How to Keep Your Pet Project From Ruining Your Finances

Family, Saving, Spending

December 14, 2017

According to one survey, 68% of households have a pet today, compared to 56%, thirty years ago.

I love that you love your pets. But your beloved critters can make a mess of your financial life if you’re not careful. The American Pet Producers Association estimates we will spend close to $70 billion this year on our pets. Most of that is for food, but nearly $17 billion of that will be for veterinary care.

Annual checkups are not a big deal, but if your dog or cat becomes ill, the bills can take a big chunk out of your emergency fund. Even worse is if you’ve yet to build an eight-month emergency fund and then need to put a big vet bill on your credit card. A few x-rays and tests can easily add up to more than $1,000 and if surgery is needed you’re looking at a bill that can be $3,000 to $5,000 or more. If you can’t pay that off quickly, the interest charge on your credit card is going to add to your costs. And your fur ball is likely going to cause your credit score to fall a bit.

The good news is that you can take great care of your pet and keep your finances in good shape as well. The solution is pet insurance.

If you have yet to explore pet insurance, I recommend you do some research. The ideal time to take out a policy is when your cat or dog is young—before any pre-existing conditions crop up. But you can often get a policy for older pets as well.

For those of you who are thinking of getting a pet, you should definitely budget in the cost of pet insurance. (And check with your employer; some firms are now offering pet insurance as a benefit.)

The cost might be as little as $1 or so a day for a policy that covers 70% to 90% of care for an illness or injury. Ask your vet for recommendations of insurance companies clients have had good experiences with.

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