Changing the Way I Save for Horse Shows

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.
Ya'll don't need to see where I bank, but the Emergency Fund and (post-tax) retirement funds are in high-yield savings accounts at a separate bank (with retirement eventually going into an IRA), then checking and the account I'm talking about in this post, the savings account, are tied together at a different bank so I can easily pull the money back and forth.

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?

27 comments:

  1. I use mint as well and love it. Although I about to create a barn renovation category and I think that will make me want to buy my head in the sand shortly!
    Since I've only showed at home (bonus for my current barn location!) for the last few years if I've shown at all budgeting for shows has not been necessary but it's definitely something to keep in mind for the future!

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    1. Yeahhhhhh nothing like being confronted by the total amount of how many thousands of dollars you're spending on a reno...ask me how I know. :)

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  2. I think it's so interesting to see the different ways people manage their money! In addition to my 'real' job, I also do a LOT of side work. I feed 2 mini horses before work every morning, and that pretty much covers my board. I also walk dogs, offer up my home as a dog hotel, and house-sit part time, and that makes up pretty much all of my 'horse show fun' money. It's not money that we need for other, routine expenses, so it's pretty much found money that I can do with what I want. Commissions from real estate sales go in the 'future farm' fund, and that's how I pay for the fun stuff!

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    1. Yeah, it would definitely be different with a commission based job and/or multiple jobs! I used to be a waitress and budgeting was so hard with a non-steady income stream like that. You have to be really disciplined!

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  3. Now I'm thinking I need to check out mint! I had an aggressive show season in 2015 and what killed me was the diesel to get to all the shows (schooling shows are cheap, driving all over the state is not, haha). I scaled way back in 2016 and am still on the fence about what I'm going to do in 2017. But I do need to make a point to be more budget conscious about it, great (and timely!) post!

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    1. Mint is pretty great! Yeah, fuel for shows is definitely an expense that has to be factored in along with the fees, it's just as much of a cost even if it's not on the entry form.

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  4. I have been doing regular contributions to Canada savings bonds. This has allowed me to put money aside for 'horse stuff' without impacting (as much) on our day to day finances.

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  5. Like you, I have to have money in a separate savings account or I will spend it! I budget for things like horse shows, vet bills (well, Gina's future breeding bills), and hay by saving all of my commissions from shows I work; that's essentially bonus money, so it goes right into the savings account before I buy too many saddle pads or another pair of breeches.

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    1. Yes! Same for me with the pet vet. I self-insure, aka, I put money aside for it. It's a better option for me than actual insurance.

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  6. I do more or less the same thing in setting up different savings accounts for different things. It does help to make sure they're targeted.

    I also use Mint but find it of limited use for day to day tracking - I much prefer it for the goals function, especially the ways I can toggle the amount I put toward the mortgage, car loan, etc. and see how much more quickly I can pay it off.

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    1. Yeah, Mint definitely leaves something to be desired. I use it most for keeping my reimbursable spending out of my budget when I'm traveling for work, and like you for goal tracking. The most annoying thing though, is seeing those bars go red when I've done something good, like put $1,000 toward paying off my truck. You stupid software, paying down debt is a good thing!

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  7. I used Mint for awhile but didn't like it. Maybe partially because it kept yelling at me for my debt haha. I'll have to try it again now that I'm getting my finances more in order :)

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    1. Haha yeah, I definitely have days I don't want to log into it...

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  8. I also use Mint and am super compulsive about money and saving (good thing I picked accountant as my career). For yearly expenses that aren't monthly (vet bills, car insurance, etc.) I budget them for the year and then have created a savings account called Annual Cost Pool. I get 26 paychecks a year, so I allocate 1/26th of the yearly cost to each paycheck. I have an auto-transfer set-up so I can't "forget" and spend the money on fun stuff. It only comes out to $75 a paycheck and I never have to worry about car insurance, vet bills, etc. sneaking up on me!

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    1. That's awesome! Yeah, I try to put 10% of take home into emergency (until I hit that goal #), whatever it takes to max out my Roth contributions, and then my pet vet/horse show/Christmas fund is about 10% as well. It feels good to have some cash on hand, even if my checking is usually (intentionally) around $100. Working in IT and knowing how poorly we can actually secure your cards, I never use my debit. All of my purchases go on credit, which gets paid in full each month. Much better to have a credit card than a debit card compromised.

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  9. I also do everything manually. Growing up poor really affected how I deal with money and its not necessarily a health or right relationship to have. Getting over the feeling of living paycheck to paycheck is hard but hopefully some of the frugality stays with me forever.

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    1. I have heard that, and I think to a small extent that's what Nick being unemployed did to me. Whole weeks of eating rice for three meals a day to save money because we were buying groceries on credit we could only pay the minimum on. It messes with you, for better and for worse. Like you said, gotta find a balance.

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  10. I started using Mint last year and abandoned it when my financials went down the drain. Still too afraid to look

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    1. Lol, I go through cycles like that too. Hoping we're on an upswing right now.

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  11. I love Mint too! The other one I love is Digit. It's an app that tracks your spending patterns and pulls small amounts out and into a savings account you can withdraw from at any time. I don't have any horse expenses right now (sob), but I use it as my travel/fun money. A couple girlfriends and I spontaneously planned a trip to NYC at the end of this month and I'll be able to pay for it entirely from my Digit account.

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  12. I started budgeting for show season and then realized that 50-75% of my show costs go towards paying other people to haul my horse. So now I'm trying to come up with a plan for not showing at all, and saving up for a trailer instead.

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    1. Totally get that. I was fortunate with my trailer when JenJ had one she wanted to sell. It's not cheap.

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  13. What's money management? lol signed, poor horse girl who just spends it all on her horse.

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    1. Lol!!!! Hey, that's a money management technique too. ;)

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