Splurge on This, Save on That

The founder of LearnVest.com shares her budgeting advice.

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Alexa von Tobel, founder of LearnVest.com, a new personal finance Web site for women, says we need to stop spending money on “stupid” stuff – including $8 airline blankets and unnecessary cell phone charges – so we can spend more on the fun stuff this summer. “If you properly cut your costs and save money, then in general, you can splurge when you want to,” she says.

Here’s a quick guide to doing just that, courtesy of von Tobel.

[Slideshow: 10 Things to Splurge on This Summer.]

DO spend on these items:

Cashmere, boots, and winter coats: Now that we’ve hit the summertime, you can get great deals on out-of-season big-ticket items.

Cheap bathing suits: You can score a stylish suit for $7 at H&M or Target.

Social gatherings: LearnVest.com has put together guides to hosting $50 barbecues and $75 dinner parties. The secret? Pasta dishes, sangria made from inexpensive wine, and fresh fruit for dessert.

Winter travel: For the same reasons it makes sense to buy your winter coat now, you should also book your winter vacations. Just be sure to use a website, such as kayak.com or yapta.com that will refund you if the price drops. (Airlines themselves also usually offer this benefit, if you buy the ticket directly from them.)

DON’T spend on these:

Airline fees: From baggage to snacks to blankets, anything extra usually costs you money. But if you plan ahead, you can avoid those charges.

Fancy shampoo: Conditioner is the more important product to splurge on.

Shipping: Whenever you shop online, be sure to take advantage of any existing coupon codes or free shipping promotions by doing a web search of the store name and the words “coupon” or “free shipping” prior to purchasing.

Utilities: Cut your utility bills by keeping your house shaded and adjusting your thermostat.

Unnecessary coffee purchases: LearnVest.com describes how to slim your coffee bill without abstaining from caffeine altogether. (Bring your own cup for a discount and make your own latte by ordering espresso and adding milk, for starters.)

Readers, what would you add to these splurge and save lists?

[See Reasons -- and Ways -- to Splurge This Summer]