Can You Afford Fido or Fifi? Determine How Much You Can Spend on Your Pet Before You Buy One

by Melissa Batai on December 27, 2013

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budgeting for a pet
According to a Gallup survey, 60% of Americans own a pet.  The vast majority own a dog or cat or both, but some people also own snakes, lizards, guinea pigs, hamsters, birds, horses and rabbits.

Many people buy animals without thinking of the cost, and that can be a mistake.  From the cost of food, to routine medical care, to toys and structures like cat towers and dog beds, owning an animal can get expensive–and quickly!

However, as the animal gets older, you can expect to spend more on health care, especially if the animal develops a chronic condition.

Before you purchase a pet, you’ll need to first answer these questions:

1.  How much can you afford to spend monthly on your animal?

If your answer is $50, start to set that money aside now, before you actually get the animal.  If you can do this for several months without struggle, then you need to move on to the next step.

2.  How much will the animal you want cost?

Obviously, feeding a dog that will grow to 90 pounds will cost a lot more than feeding a 9 pound cat.  Ask other pet owners how much they pay monthly for their animals.  Get a feel for how much routine vet visits will be and average out all of these costs for a year.  Divide that by 12 months, and you’ll know how much you’ll need every month.

If you determine you’ll only need $25 a month to own a cat (paying for her food, vet care and toys for a year), but you can afford to save $50, put that other $25 aside now for her future care if she should become ill.  If you save $25 a month for the first 7 years of your animal’s life, if she gets sick or injured in year 7, you’ll have $2,100 saved for her care.

3.  Determine if you’ll buy pet insurance.

Some people swear by pet insurance while others see it as a rip off.  Premiums can run from as low as $10 for accidents only coverage to as much as $75 a month for wellness care as well as accident and illness coverage.

4.  Determine how much you’ll ultimately spend on your pet.

If your pet became very ill, what is the maximum you’d spend for the animal’s treatment?  Surgeries as well as cancer treatments can cost thousands of dollars.  Determine your limit before you purchase the animal.

Most animal lovers enjoy owning pets.  However, owning an animal isn’t cheap.  Determining how much you can afford is important before you bring an animal into your home and commit to that animal’s care for a lifetime.

How much have you had to pay to care for your pets?  Any other considerations you’d add to this list?

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