Owning a pet doesn’t come cheap. Between food, toys, supplies and routine medical costs, you could spend thousands each year keeping them happy and healthy. It’s important for pet owners to have money set aside each month for these expenses, just as you would for yourself. That said, there are ways to save without skimping on quality care for your furry family members.
Stay on Top of Health Care
Getting your pet regular face time with a veterinarian is the foremost way to save money in the long run. Though yearly visits can be expensive, they cost a heck of a lot less than a trip to the emergency room for an issue that could have been prevented. Make sure your pets are up to date on their vaccinations, and talk to your vet about personalized methods to keep them in optimal health.
It may seem counterintuitive, but spending more on good-quality pet food is an easy way to keep your pet out of the emergency room and away from your emergency fund. Ask about your pet’s dietary needs and do a little research. You don’t need to purchase artisan, $100-per-pound food. Just look for a well-respected brand with vet-recommended ingredients. When you find one that works for you, buy it in bulk from petfooddirect.com, Costco, Sam’s Club or Amazon to cut costs.
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I’d also echo a recommendation our vet has given us: Don’t overfeed your pets. Not only will you go through food more quickly, but you’ll also risk making them overweight or increasing the likelihood of diabetes. Both will cost you a ton of money and could cause your pets unnecessary pain.
Use Coupons, Loyalty Programs and Sales
Becoming a loyalty member at Petco or PetSmart is perhaps the best option out there for saving money. Each of the stores offers a few regular sales each month, which can help you reduce spending. They also track what you buy and will send out an alert if something you’ve purchased gets recalled. This is important when trying to stay ahead of your pet’s health issues.
Our dog Sam is prone to bladder stones, which means we spend quite a bit extra for prescription food each month. To manage this expense, we subscribe to newsletters from the manufacturer. A few times a quarter they’ll issue coupons for our food. You don’t have to be buying a prescription to get that perk; you can sign up with the maker of just about anything to receive these kinds of updates.
Pet owners know how rewarding it feels to care for an animal like part of the family. Just remember to make room in your budget to cushion the cost.
Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens or visit http://communityamerica.com.