Whether you’ve been a cat mom for ages or it’s your first time being a dog owner, it’s no surprise that the expenses add up. A 2019 survey revealed that nearly one out of four American pet owners have found themselves in pet debt, so being aware of pet-related spending habits is crucial for financial health. As many families welcomed new pets into their lives during the pandemic, they might be wondering how to make pet care budget-friendly.
From DIY treats to seeking out discounted toys and training programs, we wanted to round up some simple ways to save money as a pet owner. With some thinking ahead and creativity, you won’t have to jeopardize your budget to enjoy taking care of an animal companion. Thankfully, there are plenty of options for saving on pet costs, which is a serious, long-term financial commitment. With our tips, we’ll help you provide your pet with the love and care they deserve.
1) Be Your Pet’s Trainer
Have you ever considered training your pet on your own? Try to cut back on certain extraneous costs like a professional trainer and see if you can redirect that cash towards a course that will help you master pet training skills. You’ll save in the long run and boost your own skillset while you’re at it.
2) Shop Around for Better Pet Food
So many pet owners mindlessly overpay for the pet food. It’s time to be more mindful by couponing and shopping around. You could save hundreds in just several months.
3) Buy in Bulk and Store Properly
If you buy pet food and other products in bulk, you’re doing your wallet a huge favor. The only caveat is that improper storage could cause things to spoil more quickly (costing you more in the end), so be mindful and store strategically.
4) Shop Around for Pet Insurance
Getting more comprehensive care at a fair price is not only better for your budget, it’s also better for your pet’s health. Try a price comparison tool like PetInsurance.com to find the best rates.
5) Don’t Overpay for Pet Medication
There are plenty of resources and websites that can help you save on your pet’s medication. On sites like 1-800-PetMeds or RetailMeNot you can find great price points, coupons, and rebates. Also, there may be locally owned pet shops or regular pharmacies in your area that carry the medication you need for your pet for less. Invest the extra time in researching these options and reap the rewards.
6) Keep Your Pet Fit and Healthy
The healthier your pet is, the happier they’ll be and the more you’ll save in the long run. Taking preventative measures to allow for fewer vet visits is always the right move. Even if your pet is a bit older, be sure to make an effort to ensure they’re getting enough movement in their day. Try creative ways to help them get some exercise, like setting up a fun obstacle course in your living room or backyard.
7) Strategically Plan your Pet’s Vaccination Schedule
Did you know you could save money if you’re smart about how you stay updated on your pet’s vaccination schedule. Depending on your region, there could be mobile vet clinics, sometimes run by highly trained veterinary students. These types of clinics often offer vaccines and other veterinary services at a decreased cost. Regardless of your choice, be sure to talk to your vet to make sure you’re not behind in getting your pet’s vaccines.
8) Spay or Neuter your Pet ASAP
Spaying or neutering your pet should be a no brainer to help your pet budget. You can save a large amount of money in the long run, considering the potential costs associated with a non-altered pet.
9) Don’t Neglect Dental Care
Dental procedure costs can be super expensive if you neglect routine care. No matter what type of pet you have, there are tools, toothpaste, or chewables that are recommended for keeping up with their health. You might not feel like spending the money on these types of products upfront, but you’ll save yourself hundreds, even thousands, by avoiding emergency dental work.
10) Find Affordable Boarding Options
Finding a place to board your pet that you trust and that also has fair prices can be a struggle. Thankfully, with some research and shopping around, you can find something that fits your needs. Or, why not exchange favors with a family member or friend who can watch them for free?
11) Find a Reasonably Priced Groomer
Have you been going to the same overpriced groomer for years simply because it’s the most convenient? You’re probably long overdue for a change. Ask friends who they use — or better yet, invest in a grooming kit and learn how to do it yourself.
12) Cut Back on Hiring Pet Sitters/Walkers
Whether it’s changing your schedule around, waking up earlier, or trading off pet duties with family and friends, there are definitely ways to cut back on spending in this area. Plan ahead and your wallet will thank you.
13) Rely Less on Pet Daycare
You might think that a pet daycare center is an ideal place for your pet to interact with other animals, but you can save an astronomical amount by socializing your pet yourself. If you have a puppy, try to get the dog park more often and cut down on the days spent at doggy daycare.
14) Rearrange Your Space for Pet-Proofing
Don’t fall for the marketing ploys of pet-specific enclosures that you could easily accomplish by moving around some furniture. Save on expensive pet fences by getting creative. Also, you can probably utilize items like plastic bins to serve as natural barriers for certain areas.
15) Create Your Own Pet Beds and Furniture
In the same way that you can get crafty to pet-proof your home, you can also make cozy spaces for your pet with some easy DIY projects. One popular example is flipping over an end table or chair and repurposing it into a pet bed. It’s incredible when you do the math to see how much you can save on overpriced pet-specific pieces.
16) Make Your Own Pet Clothing
Pet clothing, whether for practical use or fashion, is irresistibly cute. Have you ever considered making your pet’s clothes yourself, though? For example, there are tons of ways to repurpose a tee shirt into an adorable outfit for a dog or cat. Even if you’re not talented at sewing, it’s a fun activity to try, and you can customize your creations perfectly to your animal companion’s preferences.
17) Join Pet Store Loyalty Clubs
Chances are that your go-to pet store rewards loyalty, and you might not even realize it. Whether you shop in-person or online, do your research to make sure you take advantage of sales, discounts, and other promotions.
18) Use a Price Comparison Tool for Pet Supplies
Have you ever used price comparison tools for pet supplies? You probably already know about these apps and sites for other items in your budget, but be sure not to neglect using them for pet care expenses, too.
19) Create Your Own Pet Toys
Show your creative side and use simple household items to make fun toys for your pet. You can skip the flashy accessories at the pet boutique (although they’re hard to resist!)
20) Make DIY Pet Treats
Skip the expensive gourmet treats with the cringe-worthy price tag. Your pet will be healthier and happier with simple DIY treats. There are tons of free recipes online that you can experiment with, as long as you use safe ingredients. Plus, this is great if your pet has a sensitive stomach — you’ll know exactly what to add to and remove from the recipe.
21) Seasonally Prep for Your Pet
Another way to help your pet (and your wallet) is to avoid the negative consequences of not preparing your pet for different seasons. Whether it’s the holidays or the heat of summer, there are ways to seasonally prep your pet to be safe and comfortable under different circumstances. Plus, you’ll avoid costly, stressful vet visits.
22) Invest in Pet Safety
When choosing how to invest in your pet, be sure safety is the number one priority. Spending more upfront for something like a smart collar that will last your pet’s lifetime (and give you peace of mind) is worth every penny.
23) Proactively Check In With Your Vet
Did you know that an estimated one in three American pets will need emergency veterinary treatment every year? With steep costs for emergency vet visits, it’s wise to schedule regular check-ups to avoid urgent care. Of course, this is better for your pet’s health, too!
No matter what type of pet you have, there are ways to save and be smart with your spending. Check out our advice below on avoiding the traps of spending too much as a pet owner.
Being a pet owner is one of the most fun and rewarding roles. Your life wouldn’t be the same without them, but there’s no doubt that pets can get pricey. If you’re trying to minimize bills and other expenses to reach your financial goals, you may want to consider cutting back on pet costs using our tips.
Instead of falling into the trap of overpaying for fancy pet gadgets, understand that you can still provide the best possible care without breaking the bank. If you’re thinking about becoming a pet owner, maybe consider a budget-friendly animal companion that is more affordable than a cat or dog. With a little extra planning and some creativity, you’ll be able to support your pet while putting your hard-earned cash where you need it most.
Written by Mint.com.
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