I started out with one horse when I was quite young.

 Along with the ownership of that horse came the responsibilities for keeping his stall clean, twice a day feeding and watering, 365 days a year.  While other kids counted their quarters for doing jobs around the house, I was counting the hours that I could go home from school and ride. I earned my horse through doing barn chores, making dinners through the week and doing some house cleaning for my parents. 

Today our farm has 10 horses and over the years, we have accumulated our tack for our horses and most tools needed to maintain our farm.  I have always kept track of bills and services for my horses, but more than ever now, I need to get a good grasp on my overall costs per month, per year.  We want to build a new barn soon. 

My yearly budget can be nearly forecasted from previous years numbers.  Excel is a basic program that we use to enter monthly costs and get yearly totals.  I keep track of yearly vaccines, vet calls, farrier costs, supplements, grain and hay bills.  If you have any additional costs from farm help, lessons, shows, travel fees and gas, put that on the list too.  Don’t forget, when you forecast for the coming year, your previous bottom line costs can increase even if you don’t add anything new. 

If you know hay costs are going up, start to plan early for the increase so you won’t be broadsided in the spring. Services can also rise from year to year if your vet retires and brings on new Drs., or as the cost of steel and aluminum increases, so does your farrers inventory costs rise.  And it does eventually work its way to the buyer.

Be smart and ask what anticipated prices will be so you can plan ahead.  Also have your emergency fund off to the side and put a monthly minimum amount into it.  When needed for emergencies, you will have the available funds without worrying.

As often as you can, pay for your wants with cash as well as your needs.  Be careful not to put expenses on a credit card, but pay cash. Handing over green cash makes you think twice – do you really need this? 

Watch for barn sales or used tack sales where you can often get the best for less.  Smart shopping always feels so good when you know that you worked a little to save a lot! You will soon see that managing your ‘barn cost of living’ expenses will help you to get the barn, fence, or horse of your dreams in due time!