Budgeting for Your Bulldog or Parakeet

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Why It Makes Sense to Have a Financial Plan for Your Pet and 9 Ways to Keep Your Budget on a Leash

Animals are endearing and a source of comfort to humans. They can make us laugh, share our tears, and slow down to cuddle us. Whether you have a fish, a dog, a cat, a horse or an exotic animal, there is no doubt that pets are an important part of your life.

Jameson (left) and Hennessy | Credit: Lance Ladue

Many owners say their animal companions are priceless, but they do come at a cost: $50 billion for food and treats alone in 2021.

No doubt pets are popular. In the USA, 90.5 million households — almost 70% of the total — have at least one. Many owners say their animal companions are priceless, but they do come at a cost: $50 billion for food and treats alone in 2021; $123.6 billion after adding vet bills, crates, and pet services such as grooming, dog walkers, and pet sitters.

On average, the Cost to a family is between $700 and $1,200 per year depending on the size of the animal — the bigger the animal, the bigger the bills.

With inflation accelerating, it’s important for your own financial well-being to pay more attention to pet expenses. Reducing certain expenses is possible while preserving your pet’s health and quality of life.

9 Ways to Master Your Pet’s Budget

1. Start a local pet sitting exchange. Professional pet sitters hate the idea, but you can save a lot of money by arranging friends and neighbors to take turns caring for pets when their owners are away from home. Track how much time each member contributes to ensure the work is shared fairly.

2. Ditch dog daycare. Take your dog for a run at a local dog park before heading out to work. When dogs get enough exercise and companionship, they’re better off while you’re in the office or running errands – and you can save the cost of care. Are you gone for the day? Ask someone from the pet exchange to come in and let them out, even if it’s just for a short walk or a visit to your yard. No need for a long walk.

3. Don’t forget to brush. Most pets need their teeth cleaned as much as humans. This process helps clean their mouths and prevent gum disease and tooth decay. Dental chews work, but you’ll still need to brush your teeth regularly. Plus, there are all kinds of mouth sprays for your cat and dog. Taking the time to take good care of your teeth will avoid larger veterinary bills. Besides, who wants a pet with bad breath?

4. Buy in bulk. Reduce the cost of store-bought foods by buying in bulk. Storing food is easy. You don’t have the room? Consider splitting a purchase with another pet owner.

5. make their food. A friend of mine used to cook a healthy concoction for her dog once a week. Not only did it cost less, but it also meant fewer trips to the pet store for factory-made food. Before checking out recipes online, learn the importance of a Balanced diet.

6. Create a Custom Pet Bed. Time to buy a new pet bed? Before you go out shopping, consider making one with what you have on hand. Cover old pillows with flannel or one of your favorite old shirts. Your pet would be comforted by your scent and would be more restful, too. Recycled bedding is also more environmentally friendly.

seven. Look for discounts on health services. Veterinary schools are generally less expensive than veterinary clinics and veterinary hospitals. While students perform procedures, they are supervised by an experienced veterinarian. To find a veterinary school near you, American Veterinary Medical Association has an online directory of accredited institutions. Alternatively, you might consider joining a veterinary rebate program. The biggest, Pet insuredoffers members 25% off at participating veterinarians in exchange for a monthly fee.

8. Insure your pet. Nearly 2.5% of the 160 million pets in the United States are covered by pet health insurance North American Pet Health Insurance Association. Dogs represent 81.7% of insured pets; cats are second, at 18.3%. Average annual premiums range from $350 for cats to just under $600 for dogs. Like human health insurance, pet plans don’t cover all expenses, so understand the plan you’re buying.

Planning for unavoidable events, such as vet bills, can help reduce financial anxiety.

9. Create a pet account. Planning for unavoidable events, such as vet bills, can help reduce financial anxiety. Saving some of the savings from the tips shared above is one way to prepare for an emergency – and the ensuing vet bill. In the heat of the moment, people can decide to pay whatever it takes to keep a pet alive. But unless they have the cash, they could be left short in other critical areas. A financial layaway will provide some perspective and help keep emotions from getting the better of you. and your wallet.

Each year, approximately 6.3 million pets enter shelters and approximately 920,000 shelter animals are euthanized. The number of deaths fell by about 2.6 million in 2011, which the ASPCA attributes to more adoptions and more success in returning strays to their owners.

However, research suggests people adopt fewer shelter animals during an economic crisis and fewer strays take in again – especially if the strays are old or in need of expensive veterinary care.

With that in mind, these uncertain economic times — with the stock market nearly 30% below its recent peak and inflation near 40-year highs — warrant careful consideration of your financial choices.

Whether it’s a mammal, bird, or reptile, an animal companion that brings you joy is important. Understanding the cost of pet care and keeping the cost under control will help your pet’s future – and yours.

Christine D. Moriarty
Christine D. Moriarty

Christine D. Moriarty, CFP, has over twenty-five years of experience coaching individuals, couples and business owners on their finances. She focused on the intersection of emotions, behavior and money. She is living her dream in Vermont and enjoys sitting down with a cup of Irish tea and a good book. Learn more about Silver peace.

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