They’re furry, they’re adorable and they love you just as much as you love them. They’re your pets, and here at LiveBetterCheaper, we know that there are a lot of you out there who may be pet owners. That’s why in our quest to help you to, well, live better cheaper, we’re spending today focusing on the joys (or tribulations) of pet ownership and how you can provide the best care on a budget.
Pets are like companions (without the time and space adventures), and like anyone who gets to put the title “parent” in their name, you want to be able to provide for them th best pet care possible, but in this day and age – and with the economy the way it is – pets can seem like a luxury. However, taking care of one doesn’t have to involve breaking the bank and only buying the fanciest toys and services.
So how can you do so? Consider these 10 steps:
Make Sure You Can Keep A Pet: Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first. If you’re someone that’s living paycheck to paycheck, then maybe it’s not such a good idea to get one. Because let’s face it, one of the worst feelings is not being able to provide.
The other part of this – and this mostly applies to those who rent – is clear it with the landlord. Make sure keeping a pet is something you can do without violating any terms (hey, their land, their rules), and if it is, how much more will it cost you to do so. Which again, if it’s too pricey, you might have to skip it.
But if you can get a pet, then you can always…
Adopt: Generally speaking, adopting from a shelter is a cheaper option than to buy from a breeder*. It’s a win/win situation: an animal gets a new home and you save a life.
*DISCLAIMER*if you decide to adopt, be sure to get one from a shelter that offers a guarantee. While many animals provide a wealth of potential, some may have serious medical problems. A guarantee allows you to bring it back, and while this can be a very difficult thing to do, it all comes down to being able to afford it, and as we all know, vets aren’t cheap.
Shop Within Your Means: Much like you do in your life, find what how to live within your means. This means figuring out what’s a necessity and what’s a luxury. Food is necessary. Housing? Maybe not so much. Clothing? They’re already covered in fur. Definitely not a necessity.
Find a Vet: Ah, medical expenses. There is no way around this. People will spend on average about $356 a year on dogs and $190 on cats. Of course, you don’t want to skimp on healthcare. Ask your local humane society about trying to find a place that will give you quality care, but also won’t charge a lot. Keep in mind, the larger the animal, the more expensive it will be.
Also, if you know someone, that could work.
Easy On The Toys: On average, owners will spend around $107 a year on toys and treats for dogs, and $66 for cats. While getting a few is okay, don’t go overboard. There are plenty of ways to create your own toys for them. Maybe the dog can carry or chase a stick around the yard, find a sturdy piece of rope or some old cloth for them to tug on, and have you see what happens when you mix cats and laser pointers?
Of course, there is the option of…
Thrift Shop-it: Is it wise for you to pop some tags? Maybe so if you’ve only got $20 in your pocket (sorry, had to go there). The message still remains. You don’t have to buy all of your toys new. Check out thrift shops or hit up Craigslist. Also mentioned above, make your own.
Grooming: Yes, there are grooming services out there, and yes you can always choose which one will give you the most bang for your buck, but this is also something you can teach yourself how to do. Buy the supplies yourself, Google instructions or check out tutorials on YouTube (what an age we live in!).
Food: This is where it gets a little bit tricky. As we all know, the best way to cut medical expenses is the take care of yourself, which is something that translates to how you should take care of your pets. Discount foods are as cheap as they are for a reason: because they usually lack the essential nutrients needed. Find something that is of a good quality, but don’t go crazy on how much you feed them. Also like how you would treat yourself, be portion-conscious.
Insurance: Why do we buy insurance? So we can protect ourselves if something goes wrong. So if your pet has a history of health problems, insurance might be a wise investment.
Make Your Own Treats: You don’t always have to go out and buy boxes of treats for your animals. As places like Three Dog Bakery have taught us, you can make your own high quality products for cheap. Just find a few ingredients and a working oven. It’ll be like baking cookies, but for your furry companions.
Do you have any tips you want to share? Feel free to leave a comment below and keep the conversation going.
Opperman, Melinda. “5 Tips to Make Pet Ownership More Affordable.” Credit.org http://credit.org/blog/5-tips-to-making-pet-ownership-more-affordable/ July 19, 2011
Chatzky, Jean. “The Dog Ate Your Wallet? How to Cut the Costs of Pet Ownership.” DailyFinance. http://www.dailyfinance.com/2012/09/24/the-dog-ate-your-wallet-how-to-cut-the-costs-of-pet-ownership/ September 24, 2012