I just turned 30, making just under 40k a year.
1) How much do you spend on your horse(s) each month?
Anywhere from $500-$700 a month. One horse is boarded at a nice barn with an indoor arena, one horse (doesn’t get ridden, but I’m not going to sell) just pasture boarded at a farm.
2) How does your significant other feel about your expenditures?
I am very lucky as he is VERY supportive and understanding, and pitches in without a hesitation if the need arises. We have separate bank accounts and split bills and large expenses (house, utilities, etc) and then are free to do whatever with our own money. It works well for us.
3) How do you save for big ticket items (ex: saddles, trailer, new horse, etc.)?
I save up as much as I can in a separate bank account in the eventing “off” season, so when it comes time to shell out for that new saddle or expensive clinic, I’ve got a bit of a cushion. Trailer will be financed when the time comes. I love the projects horses, and will never be one of those people who can afford the “nice” horse anyways, so I’ll be looking at either young horses or OTTB’s when it comes time to buy. I can’t see myself ever spending more than 5k on a horse though, unless I win the lottery, and 5k would be the absolute top, for that PERFECT horse.
4) How much do you spend on events/competitions/schoolings each year? How do you save for them?
Eventing is literally the only thing I do, so I usually can scrape by in the summer from paycheck to paycheck. I usually have some extra in a separate account that I can dip into if need be. In total, last year I spent around $3000 on events and clinics alone. Next year, I might change up my whole game plan, hitting some american events instead of the local ones, so I’m planning on saving up as much as possible over the winter and then planning my season based on that.
5) What is the most you would spend on a new horse? How would you come up with that amount of money (ex: saving, selling something, second job, etc.)?
Like I mentioned above, 5k would probably be the absolute highest I could go. I’d be looking at youngsters and OTTB’s, ideally I’d want to stick around the 2-4k range.
6) How much do you spend on training each month? Do you feel like the $ is well spent?
I do all my own training, so no extra expenses there. I take lessons on and off throughout the year, as my current coach is very busy and away for shows a fair amount, and I am very busy in general as well. Some months I take 3 or 4 lessons, and some months I don’t have any. I enjoy and mesh well with my current coach, so I feel like it’s definitely worth it.
7) How do you budget for emergency medical expenses? What is the most you’ve ever spent on a vet bill? Do you have a dollar limit?
I’ve been extremely lucky with the vet bills, I don’t think I’ve had one over $500 in all the time I’ve owned horses. touch wood I have a credit card if anything major was to arise, and some savings too. I REALLY need to get insurance for my mare though, I could never outright buy another going prelim-aiming for Intermediate horse, and if colic surgery was needed, I definitely don’t have 10k laying around for that. On the to-do list for sure.
8) How do you balance an expensive hobby with other financial priorities, such as investing, paying off student loans, buying a house, and saving for retirement?
On my own I would have never been able to get a house ever, and would have been perfectly fine renting for the rest of my life. For me personally, horses are a higher priority than owning my own house. With my SO though, having a place of our own though was something we definitely wanted to do together, so we more made some sacrifices and made it happen. I have an RRSP through my work, I don’t invest, and have no student loans, or other loans. I just have a credit card that I am not that great with, but I keep my head above the water on that one, so I’m not doing too bad in the big scheme of things.
9) Are you willing to go into debt to purchase something horse related? (ex: I have a friend who recently “raided” her 401k to buy a new prospect and another who took out a loan to buy a horse. I’ve recently seen horse ads where credit cards are accepted.)
For me, I grew up in a small town where loans were not common, if you wanted something, you saved and bought it outright. So for me it’s not something I would ever consider, too risky. Heck, I’ve never even financed a car yet! Haha.
10) Have you ever taken a break from horses or downgraded your competition schedule, training, schooling frequency, etc. due to finances? How did you feel about it?
The first year or so after college was tight money wise, so I took a break there. Then I went back to school over the summer a few years later and didn’t have the funds to show as I wasn’t working during that time. It worked out fine, it was a sacrifice I had to make, and I felt fine about it. I boarded at a great DIY place for a few years when things were tight money wise, and it worked out great. For a long time I worked off my board at barns, but I found I was more of a slave and didn’t really enjoy my horses like I wanted to. It wasn’t fun. So now that I can afford it, I have chosen not to do that anymore. I am FAR happier than I was before doing things on my own terms, when it’s my choice, not an obligation.
11) Have you ever found yourself upgrading (ex: horses, tack, trainers, shows, etc.) to keep up with wealthier clients at your barn? Do you feel pressured by your trainer or barn friends to spend more money? What is your approach for dealing with that pressure?
Not in my experience. I’m very picky about barns, and don’t go for that “follow the leader” stuff. Since I am a trainer and a coach myself, I do my own thing, make my own decisions, call the shots on my own horse’s care, tack, vaccinations, deworming, vet care, etc. I’m more of the opinion that everyone is different, and different things work for different people. You can’t squish everything into a little box and say you need X or Y for every horse or to do whatever.
12) Have you ever experienced buyer’s remorse for something horse related? How did you address the issue? Did you learn something from the experience?
Not that I can think of.
13) What are practical ways you keep costs down? Lay on the frugal tips!
I have one set of show clothes, and only replace them when need be. Same with tack and other horse things. I check the consignment stores before buying something brand new, or will buy second hand when I can. Bulk for things like fly spray and supplements is more cost effective. I try to limit my trips to stores in general unless I need to pick up something specific. No random “shopping sprees” for me, haha. I very rarely eat out, and do all my clothes shopping at Plato’s Closet. I’ll ask for other clothes and bigger things for my birthday/Christmas. I always take a lunch to work and don’t drink coffee. Little things add up!
14) Do you have a separate income/job/side business to fund your eventing obsession? If so, what do you do and how do you find the time?
I used to have multiple jobs to try make everything work, but it didn’t work well for me. I was working one job full time, working 7 days a week doing chores at a barn, and doing photography on the side. I was spread WAY too thin. I finally found a decent job that I can afford the horses on if I’m smart, and still have time for myself.
15) Have you ever seen someone make a horse related financial decision that you thought was just crazy?
Just multiple expensive purchases, new horse, new 6k saddle, new pony for the kid, etc etc etc. Though I guess if I had lots of money sitting around or won the lottery, I’d probably buy all that stuff too. Then there’s the opposite problem, people on a tight budget buying more horses, and just piling them in the pasture and not getting the regular farrier or vet care. But come home with new clothes and things.