A handful of pet bloggers I admire have started posting a breakdown of their monthly pet care expenses. I’m fascinated by those posts, and I find it interesting to see how pet care costs are allocated in different families, like single-dog versus multi-dog.
I kept thinking it might be useful to break down our expenses, but I hesitated. Our situation is extreme, I thought. Except, judging from comments and social media conversations, I’ve come to realize that it’s not! Many of you come here because you’re trying to manage health conditions like allergies or cancer, in addition to regular day-to-day stuff.
So, I thought I’d break down our February expenditures, along with tips for how we plan for these expenses, in case it would help anyone else who’s trying to manage exorbitant pet care expenses. Missing is a breakdown of Cooper’s home-cooked food because we purchase his groceries with our own and Newt’s canned cat food, which we also get at the grocery store. Next month I’ll strive to break that out. One note: We do not have pet insurance. I can’t speak to the benefits/costs of pet insurance.
- Newt’s nail trim: $16.50
- Doggy daycare: $150
- Monthly preventatives: $134
- Emmett’s chemo, liver, and thyroid meds: $292.50
- Emmett’s allocation: $270
- Dog food and supplements: $213
Dearest friends and family, this is why we decline dinner/cocktails/movies out.
Anyway, that’s a lot. That’s without Coop’s or Newt’s food. That’s a lot. It makes my hands shake just looking at it. That’s why John and I both have part-time work – he edits scientific studies, I teach writing at community college – on top of our day jobs. But it’s what we want to do. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
But, we’ve also had to make a lot of adjustments and cut-backs to make this work. Here are a few tips for how we’ve made it work…
1. Decide on your priorities. We could eliminate doggy daycare for Lucas and Cooper, but we prioritize that in our budget because of all those extra hours we work. It’s great for both of them to get the extra socialization, especially with their reactivity issues, and gives us a full long day each week to put in extra hours. We could trim Newt’s nails ourselves. We have in the past. It’s traumatic and injurious for everyone.
2. Set up a fee-free checking account for vet bills even if you don’t have big recurring expenses. (See #3.) Put a few bucks here and there in the account, and when you need it, it’s there. Here’s a good time to point out: These tips are designed to avoid credit card debt!
3. Plan ahead. What the “allocation” in the list means is we’ve estimated Emmett’s quarterly expenses. He goes to Purdue every three months for his scans (going this Wednesday… wish us luck…) and gets blood tests every two months at our local vet. We know approximately how much that costs, give or take an extra blood panel or whatever here and there, and we divided that by three (one for each month of the quarter). So, on the last day of every month, we transfer that allocated amount to a checking account that is only for vet bills. It’s linked to a debit card, so we use that card when we go to Purdue. If it ends up being a bit less than we allocated, we leave the extra in there untouched because sometimes – like last quarter when they ran an additional x-ray – it ends up being more, so that gives us a buffer. It’s way easier to budget $270 per month than it is to come up with approximately $800 at the end of the quarter!
4. Make cutbacks. There’s so much stuff we don’t need, like a huge cable package. (We also login to my mom’s Netflix account instead of purchasing our own… shh…) Plus, we’ve arranged our grocery budget to be WAY cheaper than their food budget. Think Sam’s Club and lots of rice and bean dishes. And eggs. Use coupons, too. We’ve also shifted to lots of free social activities (craft night and book club with friends, having people over for movies or games, etc.) and only eat out once or twice per month. We don’t belong to a gym, and our library cards get the biggest workout each month!
There you have it! Knowing that we spend, on average, around $1,000 per month on pet care expenses has caused us to change so many aspects of our lives. Of course, we wouldn’t have it any other way. They’re worth it. What sparked this post is that I’ve received so many comments and messages about just how expensive things like cancer are. It’s true. It all costs a fortune. But a little planning makes it work.
Planning and a sense of humor. I think that should be tip 5, actually:
5. Have a sense of humor about it all! 🙂