Give Me Back My Five Bucks

May 2013 Goals: Recap

Well this was certainly a month of indulging for me. At the beginning of every month I tell myself I’m going to stay under budget and not go crazy with my spending, and almost every month I end up spending more than I think I will. Not by a lot, but enough to make me notice. So I either have to 1) cut back on my spending, or 2) adjust my budget. I’d much rather cut back, because I do think I’ve been spending more than I need to… but I’ll keep it all in mind when I present my June budget on Monday.

05 - May Recap

Over Budget:

  • Entertainment – wow did I ever go crazy with my restaurant expenses, eh? From bloggers and former editors, to birthdays and old friends … I did my best to cut costs by ordering cheaper things off the menus, and skipping out on alcohol, but I still spent way more than what I normally would spend. 
  • Clothing – I bought two dresses from Anthropologie, a pair of Lucky jeans, and a couple of basics from the J.Crew outlet store.
  • Travel – well the Okanagan trip was a last-minute decision, but I’m so glad I got to go to my favourite winery and tour around the valley for a weekend. As for Vegas? I just decided to go all out and ended up spending about $600. And in all honesty, if my “splurge-mode” is spending $120/day? I’m fine with it. Most of my trips I’m in budget-mode, so it all balances out in the end I think.
  • Miscellaneous – stocked up on loose leaf tea from Silk Road. I seem to be spending about $15 every month on tea (drink about 2-4 cups a day), and I’m okay with this expense. Since I started this job in January, I’ve probably only gone to Starbucks 2 or 3 times. This category also included a bike lock, and paying my accountant.

Net Worth Change: + $1,974 (2.43 %)

I wish this would have gone up more, but I only have myself to blame on this one. I over spent on so many categories that I really should be happy with this net worth gain.

May 2013 Goals:

  • Hit 12km while staying at pace. FAIL. The longest run was 11.1km (58:55). :| However, there are positives: I ran that 11.1km at a pace of 5’16″/km (which is much faster than my monthly pace of 5’29″/km), and I ran my fastest timed 10km ever at 52:39.
  • Make an additional $1,000. CHECK! Okay, I *meant* this goal to be for freelance income, and technically I only brought in $978.83. But I made an additional $21.49 with Great Canadian Rebates, and $20.45 on Ebates, so I’m counting it for a grand total of $1,020.77.
  • Put $1,000 into a Questrade TFSA account. FAIL. I was only able to throw in $725 because I spent a little more in Vegas than I had anticipated. :) Still, I’m happy with that amount and I should have the full $1,000 into the account by the end of June.
  • Get rid of my television. FAIL. I didn’t even really think about it.

Top 5 not-so-frugal things to do in Las Vegas

The last two times I went to Vegas (July 2011, July 2010) were for business, so aside from a little bit of shopping, everything else – flight, hotel, food, entertainment, etc. – was expensed to the company. I went in 2009 with an ex-boyfriend, and I believe I spent about $700 total (including flight/hotel, spending money for 3 days/2 nights). And the first time I went to Vegas was in 2008, and spent just around $700 as well (for 3 days/3 nights).

Well, last week was my FIFTH time to Vegas in just 6 years, so I knew this trip was going to be different. First of all, I have a lot more disposable income than I did back in 2008 or 2009, and I was going with someone who had never been before. But most importantly, the things that I really wanted to do in Vegas were going to cost me money. And I had been putting them off for years. But not anymore. Since this was my fifth time going down to the desert, I have a feeling I won’t be going back anytime soon. So it was now or potentially never.

So here I present to you my top 5 (not so frugal) things to do in and around Las Vegas:

6. Have a drink at The Chandelier bar in the Cosmopolitan ($12-16)

I really thought this lounge area was cool. Not only was it three-storeys high, but it had such a different atmosphere from the casino floor that surrounded it. There’s fun live music, and it’s a great place to sit, relax, and people watch. Even if you’re only going to splurge for one drink – because it’s pricey! Oh, and as you can tell from the pictures, it really was like sipping cocktails inside a chandelier. :)

5. Bacchanal Buffet in Caesar’s ($45.99 dinner on weekdays)

We purchased the $50 Buffet of Buffets deal, which gives you 24-hour access to 6 different buffets in Vegas, plus a discount on the Rio Seafood buffet, as well as the Bacchanal in Caesars.

If you time it correctly, you can get 4 buffet meals in 24 hours, so for our last meal, we decided to splurge and pay the $25 extra to get into Bacchanal for dinner, and it was completely worth it. It is by far the best buffet I’ve ever been to. Just look at all the delicious food!

4. New York, New York roller coaster ($14)

Every time I’m in Vegas, it’s a pre-requisite that I have to ride this roller coaster. It’s a splurge, but SO MUCH FUN! And definitely worth the wait to sit in the front row.

Sorry for the crappy photos – these were taken in 2008 on my first trip to Vegas.

3. Shoot a gun at a firing range ($30-50)

I’ve never shot a gun before, but I’ve always wanted to give it a try. And every time I’m in Vegas, I tell myself I’m going to do it. And then I either chicken out or I run out of time. But this trip, we had plenty of time. And when I saw an ad for Battlefield Vegas, I knew I had to go.

When I got there, the guys were pretty friendly. I had no idea what kind of gun I wanted to shoot, but ended up with a Glock – the kind that police officers use. I was tempted to go big and try a machine gun, but decided to play it safe (and cheap) since the small Glock was only $40 for 30 shots. And I found out my aim is pretty good! :)

2. Grand Canyon ($25 fee) & Hoover Dam (car rental + hotel)

This was one of the things I really wanted to see in the USA, and each time I went to Vegas, I thought – this will be the trip! But unfortunately, the south rim of the Grand Canyon is just far away enough that it makes it inconvenient. Plus, if you’re going to go all the way to the Grand Canyon, you have to stop at the Hoover Dam, right? So this trip, we went down for 5 days – which gave us enough time to leave the Strip for a night, and still have time to see everything that we wanted to see in Vegas. Our hotel in Williams, Arizona only cost $50, and made the trip more pleasant than trying to cram in an entire day of driving. We saved money by buying groceries instead of going to a restaurant to eat.

My only regret was not spending MORE time at the Grand Canyon. I would have loved to go on an overnight hike to the Colorado River.

1. Red Rock Canyon National Park ($7 fee + car rental)

Located just half an hour outside of Vegas, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to check out Red Rock Canyon. Especially since I’m a hiker. We chose to go on the Calico Tanks hike, which is only about 2.5 miles long. It was beautiful, and I’m glad that we went… but I wish we had more time to explore the area. Maybe even brought my climbing shoes. :)

 What are your favourite frugal (or non-frugal) things to do in Vegas?

Spending Recap: May 20-26, 2013

Monday 20th – Las Vegas
$42.61 tw0-day car rental
$25 Grand Canyon Park fee
$24.25 groceries

Tuesday 21st – Las Vegas
+ $177.47 freelance income
$34.10 gas
$7 Red Rock Canyon Park fee
$18.53 gas
$31.89 taxi

Wednesday 22nd – Las Vegas
$236.01 Anthropologie
$50 24-hour buffet
$42.59 gun range

Thursday 23rd – Las Vegas
$57.36 Caesars Baccchanel Buffet

Friday 24th – Las Vegas
$74.96 J.Crew Outlet
$12.83 lunch
$57.31 parking

Saturday 25th
+ $66.97 MSP over payment
$7.04 coffee & snack
$11 lunch
$29.26 groceries

Sunday 26th
$20 lunch
$3.79 groceries

Freelance Income: + $177.47 (+ $66.97 refund)
Expenses– $785.53

TOTAL: – $541.09

Well, 5 days in Vegas will kill almost anyone’s budget. This was definitely the most I’ve ever spent in Vegas (the last 4 times I’ve gone have been very frugal), but since I likely won’t go back to Vegas again (5 times is more than enough, especially when there are so many other places in the world to explore), I wanted to check off a bunch of somewhat less-than-frugal activities. There’s a Vegas recap post coming later this week.

I also did a little bit of shopping while on vacation – including splurging on two dresses at Anthropologie. I had returned a dress I bought on eBay earlier this month, so once I calculate all the numbers, my clothing budget won’t look as horrible as it does now.

One of my favourite posts I’ve ever written on GMBMFB was last week as well – where I compared prices at Target Canada vs. Target USA. I got lots of response to it, and many people requested a price comparison between Target Canada and Walmart Canada. That’s on my to-do list in the next few weeks, so watch out for it. :)

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