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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Penny Pincher

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

I managed to see Matt and drop off his cheesecake last night. He surprised me with my very own box of See’s candy (heart shaped!) and a box of truffles! Today I headed to San Francisco for another FPGBB performance (see earlier post for adventures last time!). This trip was uneventful. We played the national anthem at a gymnastics competition. I hung around for a while in the evening to watch some of the college level men’s rounds. It’s incredible to see them live, performing on the floor and rings. I was fascinated by the ultimate in strength and grace. When I watch them it is with some longing. It isn’t that I want to be a gymnasist (in fact it’s way too late for that), instead it’s a longing to be incredible at something. It inspires me to do more and strive harder in my own life.

I am possibly getting a new truck tomorrow. The new truck “thing” has been ongoing; way too drawn out, and filled with way too much drama. I want to be done buying large things. In 2006 I graduated, bought a truck, acquired a horse, and bought a horse trailer. In 2007 I bought another horse, and another horse trailer. In 2008 I bought a saddle and had way too many vet bills and other miscellaneous stuff. Now in 2009 I am could be buying another truck!!!! I hate having too much “stuff”. I’m also not the type of person that has to have the latest or newest thing. So why the heck does this keep happening? sigh. In this case I have been pulling my horse trailer with a ½ ton. It does a decent job, but there have been several scary moments during towing. At this point I don’t feel comfortable taking the truck and trailer combination out of California (driving in the valley isn’t bad because of the lack of any real hills). I have my truck loaded to the max and that isn’t the safest thing.

OK – so with the possibility of draining (I’m being dramatic) my bank accounts in the near future, yet still wanting to compete in endurance this year, brings up the question – “how can I better pinch pennies?” Here is what I have come up with so far on my drive home tonight. Feel free to add in the comments!

1. Maintain Minx’s trimmed and barefoot feet myself. This shouldn’t be hard to do if I keep up on it every ~2 weeks. I own on the equipment. I’ll try doing it for 3 months and then have her evaluated by my farrier to make sure I’m maintaining good angles etc. I’ll hold off on competing in rides with her so I don’t have to shoe (hoof protection is required on most rides in this area). Easy care glueons are cheaper than shoes so perhaps this is a reasonable alternative. Amount Saved: $35 a trim

2. Evaluate whether I need to feed platinum performance. I’m currently only feeding to one horse, but this stuff does add up. Does it really help? What if I just fed beet pulp and LMF gold? Would that address vitamin D and selenium deficiencies? What if I fed only for the 2 weeks leading up to a ride? Amount Saved: $140 for a 5 gallon pail. Lasts me on average ~2-3 months.

3. Groceries – stick to a list and only buy what’s on sale and “essential ingredients”. Plan meals so that everything get’s used and I don’t throw away food. My food bill last year was ~$120/month on average. In college I ate for less than $100/month. Amount Saved: $20/month

4. Buy a bike? I sold my bike after graduating from UC Davis. If I biked to work 1-2 times a week (18 miles/day) and 5 days a week (14 miles/day) to the stable, I’m figuring how much gas that would save me, and whether it would pay for a bike. It’s hard to bike in this area because drivers are not used to seeing bikes. Probably not feasible.

5. Don’t do any LD’s this year. I do LD’s to explore new local trails, and to catch up with endurance friends. However, I can easily do LD distances on my own. Amount Saved: $100/ ride. I went to 4 LD’s last year (not counting Death Valley because it was a multi-day).

6. No new tack! I have plenty already. J Easier said than done. Tack is my biggest weakness.

7. No eating out. Amount Saved: $20/month

8. Use public transportation for some of my weekend trips if it’s cheaper. For example: ride the train to see Matt instead of driving.

It’s hard to find areas to cut waste. I do all my own vaccines, don’t have a phone (cellphone is company paid), internet, or cable. Do not run my air conditioner or heater. Grocery shop 1/month (and one other time to pick up milk, bread, and lettuce only). I use the library to read all my books, clean my own pens at the stable, and do not own any gym memberships. I live in the cheapest apartment that I could find. I drive 55 mph most of the time to get the most out of my gas mileage. I adhere to a strict budget. I buy all my clothes from the thrift store. I cook my meals from scratch (no pricey pre-made stuff!). My personal toiletry consists of a soap bar, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, and contact solution – that’s it! No makeup, lotions, hair cuts, foo-foo body washes etc. J My biggest expense (obviously) is the horses. However, with some management changes (mentioned above) and a year free of major vet bills (crossed fingers), there should still be money left over for some rides!

I don’t want to give anyone the wrong impression – I have a wonderful job that provides for my needs and allows me to do what I love – endurance. However, I believe strongly in financial responsibility and with the prospect of a big purchase, I want to button down the hatches and eliminate any waste from my life! Considering what I hear in the news, I feel extremely fortunate be employed and still be able to enjoy my horses. If anyone reading this is experiencing real financial difficulty, I am not trying to minimize your situation. A year ago there wasn’t room for one more boarder at my stable. Today, nearly half the pens are empty.

Thought of the Day
So does anyone have comments? Suggestions for cutting waste? Is everyone out there doing OK?

1 comment:

  1. I think you said you live in an apartment, but the only area I can think of that might help is gardening. Grow your own lettuce, tomatoes, and so on. Freeze strawberries, sweet corn and such at their prime for later use.

    Maybe the stable you board at would let you use some ground for a small garden? I know you can plant strawberries in a pot, and tomatoes are also supposed to do well potted.

    I'm impressed with the ways you are already cutting back.

    Do you drink pop? (coke, soda...whatever you call it!) That really adds up! Try to find it when it's on sale. Good luck finding things to cut back. We all have to tighten the belt a little bit these days, it seems, and every little bit helps!


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