Everyone with pets knows that our pets are more than our furry friends; they’re a part of our family. Our pets are with us through the highs and lows of life, always loyal and forever by our sides. But like many other meaningful things in life, pets don’t come cheap.
Thankfully, there are ways to keep vet bills from crushing us financially. First, we’ll cover some common pet-related expenses so you can plan ahead. Then, we’ll talk about ways to reduce those expenses and save for them, too.
Everyone knows that there’s an acquisition cost when you bring a furry friend home. Adoption fees or private seller costs are one thing, but what do our pets cost us from there? The average annual cost of owning a dog starts at $965.
If you pay for regular dog walking services or kennel stays, the cost goes up from there. This average includes food and treats, annual vet expenses and dog licenses, training, grooming, toys, and age-related medical issues.
Cats come in at a close second with an annual average of $634. Smaller pets, like rabbits or hamsters, come with far fewer costs, but you should still plan to spend a few hundred dollars per year.
Planning out your vet visits and keeping them marked on your calendar can make it easier to stay on top of your pet-related expenses. When you know how many and what type of visits you have coming up, you can break up the expenses over time and save for them more gradually.
Ask about the costs as you book your appointments, rather than waiting until you get there the day of the appointment or after the visit. This way, you’ll know exactly how much you’ll need to save per month or week to pay cash for your vet bills.
For large or unexpected vet bills, ask the office manager if they’re willing to set you up with a payment plan. Not all veterinarians are willing to do this, but many of them will, so there’s no harm in asking about your options.
A payment plan would break your vet bills into smaller, more manageable monthly payments and give you more time to get caught up. Most of the time, they’ll give you up to six months to pay off your balance without accruing interest on it.
Affordable pet insurance policies, when chosen correctly, can be a good strategy for reducing potential vet bills. This can be particularly helpful for emergency vet visits, which may be common for older pets and pets with significant health issues.
Pet insurance can cost as little as six dollars per month, but the range can be significant depending on the pet breed, age, location, and other individual factors. If it’s the right price and the right pet, insurance can help prevent you from taking on debt or skipping important vet visits.
Most vet visits are for preventive health maintenance. They help us ensure that our pets are healthy and that we spot any potential problems early. And we can reduce those potential problems by managing our pets’ health at home, too.
Talk to your vet about how much exercise your pets should be getting, what the appropriate weight is for their size and age, and what type of food would be best for them. They will tell you how best to care for your pet.
Once you know roughly what they’ll be each year, pet-related bills are expenses we can prepare for. Moving forward, we recommend adding them as a line item in your budget. Budgeting for your needs, including things like housing, transportation, food, and healthcare for you, your family, and your pets is the best way to ensure that your money is going where it needs to.
Most experts agree that needs should account for 50% of your post-tax income. From there, 30% should go to your wants, and the remaining 20% should go to savings or investments.