2018 goals · Uncategorized

2018 Goals Update: March

Life is kind of insane right now. I assume my horse is still alive. Pretty sure the barn would’ve told me if he weren’t. Other than that…working 24/7.

I have just about enough brain cells to do a goals update, so here we go.

Original Goals Post
January Goals Post
February Goals Post

Horse Goals

1. Take 6 lessons through the year. – 1/6 done still. Not happening this month; May for sure.
2. Ride 3 new-to-me horses. – no progress on this, definite plans for the summer
3. Research 3 different retirement situations. – I’m at 1/3, but I did have a good conversation with both the barn manager and a friend that moved some things forward.
4. Write retirement budget for Tristan. – Haven’t touched this.
5. Reach goals for horse-specific income stream. (Primarily through Etsy shop.) – slow, but doing okay
Stretch: 6. Read and review 12 books about riding on the blog. – 1/12 done; nothing new.

Financial Goals

1. Fully fund Tristan’s savings account (to $1,500) – This is still holding!
2. 50% fund my overall emergency fund savings account (to $7,500) – up to $5,250, huzzah
3. Track every purchase made in 2018. – Back on the wagon for March, thankfully.
4. Create 30 day wait list for any purchase over $25 (excluding groceries & emergencies). – yup, still holding well!
5. Pay off 50% of energy improvement debt. – we’ve paid off 22% of the total
6. Stretch: 75% fund my overall emergency fund savings account (to $11,250)

House Goals

1. Finish dining room (finish wallpaper, skimcoat lower half, plaster upper half, paint). – PROGRESS, HUZZAH
2. Finish garage in basement (finish strappingput up drywall, plaster drywall, paint floor, clean out).
3. Finish upstairs guest bedroom (strip wallpaper, plaster, deal with ceiling, repaint).
4. Develop plan & budget for preserving mud room mural.
5. Build second raised bed, start seedlings indoors, can/process results of garden. – First seeds went in this weekend!
6. Stretch: Finish breakfast nook room (strip wallpaper, plaster, figure out heating, repaint)

finance friday · Uncategorized

Finance Friday: Emergency Funds

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.

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Starting in January, we all set financial goals. In February, we talked about setting budgets, and then in March, we talked about staying within those budgets.

This month, I’m thrilled to share a guest post by Carla of The Frugal Foxhunter about emergency funds.

Why I Don’t Own a Horse Yet

For my entire life, my dream has been to own a horse. I have enough to buy a horse in my savings. Horse upkeep fits in my monthly budget, so long as I don’t choose one of the fancier DQ barns to board. So why not just DO IT?!
It’s infinitely tempting but I will not buy a horse until I have enough money saved to buy him outright–and an emergency fund for him on top of that. In fact, all of my pets have an emergency fund since my stupid cat Beckett taught me the hard way how useful it is to have one.
Why You Need an Animal Emergency Fund
I was fresh out of college, in an entry-level editorial job, and my boyfriend and I had inherited this spastic little Bengal kitten from a family member.
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Little Beckett was running short on lives. Just two weeks before he came to us, he had fallen out of a 9-story condo balcony–just walked right out between the slats. A leafy tree broke his fall, and the vet said he had no physical damage. (After living with him for 5 years I can now say he CERTAINLY has mental damage.)
For the first few weeks with Beckett, we enjoyed our weird little critter to play with and take endless photos of. Then he stopped eating. For days, he couldn’t keep down any food, but was still the frenetic little kitty we were used to. Then he took a turn for the worse–not drinking all day, acting listless and weak. We worried he had eaten a piece of string from a woven blanket, and may have had an impaction. We rushed him to the emergency vet. We had no idea what it would cost. Tearfully, we agreed that if it cost more than we had in savings (not much), we would have to put down our new kitten.
After inconclusive X-rays we decided just to treat his likely dehydration from a week of not eating. Cha-ching! $600 bill and our savings were crushed. Luckily, the fluids did the trick and Beckett perked right up to continue his reign of terror on our household. Even luckier, my aging Ford Focus decided to hang on for another two years–not needing major repairs until I had much more in my ‘piggy bank’.
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It’s morbid, but in my opinion, all pet owners should have at least enough put away to euthanize their animal if there is a veterinary or financial emergency. Ideally, you can save more than that so unexpected veterinary bills are not a strain on your monthly budget, and do not disrupt your other financial goals. A pet emergency fund also gives you a frame of reference of whether a treatment is “worth it.” You know how much you have in your account. Let your reserves tell you what you can afford, not a vet who doesn’t pay your bills. (Can you tell I’ve had some bad experiences with overzealous vets?)
Horse veterinary bills can be a LOT bigger than cat and dog veterinary bills. We all know how accident prone horses are, so we know emergencies will happen, even if we have no idea when. Having a horse emergency fund will provide so much peace of mind knowing you can afford an unexpected emergency without debt.
How to save for an emergency fund (of any kind)
 
Whether it’s for you or your pet, saving for an emergency is not complicated. It’s not easy, but it is simple. Spend less than you earn, and save the excess.
Figure out your core monthly expenses (non-negotiables like mortgage payment, food, utilities, etc.) and discretionary expenses (optional expenses). Is there room to save at all on your discretionary expenses? Perhaps you have subscriptions you rarely use, or other items you can cut back on. Once you figure out how much you can save each month, your first priority should be adding to your own emergency fund.* I know you love your animals, but think of what they tell you on an airplane. Put on your own oxygen mask first. If you are broke and you’ve maxed out your credit cards because you have no savings, how do you think you’re going to pay board?
Whether you’re saving for yourself or your pets, pay yourself first. Everyone says this because it’s true. If you automatically transfer money to savings when you get paid, the money is out of sight, out of mind, and away from temptation. On the other hand, if you wait to see how much is left over to save at the end of the month, you’re likely to fall short of your goal. It’s just too easy to use the money if it’s there and available to spend.
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How do you figure out how much to save in a horse emergency fund? This is not a typical personal finance question covered in Kiplinger or CNBC! It is up to you, but I think 3-6 months of horse upkeep costs would be reasonable. If your income is very stable (ha ha pun not intended) and you have plenty of flex in your monthly budget, you could lean more towards 3 months, and if not, I would lean more toward a bigger fund because it allows you to have less stress in times of lower income. Horse insurance is also an option for really pricey potential surgeries.
As I said, I would love to have a horse and could probably squeak by if nothing were to go wrong. But after 5 years of leasing, I know things do go wrong, and I don’t have a horse emergency fund yet. Heck, right now I’m just working on saving to upgrade from a pancake-flat Crosby saddle! For now, a half-lease on a fabulous hunt horse works for me. It’s a fixed monthly cost, with no need to pay unpredictable veterinary bills or make the tough decisions and tradeoffs that come with having horses on a budget (particularly where I live in a pricey metropolitan area). I can still enjoy the sport I love with an animal whom I grow closer to every year. I’ve got a good thing going, so I’m taking my time to approach my eventual goal of horse ownership in a way that doesn’t threaten my financial security now.
*There are a number of other financial goals you may need to address before creating an emergency fund for your animals–but covering them is way beyond the scope of a horse blog.
Good seat
 
Carla LaFleur is an avid foxhunter who half-leases a disgruntled OTTB named Lefty. She blogs at The Frugal Foxhunter and sells framed bits on Etsy. She is not a financial advisor, and this article represents her personal opinion, so don’t get your breeches in a twist about it!
(If you have an idea that would fit with the Finance Friday theme, and you’d like to write a guest post, email me to talk about it!)
Well, let’s hear it. Do you have an emergency fund? Not yet? Is an emergency fund important to your financial goals, or has it helped you out in some way in the past?
And how about the overall financial goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year? How are those going?
house post · Uncategorized

House Post: Goodbye, microwave; hello, vent hood

We executed a long-anticipated kitchen project last weekend, with my dad’s help.

See, this is the microwave that was installed over the stove when we moved in.

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How amazing (and also gross/grimy/greasy) is that?!

It didn’t really work. Well, it might have worked. It didn’t work when we moved in. Then, after we lost power, it randomly turned back on. Which was vaguely terrifying, and so, we never used it as a microwave. We put another one in another part of the kitchen and called it good. We used the vent function occasionally but it sucked.

I looked everywhere for a replacement that would fit in the space. I spent hours and hours and hours googling, calling stores, scouring online forums, you name it. They just don’t make microwaves this small anymore, at least not in the precise way that I needed one. So I gave up on buying a new microwave and decided to swap it over for a vent hood instead.

Getting the old microwave out was a total pain in the ass. So many things in this house are overbuilt. The microwave was no exception.

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It took several hours, because first there was the microwave and then there was the microwave housing.  They were both stuck in from having been there for so long, overly securely attached, really heavy, you name it. It was a pain.

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Then, once we got it out, we found that they’d never finished off the wall behind the microwave. To say I was grumpy would be an understatement. So I had to prime and paint the stupid wall. I had nothing left of the actual kitchen paint, so I used a pale gray that is upstairs in the library. It’s a delineated space, so it actually works ok.

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Then, the vent hood went in!

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It’s pretty great. It’s less obtrusive than the microwave, actually functional, and it felt good to check something off the list.

I’m pondering backsplash for that wall. I haven’t decided yet. There is a kitchen remodel in the medium-future (maybe another 5 years) so I don’t have to make any final decisions.

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So far, I took one pass through Home Depot’s options and liked this one the best. I’m not going to decide or do anything until May, though, because my April is about to be not worth living with the finale of a major work project.

ride notes · Uncategorized

Ride Notes

Good news: reducing frog pressure seems to have brought Tristan sound again. At least, he’s sound (if stiff) today, for his first ride back after three weeks off from all the lame/unshod shenanigans.

As such, I just pulled him out and loosened him up for about thirty minutes. Nothing too complicated. I wanted to make sure the buttons were all still there, and to see what kind of horse I had. A semi-willing, sound, and stiff one. None of that really surprises me. Tris likes his time off, and he’s almost 23. He was bound to be stiff after it, especially since he’s apparently been doing a lot of running around in deep snow in turnout.

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So, notes from the ride (of which I actually have a few pictures, miracle of miracles!):

  • I need to work on my leg aids. I’ve gotten into the bad habit of going right to the spur. In my defense, you ride my horse and see if you don’t want to go for the nuclear option immediately. All the same, it’s a training issue that I’m reinforcing by not being careful and precise enough with my aids.
  • I need to be more consistent with getting him to bend, which is to say, I need to work out a better way to start to incorporate it into the warmup and then to step up the pressure through the ride. Motorcycling through corners is unacceptable.
  • He needed a longer walk warmup than I gave him, especially after so much time off. In retrospect, he would have benefited from a little bit of longeing to open up his back, then a longer walk warmup under saddle.

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  • Finally: LOOK UP LOOK UP LOOK UP GOD DAMN IT LOOK UP.
adventures with the vet · Uncategorized

Much Ado About Nothing

Okay, not nothing. But relatively speaking – a nonissue.

When last we left our intrepid little mustang, he was pretty off in his RF after a recent shoeing.

So, after much back and forth with the farrier and the vet, we formed a plan and executed it.

The farrier pulled off Tristan’s shoes and looked closely. He had a couple of possible ideas for what it might be, some of which were eliminated pretty quickly. It wasn’t a bad nail or a thin sole. It didn’t seem to be anything related to the usual trouble spot – the scar tissue & bad growth from the old surgery/abscess.

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What he did find, however, was some pretty extreme frog sensitivity. Not from thrush or contracted heels – the frogs looked pretty darn good, nicely broad, tough, and uninfected. Angles were all good.

See, when Tristan started his shoes, the farrier did pour-in packing and a pad with a triangle wedge of frog support. He was worried that a horse who had been used to barefoot for so long would need to mimic that ground contact as closely as possible in a shoe.

But now it looks like that frog support is too much – it was fine the first few cycles, but has turned up a problem in the last two.

We still kept our appointment with the vet to do x-rays…which turned out to be a bust, as her machine is on the fritz.

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He did stand awfully adorably for the vet to keep trying to make the machine work, though! And don’t those blocks do great things for his topline?

Since he had the shoes pulled, and since he’d just had his feet trimmed, the farrier was worried about turnout without shoes. Not that he’d hurt – he trotted gorgeously sound for the vet, of course, all barefoot. But that he’d chip his foot and the farrier would have a hard time getting a shoe back on without any foot left to trim.

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Enter baby’s first pair of boots! I know, I’ve had a (mostly) barefoot horse for over a decade and this is the first time I’ve booted him. (Except for the hospital boots after surgery, which I don’t think counts; those were more like fancy expensive bandages.)

The barn manager had these and thankfully she was willing to sort through her stash and find some that fit him, and her stash had a pair that fit him really, really well. Like, so well I’m thinking about buying a pair. (But mostly talking myself out of it because let’s be real he’s going back in shoes soon and I just don’t need them that much.)

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Still, if anyone can ID them for me I’d be grateful. Just for future reference. Some kind of Easy Boot, but which one?

Anyway, long meandering story short, today I talked further with the vet and farrier both. Vet’s machine is still on the fritz, and farrier and I both want the shoes back on ASAP. The only view we can’t get with shoes on is navicular, and the vet feels very strongly that’s not what we’re looking at here. She tends to agree with the farrier that it’s frog pain from the pads.

So he’s getting his shoes on Wednesday sans frog support, and the vet will do lateral views of his feet when her machine gets fixed. Which will still provide helpful baseline information, no matter what.

And if he goes sound with the plain pad & packing, and stays sound, we have our answer.

Which, all in all, is actually a really damn good outcome here. It’s the cheapest, easiest solution that’s not actually a long-term issue. I’d rather it hadn’t resulted in two weeks off from work but let’s be real, I’m not exactly training for Rolex, here. He’s happy to hang out, I’m happy to groom and fuss over him, and when he gets his shoes back on we’ll see what there is to see.