I love animals, and there have been many times in my life where I chose to own an animal when I shouldn’t have and did not budget for a pet properly. Whether it was due to budgeting constraints or maybe living conditions (not meaning hoarding status, more like a studio apartment) I should not have owned an animal. As I grew older, I became less selfish and considered the things in this article to make sure my animals had the best life possible. Below we’re going to go over some things to consider, pet responsibility, and how to budget for the new companion you’re thinking of getting.
Should I get a pet?
Thinking about whether or not you should have a pet is probably the most critical consideration. Should you even get a pet? Let’s think about this for a minute. Are you in a financial place to handle the cost of an animal? If an accident happens and you need to take your pet to the emergency room, you’re looking at at least $2,000.00. Do you have the income to set this amount aside as a pet emergency fund? What kind of home or apartment do you have? The type of breed you want becomes extremely important when you take into consideration the activity level, size of your home, and budget. If you live in a studio apartment a Siberian Husky, which is an extremely active dog, is probably not the best choice for you.
Do you work excessive hours and will only be home or awake a couple of hours of the day? If the answer is yes, a cat or dog may not fit your lifestyle at this moment. That is okay. You have your whole life to have a cute, furry, snuggle bug. Waiting to have a pet is something that took me a very long time to accept because animals indeed make your life better. There is proven science that cats and dogs lower blood pressure and decrease stress levels, but before you decide to be like the younger I make sure you’re fair to the cute little creature who will help you immensely.
The most expensive item to consider when owning or trying to budget for a pet is vet care. There is no way around eventually the love of your life will fall ill and when they do you have to make sure you have the emergency funds to care for little Fido. When I worked at a vet office, I had to see so many pets euthanized merely for the fact the owners couldn’t afford the bills to nurse the creature back to health. It’s an unfortunate reality that happens time and time again. Yearly check-ups, deworming, vaccinations, flea medication, and dental work are all things to consider when thinking about taking on an animal.
There are many wonderful health insurance plans for your pet. Keep into consideration most of them require you to pay the bills up front, and they reimburse 80% or so a couple of months later. Below I have listed a few of the decent ones. Of all of the options, Trupanion is the insurance I have for my cat. I love the fact they pay the vet directly, so I only need to pay my upfront portion at the desk. It relieves so much stress knowing that I have amazing coverage for my fur baby. If anything were to happen, I wouldn’t go broke giving him the best care possible.
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Dog and Cat Food
Make sure to feed your new life forms acceptable food. I thought to feed my cat a $5.00 bag of cat food or the cheapest litter possible was fine. Until I researched what I was feeding my baby. The cheap cat food is basically like feeding your animal hot Cheetos all day every day. It’s not good for them. Yes, they will survive, but they won’t thrive.
The pet industry has come a long way, and there is decently priced good food for about $13.00- $20.00. I could write a full post on just food, so I’ll make this as easy as possible. Just look at the ingredients and make sure the first few are real food, no “meal” and the ingredients you can’t pronounce stay to a minimum. For example Duck, chicken, blueberries, pumpkin.,or fish.
Way More Than Food
Honestly, this is probably the one thing I didn’t expect to be so flipping expensive when started to budget for a pet. I figured a couple of bags of food a month and some kitty litter and my cat would be golden. How expensive could it be? My thought process was wrong. Mostly because I didn’t realize how much I would fall in love with my cat and want the best for him, whether he needed it or not. You will pay way more for higher quality food, a leash, or litter.
Toys and scratching posts are my downfall. Almost every time I go to a pet store or shop online I buy Octane, my cat, a couple of new toys. Does my cat need them? Does he even play with them after a few seconds? The answer is no, but I always get so excited for him and think how much he would love them. Make sure to set a budget for your self every month on new pet items or else you will spiral I promise.
Budget For a Pet
There are many items you need to consider into your budget and most of the things you will buy regularly. My cat has had four collars in his short two years on earth. Two of the collars were not because I splurged. Some of the items below are specific to cats or dogs, so make sure to exclude or include the items in your budget for a pet as necessary.
- Collars $30.00
- Leashes $20.00
- Beds $65.00
- Toys $150.00
- Scratching Posts $160.00
- Litter Boxes $15.00
- Bowls, bowls, and more bowls $30.00
- Nail clippers $6.00
- Flea Medication $50.00
- Shampoo $10.00
- Treats $75.00
- Chew Toys $100.00
- and anything else at Petco that is adorbs $50.00
- Training $ 700.00
- Food: $360
- Insurance $216
- Litter 200
Total: $2,237.00 for the first year and roughly $1,537.00 every year after. If you think I’m exaggerating you can read more about it here. The cost can go up or down depending on what you can spend on your new furball. I will admit I budget way more than this for Octane, sadly, but I do not plan to have human children. He saves me money when you think about it that way. Haha!
You know that you should have a few thousand in an emergency fund for your self, but now you will need to take on a few more thousands for your pet. I can not stress the importance of this. Going to the vet for an emergency, whether your dog ate chocolate or your cat got out and into a fight, could set you back months on your financial independence journey. If you are not prepared. If you need to leave your home for an unexpected length of time, there are also expenses you need to think about.
You may need to pay for emergency pet boarding if you can’t find a pet sitter. Before you decide to buy your new friend make sure to have a few thousand set aside for emergencies and pick out your insurance beforehand. You will save a lot of heartache and stress. Your emergency fund could also be used for a pet deposit if you rent. For now on if you live in apartments finding homes will become more difficult and cost more money.
There could be pet deposits of up to $750.00 plus pet rent. Make sure you include this in your budget and adjust your spending as necessary to meet the new needs of your family member. I would recommend saving $4,000.00 as an emergency fund for pet-related expenses when creating a budget for a pet. That way you don’t eat up your emergency fund if anything were to happen.
The Finance Fairy