In this edition of our “Ask the Experts” series, we identify the factors that drive the cost of pet care, examine saving tips, and identify the most efficient ways to help your favorite animal charities.
Some 72.9 million households in the United States own pets. That represents roughly 62% of us, and we collectively spend more than $50 billion annually on our furry, scaled, and feathered friends. The obvious question that stems from that is how do we bring down costs without sacrificing our pets’ wellbeing in any way, shape, or form?
You see, we need to identify savings opportunities across the breadth of our lives in order to reverse our dangerous debt habits and stave off future financial meltdowns. U.S. consumers currently owe roughly $846 billion to credit card companies alone – more than $113 billion of which has been incurred since the Great Recession ended. We’re also more than $1 trillion in the hole to student loan companies, and thousands of homes across the country are “underwater” – even in the driest of areas.
Trying to make all of the necessary spending cuts at one time could get impossibly overwhelming, so it makes sense to take a step-by-step approach. This is the pet step, and we turned to the following experts in search of answers:
- Peter Maguire – Veterinarian and professor with Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
- Joseph Bartges – Veterinarian and professor of medicine & nutrition at the University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
- Brian Collins – Veterinarian and lecturer at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
You can check out what each expert had to share by clicking their respective names above, or you can simply jump to the “Takeaways” section for an overall synopsis.
Ask The Experts
Ultimately, we can boil down all of these great expert insights into a few key takeaways (great for all you skimmers out there!):
- More expensive isn’t necessarily better, but you also get what you pay for – Pet owners can certainly identify areas where they can cut costs, but you have to be really careful not to sacrifice the well-being of your pet in doing so.
- Pet care isn’t really as outrageously expensive as you might think – Part of what makes veterinary procedures seem so expensive is the fact that people tend to pay out of pocket, whereas we have insurance to cover most of our own healthcare costs.
- Pet insurance isn’t great – Not only does animal insurance tend to be pricey, but the policies are also often difficult to understand and ultimately leave many folks with minimal coverage.
- You can set up a savings account for your pet – One interesting technique broached by multiple experts is to establish an emergency fund for your pet. If you contribute, say, $50 or $100 per month, you’ll be less likely to get blindsided by an unexpected veterinary bill. This also underscores the importance of living within your means in other areas of your life. If you aren’t already overleveraged, pet care will seem more affordable.