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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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My Life, My Priorities, My Goals

On Friday I talked about how my job doesn’t make me happy, and I wanted to expand a little bit on something I mentioned.

I mentioned the websites that are constantly telling me what dreams I should be pursuing and what my priorities should be: “25 Places you NEED to see in your 20s,” “Why it’s OK to be a Hot Mess right now,” “12 GIFs that show how to make your Dream of becoming a yoga teacher come true.” I’ll admit that I made those particular ones up- but I won’t believe you if you say that you haven’t seen something eerily similar.

For a while these articles really bugged me and I thought it was because none of those things seemed within my reach. I didn’t have the vacation time to travel the globe, my years of being a hot mess seemed behind me, and my yoga was terrible. It felt like I was missing out on some big secret like that everyone else my age was living.

With that in mind, I made a big change to my life: I moved to an apartment in a younger fresher area and started going out to bars more often.

Turns out, that’s someone else’s dream. I love the convenience of having bars and restaurants close by and moving was the best thing I could’ve done, but not because I suddenly became That Party Girl. On any given Saturday night I’m at home, in sweats, reading a book and eating pizza. Or playing board games with my buds. Also in sweats.

That used to feel like laziness to me- couldn’t I suck it up, put on some mascara and a skirt and just get out there?! But what I took for laziness is actually me letting myself be comfortable. Reading and board games make me happy and relaxed. Bars are fun when I have the energy, but loud noises and crowds make me notoriously anxious (I start doing lobster hands in crowds. It’s super weird and I don’t know how it started).

The next change I wanted to make was traveling the world. My parents have taken me to so many incredible places and I wanted to keep on exploring, so I set out to start saving up my vacation time and my money so that I could get on out there. But then I went home for a week around Christmas…and then I visited my Momma for her birthday…and then manfriend and I took some weekend road trips to unwind…and soon a new  baby will be joining the family and you can bet I’ll take at least a week off to go coo and cuddle…and before I knew it, most of my hard-earned vacation time was earmarked.

I can’t make myself be the slightest bit disappointed about that. It may not be exotic jungles or cosmopolitan cities like I imagined, but I use my vacation time to surround myself with love. These moments with my family and my guy are moments that I’ll never get back and I am so incredibly fortunate to get to make these memories with them. I haven’t given up my plans for traveling, just put them a little lower on my list of priorities.

Once I realized that it’s OK to set my own priorities and reach for my own goals, it was like I gave myself permission to be happy. It doesn’t make me a weirdo that I’m saving up for a down payment on a house instead of shopping for new clothes every other month. My vacations are no less exciting and life-changing for being close to home. My friends are no less important just because some of them have four legs. My Saturday mornings don’t have to be filled with hangovers- it’s fine that I head straight to the barn.

This is the adult version of peer pressure that I’m resisting- I’m determined to create my own life around what matters to me most. Becoming a yoga teacher just isn’t going to happen.