If I had a million dollars – part 2

So I actually had a whole different post written for this part 2. I was going to post it on the same day I ended my lease with Lucky. I looked it over again to post it today, and honestly, everything is different now so it just didn’t make sense anymore. I am going to start over with my new, down to one horse perspective and see if I can’t explain some of the financial stuff that played a part in my life with Lucky.

Unless you are very, very wealthy having a horse is a pretty noticeable part of your monthly expenses. Between board, supplements, lessons and showing it is easy to spend as much as a typical person’s mortgage payment on our hobby every month. I thankfully earned a scholarship to both college and grad school so I don’t have student loans hanging over my head. Hearing what people pay for those I feel like student loans and horse expenses are often similar in price, although we all know that horses are way less predictable, and hopefully a lot more fun than student loans.

I know this is going to sound horrible, but the truth is that in my long term budgeting I plan for only one horse, not one and a half. It is horrible because I wasn’t expecting Gen to live so long. Don’t get me wrong, I am so happy he has! It is more that financially I didn’t really think I would need to pay for more than one horse long term. I feel like a jerk for even writing that by the way. I don’t want to sound ungrateful that Gen is still around! Especially now that he is responsible for so much of my sanity at the moment 😛

Anyone that knows me will attest to the fact that I am a budgeter. My salary is a matter of public record so every once and a while I get a text from a friend that will say, “I just looked you up online…how do you not make more money” or my all-time favorite “Saw your salary, you can literally multiply your salary by 2 and still not make as much as me”. While I am by no means a financial guru, nor do I think my finances are perfect, I think I do a pretty good job most of the time.

I think a big part of my current frustration is that I have had a lot of unexpected expenses this year. 2013 has been a rough one for my wallet. From a major home expense this summer, to Gen getting sick and Lucky getting hurt I just couldn’t seem to catch up. Just this month alone my dishwasher broke (thank goodness my family rocks and came together to give me a new one as an early Christmas present), my garbage disposal broke (thankfully I am pretty handy so I was able to fix it for just the $110 cost of parts) and my car is having trouble (not sure yet how much that one is going to cost me). That is life though. Unexpected expenses happen all the time.

Owning a horse I have learned that I can live without a lot of things. I prioritize my expenses and do a lot of need versus want. Most of the time I am totally fine with my strict budget, but sometimes, like when I was paying to ride and couldn’t ride, I start to get frustrated. I give up a lot to own and lease a horse, from simple things like having to say no sometimes when my friends are going out to do something fun, to more complicated things like dealing with broken or not working appliances, etc at home because I just can’t afford to get them fixed right away. I know that most everyone out there reading this feels the same way.

I am lucky in that I really don’t have to go without “needs” very often, which I know is more than a lot of fellow horse owners, but I think we can all agree that there are a lot of “wants” that are just never going to happen. I am not to fussed about my appearance so I normally don’t mind super gluing a pair of shoes back together to get a few more weeks of wear out of them or having a lip gloss that is all wrong for my coloring because it was on sale for $1. That is what it takes for me to ride and normally that is fine by me.

I think that is one of the reasons I get so frustrated with people who make the horse thing look so easy. It really is a struggle sometimes for me to stay in the tack. I have given up living a “comfortable” life so that I can ride. It is not something I am complaining about. It is a choice that I made. I still get to do a lot, but how much things cost is always something on my mind. There are also a lot of things that I just can’t do because I can’t justify the expense. I get my hair cut every few years because I could never justify paying for a nice cut when I can get it for cheap, or almost free if I just do a locks of love donation. I never pay full price for clothes, I literally have a clothing budget of $200 a year for clothes, shoes, accessories, etc and that is with riding gear included. Does it make more sense now why I get so excited when I get new breeches?

I can afford to half lease, but sometimes it feels like just barely. I am the kind of person who would rather go without than to have more bills than I can handle. I don’t mind canceling my home internet for a few months or keeping my heat at 60 degrees in the winter because getting to ride makes up for that to me. I think what I am starting to think about is if it is worth it to me anymore. Maybe I am just so down about riding because I haven’t been doing it. Maybe I am starting to realize that counting every penny is just not something I want to do anymore. A few hundred for a half lease might not sound like much, but to me it is.

I guess that is pretty much the point of this post. If riding were free I would get another horse right now. It isn’t though. I know I am not the only who has to watch what I spend. What sort of stuff do you go without? If I could have any one luxury item in the world it would be to have a cleaning person come by every other week. Maybe in a life without horses I could afford that. As long as I have them though that is so never going to happen. Does anyone else feel frustrated with how expensive it is to own a horse?

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10 thoughts on “If I had a million dollars – part 2

  1. I get pretty frustrated at times.I also definitely understand the cost cutting measures, having scraped by for many, many years. I’m lucky in that money isnt so much of an issue as it used to be. But guess what? I still didn’t get any of my goals accomplished this year and haven’t ridden in months due to a sore pony and an away from home work commitment. I just try to keep plugging away and not lose sight of those goals…it just might take me a really long time to get there. Thank goodness even though I want it NOW riding is a sport that can wait a while for me to catch up.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I totally understand where you’re coming from, but try to be patient and don’t get too discouraged. Take a break if you need one, spoil yourself for a little and jump back in when you’re ready – there’s no shame in that!

  2. I can understand where you’re coming from. I’ve been there in the past. But things got better with age. Enjoy yourself while you’re young and do what you can to make you happy. Splurge a little over the winter on new clothes and accessories. And save what you can in the Spring things might look different.

    • GreyHorse is right – it will get easier eventually and there is nothing wrong with taking a few years off and then going back. You’re still young. I didn’t get a horse until I was over 40 (well, he was as much for my daughter as for me but lets not quibble!). And to be quite honest, I gave up my every other week cleaning person to afford board so I guess I’m still making sacrifices but we all just do what we have to do sometimes. Just remember, taking a break doesn’t mean you quit. Use the time off to save and create an awesome life that you can look back on when you are 50 and say, “I went 5 years without riding but WOW did I have fun!”

  3. This is going to sound ridiculous, but until reading your post I’d never stopped to consider the fact that most people would probably find it strange that my horse’s rent costs SIGNIFICANTLY more per month than mine does. While I obviously knew how much my rent & Cadence’s board cost, I’d never really given the price difference a second thought. To me, it was just a fact of life. Cadence isn’t boarded anywhere extravagant; we have a (very) small indoor, an outdoor, average sized stalls, and excellent care. In this area, my board’s not overly expensive either. The two barns closest to mine both start at $600/month so I can even feel like I’m getting a deal with my board costs! I’m sure that to some people, the fact I spend more on my horse’s clothes than mine (and lets be realistic, when I do spend money on clothes it tends to be on riding clothes), forgo parties to go to the barn, get excited when No Frills has pasta for $0.80, and wake up early every Sunday morning to go muck stalls rather than sleeping in and nursing my hangover is probably beyond ridiculous. To me though, I just feel incredibly lucky that I’m able to do it!

    All the best to you & Gen, and here’s hoping your car pulls through. I’d send good car luck your way, but from someone who’s truck frequently sounds like its brewing coffee (wish I knew what that was about) I’m afraid my luck may do you more harm that good 😉

  4. We moved 1200 miles so we could get better paying jobs and thus continue to afford my mare + student loan payments. My husband and I pay $1500 a month in student loans alone. I took a second job so I could pay for the hauler to bring her North. I work overtime now when I want to buy something special for us. All the clothes I buy are for riding…I buy them on eBay. I traded in my Mini Cooper for a Toyota Corolla and my hubs drives a 13-year old clunker truck (too light to pull a trailer.) My husband and I eat out once every other week maybe. We don’t go to fancy places. When my mare was diagnosed with a soft tissue injury, her insurance paid for a large portion of the expenses but there was still some that we had to pay out of pocket. We have lived in our current apartment for a year and due to the vet bills, we still haven’t been able to finish buying furniture for the apartment. We have a mattress on the floor, a futon, a desk and a chest of drawers. That’s it. We’re in our 30’s FYI. But you know what? For me it’s TOTALLY worth it. I don’t think twice about any of this. My husband is 100% supportive because he knows that there is nothing that makes me happier. It helps that he doesn’t mind living like a college student.

    It sounds like you need a break. Enjoy Gen, take time off, save money and just take it easy, and re-evaluate your options then.

  5. Its never fun to have to cut corners, but it is a necessity for most hard working people. Life is too short not to enjoy the simple pleasures. Enjoy Gen and be well.

  6. I read this post earlier in the week, but wanted to wait until I could use a regular computer (instead of my cell phone) to reply…

    You are not alone in your thoughts. I have had Griffin for 16 (almost 17) years now. If I had to list the things I have given up in that time that I have had Grif in my life, it wouldn’t be a few things….but pages of things.
    Some of those things were never important to me (i.e. cable TV, a computer, fancy vacations/trips, recreational toys) and other things……well, let’s just say it gets hard sometimes (like being able to buy clothes that don’t come from a thrift store, having a nice apartment/furniture, being able to buy a really nice Birthday or Christmas present for someone I love, and the biggest one; having the luxury of working only one job).
    With Griffin being almost 26 years old, there are definitely times I think about taking some “time off” when his time to pass on comes….. I think about things I’d like to do, being able to buy some nice stuff for my wardrobe (and not feel like I dress like a homeless person). ….and while vacations weren’t important to me when I first adopted Griffin, I DO wonder what it would be like to fly somewhere and have an adventure. Sometimes, when it’s dark outside and I’ve just finished working almost 9 hours, and it’s 20 degrees in temp, I think how easy it would be to take a break from things.
    …..but then, at other times, when it’s a beautiful summer or fall day and Griffin and I just had an awesome ride, either out on a little trail or elsewhere, I think how much having my horse really makes my life whole and the thought of not having one actually scares me a little (because it’s such a big part of what makes me…..me).
    My car will be fully paid for this next summer, and while technically I know that I “could” afford a second horse with some careful budgeting, I’ve been asking myself a lot of important questions. Things like…….ensuring my budget would allow for emergencies should any illness or injury happen to either horse. I could afford the regular care expenses, yes…..but an emergency? I have to consider that too. Do I want to continue living on a tight budget for the next 10 years or so? Other than his arthritis, Griffin is healthy, there’s no telling how long he will still be around. It’s very possible he could make it to 35. Another 10 years of thrift store clothes, hand me down furniture, and no vacations…is it worth it? (sometimes I think it is and sometimes not). The hardest question I’ve been asking myself is this tho: Does it really make sense for to have 2 horses when I really only manage to get to the barn 3-4 days a week? Grif and I can still do easy trail rides and he seems to enjoy them. If I split my time between 2 horses, will he get enough exercise to stay comfortable and happy? Should I just retire him? ….then what? I’d still want to spend time with him…
    There are really only 2 reasons for me to acquire a second horse. One- …To have a horse I can try competitive trail on (something I’d like to do) and/or do longer rides and camp with. Two- To have another horse I’m bonded to, so that when Griffin’s “time” comes, another bond may help me to ease my grief (…and there WILL be grief).
    A barn friend and I have talked about me half leasing her QH (she has little time to ride herself and struggles a little financially as well). He’s a nice horse and I feel like I’d get along with him….but I’ve heard so many ups and downs with leasing, I just don’t know if I want to get into that.
    I also considered looking for another horse and finding someone to half-lease with ME…… so many options, and so many considerations…..
    Sometimes I get so overwhelmed thinking about it that I just want to cry. I look at Griffin and see his gray hairs and I know that he won’t be with me forever. At some point I will have to make some decisions and changes in my “horse life.” Nothing is ever simple….. or easy…..
    For now, I remind myself that I have several months yet before my car is paid and even after it’s paid, I don’t necessarily have to make a decision on anything in the following months or the following year…
    For now, I’m just going to love Grif, take the best care of him that I can, and have a little faith that I will know the right decision when the time comes.
    So I agree with what some of the other commenters said….Take a break, enjoy some quality time with Gen, and have a little faith that the right horse will come along at the right time. …and that if you give up riding for a little while — it doesn’t mean that it has to be forever…..
    Sending Huggs to you!!

  7. I know exactly what I’d do with a million dollars – pad my retirement accounts!

    I know that’s not what you mean though. :0)

    Horses are very expensive, and I know EXACTLY to the penny what it costs me. I kept meticulous care in tracking my expenses in 2012 and reported the cost each month. I then did a write up of the total cost for the year. It was a staggering number. I know there are whole families who live on less than what I spent.

    We’re not “wealthy” people. My husband does have a very good job, but I am a teacher, we’re not known for raking in the big bucks. We plan carefully and give up a lot. Things will get better as you progress through your career. It’s always hard in your twenties, easier in your thirties, and approaching comfortable in your forties. I can’t speak to the fifties as I am not there yet, but I am certain life just gets better and better. :0)

    If you’d like to see what a middle class wife spends on owning and showing two horses in sunny California, here is the link to the series: http://www.bakersfielddressage.com/1/category/horses%20are%20expensive/1.html

    Best of luck to you.

  8. I’m in the same boat! I’ve been chasing a ligament injury in my mare for over a year now. Several times this year, I have planned a list of lessons, then clinics, and then shows only to have her come up lame. I simply cannot afford another, and I won’t give up on my girl. Best wishes to you, and here’s hoping one of us wins the powerball 🙂

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