Budgeting for Pet Care
Preparing for a pet is like budgeting for any significant milestone: preparation is key.
Set money aside monthly
Estimate your monthly pet expenses (you can use the expenses listed in the section above as a starting point—make sure you factor in annual expenses as well). Budget for that amount as you would a monthly bill.
Create a pet emergency fund
Pet owners are likely to incur at least one $2,000–$4,000 bill for emergency care at some point in their pet’s lifetime. Create a separate fund for pet-related emergencies to protect your personal savings goals.
Sources: American Pet Products Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, Money Under 30, New York Times, Statista
Paying for Pets
JEN: Woah! Where’d you come from, little buddy? KID: Uh, excuse— JEN: Check it out, I just rescued this dog! KID: I don’t think– JEN: His name is Poncho and he is my forever friend. KID: Oookay, the thing is— JEN: Caring for a pet is a huge responsibility? I accept. KID: No, I mean you can’t— JEN: Can’t what? Can’t afford it? First of all, how dare you? Second of all, sure, I need to buy some of the basics. Dog food, a dish, a bed, some toys, some treats, a collar and leash, a travel crate… No biggie. KID: There’s a lot more to it than that. Did you know that the lifetime cost of dog ownership is somewhere between twenty and forty thousand dollars? JEN: That seems a little far-… fetched! Really? Nothing? KID: Just in the first year, you have to consider the adoption fee, a pet license, the initial medical exam, vaccinations, spaying or neutering, microchipping… JEN: OK… KID: And then you gotta think about actually bringing your dog home. Even if pets are allowed on your property, you may have to pay a pet deposit. You’ll likely need to make your space more pet-friendly, with furniture, gates and fencing. And a new pet means you’ll probably have to replace damaged items like shoes, furniture or… the carpet… JEN: Ewww… KID: Then there’s medical expenses. JEN: Regular vet visits—of course. KID: You have to be prepared in case of injury or medical conditions, too. You might wanna shop around for pet insurance. Then there’s dental care, ear care, and preventive medication for things like fleas and heartworm. Even something as simple as an allergy can drive up the cost of your dog’s food and medication. JEN: Hmm… KID: Depending on your pet’s needs and on your schedule, you might need to pay for things like grooming, obedience school, dog walkers, and pet sitters or kenneling for when you’re out of town. JEN: Woof. That adds up fast—but, if I budget for it and set up a separate emergency fund for Poncho here, I think I can make it work. It’s kinda like budgeting for any significant expense… except this one is cute and fuzzy and gives excellent snuggles, don’t you? KID: That sounds very responsible of you, but you still can’t own that dog. JEN: What? Why not? KID: Well, because she’s my dog. JEN: Ah, bones! KID: Um, you’re gonna have to let go now. JEN: Shhhhh.