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LAS VEGAS TRAVEL PLANNING: MANAGING YOUR MONEY

Getting money is not a problem in Vegas - ATM machines are almost as common as slot machines and are located in every casino, convenience store, and bank.

Keeping your money is an entirely different story. What with the hotel rates, expensive restaurants, and high show-ticket prices it's not surprising that people wind up spending more dough in Vegas than they planned to.

Oh yeah, there are the casinos also. Almost forgot about that.

Now many of you who have never been to Vegas before may be thinking that you have the self-determination and good sense not to blow junior's college fund at the craps table, and that may be true for some people. But I can tell you that Vegas rakes in billions of dollars every year from people who think they have self-determination and good sense.

So how do you make sure to keep your life savings intact if you're worried that you can't keep your willpower intact? Here are a few rules that I try to live by. Admittedly I often fail to live by them but that doesn't mean they aren't good ideas:

  • Consider gambling as an entertainment expense and not as a way to make money. Before your trip, budget only the amount you're willing to lose and consider that money gone. Think of it this way: you're heading to New York and you budget $500 to see a bunch of Broadway shows. You wouldn't expect to have any of that money left when you return, would you? The same goes for gambling. And if you're lucky enough to have any left when your trip is over, you're ahead of the game - literally.
  • Budget your entertainment, food, and hotel money in one column and use a credit card to cover it, then put your gambling budget in another column and bring cash or traveler's check to cover that.
  • Only bring one credit card and leave your ATM card, traveler checks, checkbook, and all but maybe a small store of emergency cash at home. This will keep you from running back to the ATM when you're just sure that double-diamond slot machine is going to hit. In Las Vegas you can use a credit card for almost everything, including emergencies, so as long as you have that one card you should be covered for anything unexpected that may happen (provided you have enough credit available on that card!)
  • Try to use a credit card that doesn't have or allow cash advances. It's very easy to take cash from your credit card and it's another temptation you don't need.
  • Keep the money in your gambling budget separate from everything else - that way it'll be a lot easier to keep track of exactly how much money you're losing in the casino. Plus, if you have the fortitude to do so, you can stand by the mantra that once your gambling budget is gone, you stop gambling.
  • Get out of the casinos! Gambling is very seductive but there are so many things to see and do in Las Vegas to distract you from the lure of the bells and whistles that all you have to do is step outside, get a breath of fresh air, and take in the scenery. It'll help you to clear your head and realize that you've just blown through half of your gambling budget in ten minutes and maybe you should go ride a roller coaster instead.

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