Can You Really Afford a New Pet?

Family PetPets bring their humans companionship, love, and lots of joy…but they also bring costs. That monster-sized bag of dog kibble isn’t going to buy itself, and that trendy new cat condo doesn’t exactly grow on trees. Adopting a new pet is a financial decision — and one that will impact your budget for the length of the pet’s life. (Here’s a good place to mention that the average life of a cockatoo is 50 years!).

When deciding if a pet is right for your family, and which type of pet might be the best fit, you should take its full cost into consideration as a factor in your decision. It won’t be fair to little Fido if you can’t afford his worm medication, and adopting a pet won’t be fair to you if bringing Fido to the vet means you have to skip putting money away for your retirement savings.

Let’s take a quick look at how much the most common types of pets will cost you on a yearly basis:

A Break Down of Pet Costs

The website Real Simple took a look at how much pet owners spent on things such as: food, toys, grooming, boarding, vet visits, and other expenses such as litter, and came up with these average annual totals:

  • Dogs: $1,131
  • Cats: $820
  • Birds: $375
  • Small Animals: $225 (includes rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, etc.)
  • Reptiles: $253
  • Freshwater Fish: $98

Keep in mind that these totals are very general averages. A larger dog will eat a whole lot more food than a small dog but tends to have a shorter lifespan. Likewise, if your cat gets sick, you may end up shelling out thousands in vet bills. Still, these numbers can be helpful. For instance, if you are on the fence between buying a dog or a cat, it might be helpful to know that over a ten year period, a dog will set you back $11,310 on average, while a cat will only cost $8,200 over the same period. That’s a $3,110 difference.

Money Should Only Be One Factor

Money shouldn’t be the only factor you take into consideration when deciding what pet to buy. After all, a pet goldfish sure is cheap, but it will never show you the love and loyalty of a dog or fetch your slippers. Instead, understanding the cost of a pet can help you decide whether you can afford a pet right now in your life and help you budget for the pet. It’s also worth noting that pets add warmth and joy to the lives of their owners, and as MasterCard would say – that’s priceless!

Want to read more budgeting and saving tips? Check out our article archive just for women.

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