Saturday, January 19, 2019

budgeting for horsey hopes + dreams

So today's topic is a little bit like someone telling a story about their dream last night. It's really interesting and meaningful to the story teller, sure, but possibly intensely boring or irrelevant to whomever has to sit there listening.

But ya know. This is my blog. I write about the things I care about, the things that are on my mind. Not trying to be an influencer or go viral or move product or build an audience or whatever. Just sharing my story of living my best horsey life. And hopefully, along the way, using this space as a portal for trading stories and experiences, sharing in the joys and sorrows with everyone else in this wonderful little community.

today's pics all feature charlie eating. just imagine that instead of grass or hay or snax, he's eating money.
so so so much money. 
Obviously often times our own stories are just that - highly specific to our own individual circumstances. And budgets in graphic detail probably fall into that category. I'm going to try to make this relatable tho, at least in some small way.

So. Budgets.

My life has changed drastically in the last year, forcing me to adapt and evolve. For starters, I moved house for the first time in a decade. Superficially it might not seem like a big deal -- people move all the time! But for me, it served as a pretty transformational pivot point.

The move allowed me to do a complete inventory of all my junk and decide which material goods actually had a place in my life, and which needed to go away. Especially since I work from home and spend a good deal of time living amid said material goods, it's proved to be a really positive change to only keep what I like. It's, uh, also easier to keep clean haha.

"mmmm this grain is my favorite flavor: expensive!" - charlie, probably
Anyway, the new rent had a pretty major impact on my financial landscape. Which, naturally, sent shock waves rippling through literally every single facet of my existence.

For example? My diet is completely different, since I now spend more time in the grocery store and kitchen, and less time in restaurants, cafes or bars. Being totally honest, the transformation of raw ingredients into something edible and actually tasty has always felt like.... well, a bit of a miracle lol. I'm not a very educated cook. But that's been changing in recent months and it's actually really exciting!

"hm, can i eat you too??"
This isn't a cooking blog tho, haha, it's a horse blog. So back to the point: budgeting for horsey hopes and dreams.

I've been tracking expenses since roughly June, and have obsessively plotted and charted every single dollar and cent that can possibly be accounted for into my handy little excel workbook. And what did I learn? Well, uh, gulp. My horse habit burns through a sizable chunk of my paycheck each month.

So what does that include?

1. Board. This is the biggest line item by far. Charlie's $500 board payment covers twice daily feeding, turning in/out, hay + water, and stall cleaning. Additional surcharges are applied for checking blanket straps in the winter (note: this does *not* cover actual blanket changes...), holding for the farrier, and parking my trailer on the property. This would also include the horse's actual feed too, except I don't like what the farm feeds so.... next!

after this wet nasty summer, the ensuing poor hay crop might as well be literal bales of cash for as expensive as it is!
2. Feed. I buy my own feed, of which Charlie eats a metric fuck ton. Literally a 50lb bag per week. Luckily my feed gets auto-delivered from the local feed store along with the rest of the farm's orders, so this system is kinda "set it & forget it." Charlie's feed program costs an eye-popping ~$110/mo, but he's doing extremely well on it and I'm reluctant to rock that particular boat. There are a couple options for adjustments if push comes to shove, tho.

3. Farrier. Charlie gets his feet done every 5 weeks, with few exceptions (knocking furiously on wood, obvi). In the two years I've owned him, he's spent some portion of the summer in leather pads. And last fall we drilled and tapped his shoes for studs during the competition season, a decision that paid off in a big way with Charlie's increased confidence and security on terrain. All told, the average across the full year with a 5wk cycle rounds out to $130/mo.

"are you food too?? gimme a finger to test and i'll let you know!"
4. Routine Vet Care. This is hard to calculate bc there's just so much stuff that goes into "routine horse keeping," right? Staying fairly high level, I'm counting my vet's wellness plan (spring/fall shots, etc), the equine dentist (every 6mos for Charles!), and the big ticket items I know I'll need over the course of the year, like injections. Averaged to a monthly cost? It's about ~$85.

***

So the above pretty well covers the bases of horse keeping. Different horses with different needs will have different breakdowns, but this is what it looks like for Charlie.

"'scuse me, waiter, this is not what i ordered."
But that's only half the equation, right? Because I'm not just expecting to *keep* Charlie. I'm expecting to ride him, to train and compete and go on adventures. Which, incidentally, aren't free. Who knew!

That leads us to the next tier of budgetary line items, blurring the line between discretionary and necessary haha.

5. Lessons! Weekly lessons with Trainer P are easy enough to budget for, right? In line with my goals for the year, tho, I want to be a little more thoughtful in 2019 about investing in my education as a rider. This means being more diligent about riding with other trainers, like Trainer C and Dan, and fitting in more educational opportunities.

"that's more like it!"
also fwiw i'm still obsessed with this snuggy hood silky bib, charlie wears it every day and has zero rubs!
The current plan is to maintain ~weekly lessons with P, and do one additional (or substitute) lesson / learning experience per month. Tho I'm trying to build enough wiggle room into the entire budgeting apparatus to allow impulsiveness if something cool pops up!

6. Competitions! Same story here haha. A major hallmark of my horsey habit is that.... well, I like to do all the things. If it looks like fun, we wanna do it. Ya know? But I've got this handy dandy blog here that's got a recorded precedent from the last few years on what that actually amounts to month by month. Which is helpful haha.

free choice is best choice!! also throwback to when that mio sheet was new and not yet shredded....
One big difference this year, again per my stated goals for the year, is that some of my competitions are going to double in price. Plus there are more required memberships bleh.

So this dollar figure is probably the loosest of the whole bunch, bc it's wayyyyy too early to use anything other than pencil. But the memberships plus some combination of starter and recognized events over the year adds up to almost $2k. Which is a huge amount of money, and doesn't necessarily get any easier to swallow in it's monthly dose of ~$150.

***

"if y'all are partying, you better be passing the chips my way too!"
Whew, ok. Every time I get to this point in my budget workbook, I seriously begin questioning my sanity. I guess this is what they mean when they say ignorance is bliss??

Anyway, you all are horse people too, so you know full well that the above is still missing a few puzzle pieces. Because those are just the expected costs. And yes, my truck is broken out as a separate line item too, but I'm just plain old not including it here. Suffice it to say: that Chevy is one voracious insatiable beast!

And all that says *nothing* about the unexpected expenses. The $900 bc "Oops, the Chevy is overheating!" or the $450 bc "Whoops, turns out Charlie was banging his eye on his water bucket hook and damn I wish I realized this before I paid all that fucking money on the vet call, medicine, and follow up appts!" or the surprise $135 annual vehicle registration that *should* have been expected but wasn't....

"does this bridle come with snax too plz?"
Like. Those are major budget busters. How on earth are we supposed to see stuff like that coming??

I've gone back into as many records as I can remember / find to try to get some sort of historical baseline on how much gets spent on vehicle repairs each year. Or on unplanned vet visits (Charlie's $3k surgery, anyone??). It's hard tho.

Each month I have a little tag in my workbook for the unplanned, and the average there is about $400. Ymmv, obvi, but it's been helpful for me to quantify just how much outflow there is likely to be that I don't see coming, and thus plan what I *can* control accordingly.

flashback to when there was actually grass..... c'mon spring!
And. Um. Wow, yea there's still that whole 'nother elephant in the room here: SHOPPING! But what about shopping? New clothes? All my breeches are sad baggy saggy, what about that? Doesn't my helmet need replacing in the next year or two? What happens if I end up being a terribly shitty stressed out braider and need to outsource that? How am I gonna budget for all those horse show photos?!? And doesn't Charlie want a fancy monoflap jump saddle????

So..... Yea. Idk. I tried haha. Budgeting is hard, yo.

But I'm a firm believer: knowledge is power. Anything can happen with horses -- literally anything, something could happen tomorrow that renders all of the above tragically laughable -- but I'm trying to be as realistic here as possible. And I'll vacation when I'm dead lol.

"mmm this hay smells like dolla dolla bills, y'all!"
What about you? Have you tortured yourself by breaking down all your equestrian-related spending? Were you surprised by what you found? Or maybe you prefer a little mystery?? Have you been in a similar position where you had to get serious about budgeting in order to reach a goal? What worked for you -- any tips or tricks to share? Or maybe if your breakdown looks very different from mine, you want to take a stab at laying it all out in a post of your own?

47 comments:

  1. I have an itemized monthly budget for my life that I have maintained for going-on 10 years. It's absurd. But good! I do a pretty good job sticking to it most of the time but definitely get skewered by those random unexpected costs you note above. I had to laugh about the vehicle license renewal because yeah, that gets me every year. Why cant I learn? Lol.

    But yes. Overall I agree it is so very good to be aware of the expenses even if the amount that goes towards horses makes me wanna vomit sometimes.

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    1. Those random expenses are driving me batty haha. I’m such a planner it kills me that I can’t plan for everything !! It’s good to hear tho that your tracking habit has held up for 10 yrs, I’m still figuring out what works for me. Like, does it actually make sense to break one large single time expense into monthly costs ? I’m not sure yet !

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  2. I know my husbands tracks the spending (he’s an accountant) and I’m afraid to look. Now I’m at a point in my life and career where I can spend on myself - which literally means horses. So I do. I’m not crazy with it. We’d definitely have more disposable income if I didn’t have horses but what would we do with it? Our retirement is in good shape. I’d likely be fat and grumpy without the ponies and no one wants that.

    I am conscious of my spending though. This year might be cheaper because there are fewer shows. But I’ll likely spend that on other horse things.

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    1. Yea I’ve always been conscientious and that generally was good enough. Maybe in a couple years when I get used to my new financial balance sheet I won’t have to be so exacting about it any more! Idk. But yea I don’t write any of the above to suggest that I decrease my spending on the horses bc.... no haha. That habit is ingrained in my life blood and I don’t see my existence without it. But it helps to keep everything in perspective and gives me tools to be reasonable about the spending that doesn’t actually go into the parts of my life I care most about.

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  3. Nope. Money makes my skin itch. I do have a general idea of what I’m spending and I know how much we bring in so I know when I can afford to splurge a little or have to reel it in. I’m not a spender though so mostly it’s the basics. I am lucky in that I run my own business and I’m just as frugal there as at home. It sorta drives my spendy husband insane but since I pay myself the bare minimum to pay our bills at home, it means that I have a stash to pull big ticket unplanned items from such as Doofus, PPEs and the saddle. Dusty does the routine vet work for me through his own clinic so things like coggins, vaccines and H’Appys gastroguard all were “free” on the home budget.

    It helps that I don’t lesson aggressively and any shows I have attended were very cheap schooling shows that were local and maybe cost $50 so when I do splurge I don’t feel as guilty about it.

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    1. Yea it’s not my favorite subject but as kinda a math person I can derive satisfaction from pushing the numbers around and seeing what happens in different simulations lol. It’s true that the lessons (not broken out into a dollar figure above) are probably the second biggest expense after board. But oh how I live for the lessons! Some of my favorite moments on horseback happen in lessons, and they’re the rungs in the ladder to help me keep climbing even when I’m working on my own. Esp considering I have goals that require stretching my comfort zone and challenging myself, lessons are a pretty critical piece of that puzzle so I would rather invest in them than splurge on anything else at this point.

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  4. *The Tightwad Gazette* by Amy Dacyczyn changed my relationship to money. It's on my list of books everyone should read. Seriously. I give it away as a wedding present.

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  5. One of my favorite subjects! I have definitely been in a situation where I needed to buckle down and budget. Not to say I'm perfect about it, but I've figured out what works for me.

    When I was first starting out with managing my money, I intentionally didn't look at it as "budgeting" because that feels like "Dieting". I looked at it as "tracking". Then once I knew what I actually spent over a year, I could budget and/or rein it in, like with my "unncessary horse shopping" challenge last year. I use Mint for tracking/budgeting and a Notepad file (haha) for planning where each paycheck will go.

    I have a small savings account linked to my checking that's strictly for "fun horse things" like showing. I do 100% of my spending on credit cards for security reasons, and my credit card rewards auto-redeem into that savings account, which nets me around $400/year. It's not a ton but it's basically one rated show for free so hey! Then I also put a fixed amount into that account every month, so that when I go to enter a show it doesn't bite my regular finances.

    I'm a nerd about this lol. Always happy to chat if you ever want to bounce anything off of me. I do feel like it's like exercise though, it's super personal and you have to find what works for you and that may not be what works for everyone else and that's okay.

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    1. Ha yup it’s definitely an easy subject to nerd out on and I have gone whole hog lol. I started using mint around May/June before I moved when I realized the move was going to have such a big financial impact. It helps a lot, and like you I started by treating it more like “setting baselines” rather than immediately trying to make changes before I understood what exactly was going on. My excel spreadsheet is kinda bonkers too, filled with all manner of data I’ve scraped from various accounts and records..... naturally full of self referencing links bc that’s how I roll lol.

      I haven’t broken out the separate small account yet but that’s an option on the table. One of the things I’m struggling with are the large single time expenses - like injections for instance. In my current budget they’re baked into the routine maintenance cost and make up the lions share of that $85/mo. But.... it isn’t actually $80 a month ya know? Like maybe it’s “well the month when we do injections I’ll just have to reall suck it in elsewhere and the rest of the time I’ll go on as normal”. Or maybe that’s exactly the type of expense that benefits from the small separate account that gets fed monthly and withdrawn from once or twice a year. Idk yet - I need to figure out what’s going to work best for me.

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    2. I hear ya. My personal way of looking at 'big, one time, sort of unpredictable but also fairly regular' expenses is "How do I minimize the impact to my daily budget from this expense?" And also, as someone who was a very fragile budgeter at first (one unusual expense comes up and the whole thing get blown to hell and then I wouldn't log into Mint for a month after that in shame hahaha), I needed to keep myself on track however I could, and the intentionally marked savings accounts helped me with that.

      This is how I do my car insurance too. Paid every 6 months, but in my budget, it's $50/month, which I drop into yet another separate savings account. My husband is always saying "But money is fungible, why do you need so many different savings accounts? Just put it all in one place." And I'm over here like, "They're free (at my bank), and this is how my brain works. I see the money in the "Car Insurance" fund, and I know I can't touch it. But if that money was in checking, I would spend it." Same with my horse show fund, and the "I'm going to have to replace my truck sometime in the next five years" fund and the "Emergency" Fund.

      The last piece of my personal strategy for this is using Mint to track what I spend in a year on average on these "big one time somewhat regular" expenses, and then taking that out of my paycheck first. I spend around $1600 a year in shows, so I pay myself $70 out of each check into that savings account, first thing, before I can spend it anywhere else. Then that money is just THERE when I go to show. Because I would have spent it one way or another over the course of the year, so why not make it less painful?

      All that said...I keep telling myself I'm going to do the same thing with my Christmas spending each year and I still haven't yet so...it's not easy :)

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    3. yup that's definitely a helpful strategy and is how i first started budgeting for my riding lessons - a regular weekly cost, except i paid my trainer in bundles of 10. so pulling that weekly cost out into a separate account, then pulling it back in when writing that one irregularly timed check, was really helpful. over time all my funds have coalesced back into the single account i use today, and i'm not sure yet if the separate accounts system is the right choice for me at this point. but it's definitely a useful structure and something i'm debating!

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  6. I track all equestrian spending in a spreadsheet; the bulk of my budget goes towards feed. I bought a subscription to FeedXL last year and it's totally paid for itself. I used to spend around $300/mo on feed (just feed - not including hay and supplements) for all 3 horses. Now I'm down to spending around $160/mo (still excluding hay and supplements). It's helped me see how much of their diet I can replace with inexpensive feedstuffs like beet pulp and alfalfa pellets.

    This year I'm saving up for capital improvements to the farm, like adding gravel screenings to the barn area, buying stall mats, and refencing my pastures. Keeping horses at home isn't too expensive until you start on projects like that!

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    1. Oh man that’s a huge savings on feed! That must have been so satisfying haha. I actually had a very long (and extremely productive) chat with L Williams about FeedXL and about my specific feed program and alternative options. The outcome from that chat was that things are actually pretty reasonably balanced for Charlie right now (considering I’m worried that if I mess up his nutrition I’ll end up paying for it with his feet) but that I do have a number of options for adjusting his feed to cut costs if necessary while hopefully not disrupting his nutrition. My current feeling is that there is fat that can be trimmed elsewhere *first* tho, and that the feed will get changed only if necessary. We will see.

      Good luck with all your capital improvements too!! I love stuff like that - love! - but yea the price tags can be jaw dropping. At least when it’s done right the investments usually pay for themselves in a big way!

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  7. I track every cent I spend on my horse... as horrifying as that is. For things that he needs I just grin and bear it, but unfortunately shows aren't as flexible. I usually only make it to 1 or 2 a year because of this, but spending over $14,000 on a "hobby" per year and over half of my income makes that the reality I live in.

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    1. It’s horrifying but so so so useful, I totally get it. The actual final dollar amount shocked me, esp as a proportion of income. But now that I know it, it’s helped me trim out a lot of the other stuff in my life that was just noise or not directly related to bringing me happiness (or uh, sustaining life I guess haha). Still tho. Like you say. Reality has limits and sometimes it’s just not what we would wish. I’m hoping to make my competition dreams this year fit into my budget, but we will see. There are already a couple things off the table as it is.

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  8. It was eye opening to me to realize I could afford to spend more money on board for my boys, just because I would no longer be spending so much on gas and feed. 🙄 That said, I'm currently in a desperate place where I need to start saving more. I knew this January would be tough, but I didn't expect to pay Pig's $400 yearly vet plan up front. Argh...

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    1. Omg the gas thing is unreal.... I spend $200/mo in gas and I WORK FROM HOME. Ugh. Unreal. And yea those yearly plans are so convenient in concept but they always crop up at literally the worst time. Like don’t these people know we are all goddamn broke in January?!?

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  9. I really have no idea what I spend and now that they are home I should totally start tracking. I keep thinking if I was paying board I would have been paying 500 a month for Remus and I don't spend that much on him now. BUT....with improvements for the farm etc. EGADS I am going to go put my head back in the sand. It is so interesting to read all this though!!

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    1. ha sometimes it's nice not to know, right?? lol... but then again, those farm improvement ideas are mighty exciting and make SUCH a big difference, and in a way it can be kinda fun to plan everything out sometimes. good luck!!

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  10. Holy shit this post stressed me out. Because of HOW TRUE it is. I'm currently in the ignorance is bliss phase of budgeting and I get so stressed because I KNOW I've got to get shit figured out, the way it's going isn't sustainable. Between Stella's back surgery and June ulcer scoping and treatment, my pets cost me almost 8k last year on unexpected vet bills alone. And that is not money I saved up for. So, this year I am TRYING to be more thoughtful about where everything goes. If I was realistic, I would realize that competing needs to go out the window. But I need to have something to look forward to. So, I'm trying to find some "side hustle" to help pay for "fun stuff."
    I also need to get way better about budgeting so I can actually understand where my money is going and what I need to bring in in order to be able to have money for fun things.
    Any chance you want to share your fancy excel spreadsheet with me?
    It's always those unexpected expenses that send us careening, but I think being better prepared overall helps. Thanks for this post!

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    1. omg yup i totally feel your pain. 100%. and every time another big bill comes out that i didn't expect, it's like a mini existential crisis. (didn't mention above but an accounting glitch at my barn meant that this past december i had a bill for 3mos board instead of 1. yes, as a responsible adult i should have noticed that the accounting was awry ahead of time and known that bill would eventually come due... but shit happens, ya know?).

      in a way tho, even tho coming face to face with the realities of my spending has been stressful, it's also been empowering. honestly. and actually, there's something really relieving about actually knowing and understanding the dollars and cents and various machinations of how my money ebbs and flows.

      for me, starting just by sorta writing everything out free hand worked. just putting my thoughts and ideas on paper, then organizing from there. over the months i've added more and more structure, more details, etc, as they occur to me, and finally i have a system that is pretty tailored to my needs. i'd be happy to share some of that workbook scaffolding with you too - shoot me an email at fraidycat.eventing at gmail!

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    2. Thanks! I’ll look into Mint too!

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    3. lmk how it goes!! better living thru technology, right? ;)

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  11. Moving is a real reckoning isn't it. Having to touch and make decisions about every single thing you own is exhausting!

    My horse numbers are pretty much in line with yours - but my horse lives with me, and without the benefit of the education + competition elements. Chalking that up to the everything costs extra when you live in the middle of nowhere factor.

    I want to share a blog (not sure if you're already familiar with it) that is the best for encouraging cooking simple, delicious and (mostly) healthy food - Smitten Kitchen. She's also a great writer and the pictures are gorgeous. :D

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    1. a "reckoning" is the perfect way to describe it. and honestly, it was time. my life and lifestyle are completely different now from what they were when i was more or less freshly out of college. it was time to reshuffle everything to reflect being like, a more full fledged adult haha.

      and thanks for the smitten kitchen link! i had actually followed her years ago when i first thought about being more ambitious in the kitchen, but the links got culled for some reason and i'd forgotten. time to start reading again!

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  12. I calculated all my expenses back in 2017 and it was so depressing I decided not to do it again for 2018. However, we are now keeping a spreadsheet to track barn expenses (hay, feed, shavings, supplements, etc). Certain things we save $ on like not feeding grain so I spend less on beet pulp and ration balancer for 4 horses than you're spending on Charlie's grain alone. But then I flush all of those savings away by getting plumbing work done in the barn. Sometimes I think about how cheap it is to keep them at home compared to paying board, but improvements and upkeep of the property definitely cost more than board so I'm not really saving anything by keeping them at home.

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    1. ugh yea charlie's grain is insane, but then again i guess that's what i get for buying a Size Large OTTB haha. and yea i'm not surprised to hear that there are so many large expenses with keeping them at home, tho of course your new barn is gorgeous so definitely trade-offs!

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  13. I'm glad you are learning how to do kitchen alchemy! Cooking is fun! A lot of my income gets eaten up by board and it's kind of depressing - I still keep track of everything, I still live by a budget, but the line items are kind of fast and loose this year due to the wedding. I unfortunately/fortunately have Smaug Dragon tendencies. My biggest problem is we have the cash for it all, but putting it on a card for the rewards but then when my cc bill comes due I get grumpy about parting with my cash. L THIS IS WHY YOU SAVE MONEY TO DO THINGS LIKE GET MARRIED AND GO TO HORSE SHOWS ITS OK.

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    1. lololol i totally feel ya on the "Smaug" reference. i'm kinda the same way about spending that money even tho that's exactly what is saved the money up for in the first place.... tho honestly once the check is written, it's written and i'm cool with it. bc yea like you say this is why we're saving! to do the fun things!

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  14. I would love for my feed bill to be $110 per month :( Drought is an absolute killer, I think I am spending about that per fortnight right now.

    On the plus side my agistment is peanuts and he's not wearing shoes which makes the farrier visits MUUUUCH cheaper.

    Tallying all the expenses up though over a 12 month period to ascertain monthly cost - gah. Ignorance may be bliss here.

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    1. oh man we had the opposite problem of drought this year and all our local hay providers had pretty freakin terrible crops, so there's not a lot of hay available, it's not great quality, and it costs a TON. they actually had to raise our board bc of it, sadness. lucky about being able to save on the farrier tho! on one hand i'm happy that charlie's feet have been relatively easy to maintain on a consistent plan, but it sure would be nice if they were better feet altogether....

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  15. I'm firmly in the ignorance is bliss camp and refuse to add it all up!!!

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  16. Gah I budget VERY VERY carefully, but that's just because I spend every spare cent on Frankie and need to track that to be able to pay rent at the end of the month. We recently hit a dumb milestone for $ invested into Francis and this sport since I bought him, and god bless my husband for not dumping my butt for a sane woman.

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    1. lol yea if i added all the total investments up (like truck, trailers (i'm on my second), lessons over the years, etc etc) it would be... well. a lot. it's worth it tho ;)

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  17. With five horses, including one incredibly expensive WonderPony, I'm firmly in the "ignorance is bliss" camp. I won't even tell you what board and training for me cost. We average $150 a month per horse in hay alone, and as Olivia pointed out, keeping horses at home really doesn't save you any money by the time you pay for the upkeep of your place. So like... yeah, horses cost money. How much is anyone's guess. ;)

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    1. ya know i think that's one of the most interesting things i'm finding is that keeping horses kinda costs around the same no matter how you do it (with slight discrepancies accounting for horse's feed and farrier needs). it's the training tho, not even the showing, but the actual training and lessons that really makes the biggest difference on that final number....

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  18. I think posts like this are very interesting! Budgeting/tracking expenses can be a good eye opening experience for sure. I like numbers and spreadsheets, but am terrible with sticking to anything long term! I've worked out budgets before and guidelines, but life always seems to get in the way. lol I have to watch my credit card use - that is where I tend to go for those surprise items and then pay it off afterwards. My half-baked plan this year is to maybe not show much this year, save a ton of money and sort of get ahead in a savings account with all of those typical expenses - vet, farrier x3 every 8 weeks, etc. etc. However, $1000 in a surprise car repair derailed January's plans! Oh well, I'll keep at it where I can and see how it goes.

    I have my horses at home, so no board, but hay is $6/bale and I feed 2 bales/day. And then there is the mortgage. Ahem. Yeah, board and a smaller mortgage sometimes doesn't seem so bad after all...but I love turning them out on pasture in the early summer and not feeding hay again until October!

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    1. oh man i definitely feel ya on the sustainability thing of these budgets. i'm hoping that my process has been incremental and organic enough that i stick with it. hopefully. but yea it's really hard. my goal is to slowly adapt to a realistic plan enough over time that the spending and thought processes become habitual, and thus require less time actually fussing with the spreadsheets. we'll see tho!

      and omg yea, that surprise $1K car repair bill is such a killer.... how on earth are we supposed to plan for that?!? but then again, like you say, there's something special at the end of the day about being able to keep our horses exactly as we like <3

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  19. I have been keeping a spreadsheet for the horse expenses the past two years and it's been enlightening to see just WHERE the money goes. Of course, big ticket items like hay (I purchase hay for the year) are saved well in advance and tucked in a tidy little savings account. Things like lessons are considered "extra" and as I have the cash, I'll do them. Same with shows. I don't use my CC for things like that bc it's easy to just be like "k thanks free money!!!" Which, obviously it's not, haha.

    It's nice in a way, because my monthly expense is quite minimal (around $250), so I can keep things "cheap" if don't do lessons, shows, or buy new horsey things I don't really need, lol.

    That being said, the surprise bills aren't fun. Adulting is hard - sometimes you gotta choose between the broken water heater vs a horsey pony show. And obviously we wanna do the show, but sighhhh, responsibilities come first!!

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  20. I "budget" per paycheque I "suppose". It's definitely not how other people budget at all. But I can't do the spreadsheet budgeting. Maybe I just haven't found the right one. But I find a lot of people don't like sharing their way of doing it. And I need that help!

    Seeing what you spend (and others) is always interesting to me, and I always want to know what people are doing for careers to afford their horses - it puts it a little more into perspective for me.

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  21. I use the Every Dollar app from Dave Ramsey (not that I follow his financial advice completely, but the app is free through my work and it is super handy). Realizing that I spend about 44% of my income on the two horses made me want to cry. I also have a really hard time budgeting for the larger unexpected costs. I try to average it out over a year and "put away" money every month (I don't keep separate bank accounts, but keep a fund item in my budget). Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't. I at least try to keep a certain balance in my savings account for those emergency costs that you just can't budget for. I try to view that as money that is only for emergencies and does not exist for me to spend on other things.

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  22. I do break down every cent of spending (on everything, not just horses) and it's definitely eye opening. We were blowing massive amounts of money on both groceries AND eating out, so tracking what we spend has helped rein that in significantly.

    Because clearly I enjoy torturing myself, the last couple years I've posted a breakdown of my expenses. I'm still working on the post for last year's, but it's looking to be as bleak as the others.

    But worth it amirite!?

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  23. Yo, I feel ya. Mo no longer eats hay (I do not get a discount on board, thanks) so I spend approx $115 a month on grain and hay pellets. And also, dentist every 6 months.

    At this point, keeping Mo going is almost equal to my mortgage payment. And we'd like to move into a small house with yard in the next couple years. Do you know how much more house we could afford if I didn't have a horse? Too bad that's not an option.

    I want to do some rated shows this year, so that means quality over quantity. But also a lot of saving and budgeting and then "whoops, need a new clutch" or "shoot, he really does go best in the $$$ half pad"

    Budgeting is great blah blah blah it's the worst. Horses are such a money pit. But man, they are worth it.

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  24. Whatever you do, don't fall off and break your back. Super fun way to eff up an entire year of your finances. Not that I know from experience...

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  25. Oh the budget that I can pretty much throw out the window. That's with no competitions or lessons either. Ahh well, I feel like you about vacation - guess it'll never happen

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