Can You Afford to Adopt a Pet? Ask Yourself These 3 Questions to Find Out

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  • Pet owners often wind up with more expenses than they've bargained for.
  • It's important to make sure you're in a strong enough financial position to bring an animal into your home.

Make sure you can check all of them off your list.

There's a reason animal shelters have been overwhelmed with pets this year. Inflation has driven the cost of living upward in an almost alarming way. As such, some pet owners have had to choose between giving up their pets and putting food on the table.

Now the reality is that a lot of people adopt pets with the best of intentions, only to realize after the fact that they've gotten in way over their heads financially. So if you're thinking of adopting a pet, it pays to ask yourself these important questions first.

1. Have I researched pet care costs?

If you don't know what it costs to have a pet, then you can't determine whether you can afford one. So to that end, do some research. Talk to your friends and family members who are already pet owners and see what their monthly bills look like. That should give you a sense of what you may be signing up for.

An even better bet, however, is to talk to a veterinarian in your area about the costs associated with the specific animal and breed you're looking to adopt. Say you have your eyes on a Golden Retriever puppy. A vet might loop you in on common issues specific to that breed so you can see what you're likely to be dealing with.

2. Is there room in my budget to cover pet care costs?

Once you have a better handle on the pet care costs you might face, you'll need to make sure they fit into your budget. Let's say it will cost you $100 a month to feed your pet, another $80 for preventive medications, and another $50 for pet insurance. That's a minimum of $230 you're looking at spending, and that doesn't include one-off expenses, like treatment for illnesses or injuries, groomings, or boarding services, which you might need from time to time. 

Make sure the numbers work before moving forward. You may have to cut back on some existing expenses so pet care expenses can fit, like canceling cable and pledging to cook at home more often.

3. Do I have an emergency fund to cover unplanned pet expenses?

Even if you have pet insurance, you might still end up having to shell out a fair amount of money if your pet gets hurt or falls ill. Make sure you have a decent chunk of savings in the bank so you can dip in as needed. The last thing you'd want is to land in situations where you're thinking of rehoming your pet to avoid racking up a sky-high credit card balance.

Being a pet owner can be a wonderful, fulfilling experience. But it can also be a costly one. Before you adopt, make sure you're in a good place financially to take on that responsibility. You may be more than willing to put in the time and give a pet all the love you have. But if you can't afford one, you're probably better off waiting to adopt.

Our Research Expert

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