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What is the Realistic Cost of Adopting a Pet?

What is the Realistic Cost of Adopting a Pet?

When you see a cute little puppy or tiny kitten, it’s so easy to get swayed into becoming a pet owner. After all, what’s not to love? Pets are loyal, are sweet, and can give you great company. Of course, people who have their own pets will be the first to tell you that owning one is a very big decision. Pet ownership has great perks but it is a big step, and you have to be emotionally and financially ready for it.

When I rescued my dog, Julep, I was so excited. I had wanted my own dog for as long as I could remember and couldn’t wait to get one. I looked for a rescue dog for a long time, and as soon as I saw her, I knew she would be mine. She was the tiniest puppy in her litter and was neglected. I found her in what was obviously a puppy mill and was determined to save her.

As a recent college graduate, I had no clue what a dog would cost (it’s amazing how much I’ve learned in 4 years of reading and writing about personal finance!). As I mentioned, she was pretty sick, so it cost me a few hundred dollars in vet bills to get her back in good health. In addition, there was the cost of vaccinations and spaying.

Now, I’m happy to report that she’s a very, very healthy girl. She went from being the runt of her litter to an absolutely spoiled princess dog. If you are thinking about getting a new pet, below are several factors to consider before becoming a pet owner. These considerations are each important, but are also marginal when compared to the joy of owning a pet.

Pet Accessories:

Treats ($2.00-$25.00)

Standard Treats: $2.00

Intermediate Treats: $10.00

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Luxurious Treats:$25.00

Treats are a necessary part of having a pet. They are great when you are training your new friend and are perfect when you want to give them a little sweet reward. There are many different kinds of treats that you can get, so try a few at first to see which one your pet prefers.

Beds ($17.00-$83.00)

Standard Pet Bed: $17.00

Intermediate Pet Bed: $56.00

Luxurious Pet Bed: $83.00

Most animals will need a cozy place to sleep that’s all their own. Dogs probably want their own dog beds, and cats would probably appreciate a nice pillow!

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Bowls for Food & Water ($7.00-$53.00)

Standard Bowl: $7.00

Intermediate Bowl: $32.00

Luxurious Bowl: $53.00

You’d be surprised at how much pet bowls cost, especially if they are raised off the floor or are electronic machines.

Vacuums ($48.00-$480.00)

Standard Vacuum: $48.00

Intermediate Vacuum: $160.00

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Luxurious Vacuum: $480.00

If there’s one thing most pet owners can agree on, it’s that pets definitely shed (even if they are short haired!). It’s very possible that you will have to purchase both a good vacuum cleaner and pet brushes to keep the shedding at bay.

Pet Health & Care:

Above, we discussed all of the different accessories and add-ons that you can purchase for your pet. Below are the costs that will vary by region. For example, your sister might watch your pet for free, while a kennel might charge you $300 for the weekend. Be sure to check with your veterinarian on costs like emergency appointments, microchips, spaying or neutering, and monthly heart worm medications as these will all fluctuate depending on where you live. However, ballpark estimates are included below.

Pet Sitters/Pet Walkers ($30.00-$300.00)

It’s imperative to find someone who will take good care of your pet while you are at work or on vacation.

Microchip ($25.00-$75.00)

These days, you can pay to have a small microchip implanted in your pet so that you can always find them if they get lost. Be sure to talk to your vet about this as there are certain medical risks involved.

Emergencies ($200.00-$2,000.00)

While I hope it never happens, you have to be prepared for a pet emergency. For example, if your pet accidentally swallows something and needs emergency surgery, it’s important that you have the funds to pay for it.

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Monthly Heartworm & Flea Medication ($20.00-$50.00)

To keep your pet healthy, it’s smart to invest in monthly heartworm and flea treatments.

Overall:

Overall, the average cost of owning a pet including their introductory vaccinations, food, accessories, long term medical care, and emergencies will be anywhere between $1,000 – $6,000 over the course of your pet’s lifetime. The cost of owning some pets might be lower than that, while the cost for others might be much higher, especially if the pet becomes ill towards the end of its life.

However, when you spread out this cost over a period of 8-15 years, it’s actually quite minimal. My dog, for example, has only been sick once in four years, and her yearly vet checkups and food are very affordable. Plus, I truly could not imagine my life without my dog. She’s been with me through several ups and downs and has moved with me literally all over the world. I wouldn’t trade her for anything and know she’s worth every penny I’ve ever spent on her.

How much do you usually spend on your pet per year? Do you have a favorite product or toy that your pet loves?

 

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Catherine Alford

Catherine is the go to personal finance expert for educated, aspirational moms who want to recapture their life passions.

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Last Updated on September 2, 2020

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

2. Keep Goals Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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4. Short Term Vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

  • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
  • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
  • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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5. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

6. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

1. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding:

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

Use compound interest when setting financial goals

    Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

    Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

    4. Measure, Measure, Measure

    All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

    Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

    The Bottom Line

    Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

    and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

    More Tips on Financial Goals

    Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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