Taking Ownership of Your Budget While Owning a Pet

Owning a pet can be a rewarding experience for the entire family. A pet provides companionship throughout all types of life changes, including moving or deployment of a Service member. Families with children experience the benefit of owning a pet to help teach children about compassion and responsibility. But it also comes with a price tag. It’s important to consider the total cost of pet ownership when factoring the expenses into your budget.

Tate from Fort Benning, Georgia wrote us with her budgeting tip for her dog, Odin. He is a high-energy dog and loves the outdoors as noted by this great picture and the big smiles! For their family, they purchased pet insurance to cover unforeseen expenses that inevitably come up. They factor the monthly payment into their spending plan and are prepared for the annual deductible should they reach it.

Here are several additional considerations to keep in mind as you plan for a furry addition to your family.

Initial Cost of Ownership: Adoption Fees, Startup Gear, and Vaccinations

When most families think about bringing a new pet home, they usually consider the basic startup costs like adoption fees, toys, crates/beds, and vaccinations. The month you bring home Fido or Fluffy can really throw your monthly budget for a loop if you don’t plan. Estimate the costs of adoption, food, and vaccinations if possible and begin saving as soon as you decide to expand your family with a pet. Planning will allow you to enjoy this experience without the worry of overspending.

Savings Hack: Consider purchasing some of the startup gear second-hand. Yard sales or online community groups often have these items listed for sale and are good as new after a thorough cleaning.

A consideration many families overlook when bringing a new pet home is the collateral cost; house training a new pet can lead to the need for carpet cleaning or even furniture replacement. Be sure to have enough money for unexpected costs when creating your spending plan. Also, you may need to do some work around your house to ensure it’s a safe place for a new pet to live; cabinet locks, cord-securing devices, and pet gates can often be overlooked but should be included as part of your one-time startup costs.

Ongoing Cost of Ownership: Food, Vet Visits and Grooming

You should consider the ongoing costs once you get past the startup expenses. Pet food, veterinary costs, medications, and grooming are some of the most common recurring expenses. You should build these estimated monthly expenses into your spending plan. These costs should largely remain the same most months, but you should review frequently and adjust accordingly to reduce financial stress in your family. Another consideration for an ongoing expense is pet insurance. Like Tate, some families choose to purchase pet insurance to defray the costs of pet health care. Be sure to research what the policy will cover and the cost of the policy before purchasing.

Special Considerations of Pet Ownership While in the Military

Veterinary Fees Vary by Geographic Location

Be sure to shop around and research options in your area and in preparation for a PCS. Doing your homework will allow you to put together a monthly spending plan reflecting any changes.

Some military installations offer veterinary treatment facilities (VTFs), but preference is given to military service animals and staffing can be limited. It’s wise to do your research to see if you have access to a VTF at your duty station or if you will need to seek care from a civilian veterinarian.

Costs of Transport

Moving your pet can be expensive, and the military does not cover the cost. Research the fees charged by airlines or pet transportation companies and plan for this expense when you know a PCS is on the horizon. This is key especially if you are planning for a long-distance or OCONUS move. The Department of Defense may reimburse you for up to $550 if you are an active-duty member moving to a country where the quarantine period is mandatory. All other fees and expenses related to traveling with a pet fall to the Service member. Some additional fees to keep in mind when planning your move include updating vaccinations, special crates for transportation, or additional airline fees.

Pets in Installation Housing or Rentals

Installation housing and rental housing often have limits or restrictions on pets, both in quantity and breed. Be sure to think about how adding a pet to your family could limit your housing options at future duty stations. Breed-specific legislation will vary by location so research what breeds are commonly accepted in installation and rental housing.

Additional or increased deposits are common when you have pets. Learn more about this before bringing a pet into your home. It’s a good idea to  set aside some money for pet deposits or fees in your spending plan when you consider adding a pet to your family or planning a PCS. Owning a pet can also impact the cost of your homeowners or rental insurance. These increased costs are generally breed-specific so be sure to do your research to learn if certain pets or breeds could impact the cost of your policy.

Pet Care Plans for Dual-Mil Families

Dual military families know about planning for the possibility of dual-deployments or TDYs, but pets can be overlooked when creating a care plan. Options like boarding and kennels are great, but they can really add up over time. When creating a spending plan for deployment or TDY, ensure your pets are cared for while you’re gone by budgeting for a pet sitter or kennel. You will still be responsible for covering the costs of food, veterinary care, or medications even if you have local friends or family to care for your pets while you’re away.

Planning will help you enjoy the experience of having a pet in your household instead of worrying about the expense.

 

MilSpouse Money Mission® is a Department of Defense resource that offers FREE personal financial education specifically geared toward spouses. There is a Money Ready guide for various stages of financial life, a MilLife Milestones section to help you through the big moments in your military journey, a blog, spouse videos, quizzes, calculators and more!

 

 

 

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Owning a pet can be a rewarding experience for the entire family. A pet provides companionship throughout all types of life changes, including moving or deployment of a Service member. Families with children experience the benefit of owning a pet to help teach children about compassion and responsibility. But it also comes with a price tag. It’s important to consider the total cost of pet ownership when factoring the expenses into your budget.

Tate from Fort Benning, Georgia wrote us with her budgeting tip for her dog, Odin. He is a high-energy dog and loves the outdoors as noted by this great picture and the big smiles! For their family, they purchased pet insurance to cover unforeseen expenses that inevitably come up. They factor the monthly payment into their spending plan and are prepared for the annual deductible should they reach it.

Here are several additional considerations to keep in mind as you plan for a furry addition to your family.

Initial Cost of Ownership: Adoption Fees, Startup Gear, and Vaccinations

When most families think about bringing a new pet home, they usually consider the basic startup costs like adoption fees, toys, crates/beds, and vaccinations. The month you bring home Fido or Fluffy can really throw your monthly budget for a loop if you don’t plan. Estimate the costs of adoption, food, and vaccinations if possible and begin saving as soon as you decide to expand your family with a pet. Planning will allow you to enjoy this experience without the worry of overspending.

Savings Hack: Consider purchasing some of the startup gear second-hand. Yard sales or online community groups often have these items listed for sale and are good as new after a thorough cleaning.

A consideration many families overlook when bringing a new pet home is the collateral cost; house training a new pet can lead to the need for carpet cleaning or even furniture replacement. Be sure to have enough money for unexpected costs when creating your spending plan. Also, you may need to do some work around your house to ensure it’s a safe place for a new pet to live; cabinet locks, cord-securing devices, and pet gates can often be overlooked but should be included as part of your one-time startup costs.

Ongoing Cost of Ownership: Food, Vet Visits and Grooming

You should consider the ongoing costs once you get past the startup expenses. Pet food, veterinary costs, medications, and grooming are some of the most common recurring expenses. You should build these estimated monthly expenses into your spending plan. These costs should largely remain the same most months, but you should review frequently and adjust accordingly to reduce financial stress in your family. Another consideration for an ongoing expense is pet insurance. Like Tate, some families choose to purchase pet insurance to defray the costs of pet health care. Be sure to research what the policy will cover and the cost of the policy before purchasing.

Special Considerations of Pet Ownership While in the Military

Veterinary Fees Vary by Geographic Location

Be sure to shop around and research options in your area and in preparation for a PCS. Doing your homework will allow you to put together a monthly spending plan reflecting any changes.

Some military installations offer veterinary treatment facilities (VTFs), but preference is given to military service animals and staffing can be limited. It’s wise to do your research to see if you have access to a VTF at your duty station or if you will need to seek care from a civilian veterinarian.

Costs of Transport

Moving your pet can be expensive, and the military does not cover the cost. Research the fees charged by airlines or pet transportation companies and plan for this expense when you know a PCS is on the horizon. This is key especially if you are planning for a long-distance or OCONUS move. The Department of Defense may reimburse you for up to $550 if you are an active-duty member moving to a country where the quarantine period is mandatory. All other fees and expenses related to traveling with a pet fall to the Service member. Some additional fees to keep in mind when planning your move include updating vaccinations, special crates for transportation, or additional airline fees.

Pets in Installation Housing or Rentals

Installation housing and rental housing often have limits or restrictions on pets, both in quantity and breed. Be sure to think about how adding a pet to your family could limit your housing options at future duty stations. Breed-specific legislation will vary by location so research what breeds are commonly accepted in installation and rental housing.

Additional or increased deposits are common when you have pets. Learn more about this before bringing a pet into your home. It’s a good idea to  set aside some money for pet deposits or fees in your spending plan when you consider adding a pet to your family or planning a PCS. Owning a pet can also impact the cost of your homeowners or rental insurance. These increased costs are generally breed-specific so be sure to do your research to learn if certain pets or breeds could impact the cost of your policy.

Pet Care Plans for Dual-Mil Families

Dual military families know about planning for the possibility of dual-deployments or TDYs, but pets can be overlooked when creating a care plan. Options like boarding and kennels are great, but they can really add up over time. When creating a spending plan for deployment or TDY, ensure your pets are cared for while you’re gone by budgeting for a pet sitter or kennel. You will still be responsible for covering the costs of food, veterinary care, or medications even if you have local friends or family to care for your pets while you’re away.

Planning will help you enjoy the experience of having a pet in your household instead of worrying about the expense.

 

MilSpouse Money Mission® is a Department of Defense resource that offers FREE personal financial education specifically geared toward spouses. There is a Money Ready guide for various stages of financial life, a MilLife Milestones section to help you through the big moments in your military journey, a blog, spouse videos, quizzes, calculators and more!

 

 

 

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We are team of financial professionals who understand military life because we have experienced military life. Our goal is to educate and empower military spouses to help them make smart money moves. We combine passion and expertise to ensure you get the most accurate and relevant information. Take comfort knowing Certified Financial Planner™ professionals, an Accredited Financial Counselor® and the Department of Defense Office of Financial Readiness have vetted the content on this site.

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