The Cost of Throwing a Pony Party for Your Seven-Year-Old Daughter Who’s Really Into Horses

So as my daughter's seventh birthday approached, it was clear we had to do a horse theme, which presented a conundrum: There are riding rings and stables around the area that will host birthday parties, and even a few pony purveyors who will bring one to your house for kids to ride. These options are, of course, rather expensive. I just have a really hard time dropping serious cash on little kid's birthday parties, and by "have a really hard time" I actually mean "don’t have the funds to do so."

The Difficult Task of Putting a Price on Our Pet’s Health

Winston is due for more sessions.

She said this with a smile.

Do you want to buy a package?

I was flustered. I didn’t want to buy a package. I didn’t want to be spending thousands of dollars on another round of physical therapy for my five-pound Pomeranian.

Sure, uhh, How many sessions do we usually buy?

Let me take a look here … six.

I asked how much that would be.

One thousand, fifty.

She paused. I nodded.

Great. I’ll run it through.

She said this with a smile, a smile that made me wonder if she thought she’d said “Free.”

We call our little guy, Winston, our Problem Child, our Money Pit. As a puppy he broke his leg roughhousing with my brother. Seven grand later he’d undergone emergency surgery, had metal plates implanted into his leg, and was healing in a hard cast. During this time he also suffered from seizures, and despite the money we spent and the vets we visited, we never figured out why. He grew out of the seizures.

The Cost of Attending a Weekend-long Improv Comedy Festival in New York

Last summer, I looked out at the audience while performing at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and saw an entire row of people asleep. That’s what happens at 6:45 a.m. at the Del Close Marathon, an annual weekend-long improv marathon with more than 50 hours of continuous comedy on multiple stages. We were okay with this because we had also crammed a handful of Pittsburgh improvisers into a tiny New York apartment, saw some really great shows, and had a blast.

Life in the Desert: The Troubling Need for Cars

We've read lately that Americans are driving less than ever. Apparently, this cannot be explained simply by economics, but still: driving is expensive! AAA exhaustively details the costs of driving in this pdf. TL;DR: when you take into account gas, maintenance, financing, insurance, and registration, even a small sedan driven 20,000 miles a year (it gets cheaper the more you drive) costs $0.398/mile to operate. Does that seem maybe like not so much? Consider this: my old commute from Sunset Park, Brooklyn, to midtown Manhattan would have cost $6.76 (plus unimaginable aggravation, plus parking).

How a Chronically Ill Person Does Money

When I was 13, I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract, and from that point on nearly all of my major life choices have been made with it in mind, including picking a college major that would result in a job with health insurance.

The Cost of Fostering Kittens

When I moved to Brooklyn and starting working in publishing, everyone warned me that adopting a cat was inevitable, but I shrugged them off (didn’t they know I was a dog person?). But the truth was, my salary could barely sustain me and my book-buying habits, much less another living being, cat or dog. Then I discovered the ASPCA’s foster pet program, which seemed too good to be true.

Spending Three Years in College, Rather Than Four, to Save Money

Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is now the president at Purdue University, and rather than raise tuition to make up for state cuts on college funding and rising administrative costs, he's frozen tuition for the first time in 36 years and looking for ways to save (it should be noted that as governor, Daniels cut millions in state higher education funding, so he knows that to keep tuition from rising, he'll have to find savings from the inside). Daniels has started by cutting the cost of student food by 10 percent and consolidating administrative jobs, but according to the Wall Street Journal, Daniels is also considering what students actually get out of college and encouraging departments to devise a program where students can graduate within three years, instead of four.

The Cost of Climbing

I have been known to joke (repeatedly, like a dad who’s come across his favorite pun) that when you cross the border into California you are issued your choice of the following: hiking boots, a surfboard, or climbing shoes. When I moved to California two years ago I picked the third option and never looked back. It's gotten expensive.

The Cost of Seeing Beyoncé and Jay Z in Concert

I watched the trailer for Bey and Jay’s "On the Run" Tour the night it came out, but, like every stadium concert, I figured it would be too expensive and didn’t even think about buying tickets. I tend to save my money for trips (or for nothing, really) and have big issues with seeing a bunch of cash disappear on one night. Enter a mysterious friend of a friend who worked there and could get us tickets. "There?" you ask. At MetLife Stadium, for Beyoncé, or maybe for a vendor? Good question! I didn't ask because I was too excited.

The Cost of Breaking Up and Moving Out

Last month, my relationship of five-plus years ended. Emotionally, it was about 75 percent mutual and 25 percent devastating. Financially, it was 100 percent a huge setback to my savings.