We spend an average of $1560 a year on our pets; some of us, thousands more
Pets are doggone expensive.
More than half of American households have a pet — and, according to a new survey from the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants Americans, they spend an average of $1560 per year on their furry friends. For many pet owners, that cost comes as a shock: About one in four pet owners say the cost of pet ownership is more than they expected.
To cover these unexpected costs, about three in four pet owners (76%) say they would make financial sacrifices to pay for whatever it was their pet wanted or needed. Of those willing to make a financial sacrifice for Fido, 79% say they’d sacrifice eating out at restaurants, 67% would give up their vacation, 61% would shun cable and TV streaming, and 35% would ditch their cell phones.
Pet owners are even wrecking their financial futures to provide for Fido. More than one in three (37%) would sacrifice contributions to their retirement account to pay for pet-related expenses. And one in four (27%) would forego paying their credit card bill to pay for their pet’s expenses, “leading to potential penalties, interest rate hikes and a lowered credit score,” the survey revealed.
Of course, most pet owners say it’s totally worth it.
University of Miami student Rachael Schaeffer, 23, mom to one-and-a-half-year-old mini labradoodle Cody, says she’s shelled out at least $6000 in the past seven months on a variety of pet-related expenses.
“Imagine the startup costs — you have toys, beds, all these [items] you want to get new.” Furthermore, Cody has multiple health issues, such as the kennel cough he had when Schaeffer rescued him or the more recent stomach ulcer he had to have treated, which have piled up. Taken together, costs like Cody’s medication ($80 per month), dog food ($40 per month), and training sessions to help manage his anxiety ($1300 for six sessions), add up.
To pay for some of the recent costs, Schaeffer has reduced spending on personal entertainment. “I stopped going out with my friends… I didn’t order drinks [at restaurants], I wouldn’t Uber. It’s just the little things where I could cut down.”
But, Schaeffer says, it’s just part of life as a pet mom: “With all living things, unexpected events arise… It’s a responsibility to put [Cody] first.” she says. “Dogs cannot take care of themselves; they’re like babies in that sense.”
Others — like Linda Weiner, 47, of Boston — have needed loans to cover pet care. Weiner normally spends roughly $2000 a year on her 9-year-old dog Max, though her expenses recently spiked due to a $5000 surgery to remove Max’s spleen.
“I don’t have $5000 spare change,” Weiner told Moneyish. So she took a loan from her father to cover the procedure on credit, and now is paying him back on a monthly basis. “It will take a year to pay this off,” Weiner said, noting she’s sacrificed going out “for drinks with friends,” buying multiples of the same item of clothing (like sweaters or jeans), or going to the movies.
Still for most owners, the costs of their canines are a small price to pay for the love they get back. “I’d rather pay for his vet bills and make sure [Cody is] healthy and happy than go out for dinner twice a week,” Schaeffer concluded. “He’s like my best friend.”
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