October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month! Whether you’re a dog person, a cat person, or any other kind of pet lover, budgeting for a pet is an important and often overlooked part of personal finance. Most people who stick to a budget know that they should include things like transportation, housing, and groceries. However, for households with pets or who are considering adopting a pet, Fluffy’s needs must be included as well! You shouldn’t be accumulating credit card debt to care for a pet. American Consumer Credit Counseling explains how to budget for a pet!
Budgeting for a Pet: What to Include
If you’re new to pet ownership, the first cost you’ll have to take into consideration when budgeting for your furry friend is adoption fees. How high the adoption fees are will depend on where you’re getting your pet. Are you adopting from a shelter or a breeder? Shelters will generally be cheaper, while breeders can cost you several hundred dollars. Because the initial cost of a pet can be expensive, you may want to start saving a few months in advance. For the rest of the pet costs, you should incorporate them into your budget every month:
The most obvious pet expense that you’ll have to incorporate into your budget every month is pet food. Good quality dog food can cost anywhere between $20 to $60 a month, or around $250 to $700 a year. Cat owners can expect to pay around $100 to $200 a year for cat food. Of course, these costs can vary depending on what brand of pet food you buy, how old or how big your pet is, and where you buy their food. You may find pet food costs for your dog or cat are significantly different than the national averages, which is okay! As long as you can make room in your budget for it, it shouldn’t be a problem.
One of the most important considerations when budgeting for a pet is the cost of veterinary care. Initially, when you first get your cat or dog, you’ll have to get them vaccinated and spayed/neutered if they haven’t been already. The cost will depend on if you get your pet from an animal shelter, pet store, or breeder, so you may want to call a few places beforehand to see if they take care of that for you. Your pet will also need an annual vet visit, so budget for that cost as well.
If you have a long-haired cat or dog, professional grooming is a must! Don’t forget to include this every month when budgeting for your pet if they need it. Alternatively, if you have a short-haired cat who can clean themselves or a small dog that you can bathe yourself, skip this category!
This category doesn’t have to be expensive. There are plenty of ways to save money on pet toys, so no need to spend a fortune. Cat toys especially can be easy to DIY, and in the summer months, dogs are perfectly happy to play with a stick!
Miscellaneous Categories when Budgeting for a Pet
While the above items are the basics to consider when budgeting for a pet, there are some other expenses to consider. If you are renting or living in an apartment, your landlord may have limits on how many pets you have and charge an extra fee for having a pet. Additionally, if your pet ruins the carpet, you probably won’t be getting your security deposit back. Take these fees into consideration before you adopt a pet. If you have a cat, you already know that they love scratching furniture. You may want to buy something to cover your furniture to protect it from their claws.
If you are struggling to pay off debt, ACCC may be able to help. Schedule a free credit counseling session today.