My Expensive Reality

When I got Frankie, I started tracking my monthly expenses for him in a spreadsheet I made (which should surprise none of you that know me at all). It’s broken out pretty broadly and probably has room for improvement, but at a glance it’s good for me to see what I’m spending in different categories at different points throughout the year.

The way I have it set up currently has the following categories:

  • Board
  • Lessons
  • Training rides
  • Show fees paid to my trainer (which covers all the various pieces therein)
  • Other fees paid to my trainer (minor meds, blanket cleaning, random stuff like that)
  • Vet
  • Farrier
  • Insurance
  • Shows
  • Other

I don’t include tack/equipment (though I probably should), and I don’t include clothing for myself. So my tracker runs a little lower than what I truly spend on the sport, but it’s decently comprehensive for the expenses that are specific to the Frankenbean.

IMG_2886
Vet care costs have crept up over the years as we figure out how to make him feel extra special best. And don’t worry, chiro/massage goes right in that “other” bucket.

The reason that I bring this up is because I read Emma’s post about budgeting and how that has changed over time to account for reaching for certain goals. It’s a cool post with some cool comments on it, def check it out if you haven’t! But it also got me thinking about my own budget and my own goals, and what the investment looks like for those goals and for goals that may be a bit out of reach. Starting with WIHS.

Last year I peaked at 89th in the rankings for WIHS before dropping right off the radar altogether. While I was very pleased with our performance over the season, I simply didn’t have enough outings to get the points needed. Granted- WIHS wasn’t one of my big goals in 2018 and if it was I could’ve been MUCH more strategic about it by getting points at some of the smaller shows around here. But if I was aiming for that I still would’ve had to go to a lot more shows in total, so I don’t think the cost of showing would have been drastically different for the year. And certainly the money spent on training and equipment would not have gone down in the least- if anything, they would have gone up.

img_3650
My big goal for the year was Lake Placid and all monies went right to that.

Between all those categories shown above, the investment money-wise was not trivial. Far from it. If I was one of those people that needed to recoup my investment on Frankie (HAHAHAHA RIGHT THAT ALWAYS HAPPENS), I would need to get an absolutely absurdly out of reach price for him. It ain’t ever gonna happen, despite his theoretical increase in value due to training and show record (I say theoretically because homeboy obvi isn’t for sale so we’ll never know what he’d go for).

I’m comfortable with my show results. I’ve never done this because I need blue ribbons, I compete because I love the atmosphere and trying new adventures with my horse. Ribbons and points and qualifying are the nice but unnecessary icing on the cake for me.

IMG_2033.jpg
I mean clearly I’m never MAD about the ribbons

But I can absolutely understand the frustration of someone who DOES want to qualify and be a stronger competitor. Knowing that the the time and money and soul I’ve poured into training and showing has gotten me to be a solidly middle-of-the-pack competitor could be disheartening. If that’s the investment it takes to be mid-range, I don’t even know what it would take to be consistently in the ribbons.

If qualifying and ribbons were my goal, I would step down a level. Do the local rated shows instead of the biggest AA ones I can find. Maybe step back down in height and get really really perfect at that. There are definitely plenty of things I could do differently if that was my aim.

I’m not gonna do any of those things though. I’m going to keep reveling in the atmosphere and presence of great riders at the big shows, even if I’m out of the ribbons in a class of 60. I’m going to keep feeling like I’m flying over the big jumps with Frankie, even if we have a rail here and there. And I’ll keep signing those checks, even if that monthly investment has hit embarrassment levels.

img_2935
All I want to do is All the things in All the places with this creature.

The first step to fixing the problem is admitting that you have a problem, and I’ll be cold in my grave before you get me to admit this one.

Advertisements

An Equestrian’s Guide to Budgeting

I don’t need to tell you all how predictably unpredictable equine expenses can be. We’ve all encountered the worst-timed vet visit, the even-worse-timed pulled shoe, and the oh-wait-I-wasn’t-ready-to-buy-yet-but-the-perfect-horse-is-available-oops-he’s-mine-now.

With all that in mind, I have a few simple ways to budget for the wonderful world of horses.

  • Separate bank account. That’s right, Francis has his own debit card and checkbook. I transfer a set amount into this every month, and all things horse-related get pulled out of this account. It’s enough to cover all monthly expenses, as well as extra for shows and emergencies. It’s great for impulse control- when it’s out, its out.
  • Wait, it’s almost out but there’s a show I want to go to. It’s fine, I’ll dip into my other account to fund it.
  • OK now I’m short on gas money. It’s fine, I can dip into another different account.
  • Wait ok no it’s fine I didn’t need that much for groceries anyways. It’s fine it’s all fine, I like ramen and toast a ton. I just have to make it to next month when my next paycheck comes in.
  • What do you mean he needs special shoes now
  • And more injections
  • Poor thing is probably sore, put him on the list for a massage
  • Crap
  • No it’s fine it’s totally fine
  • Obviously I already sent my entry in for that 5 day A rated show with gold plated stalls and hay made from actual shredded money, it would be rude to back out now IT’LL BE FINE
  • You know what yes, I would love to try an eq class. Not a problem, tack on the braider fees.
  • I think the chiropractor will get better results if he adds in acupuncture, let’s add that on next time
  • Crap
  • No really it’s fine it’ll be totally fine money can’t buy happiness who needs it anyways
  • And then next month I transfer the same amount and continue with the careful planned out budgeting with great willpower and self-restraint!

The End.

Pony Finances

Let’s talk expenses! Not specifics, because that’s fairly private and incredibly region-dependent, but let’s talk about how we handle them. Mostly because I just made a big change in my approach to horse expenses, and I want to know if all y’all already do this and are like “dude obviously,” or if you’re going to tell me that this is super weird and definitely awful.

Let’s get into it.

There are a few very predictable expenses for Frankie every month:

  • Board
  • Lessons
  • Training rides (if I opt for them that month)
  • Farrier (this isn’t quiiiiite every month, he’s on a 4-6 week cycle depending on time of year and how good/bad his feet are at the time. Still rather predictable tho.)
jtc_sun_home
Unlimited snugs are included for free in our monthly package

And then there are some that pop up regularly but not as consistently:

  • Vet care- both routine vaccinations/checkups, and more intense things like injections. Also who knows when everything could go sideways and he needs emergency vet care (knocking on wood SO INTENSELY HERE PLEASE STAY ROBUSTLY HEALTHY)
  • Frankie’s insurance- I pay in 3 lump payments throughout the year, but they’re not all the same
  • Shows- different venues have different fees, shipping costs more/less depending on how far the venue is, I compete more often in the summer, etc.
  • Gear- blankets break, saddles need re-fitting, my spurs need replacing, etc. This is the hardest to predict.
IMG_2245.jpg
Thank the good Lord above that I don’t have to pay for a 2-week horse show every month. PC- Tracy

So what these means is that in any given month, I only really have a solid handle on the “no less than” number in advance. It’ll be at least X amount, and likely much higher. I have historical data (yes, obviously Frankie has his own spreadsheet, duh) to plug in for shows/vet/insurance so I’m not totally in the dark, but it still makes consistent budgeting hard when expenses fluctuate so much.

Now that my Human Mate and I are combining forces, I decided it was time for a full audit of my spending habits to figure out what makes the most sense as I move from doing-everything-solo-all-the-time to sharing-a-home-and-a-life-with-a-person. Which brings me to my big change:

Frankie got his own debit card.

IMG_2194.jpg
“It’s about time I got paid”

He won’t get to use it himself (honestly his dexterity with small objects extends exclusively to eating them), but I now have a separate account exclusively for horse expenses. I’ve taken my total horse expenses over a full year, divided by 12, and added a cushion, and that amount will automatically be going into his account every month.

Some months I will need more than that average, some months I will need less, but over time it should even out to have a constant buffer.

This simplified my budget like you wouldn’t believe. It took my line items from this:

pre_newcard

To this:

post_newcard

Literally cut the number in half.

This makes my monthly budget A MILLION TIMES more predictable. Obviously if something totally unexpected happens I’ll need to pull from my main account, but I purposefully made Frankie’s monthly budget higher than I usually need (except in months where we compete) to try and build up some “savings” specifically for him.

So talk to me, folks. Is this a total no-brainer thing that you did years ago? Or do you think giving Francis his own bank account is overkill?

My Fancy Horse

Someone told Francis that he was fancy, and he decided that fancy horses are supposed to be expensive. I was really aiming for that Cinderella-story-we’re-doing-Grand-Prix-on-a-$10-per-month-budget, but alas. It is not meant to be.

First of all, despite going almost 2 years with perfect saddle fit and getting a thumbs up on fit just a few months ago, we have abruptly reached the point of not fitting properly anymore (on the one hand I’m glad he’s so muscle-y, but on the other hand COME ON). Our saddle fitter came out to discuss options and none of them are free. So that’s cool.

new_saddle_pad
HOW MANY TIMES MUST I GET THIS CUSTOM FITTED TO YOU

Then, homeboy is getting heightened vet care. As mentioned, he’ll be getting a full workup soon to figure out what he needs to be comfortable performing at the higher levels. My guess is going to be at the very least another SI injection, with potentially some other injections as well. Farewell money.

IMG_1041
“FEED ME MORE JOINT JUICE PLS”

I’ve also mentioned massage/chiro. I’ve told Trainer to stick Francis on the list for the next time our person comes out. Fiance gleefully refers to the prospect of massage, chiro, and acupuncture as “Rubs, Cracks, and Pokes.” Plenty of rubs, cracks, and pokes are in Frankie’s future. He thinks I’m going to be the most ridiculous panhandler on the side of the road, with my sign saying, “My horse needs a massage, anything helps, God bless.” I mean, I’m considering it.

upp_sat_warmup
“LADY I’VE EARNED THAT MASSAGE CARTING YOUR BUTT AROUND” PC- A. Frye

CONTINUING ON THE SPEND TRAIN, I switched back into the snaffle when we got back from WEC and oh dear Lord do I hate it. Absolutely loathe. Grabbing a bit identical to AT’s is high on the priority list, he went in that so beautifully.

Along those lines, a figure-8 bridle. That’s what he went in all WEC and I loved it. Hoping I can just get the noseband and not need a whole new bridle? Though at this point it’s kinda like WHATEVER I’LL JUST KEEP THROWING MONEY AT MY TACK.

IMG_2244.jpg
Really loved the bit/bridle combo here.

If you need me, I’ll just be frantically rearranging my budget spreadsheet to accommodate my Very Fancy Horse.