Great Money Saving Tips People Hate: Don't Get a Pet

ESI Money  |

Well, now that we've covered one great money saving tip people hate (moving to a cheaper area), let's move on to an equally disdained way to cut spending: don't get a pet.

Just like the others on my list, I really don't mind if people spend on pets as long as they recognize the costs and make the decision to have a pet intentionally. But this doesn't happen in most cases.

Most of the time pet owners live in denial of the high expenses associated with pet ownership. They look at the average costs (as we're about to do) and say something like, "My dog doesn't cost that much." Ok, well I guess it's other people's dogs that cost a ton of money since yours costs zero, huh? Yeah, right.

Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's begin with some facts.

How Much Pets Cost

Some of you might accuse me of being a pet hater. I am not a pet hater. But you may try to discredit my numbers because you think I don't like pets.

For this reason, let's begin our look at pet costs by using numbers provided by an organization that LOVES pets. If anything, they have the incentive to low-ball the cost of pets, so if their numbers are high, then they must be correct, right?

The ASPCA is quoted on numerous sites including this piece from Forbes. They list the cost of pets as follows:

  • Over 15 years, total costs for a small dog could run from $17,560 to upward of $93,520.
  • Over a 12-year lifetime, the costs of a large dog range from $22,025 to upwards of $82,929 for folks using dog walkers.
  • All told, cost of cats will be at least $780 a year and $16,800 over its possible 15-year existence.

I'm skipping birds, hamsters, fish, and the like but all of their costs are listed there. Hint: Horses are absolute financial killers!!!

But let's not stop there. Here are a few other sources talking about the cost of pets (we'll focus on dogs and cats as they are the most popular pets):

  • American Kennel Club -- "The average lifetime cost of raising a dog is $23,410."
  • US News -- ", which provides tips on raising a dog, suggests a dog that lives 12 years might cost you anywhere between $4,620 and $32,990."
  • Pet Place -- "An indoor cat's total estimated lifetime cost is $8,620 to $11,275." Note: Outdoor cats live much shorter lives and thus cost less.

There's even a pet cost calculator if you want to find the cost of your pet.

To summarize, a dog is going to cost roughly $20k while cats will be closer to $10k.

Now, if you own multiple animals at the same time, not to mention several over the course of your adult lifetime, we're talking a massive amount of money. I'll get to that in a moment.

Why People Hate This Advice

If you're reading this, you already hate the advice, and we're not even really into it. You may hate me as well. That's ok. I'm a blogger, so I'm used to being hated by anonymous people on the web.

Overall, people hate this advice because they LOVE their pets. Some even compare them to children.

So they hate the advice because having a pet is in most cases not a financial decision, it's more of an emotional/lifestyle one.

Which, as I said earlier, I'm fine with. It's your money, do what you want with it. I'm only here to bring light to the fact that pets are very expensive, and if you ever want to achieve financial independence you may want to consider just how much Fido is setting you back.

Excuses Used to Refute This Advice

Here's where the excuses begin... but there's one that leads the pack by far: "My dog/cat doesn't cost anywhere near that much! I pay $30 a month to feed him and that's it!"

Uh, no it's not. Here's a list of expenses you just left out:

  • Vaccines
  • Flea/tick control
  • Heartworm prevention
  • Ear and dental care
  • Grooming
  • Food (Premium?)
  • Toys
  • House (fenced back yard? cleaning? etc.)
  • Crate
  • Bowls, collar, leash/harness
  • Cost of pet (if from breeder)
  • Boarding
  • Training
  • Walking (yes, some people pay walkers)

And then there's the big one: medical costs. This is where things get really pricey, especially towards the end of a pet's life.

In addition, you can spend on a whole host of things, including pet massages, acupuncture, and psychiatrists. You think I'm kidding...

The Costs Add Up to Seven Figures

As I said earlier, how you spend your money is your choice. You simply need to realize that two dogs throughout your 50-year adulthood will run you somewhere around $150k. That's $3,000 a year.

$3,000 a year saved and invested at 8.00% for 50 years equals $1.7 million.

Even if you spend "only" half that amount, it's still costing you a fortune.

Now that you understand how much your pets cost you, you can make an informed decision about where to spend and where to save.

Well, things are rocking now! Have I offended everyone yet?

Join us next month when we begin to nickel and dime you to wealth...

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to:


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