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Emily’s list: Viva Las Vegas edition

Emily Crone

Last weekend, I went to Las Vegas for the first time. I know, I know — I was probably the only 27-year-old who had never been. You can see me to the right learning how to play roulette. Boy does money flow in and out of that place.

My friend and I noticed that there were no bank ATMs anywhere to be seen, either in the hotels or on the Strip. Instead, there were private ATMs in hotels. I wanted some cash to pay her back for something, so I stuck my card in, hoping to learn what the ATM withdrawal fee was before I made a transaction (of course there was no sign).

Emily learns blackjack

I was taken to a screen that gave me the option to do a debit withdrawal with a PIN or a credit card withdrawal without a PIN. (Yikes. A credit card cash advance option is trouble waiting to happen in a room full of people drinking and gambling!) It didn’t say what the fee was, so I decided not to get more cash and stick to using my debit card. I didn’t want to risk paying a $5 fee.

I’m not usually a gambler, but I decided to try my luck. I spent $3 in slot machines and ended up winning $5.50. I was happy with my little net gain and stopped there! The next day, I played roulette since my poker and other game skills are shameful. I played $20 over a few different tables until I was down to $2. Then I went to a game that was like the Price is Right wheel, and I won $20, so I won it all back plus $2. That’s where my gambling ended. While I saw some people across the casino win big and celebrate, I also saw plenty of people hanging their heads low from losses. I just don’t like the idea of losing large amounts of my hard-earned money! I noticed that the casinos and hotels all had tons of designer shops. Perhaps people who win a big jackpot will pass by that Gucci store on the way out and decide to blow it all there, and put the money right back into the system.

I learned that Vegas can be very pricey to enjoy. One day at the pool at my hotel, I ordered a Coke, thinking it would be around $2, but to my dismay the small cup with mostly ice cost $4.50! Many of the restaurants were also expensive. The show tickets can cost a lot, but some locals tipped us off to Tickets 4 Tonight, which sells day-of and next-day tickets at a discount. We used that to save money on two shows. They also offer vouchers for restaurant discounts. We paid only $3 for a voucher that gave us 20 percent off at Spago, a top-notch Wolfgang Puck restaurant.

While I am glad I finally saw the city of sin with my own eyes, and I did have quite a bit of fun, it was loud, chaotic and crowded. Everything was overpriced, other than exercise (which came free due to the massive amounts of walking required). I enjoyed seeing a more sophisticated side of the city by focusing on shows, dining and relaxing by the pool. But am I dying to rush back? Nah. I’ll go back one day, but Sin City is a bit intense and expensive for me. What do you think about Vegas?

Read on for my list of my top 10 favorite personal finance posts this week from bloggers, some of which I just discovered!

1. Christian Personal Finance discusses the benefits of going paperless and explains how to make all of your finances go digital.

2. Finance Fox explains how you too can eliminate your credit card debt in less than a year.

3. Your credit score greatly affects your ability to secure a good mortgage rate. Narrow Bridge Finance helps readers learn how to buy a home if they have bad credit.

4. Sustainable Life Blog outlines how to create a personal monthly budget and use it to recognize behaviors that need to change.

5. Free From Broke reveals four things that can prevent you from having a successful retirement. It’s no surprise that one of these is debt!

6. Krant Cents debates whether cash is king and shares why he rarely uses it.

7. If it’s time to get your finances under control, The Broken Coin provides tips on how to start a debt diet.

8. Financial Confessions of a Former Brat discusses how to obtain and keep a good credit score.

9. Financial Highway shares financial lessons we can all learn from our older relatives.

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  • jeff

    Very well-written article…..you hit the nail on the head Emily. Kudos for you for showing restraint and responsibility in Sin City.