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My Pets’ Worth

This article was written by in Family and Life. 12 comments.


The author of Free Money Finance pointed out a story highlighting how the recession is affecting the health of pets. He or she also linked to a helpful chart of estimated costs for owning various kinds of pets.

Personally, my wife and I don’t even include pet care in our budget, because our affection for them goes beyond monetary concerns. I understand and sympathize with people who feel like they have to cut back their spending in multiple areas, and their pets’ overall health might have to be one of them. And I don’t imagine that this is an easy decision for anyone, but I would beg them to reconsider.

I should point out that the following doesn’t constitute what’s normally considered “financial advice.” These are just the thoughts I had when considering what to do in a worst-case scenario when my pet has a serious illness, and I don’t have the funds for it.

These are living beings, worthy of your care. And because you decided to take them in, they are dependent on you. If a pet gets ill, chances are it won’t get better by itself. Instead of “wait and see”, there are other options. In no particular order:

1). Use a Credit Card

My primary financial goal is to get rid of the credit card debt that I started in 1997 (this should drop to about $3,000 by the end of the week), but if it came down to a) sick pets or b) increased credit card debt, I would always pick B without hesitation. Your financial situation, though currently ebbing, will likely begin to flow again in the future. It’s not a fun choice, but some things are more important than interest payments.

2). Borrow Money from Friends or Family

You may be just barely getting by, assuming you’ve decided to let your pets’ health take care of itself, and you may want to avoid asking for help. But there’s a good chance that a friend or family member may be a real softie when it comes to pets, and will help you pay those bills, even if helping you pay other bills might’ve been something they’d avoid.

3). Plan Ahead with Pet Insurance

Lots of companies offer health insurance for your pets, and while I can’t currently recommend one in particular, it’s worth checking out.

4). Payday Loans

Payday loans are evil, period. But I think they’re slightly less evil than allowing your pet’s health to decline. If your pet is having an emergency health issue, I think this option is still on the table.

Updated February 10, 2011 and originally published March 30, 2009. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Smithee formerly lived primarily on credit cards and the good will of his friends. He is a newbie to personal finance but quickly learning from his past mistakes. You can follow him on Twitter, where his user name is @SmitheeConsumer. View all articles by .

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Yana

“…our affection for them goes beyond monetary concerns”

I sort of understand this, except that if it were a rule, monetary concerns would go down the toilet. Along with any hope of financial stability. I am not only talking about pets, but the threat that the cost of health care poses. We have a 13-year-old dog. We don’t give her unnecessary care, just as we don’t do that for ourselves. Luckily, she has been healthy.

I can see love, affection and common sense being “soft spots” with finances, but less is often much more when it comes to health care. Also, these are the soft spots readily exploitable by those who would seek their own wealth in doing so.

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avatar Brian

Wow – this may officially be the worst piece of financial advice i’ve seen on this site. Normally, there are constructive suggestions but this seems pretty bad to me. The only one I would even consider would be #2.

The point isn’t that I wouldn’t care for my pet (I have a beagle and yes I would take care of any huge health issue). It seems to me that anyone would. The point is that these are horrible suggestions. The title of the article might as well be something like “How to find money in a bind”, or “How to raise money quickly”. I can think of many, smarter ways to do this such as have a garage sale, take a part time job, sell something on ebay, etc.

While it can be argued whether huge vet bills are worth the money, the bigger question is, what do you do when you’re in a bind? I think most everyone would agree that a payday loan should not even be on the list.

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avatar Smithee ♦1,358 (Quarter)

Well, it’s not really financial advice. And you’re absolutely right: there are many smarter ways to pay for things. In my experience, those all take more time than a person with a seriously sick pet has to raise the money.

I hope that my little essay on “sick pets and the worst-case scenario” doesn’t make you stop reading Consumerism Commentary. I promise we’ll return to prudent advice within a matter of hours.

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avatar Lolita

I kind of have to agree with Brian here….YIKES!!!

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avatar R. May

Wow. I understand because my pets are my babies. I can run with cc’s. I can run with borrowing money from firends and family.

I cannot believe you would ever suggest anyone take a vicious-cycle-kick-you-while-your-down-payday-loan for ANY reason.

There is never ever ever a reason to borrow from those money grubbers.

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avatar Smithee ♦1,358 (Quarter)

Well, I did say they were evil. I can’t think of a stronger way to advise against anything.

But I have used them in the past when I had trouble paying rent. It’s possible to use one without being caught in a vicious cycle.

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avatar Leilani

Personally, I would like to thank you for the article. As you mentioned; as pet parents we are responsible for their welling being. When they become injured or sick unconventional methods of paying for their care may be our only choice at the time.

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avatar MLR

I also wrote a response to FMF’s post. My dog has saved me money in terms of health, meeting people, and safety. I just can’t put a tangible number on the savings.

But I think the prudent advice to take away is that any potential expenses should be covered in your emergency fund.

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avatar megscole64

I’d like to add Care Credit (http://www.carecredit.com/) as an option…we used it when our dog had to have his second (and his third actually) surgery a couple of years ago. Instead of putting it on our credit card we applied for this loan – 12 months interest free. They offer loans for any health care related expense, not just animals. It was a lifesaver! And yes, we got it all paid off in 12 months.

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avatar CelesteWrites

“Personally, my wife and I don’t even include pet care in our budget, because our affection for them goes beyond monetary concerns.”

Why not include pet care in your budget? I love my dog as I do my children. I budget for food, medical, entertainment, etc for my children so why wouldn’t I budget for my dog? Setting aside a small amount of money each month for possible veterinary needs seems like the responsible thing to do for the dog and for us. Jeopardizing my family’s financial health with credit card debt or pay day loans vs. my dog’s health is not a choice I want to face.

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avatar Eric

Probably the best way is to handle pets is the way you would handle your kids….you should plan before having them and have your finances in order.

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avatar thomas

Major points lost for even suggesting payday loans. There are dozens of other things that you can do to come up with the money before turning to those scumbags. I think you took the easy way out putting that down as a choice.

tsk tsk.

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