Since I am a financial advisor and dog parent, my friends and clients have recently asked me how to save money while being a dog parent. I'm sure you've seen some of the photos of my dog on social media. He's gotten quite more famous than me. Take a look at some of the social media posts.
Dogs bring us happiness, joy, energy, and overall life changes. But we often get distracted by the satisfaction of owning a dog and forget that there are expenses involved when owning a dog, such as training, grooming, veterinarian checkups, medication, and emergencies, to name a few.
I will share with you my three savings tips on what I do to save as a dog parent. You know what? I’m feeling a bit generous, so I'll add a bonus too!
#1 - buy shampoo and hair clippers, and yes, do the grooming yourself.
It doesn't have to be the best hair clippers, either. I bought my dog's hair clippers online, and it was inexpensive.
Yes, I groom my dog. It takes about one to two hours out of my day. For you, it may take less, depending on the size of your dog. But I save on the grooming expense. Let's face it. Grooming has become expensive, especially if you visit a big box store. Most of us don't earn $90-100/hour in salary to be pushing it off to a groomer. Investing in an inexpensive hair clipper can save you money in the long run.
On the upside, you get to spend quality time with your dog, and you can take fun pictures while grooming and bathing and post on your social media. I'm guilty I have done that (see below).
#2 - don't buy expensive toys, especially if they will end up destroyed within a few days.
My dog ends up breaking a toy within a few days. Dogs don't understand the difference between cheap and expensive. For them, they get the joy of having fun with the toy.
Also, dogs may not have an interest in the toy, as some dogs are picky. Sometimes my dog is like this, but again it depends on your dog. Your dog may be different.
#3 - create your own pet insurance: with all that money you've saved up, use it to place it in an online high-interest savings account.
It may not earn much with current low-interest rates, but it is earning interest. Also, you should earmark these funds for use within the year for dog emergencies.
When I first rescued my dog when he was a few months old, I would always set aside some money out of my paycheck and deposit it into an online high-interest savings account.
If I did not use up any of the funds within the year, I moved it into an investment account to help it grow. Why one year? Quite simply, because there's a hidden risk that eats into your spending power: inflation. Inflation is when things today cost $1, then next year it costs $1.25. Every year on average, the inflation rate is about 3%.
Always remember that investing involves risk, and you can lose your principle. Always invest based on your risk tolerance and time horizon or the goal you are trying to accomplish. Investing is also not for everyone. You can talk to a financial professional, like me, if it makes sense for your financial situation.
If you choose not to be your own pet insurance because you don't understand investing or want to supplement your current savings, get pet insurance. Yes, I know there are people out there that say no to pet insurance. The reason is because of the hassle with an insurance company to see what is covered. But hear me out: just like health insurance for us humans, pet plans now cover regular checkups and emergencies.
I added insurance to my overall dog parenting strategy because I wanted to supplement my savings and lower the risk as my dog aged. As he aged, his chance for more medications and potential emergencies increased. I was fortunate to get my dog an insurance plan that included all of his vet checkups and medication, with any future catastrophic emergency included at a lower rate.
Again, I was fortunate when I signed up for the plan. My then-current employer had a sweet discount as an employee benefit; therefore, the premium was much lower. Nowadays, you can shop around for some pet insurance. Surprisingly, it may be bundled with your current home/auto insurance or is part of your employee benefit. You should check with your HR department. So yes, just like you have health insurance, your dog has it too - the world we live in today!
Get yourself a credit card that gives you points or rewards and pay those vet bills with that card and pay it off immediately with your online high-interest savings account or investment account that you’ve opened. You get to reap the points or rewards' benefits. Also, it will also improve your credit score since you're paying it off and not carrying a balance.
Dogs are great companions, and they can become be one of our best friends. But we often forget that there are small or even surprise expenses that can eat up our bank account. By grooming your dog yourself, buying inexpensive toys, and setting money aside in a savings account or getting pet insurance can perhaps save you some money while being a dog parent.
Okay, I have to walk my dog.
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