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Is a Pet’s Affect on Your Money Worth It?

I recently read an article where the person was discussing the hidden costs of purchasing his new puppy. He talked about how he spent over $1,000 in two months on vet bills and pet supplies such as toys, food, a bed, crate etc. The moral was if you’re trying to save money or you’re in debt don’t get a pet because it won’t be cheap. I agree to an extent. I know. I’m all about saving money and cutting costs so what’s the “to an extent” part. Let me explain. Pets aren’t going to be cheap, no matter what animal you’ve fallen in love with and want to have. You’re going to add a whole new set of monthly expenses when you get a pet that you could avoid if you left your home for two legged humans only. However, there are a lot of benefits to owning a pet. Do they outweigh the monetary costs?

In the past two decades, there have been numerous research studies that show pets have a positive or beneficial effect on human health. The benefits include things such as decreased blood pressure, decreased anxiety and increased immunity, in other words decreased chance of heart attack and a stronger immune system. Other benefits include decreased risk of allergies, asthma, and eczema in children who grow up with pets in the home. Pets also positively affect the mental health of their owners by being conversation starters and playing with pets can increase your serotonin levels (the feel good hormone).

I think these benefits outweigh the monetary costs of having a pet, you just have to handle the expenses appropriately. Sure you have upfront expenses that may cost you over $1,000 and you will add a monthly expense for their upkeep, which will depend on the species, but you can make it work and be healthier for it. To make it work you need to save up and consider how it will affect your spending plan before bringing home your furry, feathered, or scaly bundle of joy. There are several items you should research to get an idea of the cost.

1) See how much it will cost to buy the animal. Are you going to a pet store, breeder, rescue? Are there application fees?
A breeder is normally the most expensive option and not always necessary. Rescues are great because they’re cost effective and the caretakers can tell you a lot about the particular animal you’re interested in, such as temperament and quirks. I wish I would have known better and gone this route.

2) What’s the best housing and how much will it cost?
You want your new friend to be comfortable but you don’t want to break the bank either. The species of the animal and the purpose of the housing will dictate what you get so consider that before purchasing. How much time do you expect them to be in the cage or kennel?

3) How much food do you expect to go through a month?
This can be found by searching the internet. It may vary on how fast or slow you go through a certain amount of food, but you can get a great ballpark by searching your species and food requirements. Very quickly I realized how much of the different types of food to give my pet. She really liked some things and others not so much.

3) What vet visits are necessary and how much will they cost? When do you need to do them?
There are always a few things that need to be checked or done when you first get a pet no matter the species. You can determine what these are for your species of pet and get an estimate of the cost by doing an internet search.

4) What are the other necessary pet supplies?
Do an internet search to find out what are the other must-haves that you will need to purchase. Determine approximately how much these other items will run you and when you will need to get them, how often to replace them etc. For example, you’ll need a first set of toys but then after that it’s really up to you and how fast your pet destroys them as to when you’ll need to buy more.

There are quite a few other things that will add expenses, but the list above will give you a great estimate on how much you should save and be prepared to pay. I did this when I got a pet in graduate school. I saved up for a year and a half to get the money together for the initial expenses and a few months of expenses after bringing her home. I bought a gorgeous (yes I am completely biased) parrot, that’s her in the picture above.

I knew a bit about parrots since my Dad has one, but taking care of one is a whole other level of responsibility and expenses. I wanted to make sure I had the money to buy her and everything she needed, so I needed to research everything she needed. I also wanted to make sure she was from the U.S. and not a poor wild parrot viciously captured and smuggled, but I digress. I researched everything I could think of and other things that I found listed that I knew nothing about. I created a detailed spreadsheet with the items, initial cost, and cost per month if applicable. The totals from my spreadsheet let me determine how much I would need to save a month if I wanted to get a parrot in a specific time frame. There were other things I wanted to do as well so I settled on a year and a half.

If you don’t have the money for initial expenses and a few months of expenses after bringing the pet home, then you’re not ready to get a pet. Save up and wait.

I was happy to have her; she decreased stress a lot and made me laugh all the time. She was a welcome addition and I was happy I saved up and got her so there was no stressing about money. Do you have a pet? Have you experienced benefits of having a pet? Would you say the benefits outweigh the monetary costs? 

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