Although I have not yet detailed my budget, I wanted to explain one of our budget categories–pet expenses.
We have 2 dogs who are very high maintenance breeds (bichon frise and bichon/poodle mix) as well as one outdoor cat. As they are members of the family, I have no problems spending the money but there are some months where I just marvel at the cost of having pets even after budgeting for them.
So what do our pet expenses look like? Here’s the breakdown:
Dog food–this is purchased every 6-8 weeks and costs anywhere from $23-$45, depending on the size bag of dog food we buy. They eat Innova and our local pet store does not always have the larger sized bag, which lasts 8 weeks. We are on a frequent buyer program with the pet store where every 11th bag is free. Treats are typically from BJs and cost $5 for a box, which lasts about 4 months. Average cost–$25/month
Preventitive medication–this includes Frontline and Heartguard. This costs either $45 or $46 per month, depending on our bichon/poodle’s weight. Average cost–$46/month
Grooming–this costs $110 every 10-12 weeks. It’s a little pricy but they are high maintenance breeds (they should get groomed every 6-8 weeks), and the groomer does such an amazing job. Our groomer is a local business owner and, as we’ve have had poor experiences with other places, I’m not at all going to change where they go. We do give them baths in between and we need specialty shampoo due to the bichon/poodle’s sensitive skin and allergies; this costs approximately $15 bottle and we buy one about every 18 months. Average cost–$110/quarter
Day care–occassionally, we will put them in daycare. We typically do this only 3-5 times per year, when it’s necessary to get them out of the house (for instance, when we have our daughter’s birthday party). This is $38 for 1/2 day for the two dogs. Average cost–$38/quarter
Miscellaneous expenses–yearly vet visits, sick visits, dental cleanings, dog licenses, toys, special treats like gourmet coookies or ice cream (birthdays and major holidays only). It’s hard to get a gauge on the average cost of these expenses but when budgeting, we always go by how much it cost the previous year or, in the instance of toys and treats, we set a spending limit and fit our purchases to that. For the dental cleanings, the vet gives us an estimate cost prior to the visit, which is extremely helpful. Average cost–varies
Our cat is technically a feral cat who I’ve been taking care of to spite my neighborhood home owner’s association. But now he’s part of the family. A cheap part of the family. He lives outside and won’t come close enough to me (yet) to let me put Frontline on him. He has been neutered and vaccinated (for free…long story). I built him a house out of a Rubbermaid tote and lined it with an old fleece blanket. He’s not interested in toys and we don’t need litter due to the whole living outside thing. He costs $11.50 every 3 months in dry food, $1.50 every few months in treats and approximately $15/month in wet food. I’m trying to get these costs down with coupons. I have not had much luck so far.
Total average expenses
$40/month in food and treats ($480/year)
$46/month in preventitive meds ($552/year)
$38/quarter in daycare
$110/quarter in grooming ($440/year)
$250/quarter in miscellaneous expenses ($1000/year)
Pets are often one of the easiest budget categories to control, and if finances are an issue, there are lots of adjustments that can be made regarding the pets. There are so many variables that factor into taking care of a pet that it’s difficult to apply one situation to another. Our pet expenses are higher than some, lower than others. But for now, I just make sure that I budget properly. We are fortunate that we can afford to do this and should we ever be in a situation (again) where we are struggling, I would make the necessary changes. After looking at these faces, wouldn’t you?