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.