When I last posted, my wife and I were in Vegas attempting to enjoy our time together without busting the budget. This was our first trip to Vegas since we made the decision to change our ways and focus on reaching FIRE. It was the first true test of our ability to focus on priorities and not just whip out the old credit card for whatever our hearts desired.
Our past trips to Vegas were filled with overspending and numerous stops at the ATM machine to get cash for our gaming fun. We would spend a fortune on food and drink charges at restaurants and bars. I would usually buy something at the Apple store and maybe something at Tiffany’s to go along with a couple bags of clothes.
We were never really living outside our means as we make a decent living, but it was certainly excessive. We would always pay off our credit card every month, even after trips to Vegas. But it was never a lot fun to come home with an empty wallet and a pocket full of receipts.
As we have tried to reshape our lives and mindset towards reaching FI, we have learned that just because you have the means to spend frivolously doesn’t make it ok. In fact, it can be very harmful personally and financially in the long term.
So, how did we do at our first real test?
Room = $0.00 (Full Comp.)
Transportation = $51.72
Food = $285.06
Gambling Money = $100.00
Total = $436.78!
This might seem like a lot for some people, but for us this is a remarkable change from our previous trips.
One point of clarification on the gambling money; I received $300 in prize money that we specifically put aside for this trip. Knowing that was all we were going to allow ourselves to spend, we didn’t play nearly as much as we usually do. We also managed to come home with $200 of that money. Our net out of pocket for the entire trip is actually only $236.78!!
How did we do it?
First, our room was complementary thanks to our old habits. That’s good for this trip, but will end for sure going forward.
Second, we took the free shuttle anytime we wanted to go down to the strip instead of expensive taxi services. We decided to spend our time walking and enjoying the different hotels. We walked a total of 16.89 miles in two days. (Yes, I tracked it)
Third, we didn’t go crazy and eat at expensive restaurants or drink ourselves into oblivion. We used a couple of dining credits that totaled $20 and a discount coupon for breakfast in the morning. We spent less than half of what we normally spend on food and beverages. (Especially the beverages part of the equation)
Lastly we decided before we even got into town that we were not going to hit the ATM to fund our gaming desires. We had some cash to play with and that was going to be it! I don’t even want to tell you how much we saved on this part compared to previous trips.
I consider this to be a very successful trip for us. We were able to see and do a lot of things at an extremely minimal cost compared to past trips. The best part was that we were never bored or hurting for entertainment.
On that note, I highly recommend getting a drink and relaxing along the strip to people watch. It is hands down the best free entertainment in Vegas. Some people have no shame!!
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.