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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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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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