A few weeks ago, I went to Vegas to celebrate two of my relatives’ birthdays. As we just spent money replacing our roof, I was really nervous about spending any extra money in Las Vegas. After all, birthdays (and ensuing parties), gambling, and delicious food all generally make Vegas a pretty expensive trip to take.
Luckily, I had been saving up for Vegas, so I already had enough money saved up for the room. Because of the roof, however, I had to drastically cut my budget down from $400 to $200 for 3 days and 3 nights. So how did I do?
Lodging in Vegas
Lodging was by far my biggest expense. Even though I shared the room with another family member, staying at the Bellagio (yes, where Ocean’s 11 took place!) was the priciest thing I paid for at $300.
While I typically wouldn’t stay at the Bellagio (there are cheaper rooms with just as great amenities on the Strip), we did end up getting a great deal. How did we do it?
- Staying midweek – we stayed from Wednesday to Saturday. We still were able to have fun in the clubs on Thursday and Friday nights, and we avoided an expensive Saturday stay in the process.
- Booking after major holidays – everyone likes to visit Vegas during the holidays, including New Year’s Eve. Those are some of the most expensive times to stay on the Strip, so by staying during a fairly “dead” week, we saved a bunch of money!
- Looking up deals online – By visiting this Vegas deals site, we were able to book rooms at the Bellagio and received a $75 room credit per room.
Food was another tremendous expense, but you expect it, because you’re in Vegas and the food is great. I ended up spending $60 in food. The ways I saved money on food, even in Vegas, was by doing 3 things:
- Splitting meals – I know, I know, I was in Vegas! A delicious place to eat lots of food! Before you get too upset, portions in Vegas (like portions in a lot of restaurants in the US) are big! And you can’t bring home your leftovers, because the refrigerators in the Bellagio are stocked full of alcohol and mixers (and we were too afraid to move them lest we get charged a million dollars for raiding the mini-bar!) So I split most of my meals with my cousins, saving me serious cash.
- Using our room credit for the buffet – I really like the buffets in Vegas, but they can be pretty expensive. Luckily, we were able to use our room credit towards anything in the hotel, and instead of using it on drinks, we used it on buffets for 2 mornings (late breakfast/early lunch) that kept us going throughout the day.
We also indulged in some In and Out (for the East Coasters) and some Smashburger (for me). Again, not gourmet eating, but now I am a convert of Smashburger. Hey, the heart wants what it wants! 🙂
Drinks were my second biggest expense, but since we were there for birthdays, I expected it. I ended up spending $100 on drinks… and let’s just say, it was worth it 🙂 I saved on drinks by:
- Not paying any entrance fees into the clubs – some clubs let you in for free before 10 p.m., so we planned our club hopping around this. Paying a cover doesn’t even get you free drinks in Vegas (unless, I suppose, you know someone), so it wasn’t worth it to me to pay cover and then still pay for drinks.
- Buying the opening round of drinks – the minute we got into the clubs, I was the first person buying the birthday girls a round of drinks. Getting it out of the way meant I was sober (enough) to a) remember buying drinks and b) counting out the correct tip. Everyone remembers who buys the first drink, but they may not remember the middle or last drinks of the night. Yes, this isn’t really a money-saving tip, but maybe a friend-making tip! 🙂
- Bringing cash – While this could be dangerous (it’s hard to carry cash as a woman, because our dresses typically don’t have pockets and sometimes clutches get lost…), I brought cash and carried it in a cross-body strap small purse. I was able to give the correct tip and keep track of how much I was spending all night. I didn’t bring all my cash, but rather just $40, depending on where we were going.
Another way to save money in Vegas on drinks is to, of course, bring your own drinks and pre-game in the hotel. We had dinner plans almost every night before club hopping, so we didn’t take advantage of that, but it’s certainly an option if you want to save on pricey Vegas drinks!
Another way to save money on drinks is going off the Strip. You can find really great deals on drinks off the Strip, especially on Fremont Street. Fremont Street is another entertainment area just a few minutes from the Strip, and is definitely well worth a visit – both for drinks and for people-watching!
I ended up spending a total of $495 on my 3 day, 3 night Vegas trip, which was $5 under my set budget. Even with cutting down my planned budget, I still came in slightly under, which I’m way proud of! I really think I’m finally starting to live the personal finance lifestyle for once in my life 🙂
We’ll see how I did at the end of this month when I do my final tally!
Have you ever been to Vegas, and how do you try to save money while you’re on the Strip? Or is Vegas a place where you don’t exactly have a budget? 😉