One of my resolutions for 2017 was to increase my savings. Going through two years of my husband being un/underemployed from 2013-2015 definitely changed my relationship with money. No matter how secure our jobs seem, for the rest of my career, I'll never shake the memory of the desperation and depression I felt every time I looked at our checking accounts and bills during that time.
|September of 2013 - not a lot of showing during these two years, so we entertained ourselves in other ways. And I worked off a lot of my board, otherwise I would not have been able to keep Connor.|
Hand in hand with that, I also vowed to change the way I pay for predictable-but-not-fixed-expense events like horse shows, horse association memberships, Christmas gifts and car insurance. Usually, I don't think about horse shows or Christmas gifts until it's time to pay for it, which means I have to absorb that big expense all at once.
|And I do love Christmas...|
I track my expenses in Mint.com, so in early January 2017 I sat down and looked at the Horse Shows category for 2016 to figure out what I spent last season. I then thought about what this year's show schedule looked like vs last year's, and calculated how much horse showing should cost me per paycheck if I spread it over 24 pay periods.
This did a couple of things. First, it was interesting to see by how much each and every paycheck is reduced due to something like horse showing. Second, it made it possible for me to plan ahead and "pay myself" for horse shows by putting that amount of money straight into a separate savings account right away when I get paid, the idea being that I will move that money back over to checking when I need to pay for a show.
There are two things that make that separate savings account thing work for me: first, it's separate from my checking: mentally that makes it dead to me. That same money could be in my checking account and I'd spend it, but if it's in savings, it's like it doesn't exist.
(There's a name for this phenomenon but I can't remember what it's called. Basically, if you give someone one big bag of potato chips, or if you give them the same amount of potato chips in four separate small bags, the person with four separate bags will eat less, because they have to make four separate conscious decisions to open the bag and keep going, while the one-bag person only had to decide to eat the chips once.)
|I would prefer to bury my head in the sand when it comes to what percentage of my actual spending 'Pets' is, but Mint doesn't let me forget. (Auto & Transport I can explain, I'm aggressively paying off the truck right now.)|
Second, I don't move that money over automatically. I do it manually as soon as I get paid, so that I'm consciously aware and mentally telling myself "This is for horse shows and Christmas and car insurance, I am paying my future self right now." It makes it mean more and hurt less. After all, it'd be way more fun in an instant gratification way to go on a shopping spree at Riding Warehouse with that money...but...future self says no.
Anyone else play mental games with themselves in order to be more responsible with horse money?