6 tips for cost-conscious pet owners: how to tweak your spending & save expenses in the long-run
Using these 6 budget-friendly tips, discover how to give your pet the care they deserve and save at the same time. You’ll find out about curbing expenses, making the smart choices and learning to be a more saving-savvy pet owner.
Balancing your budget and your pet
I know it can be stressful. Believe me, I’ve been there - dividing the budget up in this way and that, desperately trying to make it stretch a little bit further. It’s almost as if you never stop struggling to fit every monthly cost into an already tight budget, and that's before you have to squeeze in those out-of-the-blue, hard-hitting expenses that seem to pop up out of nowhere.
This is the issue: the thing that no one tells you before you adopt a pet is that they don’t just require a lot of love and attention, but their upkeep is often unbelievably expensive.
Even the cost of adopting a dog adds up to way more than just the price you paid for it. From pet food, to vet visits, to getting the right medicine and dental care, the expenses add up quickly. That’s why I’m going to give you my ironed-out, personal pet care hacks that will help you save big-time while still giving your pets the care they deserve.
1. Think about the size and type of breed
While all dogs might be equal in the eyes of their owner, your wallet may not feel the same way. The fact is that some breeds are a lot more costly than others. For example, bigger dogs such as a Great Dane or a Boerboel require a lot more food each month and that's where the costs really start to stack up.
Other breeds, like pugs, are particularly prone to health issues and often require frequent vet visits and long-term medication. That's why it's important to keep in mind your budgetary restraints. If you're a cost-conscious pet owner, take time to pick a breed that will limit any build-in additional expenses. Believe me, it pays off in the long run. If you need some help deciding, here’s a list of the 30 most expensive dog breeds to own.
2. Why bother to budget
A lot of people think budgeting is a waste of time. The costs always seem to fly out of your control anyway, right? But that's simply not true. Your budget is your guideline and is the only way to keep your spending in check every month. That’s not to say that things will always go as planned but, just like your food, clothing and eating-out budget, you need to set a limit to how much you can afford to spend on your pet each month.
I know pet owners love to spoil their furry friends - and that’s okay! But if your budget is being pushed to the limit, it's time to reassess any areas that you’re overspending and try to cut down to the real essentials. Trupanion.com says it’s important to sit down and organize your finances so that you can “get a feel for where you stand” before you make any big decisions about your pet - like getting pet insurance or deciding to adopt another playmate for your pet.
3. Pet insurance is a plus
For me, this is a must have for any cost-conscious pet owner. Often, paying monthly premiums for something like insurance in anticipation of a problem that hasn’t even occurred yet may seem like an unnecessary stress, but trust me when I say that you will be grateful for what you’ll save you in the long-run.
If you consider that a single vet visit can cost upwards of R250 for a checkup and, in the unfortunate event that your pet needs surgery, costs can balloon to something as high as R20 000 - it's a no-brainer. Insurance is a must or else you’ll find yourself maxing out your budget in one go.
If you're still on the fence, why not take a few minutes to read this helpful blog that goes into detail about why pet insurance is important, now more than ever?
How can you afford pet insurance on a tight budget?
The good news is that the amount you choose to pay is totally in your hands. Because insurance is becoming such a competitive field, there's generally a wide range of plans to pick and choose from so that you can tailor the benefits they offer to meet your needs. Pro tip: get a quote directly from the insurer and be sure to compare the pros and cons of each plan type on offer. The bottom line is you need to be getting real value for your money, otherwise it's simply not worth it.
Especially if your pet has a chronic illness and requires frequent vet visits, the costs pile up and soon you’ll be drowning in a stack of vet bills and cashing out even more for medication. That’s why it's important to find a plan that covers routine care and vet visits. That’s where you’ll really get the best bang for your buck. Take a look at what is and isn’t covered in most standard pet insurance plans here.
My personal recommendation: pick an insurer like Oneplan. It offers a hassle-free claims process using the Oneplan app where you can simply upload claims on without any paperwork. They also cover pre-existing conditions after a specified waiting period, and, if you’re on the Classic or Super Pet Plan, Oneplan loads cash for vet visits and routine care claims onto your Onecard before you see the vet. For a guide to their range of pet insurance plans, take a look at this short blog.
4. Exercise - your wallet will thank you
Regular exercise could prevent a whole variety of health issues in the future. Aside from medication, there’s one thing that doctors just love to prescribe. You guessed it - exercise! It’s almost as if it's the magic cure.
The same way exercise helps prevent illness in people, regular exercise with your pet can prevent a whole heap of health issues. It can prevent problems like osteoporosis, heart disease and, believe it or not, anxiety from ever becoming an issue for your pet.
So, take your dog for a dash around the garden or a walk around the block. Even just playing catch or taking your dog for a swim can do wonders. This way, you’ll do them a world of good and yourself from some unwanted vet and medical bills at the same time.
5. Make time for regular check-ups
Regular health check-ups and routine dental care can save you from facing some painful (and expensive) medical procedures for your pet later on. By catching any signs of early health issues, you can treat these problems immediately and prevent any long-term or serious conditions developing.
The good news is that you can take the steps to help keep your pet happy and in good health from the comfort of your own home by doing an easy, 6-step inspection on your pet. I find this inspection to be really through and one that never seems to take up a lot of my time.
6. New is not necessarily better
Hand-me-downs work for dogs too. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There’s really no need to save up and spend hundreds of rands on brand-new toys, blankets and beds which will end up being chewed to pieces anyway. I have no shame in asking a friend or relative to send over their pet’s old blankets and toys. If you have a cat, try your luck and ask for an old scratching post or some cat toys. Remember, we are still in the middle of a pandemic so be sure to sanitize everything that’s delivered to you - even if it's from a friend.
If you are looking to buy some new treats and toys for your pup, then make sure you surf the internet for the best deals available instead of paying for overpriced items at the first online pet shop you come across. Check out Oneplan’s ePETstore for discount products and better deals too.
There’s no reason to wait. Follow these steps and start saving on your pet today.
Until next time,
The Pet Insurance Team