Put the plug in

The galloping housewife sat down with a friend recently to give them a bit of a hand to sort their business out. They’ve been through a bit of a tough time recently, shifting yards and losing some regular clients in the process. They’d gotten to the end of the month and there was nothing left in the coffers to pay the rent. As the galloping housewife has a tonne of experience of being in exactly this position, she knew just how desperate this friend was. And if you’re in an equestrian business, chances are you do too. In fact, even if your situation is not that bad at the moment, you can probably recall that same visceral feeling – the sinking heart, that intense feeling of fear that seems to sit in the middle of your chest.

Maybe it’s not the rent that is your biggest problem, maybe it’s the feed bill or tax or your car payments. For the galloping housewife it was often payroll, and as she’d rather die in a ditch (no, really – she actually means that) than not pay her staff, she’d end up juggling a bunch of other necessary payments and it was often her family who ended up missing out. Like so many of us, this friend’s immediate thought was what they could do to bring more money in – teach some more lessons, discount a clinic, sell some gear, go and pull pints (after their usual 12-hour days!) or even do some night shifts at the local factory.

The galloping housewife gently told them (ok, she may have yelled at them a little bit but at least she got them a wee bit tipsy first) that earning more money wouldn’t actually solve their problems. That might seem counterintuitive – of course more money will help, but just as turning the tap on faster won’t fill a bathtub if the plug isn’t in place, pouring money into the  bottomless pit that is a poorly run business won’t stop you going under. You may get a last gasp in, but you’re still going down next month if you haven’t fixed the leak. (I know, enough water metaphors, we’ll step away from the sink or swim and figure out how to go with the flow…)

Going with the flow is actually fairly pertinent here as the galloping housewife’s key strategy for crawling back from the precipice of certain destruction is to utilise a cute psychological trick based on small plates. Now the galloping housewife is no financial adviser (she only completed one year of a finance degree before getting bored and drifting onto other things – a straight A student, but still only a fraction of a qualification) and absolutely hates budgets, so she keeps any dealing with numbers to a minimum. But the thing she does know is that her mother was right when she said money burns a hole in her pocket. Likewise, if it’s in the bank account, it can be spent. She knows intellectually that she has a couple of big bills in a few weeks – after all they roll around every month – but she’ll make more money by then… right? Of course, that doesn’t happen, or she keeps spending ‘just a little more’ until the just a little mores have chewed into a substantial portion of what she owes her landlady.

Her best decision when it came to managing her business funds was to open a bunch of different bank accounts and set up everything she could onto autopilot. What you might do for your own situation will be intensely personal, but an account for incoming money which gets automatically split into accounts for regular payments, for your variable equine costs, for a rainy day and for your nights out at the pub (she means groceries, fuel etc, but you might have different priorities) would be a minimum to get things back under control. Having an automatic set up for all your necessities that you never touch for any other purpose will be the best thing you ever do. No more crushing panic when you need to pay your staff, no more threat of your vehicle being repossessed, no more danger of having to call mum in desperation when your yard rent is due. It will be the platform you need to gain financial stability and ultimately thrive.

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