I love Christmas shopping. I love choosing just the right thing for each person on my list, and I pride myself on finding good deals on the perfect gifts. But the list was long this year and so I still ended up spending a lot of money. On top of that, starting a half lease, taking the plunge and buying an air vest, having to pay my first ever speeding ticket (ouch) and then an unexpected need for new tires (bye, $500), I needed to take stock of my finances and make sure I was on track.
Through the process, I came away with several tips that may be useful to other equestrians on a budget. Because let’s be honest; we’re all on a budget.
Take stock of the situation. It can be a little uncomfortable to take an honest look at your finances, especially if you find yourself in a tight spot. But you have to know where you are to start moving toward where you want to be.
Create a budget spreadsheet. Seriously, do it. List out all of your fixed monthly expenses and your income. See what’s left over. Plan your expected expenses on fluctuating costs like groceries, gas, necessities and ‘fun money.’ Portion out an amount to save each month. Stick to this budget.
Track spending. I created a spreadsheet in my phone to track how much I spend on groceries, gas and ‘other’ which would be discretionary money, necessities, etc. Anything that is not already accounted for in my fixed monthly expenses, savings, gas or groceries. I have a monthly budget set for each, and I’m tracking each of those three categories for at least this month. This has benefited me in two ways. First, I know how much I plan to spend, and I can make sure I’m on track and that my estimate was pretty accurate (or inaccurate, in which case I will make a change for next month). Second, I always keep those numbers in mind. I find myself asking myself if I really need something instead of buying it without thinking too hard. And if I don’t need it, do I want it badly enough to spend some of my ‘other’ money on it? If the answer is yes, cool. If not, I move on. It’s great.
Make saving easy. I set up some auto-transfers so that every payday, a certain amount of money will go into savings. I also set one up so that $10 of each paycheck goes into a new savings account for car maintenance – so that next time I need new tires, or need to make a repair, I’ll have something saved up and my regular savings won’t take a hit. I don’t even miss that $10, but when the time comes, I’ll be glad to have it.
Delete the Amazon app from your phone. I found it was way to easy to order this or that from my phone, and I don’t need to be doing that. I haven’t missed having the app on my phone since I deleted it.
Horses are expensive. We know this. But it’s not impossible to make it work. It just sometimes takes a little, well, work! So far this month I have not bought things that I don’t need, and come up with strategies to save for things I do, like another pair of winter breeches (I’ll be hitting up the local consignment tack shop), and a five-point breastplate (any ‘other’ money left at the end of the month will go toward that).
What are your budgeting and money-management tips for living with the world’s most expensive hobby?