Creating a Budget with Your Pets in Mind
Before you buy your first dog, cat, or other fluffy creature, there is something you need to know. While it can be easy to be lost in the excitement of bringing a new furry friend into your home, you must not forget that pets cost money, and it isn’t only food and a bed that you will need to factor into your finances.
Proper research and planning are essential before you go to the adoption site or pet store and pick your new companion. You will need to look at your current finances and account for all funds that you have reserved specifically for your pet. To help you out, we have created this guide that tells you the costs associated with pet ownership, how to create an effective budget, and preventative measures you can take to avoid excessive costs in the first place.
The Costs of Pet Ownership
If you are new to pet ownership, you may be surprised at the costs that may or may not come into play. Either way, you want to budget accordingly for everything. Many experts say that ownership of a dog or cat can cost upwards of $1,000 during the first year alone. After that, the annual costs may decrease based on the health of your pet and their lifestyle. To start, you will want to factor in the cost of food, water, grooming, and toys to keep your pet entertained.
Then you will want to think about medical expenses. At a minimum, you will need to bring your pet to the veterinarian for an annual checkup. If your pal needs regular medication, you will need to budget for that as well. Those who decide to spay and neuter their furry friends will have an additional expense. To top it off, you will want to invest in pet insurance. This cost can differ depending on the pet, but on average, you may be looking at close to $50 per month for dogs and $30 per month for cats.
Finally, you will need to account for the numerous expenses that go into the daily care and comfort of your pet. At a minimum, you will need to buy a bed or place for them to sleep along with a collar or leash, a litter box (for cats or rabbits), and a carrying crate if you take them on trips. If you plan to regularly hire a pet sitter, you’ll need to think about that as well. Some dogs require additional training, which may or may not be necessary on a recurring basis, so add the possibility to your budget.
Creating an Effective Budget
If you have never created a budget before then this will be a good exercise because it will not only prove if you can or cannot afford a pet, but it will help you to manage your home expenses as well. In essence, your budget should start with all streams of income you have entering the home. Then, you need to account for every recurring expense you have. That means counting your grocery bill, utility bill, fun and leisure activities, and any school expenses. How much do you have left? Is it enough to cover the cost of a pet and have some leftover for an emergency fund/savings account?
After creating your budget, it may appear that you don’t have the funds to buy a pet, but if you have your heart set on owning one, then there are likely some adjustments you can make to get the cash you need. First, look at some of your recurring payments and determine if you can cut back in some way. For instance, do you need all of those streaming services or can you cancel a few and only watch the ones you need? Do you often go out for lunch and coffee? How about going to the grocery store and making your food and brewing your caffeine at home?
By making small adjustments, you will be amazed at how much money you could be saving every month. If you really want a pet, you will likely find a way. Some people struggle when it comes to money management, and if that is you, don’t fret. If you need help, contact a professional like an accountant or financial expert. Keep in mind that both professions differ, with the accountant typically specializing in cash flow and the finance pro often working at the corporate level. Choose properly and get your finances in check.
Preventive Measures to Reduce Costs
As with any expenses, there are many ways that you can try to reduce the cost, and pets are no exception. If you are smart with your money, your pet may account for a smaller portion of your budget than you even expected. Start simply by looking for coupons when you buy food, toys, and medication. If your pet needs flea medication or heartworm pills, you can often save some cash by purchasing them online instead of at the veterinarian.
Often unforeseen health expenses can be the costliest part of pet ownership so be proactive with their health to avoid common issues. For instance, instead of worrying about flea and tick medication, avoid the issue in the first place by using pest-resistant shampoos and sprays. Oral ailments such as gingivitis and abscesses are often common in pets who are not properly cared for, so be sure to brush their teeth regularly to avoid excess expenses for treatments.
There are many other miscellaneous ways to save money that you will discover as the years go by, such as cutting out the cost of professional groomers by brushing and bathing them yourself. You could also take your pet with you on trips to avoid the cost of a kennel. In some cases, you could even potentially get a tax break on your pet if you use them as part of your business or for charity work. Contact your accountant come tax time for guidance on what you can include and how to properly file the paperwork.
In the end, pet ownership is the gift that keeps on giving. If you are concerned about money, take the time to create a budget and see what you can afford. We promise that your new furry friend will be well worth the effort.
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