Thursday, May 30, 2024
League of Power

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Avoid Overspending on Your Pet

If you remember correctly I told you about how I save money traveling with my pet cat, Chairman Meow. I reviewed the best ways to find good deals on airline flights and hotel stays when traveling with her.  I thought the article was pretty informative and well done, but I might be biased. 🙂

Frankly I’m a little upset. I don’t get mad at Easy Street readers ever, but today something bugged me a little.

So two weeks ago I wrote a story about traveling with my cat Chairman Meow.  I reviewed the best ways to find good deals on airline flights and hotel stays when traveling with her.  I thought the article was pretty informative and well done, but I might be biased. A Mr. Richard B left me a comment concerning how I take care of my kitty cat and I have taken a little offense. I’m not trying to pick on Richard, because he is a fan of our newsletter.

There’s no need to rehash his whole comment but he very nicely told that my love for her is “misplaced” because my cat can take care of itself and that I didn’t need to jump through so many hoops for my animals. He did end his comment with an obligatory I don’t mean to offend you remark, but really after being told to “grow up” I kind of glossed over those words.

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After thinking about Richard’s comments for a while I realized I wasn’t offended by being told to “grow up” or that my love for Chairman Meow is “misplaced”, but rather at the thought of being labeled as someone who overspends on my animals.  The last thing Nancy Patterson wants to be called is an over spender.

Three or so years ago when Mark Patricks’ approached me about contributing to League of Power about all the ways I know how to save a buck, I immediately said yes (even before he and I worked out a compensation package). I said yes not because I am a writer or because Mark is my friend, but because this column is about me and how I choose to live my life; frugally while still living a good life. My life philosophy is summed up in the Easy Street title “A penny saved is a penny earned.” So being compared to an over-spender really got to me. So much so that I put together a few notes on all the ways I save money taking care of Chairman Meow.

First off is where I shop.  Many times I have found pet food is cheaper at other retailers than at dedicated pet stores. Grocery stores, drugstores, and warehouse stores typically get my money before pet stores do. Over the years I’ve found that pet store prices for food and treats are very competitive with other retailers. It’s when sales promotions come into play that non-pet stores win out. They enact sales more often and generally deeper than the ones pet specific stores do.

I’ve also found retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, the grocery store and Costco have better prices on toys.  Ropes, fuzzy stuffed animals, feather tipped wands, and such can all be bought for a bit cheaper at non specialty pet stores. It’s likely that pet stores have a better selection of these types of gifts. But honestly Chairman Meow is just as happy with a tennis ball or used card board box to play with. She can’t tell a difference, but my wallet sure does!

Secondly, what I buy or rather what I don’t buy is what helps me save money.  Chairman Meow may be a designer cat, but she does not get expensive, designer food. She lives a healthy life without all the fluff.

I’ve found that nutritious, healthy pet food can be found in places other than the veterinarian’s office (which only sells super expensive food) and gourmet retailers. I buy nutrient rich food right from the grocery store or Costco.  I compare labels, looking for ones that list a protein high on the ingredient list.

If your pet has special dietary needs, there are ways to make these more expensive specialty foods more affordable. Try looking online for good deals and coupons. Two of my favorites are mypetsavings.com and petfooddirect.com. If you’re vigilant you can find buy one, get one deals and coupons for everything from name brands to organic food.

Vet bills can be a major expense for pet owners. I am not immune to this. A few months ago Chairman Meow came to our back door with part of her tail falling off. She must have gotten it stuck in a fence door or was attacked by another animal. The veterinarian had to amputate off part of her tail. The amputation and meds that I had to give her over the next week cost me $300.

Pet owners know all about unannounced vet bills. It seems like anytime a pet owner turns around he or she has to unexpectedly refill their pet’s heartworm pills or get more flea drops or get their nails clipped. That’s why I asked my neighbors and friends who own animals for vet recommendations. Not all veterinarians charge the same price for similar services. Over the years I’ve tried out two different veterinarians in town. Doing so helped me save money on Chairman Meow’s regular visits and shots. Researching which offices are cheaper can be done by just a phone call and can prevent surprises later on when you get the bill.

Planning ahead by putting a bit of money aside each month for vet bills and other pet related expenses can help relieve the financial stress too. So can pet health insurance.  I looked into it earlier this year after paying Chairman Meow’s $300 vet bill. I found most range from $10-50 a month depending on the level of care you choose and deductible.  Pet insurance can really help with those unexpected vet bills. Ultimately I decided pet insurance wasn’t right for me. Always read the fine print carefully on what your pet insurance covers (illnesses versus accidents).

If don’t own a pet yet, but are planning to become a proud owner at some point, then where you get your animal from can impact your wallet. Skip the expensive pet stores and breeders, instead adopt a pet from a local shelter. Purebred dogs and cats can cost you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars while adoption fees are generally kept under $200. If you can’t decide on what animal to get check out this great chart by the ASPCA on the annual and upfront capital costs of the top seven most popular types of pets.  That cute Guinea Pig at the pet store might seem cheap to take care of because is only costs $10, but over the long haul it’s actually more expensive than caring for a small dog. Who knew!

Sure, having Chairman Meow in my life isn’t the cheapest way to live. I admit that freely. But the joy she brings me when she snuggles against my leg or jumps sky high at the feather wand I am flicking in her direction is totally worth it.

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Keeping Money in Your Pocket,

Nancy Patterson


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Sponsored Content

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