Published in: Banks | Feb. 28, 2019
By: Lyle Daly
It's no surprise why people get so attached to their pets. They're cute and hilarious, hence why pet videos are so popular on YouTube. They're perfect for providing companionship. They basically become your children, only better, because they're a different species.
What many people don't consider before they decide to adopt that new companion is the true price tag of their pet. The reality is that one pet could cost you more than $10,000 over the course of its lifespan, and much of that will come from hidden costs you may not have thought about.
Whether you're considering getting a pet or you already have one, it's important to be aware of all the potential costs that could come your way.
These pet costs will focus on cats and dogs, since those are undoubtedly the most popular animals people keep as pets. If you have a bird, lizard, rabbit, or other type of pet, your costs will vary.
How much does a cat cost? -- According to PetFinder, cat costs typically range from:
How much does a dog cost? -- Dogs are similar to cats in terms of costs, with PetFinder reporting the standard range as:
Again, that covers basic costs, including food, vet visits, vaccinations, toys, a collar and leash, a bed or crate, and preventative medications.
Now, the lower ends of these estimates are essentially the bare minimums for keeping your pet reasonably happy and healthy. You may find that you spend more on pet toys and higher-quality foods. After all, you want your loved one to stay healthy for as long as possible. These estimates also don't include some pesky hidden costs.
We've gone over the basic yearly costs, but in all likelihood, there will be other expenses you incur with your pet.
Let's start with the biggest -- medical problems. These are often "out of sight, out of mind" when your pet is in its prime, but pets of all ages can incur hefty medical bills. An illness, an accident, or a fight with another animal could all end up costing you quite a bit at the vet.
Just how much can medical bills for your pet cost you? Here are the average costs of a few common treatments, courtesy of Trupanion:
In addition, there are other extra costs that pet owners often don't think about, such as:
Avoiding pet debt is just like staying out of any other type of debt. You need to anticipate the expenses you could have and start preparing for them ahead of time instead of waiting until you're under the gun.
Here's how to do that:
1. Open your pet fund.
The smartest way to do this is to open a new bank account. Then there's separation between your pet fund and the rest of your money, which is a good reminder that the pet fund is off-limits for everything but pet-related expenses.
Before you open your pet fund, check out the best bank accounts to find one that has a high interest rate and no fees. Savings accounts and money market accounts are both smart choices because they can earn you more interest.
2. Calculate how much you need to save.
Estimate the larger expenses your pet could have, and then break down how much you need to save per month to be ready. For example:
3. Set aside a fixed amount every month.
Once you know how much you need to save, you can see if that works within your budget. If not, you'll need to decide whether you can get by with saving less or if you should cut spending in another area.
Make sure you're consistent in depositing money into your pet fund every month and avoid the temptation to skip a month here and there. You'll be happy you did if you need that money in the future.
One popular way to deal with vet bills and other medical expenses for your animal is pet insurance. Opinions are mixed on whether pet insurance is worthwhile, but if you can trust yourself to save money for a pet fund consistently, then you're probably better off doing that instead.
Pet insurance works similarly to health insurance in that you pay premiums every month, and then pet insurance helps cover the cost of your pet's medical treatments. The cost of pet insurance varies depending on your pet and what the plan covers, as you can get plans for health problems, accidents, or both. The typical price range is:
It's always good to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. With a pet, that means having a plan in case it needs a costly treatment that you can't pay for out-of-pocket.
This is a situation many pet owners find themselves in, and sadly, it can even lead to what's known as economic euthanasia, where people need to put down their beloved pets because they can't afford treatment costs.
That's incredibly difficult and something no pet, or its owner, should have to go through. If you find yourself unable to afford your pet's bills, here are a few options to look at:
People often get pets without putting much thought into the costs involved, but it's important to know what expenses you could run into.
After all, your pet is a part of the family, and you want it to have the best quality of life possible. When you're aware of how much pets really cost, you can better prepare for the future.
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