Prioritizing Expenses

I was chatting with a friend over the weekend about what we like to spend our money on. I feel EXTREMELY fortunate to get to train and compete like we do, but I’m also not made of money and have had to very clearly prioritize what I spend my money on.

Of course this list has changed over time – when I first bought Frankie, getting him the tack/blankets/gear to be comfortable in a new home was priority numero uno. But if I’m considering a steady state of affairs, here’s how I prioritize Frankie’s bank account:

1.Vet/farrier care. This never gets delayed or cheaped out on. We have an amazing farrier and a fantastic vet, and we’ve built a level of trust that they’ll do what’s best without doing anything unnecessary. Trainer and AT coordinate schedules and have heavy feedback into Frankie’s care and they’ve kept him healthy and happy. It’s a fantastic healthcare team. Tied into this category are items that help keep him happy – I recently picked up some ice boots that I put on him after jumping.

tHe HaT oF kNoWlEdGe

2. Lessons. This will always always always be my number one priority once Frankie’s basic needs are met. This might be different if I worked with a different trainer, but I don’t need to tell you again how obsessed I am with mine. This consistent knowledgeable feedback is invaluable to me, and I’m grateful that we have the opportunity for it to be so frequent.

Lessons make a FancyPants Francis even more FancyPants

3. Training rides. When I first got Francis, these weren’t that high on the list. But after incorporating them into the rotation more often and seeing the benefits for him both in the on and off season, I’m a believer. The one-two punch of lessons and training rides accelerated our progress more than I thought was possible and opened my eyes to a whole new level of riding.

This transformation brought to you by (drumroll please) a whole bunch of lessons and training rides

4. Shows. Ya’ll know ya girl here loves to compete. And y’all know I’ll happily sacrifice a chance at some ribbons to go to the big shows. I won’t cancel my lessons or training rides to be able to afford a show, but I’ll cancel just about anything else.

enter ring
I literally go into the ring giggling this is my favorite activity on the planet

5. Tack. Thankfully Frankie pretty much has what he needs to be happy, but every once in a while I do pick something up. I recently nabbed a used Vespucci figure-8 that looks great on him, and also got a used Equifit BellyBand to protect his sensitive skin. I have a rolling wishlist that currently includes new stirrup irons, replacement standing+pillow wraps, and an embroidered BOT pad to show in. None of them are immediate needs, so I’ll either ask for them as gifts or wait til some room in the budget opens up (though the stirrup irons are fairly quickly approaching the necessary category).

We switched our bit last year when we had enough forward and enough responsiveness to handle a little leverage, but we mostly leave it alone now.

6. Other gear and clothing. While I have a well-known obsession with pants, they do actually fall this far down on the list! Basically Frankie has to have everything he needs before I open up the budget for myself. Current wishlist includes a new Samshield show shirt to match my gorgeous Samshield whites, and a custom tack trunk cover so I can make my cheapo beloved Stanley trunk look super legit at shows. Again – not immediate needs, so these will either be gifts or wait until show season is over.

mh_dark brown
Spoiler alert these are going to be mine in May (fingers crossed my schooling pair can hold out that long, they are literally falling apart)

Board isn’t in there because it is a constant fact of life for us. I love our barn, the boarding fee is very reasonable for the quality of facilities and region, and I don’t plan on moving unless something truly catastrophic happens. It doesn’t factor into the priority list because it’s simply there.

And of course things pop up here and there and I don’t stop to think about the priority list. If Frankie’s saddle isn’t fitting and I need to pay to have that addressed, I don’t put it off. If I see a pretty pair of pants after drinking two glasses of wine, I buy them. I can always take shows off the schedule, but I can’t take Frankie’s happiness and my own enjoyment of the sport off the schedule.

I’m sure I’m forgetting some things, and I’m sure everyone’s order looks different! I’d love to hear what yours looks like and why.


11 thoughts on “Prioritizing Expenses

  1. Liz 03/26/2019 / 7:57 am

    Frankie lives a really good life. If I come back in the next life as a horse, I’d like to be yours lol.

    My expenses are taking a turn this year. Prioritization will be: 1. Paying my new mortgage payment monthly on time for the land and barn that I acquired/am building just for the ponies so that I can avoid worsening my debt/expenses with penalties. 2. Vet stuff is factored into my annual expenses so it isn’t something I worry much about. Insurance policies make it a lot more stress-free financially than it could be, which takes a big burden off my mind. 3. Hay and feed to feed the ponies – I’ve never had to be in charge of finding quality hay and getting it stacked, but I’m excited to finally have this responsibility! 4. If there is anything extra to be had this year (doubtful), I’d like to put it toward some lessons and/or a competition or two.

    But what above vet/farrier care?! Well, I do their feet and when I don’t, I have a barter system with my farrier so it’s not $$$. It’s the best.


    • hellomylivia 03/26/2019 / 8:24 am

      Honestly I wish I could live half as cushy a life as Francis, he is deservedly spoiled hahaha.

      I’m so excited seeing the progress in plans for your farm!!!! Looks like it’ll be a shift in priorities and life and everything, but in the best possible way.


  2. lauracoburn1111 03/26/2019 / 8:11 am

    It is important to have your priorities set when it comes to finances and horses. It is so easy to go overboard in one category or another (shopping and show fees, I’m lookin’ at you!). My horses are at home, so
    #1 mortgage
    #2 hay (sources and budgeting for the cost – I can’t store all that I need so I have to have regular deliveries)
    #3 vet and farrier – this comes out of my regular budget, since I don’t pay board… although I have been super lucky with none of the horses needing anything other than regular care. Fingers crossed that holds!
    #4 show fees
    #5 misc supplies/repairs around the barn/tack, etc.


    • hellomylivia 03/26/2019 / 8:23 am

      I can only imagine how much different it looks when you have them at home and are so entirely hands on with their care! Fingers crossed they stay happy and healthy 🙂


  3. Amanda C 03/26/2019 / 9:37 am

    Mine are pretty much just like this. The horse’s care and comfort come first, always. I’m borderline psychotic about the strictness of his farrier schedule. Then the lessons (we don’t really do training rides more than once in a blue moon). Shows would be next, and then fun stuff. Sometimes there is a lot of fun stuff. Sometimes there is none. It usually depends on how lucrative all my side gigs have been, since thats where most of my fun-money comes from.


    • hellomylivia 03/28/2019 / 7:23 am

      I’m hoping that since we’re scaling back on the big shows this year, it’ll open up our fun budget some too 🙂


  4. Tracy 03/26/2019 / 10:20 am

    Our priorities are really similar! Mine go: basic care, health, training, showing, riding attire


  5. Stacie Seidman 03/27/2019 / 2:25 pm

    I’d say mine are pretty similar. Horses’s needs first (vet, chiro, tack, etc). With Jamp training rides then lessons definitely. For Rio, just lessons. Eros, I’m not sure yet…. Probably just lessons. Training rides would be great from the right trainer, but not sure that’s accessible for him. We’ll see when he’s sound though.
    And then shows, then the extra stuff like apparel, extra boots or tack, etc.
    I know it seems like that’s skewed given my recent boot shopping addiction, but with three years of not showing, I had some extra funds. Granted I should have been a real grown up and saved the money… but YOLO!


    • hellomylivia 03/28/2019 / 7:24 am

      I totally get it though, not showing for so long should’ve meant I saved a lot of money, but it just meant that I spent it on other things hahaha. YOLO for sure!!


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