Personally, I don’t advocate using credit to pay for emergencies, simply because I’ve gotten in deep doing the same in the past. Now, I set aside funds monthly in a savings account for our pets and I also have pet insurance to help us with our pet care budget. This being said, not everyone has this option and emergencies don’t wait for us to be ready so applying for credit may be necessary. I hope that you find this guest post helpful.
If you’re thinking about getting a pet, have had a pet for a short while, or are a long-term pet owner, having a pet care budget set aside is absolutely vital. Did you know that, according to the ASPCA, the average annual pet care of a small dog costs about $580? You might think of cats as cheap, but since you have to pay for kitty litter, the cost of a cat goes up to about $670 per year, and a large dog can cost around $875 a year just to maintain.
That’s not even including things like doggie daycare, kennel care or a pet sitter when you’re on vacation, and emergency medical costs! And as your pet ages, medical costs and even the cost of food can rise, since a special diet is often required to keep a pet healthy through the aging process.
Clearly, having a pet is expensive, and you have to be prepared for those types of expenses in order to keep your beloved pet in the best possible health throughout his or her lifetime. Here’s what you need to know to get prepared for those pet-related expenses.
Monthly budgeting for basic expenses is important
If you don’t already operate off of a basic monthly budget, it’s definitely time to make that happen now. Having a budget together will protect you from making serious financial mistakes and can really save you money over the long term. And you should make sure that pet care costs are added into your monthly budget.
To find out about how much your pet costs per month, look back over your pet-related spending for the past few months. How much money have you dropped on food and kitty litter? How much do you spend on treats and toys? How about paying your dog walker or doggie daycare? Expenses like these can be expected to stay relatively constant from month to month, so they’re easy to calculate.
But you should also find out about longer-term costs or one-off costs that occur annually. For instance, how much does your pet’s semi-annual vet check and round of preventative shots cost? And when you go on vacation once or twice per year, how much does it cost to put your pet in a kennel for the duration of your vacation? If you take your pet with you, how much does that cost? These expenses should be added up and divided by twelve so that you can save up for them throughout the year.
Budgeting for monthly expenses gets a little easier if you have pet health insurance, since this can cover some of the unexpected expenses related to veterinary care. Pet health insurance is often relatively inexpensive, and it’s definitely worth looking into if you have a pet.
Setting aside for the unexpected
Pet owners are usually fairly good at doing the math when it comes to the monthly expenses of owning a pet, but they may not be so great at planning for the unexpected. In a pet’s lifetime, though, it’s likely to need emergency veterinary care at least once or twice, and this can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Sometimes the cost of ongoing care or a surgery even prohibits an owner from keeping a pet because they haven’t prepared for these costs.
If you have a pet who may need any emergency attention, it’s important to set aside some money for that situation in an emergency fund. You might want to choose to add it to your emergency fund that holds 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses. It’s best to aim to save at least $1,000 for one-off emergency pet expenses just to ensure that you’re covered in case something should happen to your pet.
In the meantime, you may want to have an emergency credit card ready. A credit card isn’t the best emergency option if you have cash saved up, since you’ll have to pay interest on your credit card spending. However, it can help you bridge the gap as you’re saving up your pet care emergency fund. You can find some good low-interest credit cards here: CreditDonkey. If you’re planning to use a credit card in emergencies only, look for one with no annual fees.
Failing to budget for your pet’s basic needs is one of the most common ways that pet owners end up having to give up their pets to already overcrowded shelters. But by budgeting monthly for your pet’s basic needs and setting aside money for unexpected expenses, you can avoid this awful situation and keep your companion by your side.
Daniela Baker contributed this article. Visit her blog at CreditDonkey