Las Vegas On a Budget

Las Vegas On a Budget - picture of Las Vegas at night

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Last month, D.C. at Young Adult Money introduced me to a Facebook app called MyVEGAS Slots.  And ever since then, I’ve been hooked.  On its surface, it’s just a regular ol’ Facebook slot game.  The only difference is, the points you earn can be redeemed for real rewards like free rooms, free or discounted meals, and show tickets.  What you can redeem your points for changes daily, but it includes rewards like:

  • Free Appetizer at Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill: 7,500 points
  • 2 for 1 Breakfast Buffet at MGM Grand: 5,000 points
  • 2 for 1 Buffet at the Luxor: 7,000 points
  • One Jabbawockeez Ticket: 49,500 points
  • 2 for 1 Dinner Buffet at MGM Grand: 10,000 points
My Small Collection of Miniature Booze Bottles
My Small Collection of Miniature Booze Bottles

I’ve been trying to build up 30,000 points for two free lunches at Excalibur for a month now, and I finally hit my goal.  Finally.  Fortunately, the timing couldn’t be better.  As I mentioned earlier this week in my budget breakdown, we’re headed to Las Vegas next weekend and have budgeted $600 for entertainment, drinks, gambling, and food.  Earning a free meal or two will help us stretch our dollars further.  My goal is to actually spend less than I’ve budgeted and come home with cash.  Fingers crossed!

new orleans 1Some other ways we plan to experience Las Vegas on a budget:

  • We’re bringing our own booze.  Every time we’ve stayed at a resort in the past few years, we’ve been given a few small bottles of alcohol to drink or bring home.  Sometimes we drink them, but a few have managed to survive …..until now.  I also participated in the World’s Most Awesome Adult Easter Egg Hunt this year, and I won some liquor there.  Yes, I’m serious.  The small bottles are purse-size and will be perfect for topping off a diet coke.  Is that wrong?
  • We’re going to do some serious people-watching.  One thing I really love about big cities is that they are usually filled with a diverse crowd.  In other words, weirdos.  I can’t tell you how many strange people I’ve seen and talked to in places like Las Vegas and New Orleans, and it just keeps getting better.  More good news: People-watching is free.
  • We’re staying at the Travelodge.  Even though I have a lot of hotel points that I could redeem for free stays in Vegas, I chose not to.  I just don’t think that Las Vegas is a good place to burn them, especially when I plan to spend so little time in my room.  Instead, we chose to pay $87 per night for a room at the Travelodge.  Even better, we used our Barclay Arrival World MasterCard and an Expedia coupon to make our hotel stay completely free.  (We did pay for a different hotel in old downtown Las Vegas for our first night).  The Travelodge may not be flashy, but it does offer free wifi, no resort fees, and a free continental breakfast.  And once we make sure there are no bed bugs, we’ll be good to go!
  • We’re skipping the expensive meals.  It’s always tempting to go out to eat, but Las Vegas dining is far too expensive for my taste.  The only exception we’ll make is the free food we’ve earned from the myVEGAS slots game, and any other free food we earn or come across (Greg currently has 17,000 points on myVEGAS slots too!).  Other than that, we plan to eat at Subway and Chipotle since they are both on the strip.

Las Vegas used to be known as a cheap place to visit and explore, but that’s no longer the case.  Fortunately, we’re still able to have fun without spending a lot.  And maybe- just maybe- we’ll win big.

Unfortunately, I doubt it.

Want to save money in Las Vegas?  The Las Vegas Pass may be able to help.  If you want to see more than just the casinos and the Strip, this pass offers “free” entry to some of Las Vegas’s top attractions.  Of course, it isn’t for everybody.  Follow the link to read our full review and see if you can save money on sightseeing in Las Vegas with the pass.  Winning!

What are your favorite frugal activities to do in Las Vegas?  Anything tips?


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  1. Sounds like an awesome trip! I’d never heard of that app, but what an awesom way to get free stuff in Vegas! Have fun!

  2. I’m glad you were able to make use of MyVegas slots! It usually takes some time to get going on it so it’s great that you were able to get started and gain points pretty quick. Hope you have a great trip to Vegas!

    1. Yeah, I’m really starting to get points fast now. I’m trying to pick up the pace this weekend to maybe get two rewards instead of one. Greg has points too but he’s not quite as dedicated as me!

  3. My wife has been addicted to Vegas slots for a while. We aren’t going to use any of our points this time, she is going to hoard them for our next trip. We have a couple games we play in Vegas that we don’t like to mention outloud since they are very not politically correct.

    Since you are going to be in the Freemont area, you can check out container park. It is mostly a shopping area, but they do some free music there. You could also walk to the Gold and Silver Pawn (Pawn Stars) from Freemont street. When the “stars” of the show are there, they are very very friendly and take pictures with everyone. The rest of the staff is great too. Even though there was ZERO chance I was going to buy anything, they let me try on a nice Vintage Rolex.

    1. Now I am super curious what games you play!!!

      How many myVEGAS points does she have?

  4. Very nice Holly! I’ve purposely stayed away from that app as I don’t want to get addicted to it. 🙂 I don’t think it’s wrong to take your own booze, we do it as well for the little we drink so we’re not paying crazy prices. Vegas is definitely the place to go for people watching, especially there on the Strip. I have a post coming in a few weeks about some random guy literally started screaming at me while we were walking there last time.

  5. If you run out of money, go play Keno. It takes forever, so you can sit and watch and still be gambling a little bit for like $2 an hour.

  6. Enjoy Vegas! I remember the days when it used to be cheap. Those are long gone! I am sure you will have a good time, especially when you are topping off those diet cokes!

  7. I’ll have to try that app if I go there! I like to people watch too…I live in NYC and yes, there are a lot of odd people here =)

  8. My favorite frugal thing about going to vegas is going when you work for a company that pays for it because you are there for a conference. hee! They do have excellent restaurants, but vegas is one of my least favorite places.

  9. My favorite trip to Vegas w=had nothing to do with gambling or entertainment! We rented a houseboat on Lake Mead with friends. It is one of the hidden treasures of Las Vegas.

  10. We’ve been playing this for awhile as well. We have redeemed several for several free shows, rooms, and meals. We go again in June and have free shows and other activities lined up! Addicting!

    1. That is so awesome!
      Might as well get some free stuff!!!

      I like how they let you put it on “auto.” That really helps!

      1. I forgot to mention that we use the social rewards program for Total Rewards as well and between my husband and myself we have 19,000 rewards points. This is equal to $190 and we will be spending ours at two restaurants. You can use these for hotel stays and other perks though. Check it out.

  11. I’ve done the small bottles of alcohol before when we went on a cruise. It’s not a bad thing. I’m always looking for places to eat Guacamole. The Chips and Guac at Chipotle are my favorite.

  12. Frugal Vegas:
    Pinball hall of fame
    Red rock canyon
    Neon museum
    Lots of awesome free places to hike near Vegas
    Free circus shows at circus circus
    The bellagio has a garden like art display that’s free, along with their fountain shows

    Also the american casino guide is worth it just for the coupons.

    1. Thanks so much for the tips! Believe it or not, I’ve never made it down to Circus Circus. It always seems so far since I stay on the south side! I’ll hopefully make it up there this time!

      1. Oh, and don’t forget the super cheap steak dinner at Ellis Island casino. It’s only a block off the strip, an easy walk. Well worth it!

  13. Hey Holly, sounds like it’s going to be a blast…and the free meals will definitely help with your goal. Good luck on winning big…fingers crossed! Ohhh I love people watching. I live in Portland, people are a bit different here than they were in Florida, but the watching is just as fun!

  14. Have a great trip! I remember when Vegas used to be the place to go because it was so cheap. Now it is so expensive! Those $5 steak dinners are history. 🙂 I love Belliago but it doesn’t really make sense – unless it’s really special trip – to spend a ton on a hotel room because you do spend so little time in there. It just needs to be clean! Enjoy your people watching!

  15. Too funny, we will be in vegas too, 15th-18th. Tiger woods and the Billboard music awards are killing us on hotel prices. We booked the Venetian for Thursday and Friday but wanted to see if prices drop for Saturday. So far they have not, so we may be Pricelining a 3 star before it is all said and done. I am only up to 20k on Myvegas, so will probably just save them until next time. Be sure to check Groupon Las vegas, we got some buffets from Paris, Drinks from Planet Hollywood, and Burgers for Johnny Rockets so far. Also Ebay has some decent coupons but their may not be enough time to take advantage of that.

    1. We booked at the Travelodge a long time ago, but I’ve been checking back to see if I could get a last minute deal on a better hotel. I was wondering why the prices are so high that weekend! Make sense!!!

  16. Eeek about the bed bugs … are they common in hotels on the Strip? If so, may have to stay off the Strip in a trusted hotel!

    1. One my friend’s parents brought bed bugs home from Vegas. I’m not sure if it’s common, but I’m not taking any chances!

  17. That sounds like a cool game. I love getting free stuff. You’ll enjoy those lunches so much more because they were free! It’s funny because when people go to vegas they are always talking about which hotel they are staying in. It’s great that you are staying in a budget-friendly alternative.

  18. I’ve been a few times and really enjoy playing blackjack. There’s a method where you start with your money on your left and put all of your winnings on your right. Once you run out of money on your left, you stand up and walk away. It just keeps you from losing all of your money in one sitting.

    Also, last time I went my wife and I really enjoyed the happy hour at a taco place inside the luxor. I would definitely recommend it. Pretty sure they had $5 premium drinks and $5 appetizers that were basically meals. Of course, I would just hit the Chipotle. They don’t have them in Tennessee, and I tend to binge when I travel to places that do.

  19. Lisa E. @ Lisa vs. the Loans says:

    DC totally got me hooked oh that game, too!

  20. I just got back from Vegas too, Holly!

    I love the city for a few days (where else can you go WITHOUT getting a car and still have a blast seeing different sites for 2-3 days).. but am always ready to get the heck out of there afterwards 🙂

    I stayed at the Flamingo (meh), but spent time up and down the strip.
    I don’t know how you can pass up on at least one amazing overpriced meal while you are there. So many great options 🙂

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