“Am I ready to be a fur-parent?” by Katie Welsh

Hey Wanderlusters, Bethany here! I recently met Katie when I was interviewed on her podcast, Chain of Wealth. I have loved getting to know her since and following her journey to financial freedom. We recently had a podcast episode of The Money Millhouse where we touched on the importance of planning for a pet, and Katie expanded on the topic in a super awesome guest post. When it comes to travel and living frugally, planning is always the key, especially when it comes to our fur-babies. Enjoy this awesome guest post from Katie Welsh!

THE COMMON QUESTION:

With super cute Instagram dog pictures and everyone else seeming to take on some kind of new responsibility, it is totally normal to start wondering the big question…

“Am I ready to be a fur-parent?”

There are some big things to consider before making the decision to add another member to your family. As snuggly and adorable as a new puppy or kitten may be, there are some real life expenses that come along with them. Most people talk about getting a pet, think it over and then a week later, they have a great new fur-baby with little to no planning involved.

I understand, I have done this too.

Let me tell you a quick story about my baby and how I should have planned better for pet expenses. 

Three years ago, I saw this sweet little all-black kitten in a back room all by herself in a dark corner cage. She had a sign hanging on her cage that said:

Hi! I have been here since May. (It was currently September- 4 months at the SPCA). I was found on the side of the road all alone. I love cuddles and playing, but since I’m sick, I’m not allowed to play with the other cats. All I want is a home to call my own.

That was it for me, and the next thing I knew, this little black cat, with a medical history FIVE pages long was my new responsibility.

Now, since she was a shelter cat, she was already spayed and had all of her shots.

I had Raven (that’s what I named her) for about three months and she was perfectly fine. I figured she was just shelter sick before.

Then… I noticed this yellow gunk all over my walls. Not knowing what it was, I never thought it was coming out of my cat’s ears, I cleaned it up and moved on with my life.

Then one evening, Raven and I were laying on the couch watching Gilmore Girls and then it happened. Raven shook her head… and gunk flew out of her ears… and it hit me IN THE FACE. So gross, I know. The next day, we were first in line at the vet.

$450 later, two vet trips, shots, antibiotics and tons of scratches on my arms from giving her the medicine to heal her “extreme ear infection,” the ordeal was over.

I was not prepared for an event like this.

Had I planned better, the $450 would not have been as big of a deal, but at the time, it was a healthy chunk of my teacher salary.

Later, my vet told me that Raven will need to come back regularly and that maybe I should look into getting her health insurance. I figured that getting the insurance would be cheaper than plunking down hundreds of dollars for each time I ended up at the veterinarian.  I decided on the $30 a month plan- all routine lab work (I never knew cats got their blood checked regularly) and checkups would be covered.

Here are a few lessons I learned that might help you if you are interested in getting an animal in the future:

  • FIRST YOU NEED TO PLAN: Getting a new pet is so exciting! You have visions in your head of taking them to the park, napping together on the weekends or teaching them tricks. Before any of this happens, you need to be ready… financially.
    • Create a budget that will make this added expense an easy transition.
    • Bethany Bayless and Ellie Kay talk about budgeting for a pet on The Money Millhouse podcast. Bethany said that her and her husband planned and budgeted for their new puppy, London. They budgeted for short term (right now) expenses and for long term (things that could happen later) expenses.
  • WHAT SHOULD I BUDGET? Here are some things that Bethany recommends:
Short term Long term
  • Purchase of the pet- this can vary from: FREE – $1,000
  • Spay/ Neuter- $175- $225
  • Initial Vet Exam- $50- $100
  • Supplies- $75- $250 (bowls, toys, collar, litter box)
  • Pet training- $100- $150
  • Food- $100- $300
  • Toys- $50-$100
  • Vet visits- $200- $275
  • Pet insurance- $200-$250
  • Grooming- $250- $425
  • Boarding- $150- $500

*prices are a rough estimate and vary

  • THE BENEFITS OF HAVING A PLAN: Like with any other big purchase that you will make, when getting a new pet, a budget and a plan are only going to benefit you.
    • Plan for the Worst: We all know a person that has the cutest dog. Then one day, you’re scrolling through social media and you see a post with your friend asking for donations because their dog has a broken leg or a tumor and they need $1,000 to save their pet. This is a horrible situation to be in. It’s stressful, heartbreaking and the future is unknown. The only thing that can make it worse is not having the funds to afford the procedure.
    • Consider a Pet Emergency Fund: If budgeted for a pet emergency, the horrible situation can at least be paid for without becoming late on that month’s rent or tacking the whole thing on a high interest credit card.
  • ARE YOU READY? There are some things to consider when thinking about getting a pet.
    • Do I have time for a pet? Some people are not home enough to create a loving environment for a pet. I don’t mean working the usual 9-5. I mean, are you gone every weekend? Do you stay out late after work regularly? You don’t want to leave your pet home alone all the time.
    • Is where I live a good place for a pet? I would love to have a pet, but right now is not a good time for it. Where I live charges a $500 “move-in” fee and then an extra $50 a month just to have the dog in the building. On top of that, there is no place around where I live to let the dog run around off the leash to just be a dog for a little while. Therefore, I don’t think getting a dog is the best choice for right now.
    • Does my partner also want the pet? If you are in a relationship, both parties need to agree that it is the right time. Bethany mentions in her podcast that she and her husband had many conversations about getting their dog.  I would love to get a kitten, but seeing as how my partner Denis is highly allergic, I am not seeing a cat in my future (FYI- Raven moved into my mom’s house where there is lots of love, plants to hide in and other cats to play with. She is missed but very happy there). Both people need to be ready to take on a new family member, it isn’t a one-sided decision.

ACTIONABLE TAKEAWAYS

So, you want a pet, what can you start today to be able to afford that little fur ball?

  1. Save for the upfront costs-
  • Adopting/buying the pet
  • Initial treats/ toys
  • Initial vet bill
  1. Create a plan on how you will pay for pet emergencies or other big expenses, like pet boarding or grooming. Even if you start saving $20 a paycheck, it is a start.

Katie Welsh is the co-founder of Chain of Wealth. Follow her journey to pay back her student loans and check out the Chain of Wealth podcast.

Click here to listen to the conversation that Bethany had with Katie and Denis from Chain of Wealth.

2 thoughts on ““Am I ready to be a fur-parent?” by Katie Welsh

  1. So glad you were able to give Raven her forever home. You’re so right about needing a plan, though. Not planning means pets end up in shelters. All the best to both of you!

    Like

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