Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Cheapskate's Guide To Vegas

I just returned from a three-night stay in Las Vegas with a couple of my best pals from college. It was a trip for pure fun and relaxation, and did I ever need it. However, I almost didn't even get to go on this trip on account of my super-slim budget. But I made it work, had fun, and spent less than $500 total. Here's how:
  • First, my friends are awesome. They invited me to come with them after they had already basically booked the trip and the hotel. I told them I wouldn't be able to due to my financial situation. They stepped in and covered the entire cost of the hotel (Caesar's, baby!), and one of my friends whose budget isn't so slim actually offered to lend me the money for my flight. I've already given her $60 towards it and will continue to send her $50 each month, so it should take me 4-5 months to pay her back in full. Obviously this method doesn't work for everyone, but if you can't afford to go along on a cool trip out of pocket, consider a personal loan from a good friend or family member who knows you're good for it and won't be offended if you ask. It worked out in my case because my friend really wanted me to come on the trip with her, so she offered me the money as soon as she heard about my financial situation.
  • Avoided airport food at all costs--instead I packed a Clif bar and ate the plane peanuts. My husband (aka Homeboy), also snuck a bag of Skittles into my carry-on. He's a keeper.
  • Packed extra snacks for breakfast and in between meals. Blueberry Clif bars were my weapon of choice. My friends also brought candy to share in the hotel room.
  • I spent an average of $20 for each meal I paid for, plus or minus a few cheap snacks here and there. Fried Twinkie anyone?
  • I set a budget. Before I left, I withdrew $200 in cash, and that was it. I did use my debit card for a couple of purchases (a bus ticket and Band-Aids at Walgreens). At the end of the trip, I had $60 left, which I gave to my friend who paid for my flight.
  • I didn't gamble. I know, who goes to Vegas and doesn't gamble, right? A tightwad, that's who! I threw about $15 down the slots and lost it all, so I stopped there. I watched my friends play Black Jack and Roulette, and it was mildly fun just to watch. The rest of the time I took advantage of the free attractions at the casinos and people-watched.
  • Okay, so I didn't drink much either. We worked the system and scored a few sweet deals from one club promoter where we got free cover and free drinks, then we let some boys buy us a round at another club. The remainder of the time I ordered water and cranberry juice, and I mostly didn't have to pay for any of those (I did get charged $4 for a microscopic bottle of water at one place, which was ridiculous, but oh well).
  • Being cheap in Vegas does mean giving up some of the "Go Wild"-ness of it all, but I'm not the kind of person to bet my fortune or drink a lot anyway. So it worked for me. Obviously, most people my age go to Vegas to get a little crazy. But I was there mostly to hang out with my friends and relax from my crazy life. And hangovers? Not relaxing for me. Losing tons of money? Definitely not relaxing. So I took in the sights, laid by the pool, and had a fantastic time.

1 comment:

  1. I love this.

    When I went to vegas (for work, but I had a bunch of free time) I only allowed myself $100 to gamble with (I'd never gambled before, so I had to try), but I realized I don't LIKE gambling because, well, you lose money, and I'm not a fan of losing money.