I have a pet who is a big part of my family. Part of my budget every month is dedicated to her food and medical care. She also gets occasional splurges with treats and toys. She’s totally my baby and deserves it!
Americans spend a ton of money on household pets. In fact, last year we spent an estimate $58.5 billion. That’s a huge number!
As a pet owner, budgeting for your pet is just part of life. It’s similar to budgeting for expenses for kids or any other dependent. We spend money, we make tough choices, we sacrifice at times to get them what they need.
Everyone has to decide what matters most for them when spending money on pets. Personally I have a few rules for pet spending and a few tips for how I save money on pet care.
You are going to spend money on your pets every month for as long as you own them. That’s just a fact of being a pet owner. You will buy things every month from food to vet care to toys and even clothes.
1. Make a budget line.
Pets deserve their own budget line in the monthly budget. It does not have to be an extravagant category in your budget but you must account for the pets. I have a line for month pet medical expenses since it adds up yearly with things like heartworm medicine and flea medicine when needed.
2. Have an emergency fund for pet emergencies.
I don’t think people should go into debt for pets but you should definitely have a reserve amount you are willing to spend in an emergency. Maybe that’s $1,000 or maybe it’s $5,000. Whatever you can save and feel comfortable spending should be set aside in case of an emergency where your pet needs care.
Ways to Save Money on Pet Care
If you are trying to save money on pet spending there are some options for you.
1. Save money on pet medicine
Medicine can be one of the most expensive things you have to buy for your pet. My dog definitely has had to have some pricey medicine! For routine medicine you can save a lot of money by ordering online instead of buying at the local vet’s office. You can also get this medicine at cheaper co-ops as well if you have one nearby. This is super useful for medicines that have to be given over and over like heart worm medicine or allergy pills.
2. Save money on pet toys and supplies.
Specialty pet products can suck you in and cost you a lot of money. The most important way to save here is to mentally prepare yourself by realizing your precious pet doesn’t really need memory foam bed or custom clothes for each season. They are perfectly equipped to be happy in different types of weather or sleeping on a floor.
If you want to buy toys, which of course I and most pet owners do, it’s best to shop the sales. Pet stores offer coupons and they have sales and clearance sections for toys. Your dog won’t enjoy it more because you spent more money, so save on toys and stock up for when it’s time to replace toys with new ones.
3. Save money on pet food.
Feeding your pet will be a regular expense each month and should be in your budget. There are lots of high quality high dollar pet foods out there. I used to buy my dog a top dollar dog food when she was a puppy to one year old. Then I realized how silly it was to buy a $100 bag of dog food!
You can save money on pet food by not overthinking this are. Most bulk bags of dry dog food or cat food are perfectly fine for your pet. In fact, our vet recommended one of these lower price brands over any other and that is what we now buy. It’s the same one my boyfriend has fed his dog for 13 years. Just because a dog food costs more doesn’t make it automatically better, so save money on pet food this way!
4. Save money on vet care.
Vets can be incredibly expensive and sometimes emergency surgeries are necessary. Some vets offer discount payment plans where you pay a smaller monthly fee that covers vet appointments, any emergency visits, and medicines. I personally use one of these plans and it saved me over $200 when my dog had to go in for an emergency where she was attacked and had injuries.
What about when your pet needs an expensive operation? You will most likely want to make sure to pay for it unless your pet is near the end of their natural life anyway. You can sometimes arrange for discounts with vets for various circumstances like paying in cash. Ask you vet and see what options are available – sometimes you can save money just by asking. You can also sometimes barter for services with your vet who might need something you can offer like building a new website or even just mowing their lawn.
Paying For Pets
Pets are incredibly important and a huge part of your life. For many of us, our pets are equivalent to our children and they are part of our family. We’d go above and beyond to give them the best life possible.
Make sure you take care of your pets in every kind of way including putting them into your monthly budget and saving money on their regular expenses so you can afford the bigger ones when they come.