Welcome to Finance Friday 2018! All year long, we’ll talk about personal finances on the first Friday of the month, with the goal to getting us all in better overall financial shape. We know horses are expensive, and we need to be ready as we can for those expenses – both planned and unplanned.
Last month, we talked about budgeting. This month, it’s all about staying in that budget. I asked a lot of different people their advice avoiding temptation – both horsey and non – and got some really terrific ideas.
The problem with horses is that you can’t not spend money. “No spending” months just don’t fly when you’re an equestrian. You’re always writing huge checks for something – expected or not. So it’s a fine line to walk between spending responsibly and doing too much. It can also be really easy to just keep writing checks to try to fix things, and I don’t know about you, but once I’ve started spending on horse things it escalates really quickly.
Before we go into that, though, I want to emphasize that like everything else in regards to finances, finding the right fit for you is a highly personal process and it takes repetition, experimentation, and failure before you find something that really works. Everyone’s budget will work differently, and everyone’s techniques for staying on that budget will work differently because they’re tailored to your own psyche, emotions, and way of seeing the world.
So, here’s your advice for staying on budget and avoiding temptation.
- I just look at my bank account and that’s a pretty good deterrent.
- Surround yourself with people of a similar budget. There are some rich old women in this sport that will act as though you are abusing old Alpo if you haven’t invested in a $5k custom saddle. Then there are people that know how to duct tape together tall boots and make them look acceptable for competition. Hang with the latter.
- I don’t walk into tack shops anymore. Anything I need I buy online…seeing my total before checkout helps to curb those impulse buys (and I don’t really NEED 5000 saddle pads).
- I don’t go looking at things, lol! Seriously, I assess what I have and what I actually *need* – I used to be a tack hoarder, now I try to get by with as little as possible in horses and life in general. Simplify!
- Most of my horse stuff is a business deduction at the end of the year, so I think, “Would this make the IRS suspicious?” If yes, do I actually NEED it or not? The business account dictates my budget, and since I’m constantly tracking that, it’s a lot easier to stay on target.
- I don’t have a budget per sey, I buy the things my horses need like hay, grain, bedding, supplements. I try to replace used equipment when it really needs it, not just because I want a new looking thing. If I do visit a tack store my first stop is in the clearance area, sales racks, etc, because IF I do an impulse buy, it’s going to be a mega deal.
- I think another aspect is learning to care for your tack in a way that extends its life. You aren’t using that martingale for now? Condition the leather well and put it in a climate-controlled area. Winter is over? Store those blankets somewhere mice won’t eat them (RIP my favorite cooler). Hang up your whips when not in use, don’t draw pictures in the dirt with them when you are bored. Clean your every-day boots (hell, my most frugal instructor had me get rubber covers for my first good paddock boots, that I took off only to ride, to extend the life).
- Make smart choices about tack and equipment purchases. Read reviews. Don’t buy the $15 item that’s liable to need to be replaced in a short time. Buy the $25 item that’s going to last. Buy used. Look at off brands. I swear my $80 Horze bridle is on par with my PS of Sweden. I do clean it often. Also: unfollow any pages like “saddle pads anonymous.” Spoiler alert: Eskadron pads aren’t superior in any way other than price.
- I keep my horse’s vet folders right beside my tack storage, so anytime I might be tempted to splurge on something I don’t need I have those big ol’ bills staring me in the face. It’s a good reminder to save my money for the expenses that aren’t frivolous. But I do give myself permission to buy (cheap) new halters every spring, because my horses are a mess and washing halters just doesn’t satisfy me the way bright shiny new ones do.
- If I find myself in need of something, I see if I can borrow it first, or buy it off someone at the barn. At one barn, we had a veritable stock exchange of buckets, given how horses came and went. And sometimes you don’t long-term need something. Just make sure you give it back ffs- don’t be that asshole!!! Also, I am a big fan of consignment shops.
- Valleyvet.com sells a kit for a year’s worth of rotational worming for $35. Compare to the vet who charges the same amount per worming.
- Give yourself permission to spend some money – set an amount per month, or plan out specific purchases. No one likes to feel deprived, and it can backfire badly and lead to more spending. Take that amount out in cash, or track it in a specific part of your budget that’s just for fun.
- I use variations on the rule of three. In three days, will I still be happy I bought this? In three months? In three years? Horse stuff can be measured in years, a lot of the time, and that’s a long tail for regret. Obviously you need to buy some consumables, but don’t sink all your money into things that are just dumb fads, or things you think you need right now when you could just as well get by without and next week you’ve forgotten you ever wanted it.
- I once taped a piece of paper tightly around my credit card and wrote my horse’s name on it. I got the idea from someone who did that with a picture of their kid’s. It gives you both a barrier to spending (however temporary) and a constant reminder of why you’re trying to be good.
- Delete all your credit card information from websites you shop at, so you have to re-enter it and think about it when you do so. It gives you extra time to make sure you really, really need whatever you’re
There you have it. Anyone have anything to add? Some tip, trick, technique, or strategy that keeps you from spending?
Also: this is your opportunity to check in, publicly or privately. How are you doing with the financial goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year?