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I do not have a pet, but I have friends that do.  I happen to know that pet lovers "love them some pets." In fact, many consider their pets children. I have a friend that rushes home from work to see her dog, not her children. Some people have more affection for their dog than their spouse. But that's another article. Nevertheless, debt is a problem in many households today. Debt is causing problems in relationships, making people lose sleep, and even causing physical health problems. With the cost of everything going up and our dollars being squeezed, we need to examine everything to cut back and save. So my question to you: does your pet have you in debt?  

An acquaintance of mine spent $3,000 to purchase her dog. Then she had to pay to put the dog in training school for a couple of months. When she went on vacation she had to pay for a dog-sitter.  I am aware that a dog is supposed to be a man's best friend, but it appears without a budget for your pet they can also put you in poverty!  If you are not in the habit of tracking your money or living on a spending plan, you probably have no idea how much your lovable pet is costing you.  

American's $38.4 billion pet bills
Sixty-three percent of American households own at least one pet. It doesn't matter what kind of pet, the care and maintenance will cost you something. For example, the average dog or cat lives around 6-15 years, so over that time-frame how much will you have invested in your pet? Many pet owners feel like money is not a consideration – it's their pet for goodness-sake!  However, if you want to get out of debt, the cost should definitely be considered.

The numbers below are an average cost estimate for dogs and cats.

• Food - $240/year
• Dental care - $250-400/year
• Boarding or pet sitter - $15 to $100 per day
• Neutering - $142/dog and $99/cat
• Veterinarian visits - $211/dog or $179/cat
• Canine cataract surgery - $2,000-$3,000
• Cancer treatment - $5,000 or more
• Diabetes maintenance - $600-$1,000 a year

There is nothing wrong with owning a pet if you can afford it.  But what if you can't afford it? It really does come down to choices and priorities. For instance, if you spend around $1,000 a year on your pet, and they live for 10 years that is $10,000 over ten years.  Do you currently have $10,000 in your retirement, emergency fund or 401K?  

Again, it's just a question: does your pet have you in debt?

Sharman Lawson a columnist on Fabulously40, and a financial coach, speaker, and author of the book 12 Steps to Eliminate Debt Forever! Visit her website: [Link Removed]


Sharmanl, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.



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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cynthia Green wrote Feb 7, 2009
    • This is a good question.  My daughter and her husband have 3 children ages 3,5, and 7. My grandchildren have been wanting a puppy and my daughter would like to get them one.  However, they have had to put buying the children a puppy for now because it simply does not fit into their budget.  Great article.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Holdonloosely wrote Feb 7, 2009
    • I have lots of pets and the cost is not a problem. However, the unplanned cost is. I didn’t put any extra in my budget for unexpected health issues that can come up with my pets. I know the option of putting them down it there, however, when you get attached it’s not that easy. I have put well over 3 thousand dollars into my pet who became diabetic. Money I didn’t have, money that I charged, adding up more debit with the interest. And to top it all off, nothing is working. So, money down the drain! I thought of changing Vets and I thought of giving up. As I pay off my credit card bill, I’m leaning to giving up. But even that will cost another two hundred and fifty dollars to put him down and cremate him. Yes, owning is costing!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Joan Cox wrote Feb 8, 2009
    • I guess I am sort of lucky.. we have way to many pets, two dogs and five cats thats ‘forever cats’ and several that are ferals we are taming enough to adopt out/give to the pound to adopt out (they wont take them till they and hand friendly.. then they work extra hard to find homes and such for them).. (to many ferals in our neighborhood so we work to help them out).. our vet is super cheap.. he is aware that we are tight on money.. and he knows we are helping feral.. we can trap one, take it to him, he will fix it, give all shots and an exam.. then we can re release and not worry bout future kittens from that one.. and he charges between 40 bux and 60 per cat for ALL the work.. and sometimes cheaper.. and he holds checks for us till we have money in the bank..

      we have one feral we are keeping because pound admitted he is not ‘adoptable’ for them.. he is older, we caught him ONLY because he was almost dead.. he has dental issues.. was starving to death and in severe mouth pain.. our doctor fixed him up, fix.. shots.. exam.. a months worth of medication for 80 bux.. when the meds didnt help the teeth.. he pulled them out cept for about four good ones (fangs) and some of his teeny tiny pearly whites in front.. and then gave us months worth of meds.. more shots to keep infection down (we had to give daily shots for a week) then a second exam.. how much for all that? including exams? 80 bux..

      we are the lucky ones, poor with a vet who says ‘you try to do your best and i will make sure their health is good and take one less worry off your shoulder.. ’

      and he does..

      otherwise i am not sure i would be able to help out these wild ferals.. leo our boy is actually tame now! Vet said it is because he was to sick to be afraid.. he was dying.. took three months to get his health up... and by then? He was so used to being carried everywhere, petted, medicated.. soothed.. that now? He loves being held.. craves it..  

      otherwise a full grown feral? rarely do they tame down.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Onevision wrote Feb 9, 2009
    • Can’t blame my furry friends, I’ve done it to myself! estatic



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