Sense & Centsibility Blog
Kitten and Dog sleeping together

5 Steps to Help Plan for a New Pet

I’ve been tempted by all the online streaming shows during this time of social distancing. One show about exotic tigers and their owners was one I intended to avoid (which might be how you feel and that’s completely acceptable). But it sprung at me out of nowhere like its plot lines.

Of course, we do not condone the ownership of exotic animals and pretty much any of the other activities shown during this series. The financial counselor in me, though, took away many financial “do’s and don’ts” from watching this program that can apply to raising a new pet. (Let’s be honest, there were many more “don’ts.”)

It might be tempting right now to want extra cuddles after spending a lot of time in isolation because of COVID-19. But before you find a cool cat or kitten (or dog) to snuggle with, it’s best to plan first.

  1. Review your budget to make sure there is extra money for pet maintenance – food, vet bills, toys, etc. Don’t have a budget? That’s okay! You can assess your income vs. expenses right now.
    • Costs associated with a pet can vary by size, breed and type of animal. Contact your local animal shelters, and ask them what the monthly expenses are for the pet you are considering. Look online to research food costs.
    • If you are unsure if a pet is affordable, estimate the monthly cost, and start setting aside that amount in a savings account each month for a several months as a test. If you can manage that, then you’ll know for sure – and you’ll have some money set aside already.
    • Assume that there will be an emergency at some point with your pet that will require some of the money you’ve saved. Setting aside extra monthly savings may prevent you from accruing or increasing debt and declaring, “I’ll never financially recover from this.”
  2. Assess your living situation to make sure there is enough room for a pet. If you already have a pet or other people living with you, it’s important to make sure everyone is on board. If you are renting, make sure your lease allows you to have an animal.
  3. Check with your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. If you are looking at a certain breed that is considered higher risk, your premiums might slightly increase.
  4. Reflect on your lifestyle now and in the future. If you currently work from home, will that change at any time? If things revert to “normal,” is there still time in your life for your pet?
  5. If you’re able, pause and wait a few days before getting a pet. It’s one thing to spontaneously buy a few animal print shirts online, but it’s another caring for a real animal. After the excitement wears off, you may realize that this is not the right time.

Not sure if you can afford a new pet and/or don’t have a budget created yet? LSS Financial Counseling can help. Contact us today at 888.577.2227 to schedule your free budget counseling session, or complete it online at your convenience.

Kim Miller is a Certified Financial Counselor with LSS Financial Counseling and an online show binge watcher.