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3 Things To Do Before You Adopt a Pet

Posted September 29, 2014 by Kelley Long in Life After Five
cat money


With an estimated 83 million households owning pets in the US, the pet industry is one of the most prosperous, even when the economy stinks. In fact, during the last economic downturn, sales of premium pet products and services grew, even as household income and pretty much every other economic measure shrunk. If you’re thinking that it’s about time to join the ranks of pet parents, make sure you’re prepared financially to deal with your new furbaby.

The cost of a pet, particularly a dog or cat, extend well beyond the adoption fees, which are relatively small when you add up all the other costs that come along with pet ownership. Before you make a trip to the local shelter, make sure you do the math. Research the costs of everyday care as well as the one-time and annual costs of keeping your pet healthy and happy. Here are a few things to consider:

Initial costs: Leash, food bowls, litter box, crate, bed, food – these items add up quickly and you’ll need to purchase them immediately. And don’t forget the first round of shots plus the cost of spaying or neutering. If you select a rambunctious dog, you may also have to invest in puppy school to properly train Fido. Make sure you have enough money on hand to cover these costs right away.

Ongoing costs: Food, litter, waste disposal bags, daily dog walker, grooming,  – these will be recurring expenses for which you need to be prepared. You’ll also need to make annual visits to the veterinarian for health checks and shots. Finally, if you go on vacation, you may have to pay someone to care for your pet. Factor these costs into your monthly budget to make sure you can afford to properly maintain your pet.

Unexpected costs: You can never anticipate what might go wrong with your pet, but you should be prepared financially to deal with an emergency. Find out what the average cost of surgery or special exam and medication costs and make sure you set aside enough to cover at least one unplanned vet visit per year.

In fact, it’s these unexpected costs that often send pet owners spiraling into debt and financial troubles. I think you should have at least $500 set aside for emergency costs, which is about the average of each of my cats’ issues in the past.

It is possible to purchase insurance for your pet’s health, which may be advisable for certain breeds. If you go this route, make sure you purchase a policy that covers all the unexpected health issues that could arise. Otherwise, instead of buying the insurance, you could set that money aside into an emergency pet fund and in the lucky chance you don’t need it, you’ll simply have some extra savings.

About the Author

Kelley Long

Kelley Long is a CPA/PFS and CFP® who believes that the true meaning of financial security means having choices in life. She uses her 15 years of experience in various financial services industry jobs to inform her work as a Resident Financial Planner for Financial Finesse, providing unbiased financial guidance through workplace financial wellness programs. She’s also a volunteer and media ambassador for Feed the Pig and 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy. In Kelley’s perfect world, everyone would feel great talking about their money concerns, fears, questions and problems, because then everyone would see that we ALL have those concerns, fears, questions and problems. Kelley lives in Chicago with her husband and their Himalayan cat Miles, where she also teaches BODYPUMP group fitness classes at the Chicago Athletic Clubs.