When your debt has taken over, no doubt you’re trying to eliminate as many extra expenses as possible. That usually entails cutting your budget to the bone and using every bit of extra money to pay down debt. Still, if you have sizable debt, it’s hard to do that month after month with no end in site.
Some people find they can stay on track by giving themselves a small treat occasionally, such as a night out. Others prefer to budget in something small that they feel they can’t live without, such as a pet.
But is it ok to add these extra’s to your budget? Should you have a pet when in debt? Let’s take a look at that issue to see it from more than one angle.
Pros of Pet Ownership
If you’re trying to get out of debt you might have opted to give up your health club membership. After all, it can be a pretty pricey line item on your budget. That’s where having a pet might help you out.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, almost 57% of households had a pet at the end of 2016. Of those households, about 38% had at least one dog. If you have a dog, like I do, you know many of them enjoy getting exercise right alongside you.
Depending on the dog, it may be cheaper to care for them than it is to belong to a gym. In that instance, perhaps you should still have a pet when in debt.
The companionship of a pet should not be overlooked. Even when in debt, a pet can give you a sense of protection and calmness. For some, it can ease anxiousness and even depression. With these benefits, it’s hard to say that you shouldn’t have a pet when in debt.
Cons of Pet Ownership
One of drawbacks of having pets, however, is paying pet costs. Of course, this could be minimal, depending on the pet you have. At the same time, it could cost you quite a lot.
The owners of some pets, such a birds or fish, probably have very little in the way of expense. That can also be true for cats, small dogs, and other easy maintenance animals. Medium to large dogs, on the other hand can be quite expensive.
Some costs of pet ownership you should consider include:
- Pet Food and Treats – Again, this can range from a little to a lot, depending on the pet.
- Outdoor Fencing – Generally this is an expensive incurred by dog owners. Electronic fencing could cost a few hundred dollars, but a physical fence will likely run several thousand.
- Indoor Pet Gates – Of course, this expense isn’t necessary for all pets and ranges from less than $20 to $100 or more. I actually have one that cost only $15 and can be moved from room to room. I also have one mounted at the top of my stairs. It keeps my dog confined to an area where I can see her and be with her at all times.
- Beds, Cages, Crates, and Houses – Once again, the cost of these items can vary greatly depending on their size, structure, and your pet needs.
- Bowls, Toys, Leashes, Collars, Shampoo, Brushes, etc. – While none of these items are very expensive, when added together the cost can rack up quickly.
- Routine Health Care – Just like humans, most pets need routine checkups and shots to stay healthy and keep their owners healthy and safe.
- Medical Procedures – My dog recent had to be spayed. At the same time, we had her umbilical hernia repaired. The total cost was a few hundred dollars. But some pets have ongoing chronic health issues that can really cost you.
- Boarding Costs – If you have to go on a trip, it may cost extra to board your beloved fur baby until your return.
- Wear and Tear – Some pets can be hard on your home, yard, and car, lowering their value faster than if you remained pet free. If you’re selling your home, they can make it harder to get top dollar when you sell.
Truly, I don’t begrudge the time I spend on and with my dog. But if you think you can get a pet and not have to care for them, you’re wrong. Even low maintenance pets still need some care.
The hours you spend taking are of an animal can cut into work or leisure time. Therefore, in essence, it isn’t free.
My life has been richer since adding a dog to the family. But she hasn’t come without expense. Whether or not you should you have a pet when in debt is a question only you can answer. But you definitely shouldn’t rush into pet ownership without knowing the financial considerations.
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How do you feel about owning a pet? Do you think it’s ok to have a pet when in debt?