Sakariasen's Cheapskate Blog

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Why You Shouldn’t Own a Pet if You’re Struggling November 8, 2010

I absolutely love animals. I grew up in a house where we always had at least one, whether it be a dog, cat, turtle, snake, fish, hamster, frog or lizard. You get the idea. When I moved out, I promptly adopted my own cat and subsequently, another one. Of course, times were good then and now that we’re struggling, we really had to cut back on the types of litter and food that we buy for them. Here are some things to keep in mind if you plan on purchasing/adopting a pet or already have one and find yourself struggling.


1. DO NOT PURCHASE OR ADOPT A PET IF YOU LIVE PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK OR IF YOU FIND YOURSELF STRUGGLING FINANCIALLY. I know this is a hard concept for people to digest, especially because there are so many animal lovers in the world, but really, you are doing a disservice to yourself, your family and whatever animals you may choose to bring into your home if you are often struggling with bills. Pets cost a lot of money and you can almost think of them as a luxury item. You need to pay for their veterinary care, which is very expensive. Their food adds up and will end up costing you tons of money in the long-run. If you have animals that are strictly indoors, you might save money on veterinary bills but you will have to pay more for maintenance, such as purchasing cat litter or fixing/cleaning filtration systems in tanks. Keep in mind that some animals require permits and you are supposed to pay a fee every year for that license.

2. CONSIDER YOUR OPTIONS IF YOU ARE REALLY STRUGGLING. If you already have a pet and you’re finding yourself in enormous debt or unable to make any progress financially, the pets’ expenditures could be weighing you down. When you adopt a pet, the expectation is that you are going to care for it and do what you can to keep the animal and treat it well. But sometimes things change and that isn’t always possible—perhaps you can barely afford to feed yourself, let alone the pet! If this is the case, please look around and see if anyone who is in better standing could perhaps adopt the pet from you. If worse comes to worse and you are deciding between feeding your family and feeding your pets, you really need to step back, perhaps even remove some of the emotions around the situation, and give your animal up for adoption. This, of course, is no easy decision but sometimes, it is one that must be done. I recall seeing a family on Dr. Phil who found themselves in enormous debt after the housing market crashed and they owned five animals. These five animals cost them thousands of dollars a year in food and veterinary bills. If that’s the situation, you really need to get rid of the pets!

3. WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE STRUGGLING AND ALREADY OWN A PET. If adopting the dog away is not an option for you or if you’re really trying to cut back on your expenses, look at how much you are spending on your animals and cut back. For example, litter is frequently on sale and you can often find coupons for the litter. If you own a cat, you really need to align these things and get the best price possible. You might have to forget about getting the best possible litter that exists if you’re entertaining this idea. You may love to feed your animals certain brands of food but sometimes people spend more on food for their animals than they do for themselves! We now buy one bag of the cheapest food and one bag of whatever is on sale/whatever we have a coupon for and leave it at that. Also, we stopped buying treats for the cats for awhile until I found Temptations on sale and additionally had a coupon for it, leaving the treats costing me .25 cents. Remember, your animals don’t need treats.


Always keep these other things in mind:

  • Look for coupons for both food and maintenance supplies. They are always out there! Always check around in your weekly circulars to see who has the best deals on these things. Try to align sales and manufacturer coupons and stockpile when possible. We often get Catalina coupons for cat-related items.
  • Call up your local shelter and see what kind of services they might be able to provide. They may be able to provide free or discounted services for low-income or struggling families.
  • If you really want a pet but don’t want to spend a ton of money, I am essentially imploring you to adopt one. For example, adopting a cat from our local adoption event cost us only $35 and the cat was given to us fixed, cleaned, treated for any issues and with all of its shots. Additionally, we received a coupon for a free visit to any veterinary clinic listed on the pamphlet they gave us.


Stay cheap my friends!


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