DIY Project Debate

Throwdown Thursday: DIY Projects or Call a Professional?

Paul and I try our hardest to be frugal. We do everything we can to save money on groceries, we bought a smaller car to save on gas, and we even created our dream wedding on a tight budget. One area in which we have some difficulty, however, is agreeing whether to take on DIY projects around the home or to call in an expert. Paul always votes for DIY. Whether it’s fixing the toilet or trying to replace the alternator on his car. He wants to do it himself. I am a bit more cautious. I remember the time he tried to glue his car mirror back on the car after it got knocked off. And the time when we tried to replace a light socket and ended up calling the electrician anyway. Paul remembers only the wins. He has blissful amnesia about the DIY project fails.

Paul: What’s the opposite of “blissful amnesia”? Because you’ve got it in spades. Not every fix is going to work, sure. But there have been plenty of successful shower and toilet repairs, and some car tweaks that have worked out just fine.  Each DIY project success leads to money saved. As long as we do no harm, we’ve lost nothing but time. Ok, maybe an occasional part or two. But the professionals can always come in and mop up the fails.

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Aria Las Vegas Poker Room Review

Aria Las Vegas Poker Room Review

The Aria is one of Las Vegas’s most breathtaking upscale hotels.  A relatively recent addition to the Vegas landscape (it opened in 2009), it offers a modern and sleek look and endless luxury offerings. The Aria poker room transmits that sense of elegance and provides a top-shelf poker experience.  We have played tournaments at the Aria in both 2016 and 2017.  The Aria certainly did not disappoint, save some minor issues.

Poker Room Setting

The interior of the Aria Las Vegas poker room is striking. Vibrant reds and various shades of brown give the room a deep and rich feel, as do the architecture and drapes that frame the room. The swivel chairs are plush and comfortable, but not too oversized (like we ran into at Playground Poker Club). There is plenty of room between you and your table mates. However, the 24 tables are not housed in a very big space, so there is a somewhat cramped feel to the room overall.  There is much less room to move around compared with The Venetian poker room, for example. Overall, the room is somewhat dark, although the tables were lit sufficiently. As the Aria Las Vegas poker room is also largely open to the casino, noise can be an issue if you are seated at a table near the edge of the space. The biggest drawback, however, is the smoke. Although the poker room is smoke-free, we found more smoke wafting in to the poker room from the Aria casino than we experienced at some of the other elite Vegas rooms.

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Dream Wedding on a Budget in New Orleans

Our Dream Wedding on a Budget in New Orleans

Paul and I are coming up on the first anniversary of our wedding this month (yep, we’re newlyweds). Did you know that the average wedding cost in the United States last year was over $25,000? Paul and I agreed that we had no interest in spending that kind of money on our wedding. We are working to side hustle and save money wherever we can in order to achieve our dream of a year traveling the country. Rather than drop $25k, we planned an amazing wedding in our favorite city, New Orleans, on almost no budget at all. How did we do it? A lot of careful planning and research enabled us to have a wedding on a budget that was also the wedding of our dreams.

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Why you must have a cash tracking system

Why You MUST Track Cash Spending

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Despite my frugal bent and my focus on saving money in everything I do, I resisted the advice to track cash expenditures for a very long time. Now I understand how important it is to keep track of every penny. And, frankly, it is impossible to keep track of those pesky pennies unless you have a decent system set up to do so.

My first financial memory is from my early teen years when I got my own bank account. When that first statement arrived, I sat down with my check register and tried to reconcile my account as my mother had taught me to do (yes, this was back in the dark ages when both the statement and register were paper, and the only tool I had to help me was a calculator). At the end of the process, I was off by two pennies. Close enough, I thought. My mother thought otherwise. She made me go back over (and over) the numbers until I had those documents reconciled to the very last penny.

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The Playground Poker Club is a great cardroom outside of Montreal

Playground Poker Club Room Review

The Playground Poker Club outside of Montreal is a surprising gem. We first visited after seeing some major televised tournaments held there, and expected grand things. While our initial approach to the card room elicited a ‘”this can’t be right” reaction, upon entry all was revealed.

Location and Exterior Setting

The Playground Poker Club is located in Kahnawake, Quebec about a half an hour drive from Montreal. However, the drive can vary substantially – dependent more on construction status than amount of traffic. Returning to Montreal around midnight after one tournament took well over an hour, with bridge repairs narrowing many stretches to one lane. As we discussed in our travel post about Montreal, road conditions are a fearsome obstacle to contend with.  If you’re staying in downtown Montreal, this becomes one of the Playgrounds biggest drawbacks. Taking a shuttle to the Casino de Montreal becomes an attractive alternative in the winter when not feeling adventurous.

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