into a Sigg or a Nalgene (the L.L. Bean outlet has a great selection) and BYOB to work.
SKIP: the high-end natural cleansers.
SPEND: on a bottle of vinegar and some baking soda.
SAVE: more than $3 per cleaner.
Natural. Organic. Nontoxic. It’s great that we’re all thinking about the chemicals we use to clean our homes. But it’s not great when we’re spending so much on lavender and lemongrass-scented soaps that we can’t afford sponges. Make your own for pennies (search the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Web site for recipes, www.umext.maine.edu)
SKIP: the chains.
SAVE: your favorite store.
There’s nothing wrong with national chain stores, especially when you’re trying to save money. But the economy has taken its toll on many small local businesses — a few of my favorite Portland boutiques just closed. So, whenever possible, support a local shop.
SKIP: the credit card.
SPEND: with your AAA card.
SAVE: 10-15 percent on select purchases.
Everyone knows AAA will tow you, fix a flat and get you TripTix. What most people don’t know is that your AAA card will earn you a discount at such stores as New York & Co., the Anne Klein outlet in Freeport, and Circuit City. For more information about Maine retailers that offer AAA discounts, visit www.aaanne.com/discounts/me/retail.aspx.
Life’s a beach
Baby, it’s cold outside. But inside, at the third annual EMMC Auxiliary Winter Beach Ball, the surf’s up — and so are hemlines and sleeves. Bermuda shorts, flip-flops and beachy dresses are the norm, but where to find such warm-weather gear in January? Well, you’re in luck. During a recent shopping trip, I uncovered steals on a floral-print sundress at T.J.s ($3), sleeveless tops at Marshalls ($5) and — if you’re really feeling adventurous — swimsuits and coverups at Target (prices vary). Old Navy is always good for flip-flops, and if they don’t have the color you’re looking for in-store, they have dozens online for $1.99 and up. The bad news is, you’re going to need to dig for summer clothes. But there is an upside — everything is on deep, deep clearance. The event starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 16, at the Bangor Civic Center. The Tony Boffa Band will provide live musical accompaniment. Tickets are $30 each and all proceeds benefit EMMC’s new cancer center. To order tickets, call 973-5055.
The ShopGirl style awards announcement has been delayed due to circumstances beyond our control. We are in the process of narrowing down the winners. Hold tight, and we will try to announce the winners by mid-February. And trust us, it will be worth the wait!