Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Goal 1: Budget.. (or coming to terms with my spending habits..)

In an attempt to actually come up with a real budget and attempt to stick to said budget I took a look back through my "horse" documents and saw a cute little hypothetical "budget" I had penciled out when I was considering whether or not purchasing a horse was a viable option for me. 
I eat $$, poop $$, steal $$ and sleep on a big pile of $$$
Even more charming is that when I conducted my "research" I started by looking at my old horsey record book from high school.  Here's what I had (in monthly fees) way back when.  Bear in mind these figures are approximately 15 years old.. and I kept my horses at home.

Hay: $26
Grain & Beet Pulp: $30
Farrier/Trim: $42
Vet Savings: $50 (to grow a rainy day fund)
Lessons (8 monthly): $160
Trailer Payment (to dad): $40
Barn Improvements: $50

Grand Total: $402

FOUR HUNDRED AND TWO DOLLARS.   That was my cost for maintaining a Prelim level eventer.  Yes, I was the one feeding and mucking and whatnot. But WOW.  Oh, and my trainer came to my house for lessons and I worked most of that cost off by hacking out 2-3 of her babies on a regular basis... so basically my beast cost me $242 a month... oh how times have changed.

Thankfully I wasn't so ignorant as to think I could get away with anything nearly that cheap this time around.  I was somewhat realistic when looking at what it would cost me to be at a barn I wanted to be at and getting the level of care that I wanted to have. 

I work a ton. live in a city, sit on multiple boards and travel fairly extensively.  All of that means that I was looking for a barn within 30 minutes of work and home, full care (that I trusted), as well as having a trainer who could work the beast when I was out of town so I wouldn't feel guilty about missed days... I knew my solution wouldn't be cheap, but I didn't want to forge down the ownership path unless I could make that particular scenario work for me...

So, in the name of working through this and putting my costs out there, please remember that the barn market in Seattle is PRICEY and it still horrifies me to a certain extent.  These numbers are WAY more than I know most people would ever consider spending (way less than others..), but it's what works for us and while I know I could lower my board costs, realistically I can't lower them much without adding hours and hours of travel on a monthly basis, which (as LearnVest.com told me this morning, literally isn't worth my time).

OK, so onto reality and what I actually bleed out on a regular basis.  My first year with Miss P has seen some outrageous costs.  Some were planned (Saddle! Trailer!), some weren't (Myelograms!), but they all add up regardless.  Fortunately, I started with a large "horsey rainy day fund," which has diminished, but I guess that's what it was there for.  My problem now is that I indulged the vet expenses and fun start up costs (like a new saddle) which allowed me to hide from actually setting and sticking to a regular budget.  Realistically, P and I have more goodies and equipment than we could ever dream of, so now it's time to come up with a viable ongoing budget that tells me when I can splurge on lessons, sparkly browbands and clinics, instead of just hemorrhaging cash for everything that sounds appealing.  (wah).

Part of what has prevented me from actually setting pen to paper is the fact that I'm somewhat terrified of how much cash I'm spending on Pia and that if I don't write it down, I can pretend it isn't real.  Don't get me wrong, I can "afford" everything I spend on her, but its not necessarily the most responsible method of managing my finances, so it could stand some analysis and adjustment.  Also there's this Boy who apparently wants to start a family and expects a savings account... As charming as P is, I probably need to figure out how much of my paycheck she is entitled to.

I've broken down my "budget" into two categories: Fixed Costs and Variable Costs.
Our Fixed Costs are things that I write checks for every month no matter what's happening.  So for us that means
  • Board ($675) cause the mare needs a house
  • Farrier ($100) cause apparently the mare needs shoes
  • Smartpak ($105) ok.. she doesn't NEED all this, but I like her current "pak"
  • Vitamin E ($40) definitely need this, and its way cheaper than that surgery we almost had
  • Extra Hay & Rice Bran ($72) keeps mare fat
This makes for a startling total of:  $992


These costs easily get away from me because I never see them all at once.  My board (and training) bill comes once, farrier is separate, smartpak buys itself, and my vitamin E is ordered in 3 month intervals...  So, I never get the grand total delivered all at once... (duh).  but those little $30 here and $40 there do, in fact, add up to real dollars.

Fortunately for me, I'm finally feeling good about getting away from full time training, which was another $600 a month.  That's a HUGE budget changer, and realistically makes P less of a money draining hole.  Plus her regular visits to the vet have slowed to a trickle of regu-mate and regular maintenance, so that's more manageable as well.

Great, so Variable Costs... (aka, the "fun" ones)
  • Training ($50-$600)
  • Lunging ($20 a session)
  • Bodywork ($35)
  • Rolf Session ($145)
  • Showing ($$$)
  • Clinics ($100)
  • Tack Store Hemorrhage ($$$$$$$$$)
  • Smartpak Add Ons ($20-$140)
Yeeeeaaaaaaaaahhhh.  That's a lot of monies.

My current "theory" is that I need to pick a flat dollar amount to spend on the beast, and adjust my variable costs accordingly.  Like.. $1400.  So, this month I would get to give the mare a Rolf session, then have $250 to spend on (at this point) rides and lunging while I'm out of town.  Anything left over slops into the fund for next month.   So far P has only had one lunge and one ride from the BO for the month ($70), but she'll get a few more this weekend while I'm occupied elsewhere (boo). 

Ugh.  Now I really just have to pick a number and commit to it.  My head keeps saying $1,200, but part of me knows that I'll blow past that without thinking twice if we ever start taking regular lessons again...

commit commit commit commit commit.....


  1. Commit! $1200 is do-able & reasonable. Try it for ONE month and see what happens! Be flexible with yourself at first and adjust where necessary but FOR necessary. The first month is the hardest :)

  2. 8 lessons for $160?!?!? Lucky if you can get three for that much these days. Wow.

  3. I think I can get two lessons for $160, luckily I work them off!! I need to make a budget for Denali too. That's a good idea. Gulp. I have a feeling that we are about to blow through money again.

  4. Eh, $1400 sounds more reasonable for where you're at. If you need to trim back later, you can do it.

    Sorry. I'm not trying to enable and I really should do something exactly like this...

  5. Oh God. I cannot wait to get a real job so that $1200 sounds reasonable. I think I would die if I had to pay over$500. Then again I'm not taking lessons:( or showing at the moment. Ive decided minimum wage blows, lol GULP. I never ealized how much diff. in board there is across the states.
    Yay budgeting!

  6. Good for you! I know when I just had one and was boarding in undergrad, I made her budget and then cut myself off...not eating out, no getting coffee, zip zilch nada.

    Now...I have FIVE for pretty much the same money. As I'm a total hillbilly, there is just no.way. I would be able to live in a city (well...ok, if it was a 1 year infectious disease fellowship, and I could live in someone's barn, yes.)

    Make sure to go with the slightly higher number so you can totally feel virtuous when you spend less than that! :)

  7. Yeah I agree. Go with the $1400. If it's easy to stay within that you can cut it back to $1200. Remember to set yourself up for success like we do our horses. :) Good luck! And I really wish you hadn't given me the idea to add how much they are costing me . . . but I think I'm going to . . . I'm scared.

  8. I say go with the $1400. Then cut back to $1300, and so on if you find you can so that money can be used for something else (like fixing up that horsey rainy day fund.) Good luck! Budgeting is Hard! www.timsboots.com


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