July 30, 2018

New Years' Resolution Mid-Year Check-In

You may remember that I resolved to reduce my "Horse Supplies" category spending in 2018 while my husband and I make a final push to pay off our renovation-related debt and his student loans.

Specifically, the debt it took to turn this...
...into this. Worth every cent.  

First, a reminder: I'm defining "unnecessary" as anything not essential to Connor's health, comfort or happiness.  So, things like my saddle getting reflocked are necessary, but things like buying new breeches for the clinic were unnecessary. 

But I bought them anyway and have no regrets!

To track this, I'm using custom categories and tags on Mint.com.  I have a "Horse Supplies" category, and then I have "Unnecessary" and "Necessary" tags that I apply to each transaction.  "Horse Supplies" is loosely defined as anything I could buy at a tack store and doesn't include things like vet, lessons, board, dentist, and shows, which I track separately.

So how am I doing a month past the halfway point of the year?  Here's a visual:

Green bar is 2018, yellow bar is 2017

This is not quite a fair comparison, because the yellow bar represents all of 2017, while the green bar represents the first seven months of 2018.  But clearly I'm very much on track to spend waaaaaaaaaay less this year.

Where has that "unnecessary" spending gone so far this year?  Welllll...

The answer is "going way overboard on buying things I really did not need for the clinic" (again, no regrets, #diditallforthephotos), re-buying my whip after I lost it somewhere in our outdoor, and a one month FeedXL subscription.

I'm not doing quite as well on "necessary spending" because getting my saddle looked at, reflocked, and widened ended up being pretty expensive.  In fact, that accounts for over three-fourths of my "necessary" horse supplies spending this year.  I'm not complaining, that money could not possibly have been better spent, but it does turn this graph upside down:

Once again, green is this year, yellow is last year.

Other "necessary" purchases this year include all the stuff I've bought to try to stop Connor's muzzle from rubbing his face, two new stall fans (they keep dying), and his maintenance gut supplement.

Current plan of attack: biothane halter in "Can't Possibly Lose THIS in the Pasture!" green

Anyone else using Mint.com to track horse expenses?


  1. I live and die by Mint as a way to keep track of all my various accounts and to track my overall goals, but I honestly really struggle with the budgeting functions because I spend so little money each month that it's easier for me to track it via a physical log. It's more time than it's worth to go in and tweak the tags constantly. (I did it for a while but Mint just never seemed to learn what my spending categories were and tagged all my expenses really wonky things and it got frustrating!)

    1. That's interesting! It works out pretty well for me, I do 100% of my spending on credit cards which I pay off in full every month (both to keep my debit card safe and to get rewards), so Mint works pretty well for that. I will say it's a lot better today with classifying transactions than it used to be. It's only one or two a month that it gets wrong, and it even has started getting my board and farrier checks correct automatically, since I said "Every check for $xxx amount is 'board'". I think the bottom line is you gotta find what works for the way YOU spend money - if I laid out my entire moneykeeping process on here you'd think I was nuts (I do my paycheck allocation/forecasting in Notepad!! Haha)

    2. I think at least part of it is that I maintain so many different accounts and am constantly shuffling money back and forth. My husband and I have separate finances, so no matter how much I try to train it not to count various things it always freaks out when I transfer money. And last month it tagged a horse purchase at Tractor Supply as "beauty." On and on forever.

      My board is different every month (miscellaneous small expenses) so I can't take advantage of that option.

      I also spend highly variable amounts on gas and food etc. My overall monthly discretionary spending (literally everything except horse expenses and house utilities) is such a tiny bucket that setting $X for each category would be like $20 here, $50 there, and it would be over and under every month. I've tried in the past to tag everything "shopping" but then that seems to defeat the purpose of trend tracking. It's easier for me to keep a small piece of paper in my planner, write down every purchase, and read through it whenever I have a quiet moment to check where I am in the month and whether I've spent too much on junk in a given month.

      I also spend 100% on credit cards for tracking & points purposes! Though the last few months I've been not-great about completely paying off. Not much - maybe $100 or so that gets dragged over - but I really clamped down in July and am on track to do the same in August.

      Anyway, sorry to go on, this stuff is sort of endlessly fascinating to me, and I'm always trying to build a better system and find new ways to stay on track!

  2. I use mint and I do track horse expenses broken out by the type of expense. I'm mainly obsessing over wedding expenses in it lol. Overall I'm trying to just spend less on bars and restaurants though which kind of got out of control when I briefly didn't own a horse.

    1. Oh man, I'm glad I didn't have Mint for my wedding! I would've obsessed too. Same for us with bars and restaurants, we live walking distance from a bunch of good ones. Makes it hard.

  3. I've been actively tracking my expenses through Mint.com this year, and it has been fascinating. I have split it up in to a lot more categories, mostly because I was curious how much I was spending on grain vs supplements vs hay and things like that, but I have a general category that is called "horse stuff" and it is where all of the unnecessary items fall into. I have noticed that category seems to grow a little more than it probably needs to. But it is a fascinating way to see exactly where all of my money is going.

    1. Yeah! I think if I hadn't gone through a couple years of tracking like that I wouldn't be as good about budgeting and sticking to it now. Nothing worse than setting an arbitrary budget that's way too low, you're just setting yourself up for failure.

  4. I've tracked my expenses with Mint for a few years now. My only issue is when I start spending irresponsibly, I also stop looking at Mint XD WHOOPS!

    1. Oh girl you found out my secret! Haha. I used to do that too, so I added the Mint widget to my home screen on my phone. Shows me my aggregated credit card debt at all times, so I know how close I am. Now I can't avoid it!