Is Your Budget Ready for a New Pet?
Tips to get your finances ready for a furry friend
By Monika Ritchie
Bringing a new pet into your family is an exciting and sometimes hectic occasion. It is easy to get wrapped up in all the emotions and overlook an important question, is your budget ready for a new pet? There are initial costs like adoption fees, food, and toys, but also unexpected or emergency expenses that can break your budget. Vet bills, specialty food, obedience training, and even boarding or “doggie daycare” are just a few of the unexpected expenses that can take a bite out of your budget if you’re not prepared. Budgeting and planning for these expenses ahead of time – i.e. before you commit to getting a pet — can help you avoid falling into a debt trap to cover costs or even, having to give up your beloved pet. Before you ‘unleash’ the cost of a pet onto your budget, here are some tips to get your finances ready for a furry friend.
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Make Room in Your Budget for Pet Expenses
Whether they’re furry, feathered, or scaly, costing money is the one thing all pets have in common, so make sure there’s room in your budget for pet expenses. Go over your budget and think about where to find savings or how you can cut back to make room for an added expense. Planning on getting a dog? Instead of that pricey gym membership, use those daily walks or runs with your new friend as exercise. Use the money you’re saving on the gym to bulk up your budget for pet expenses. The solution may not always be so simple — a cat for example, is significantly less likely to join you for outdoor exercise — but get creative and find frugal ways to save money. Making room in your budget before you get the pet will also help you avoid going into debt to cover any sudden expenses.
Include Pet Insurance in Your Budget, Emergencies Will Happen
If you want to avoid a financial crisis, include pet insurance in your budget, because emergencies – especially veterinary emergencies – will happen, and they’re not cheap. The starting medical costs for dogs and cats can be anywhere from $150-$800, depending on the treatments and vaccines they may need – and that amount doesn’t include any emergency or additional vet treatments. If Fluffy the cat eats some holiday tinsel off the tree or Fido the puppy devours an entire chocolate birthday cake, your emergency vet bills could be in the thousands. If your finances are already tight, that added expense could be a budget breaker. The relatively small monthly cost of pet insurance can potentially save you thousands in out-of-pocket medical costs for your cat or dog. Putting aside funds dedicated to your pet-related expenses is good for your budget, but it also ensures you’ll never have to make the heartbreaking decision to choose between your furry friend and your finances. A 2021 shelter survey by Humane Canada found that 15 percent of owner-surrendered animals were surrendered due to their owners not being able to afford veterinary care.
Remember to Budget for Boarding or Pet Sitting Costs
It might not be much of a concern if you’re working from home, but as more and more workers are being hustled back into the office, it’s important to remember to budget for the boarding or pet sitting costs you may incur. Keep in mind that going back to work in person will also impact your budget, so you’ll need to plan carefully to also cover the added costs of boarding or pet sitting services. Is your pet extra clingy or especially energetic? You might need to pay for dog walking services while you’re at work. Even if you’re working from home, there may be instances where you will need to attend in person or situations where pets are not allowed. Unless you have reliable, low-cost, or free help from family or friends, using a pet sitting or boarding service is an expense you should be prepared for.
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Trim Back Your Budget for Grooming Costs
Don’t underestimate the importance of including grooming costs as you’re getting your budget ready for a new pet. Some pets or breeds will need more grooming than others, and it’s worth considering that as you make your choice. While it might seem like an indulgence, if you’re a newer or less experienced pet owner, trimming your cat’s luxurious fur coat or your puppy’s nails might be a bit intimidating. Professional grooming services can take a bite out of your budget — about $50 to $250 depending on the breed and size of your pet. Cats usually only need bathing or grooming twice a year, if at all, while dogs may need it every four to six weeks. Nail trims can range from $10 to $35 per visit. Having a plan in place for these costs will help you keep your budget balanced and your pet looking and feeling their best.
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Struggling to Find Room in Your Budget for a New Pet? We Can Help!
Sometimes struggling with budgeting can feel like chasing your own tail, especially as costs continue to rise. We can help sort out your expenses and provide clarity around your financial situation. Our friendly, reliable, credit counsellors can provide expert guidance to help you create a budget that is ready for your new pet or whatever your household is facing. Reach out to us for help.