If you had talked to me about 6-7 years ago about saving, I would have completely shrugged you off. Why? Because I would have rather gone out to the bars or went to the casino with friends. Go big or go home right? YOLO, right? Damn millennial philosophies. Well, that’s how I used to think. But over the years I’ve transitioned from gambler to saver.
I’ve been to Las Vegas every year for the past 8 years and stayed in 8 different hotels. Yes, I’m being serious… not a very financially savvy sounding person, right?
I’ve stayed at:
- Planet Hollywood – Awesome location, modern vibe, beautiful dealers, and Earl of Sandwich!
- The Wynn – High rollers, luxurious, and prestige clubs.
- Bally’s – Central location, good night’s sleep, and decent rates.
- Luxor – Somewhat recent renovation, okay rooms, decent rates, and home of Criss Angel and Carrot Top.
- The Flamingo – Great breakfast buffet, awesome party pool, and not too far from my favorite drink shack!
- Aria – High end, crabby dealers, and overpriced everything. It looks nice though.
- Caesar’s Palace – Not my favorite sleep, but a fun pool and gambling area. Also, home of the drink shack!
- The Bellagio – Ahh, the beautiful fountains! A little overpriced for what it’s worth, but not bad.
My favorite recommendation if you like a beverage or two is the little shed (aka The Shack) that sits outside of Caesar’s next to a large circus tent. Hands down, the best mojitos. Oh, and the circus show, Absinthe, is pretty great too! Most of my enjoyment really comes from the good times with friends, which is why I’ve gone so many times. I swear I don’t go alone! But I’ve lost my ass out there, that’s for sure.
The first time I actually went to Vegas was after the financial crisis when flights were dirt cheap. If you can believe it, I paid $300 for 5 days at Planet Hollywood in Vegas with a round trip flight. These were the days they were begging for people to come.
We even received a suite upgrade! Wish we could bring back those deals. They even had glass cases of memorabilia from movies worn by the actors. I even bumped into Holly Madison in the elevator although she was trying to stay incognito.
It’s funny because I used to think I’d maybe make it to 30, maybe even early 30’s, and something would happen to me. So I always lived by the saying from Garth in the movie, Wayne’s World… “Live in the now, Wayne!”…and I lived by it for a while. Well, I’ve just made it past 30 and I’m still here!
The Gradual Shift From Gambler To Saver
Through those years, gradually my mindset started to change. It wasn’t until I started to learn about the tiny home movement, which was when my gears started to shift. That was a few years ago. It brought into my life an achievable idea. The idea that you didn’t need to be rich to be free. A lot of people were building their own custom tiny homes for $30k or less. That beats any home mortgage! Hell, that’s practically the down payment on a typical home.
Now, the tiny home thing has it’s own complexities, but that’s not really the point. The point is the change of mindset. Being able to become financially independent earlier in your life rather than in your 60’s requires a shift in your mind before anything else.
While I did gamble and had a ton of fun, I hated the idea of being a slave to debt. My one redeeming quality. It was about 4 years after I graduated when I posted onto my Facebook account:
“Finally paid off my student loans! No matter what anyone tells you, no debt is good debt! ”
My mind was in the right place. My strategy was wayyyyy wrong!
I still use gambling tactics today, but have completely shifted the process!
How I Gamble Now…
- Betting – On my financial freedom
- All in – On index funds/savings
- I’ll stay – Home, if I know I’ll just spend unnecessary amounts of money
- Hit me! – If I gamble again
I never leave money in my checking account anymore. In fact, I only leave enough for the main bills. I’ll put everything else into my index funds, investments or savings. If an emergency happens, I can use my credit card and then pull from my savings if that’s needed.
Once you stop gambling, one of two things will start to happen:
- One – you’re now are able to start saving real money where you weren’t able to in the past. (This is me)
- Two – you’re able to finally get out of that mountain of debt because you’ve been gambling.
Over time, the house will always win. If you think that you can honestly beat the house then you might as well stop reading now. Oh, you can card count? Then why are you reading a financial independence blog?!
But seriously, if you have bad habits or an urge to spend, a savings account like Capital One 360 might not be a bad idea. They tend to take a few days before the money ends up in your account. This is great for anyone with impulsive tendencies!
Check out: My Financial Toolbox
It’s not just gambling tendencies, but shopping with no good reason is just as valid! Shopping out of boredom is never a great idea. It means you need some other hobby. Sometimes you just have to be honest with yourself and preventing yourself from making less than financially responsible choices might be a strategy that works for you. It definitely works for me.
The point is, it’s never to late to change. Despite my bad habits, I’ve found a way to shift them in my favor. I now make that money work for me instead of against me! It just takes time. After all, gamblers don’t like to wait for money to grow. They want the giant money tree today! I have learned to plant the seeds and wait.
Before you know it, you’ll have your own money trees!