How to Handle Pet Emergencies When Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Having a dog, cat or other pet can bring a lot of happiness to your life, but it can also make things stressful. financial point of view. From food and grooming to vet bills, the costs of being a pet parent can be high.

A recent GOBankingRates survey found that 28% of pet owners spent more than $1,200 on their pet in the past year. Within this group, 8% spent more than $2,000. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, these costs can be difficult to manage, especially if you face unexpected expenses for your pets, like emergency medical care.

“Owning a pet comes with a lot of responsibility, financially and emotionally. Please consider the costs of owning a pet and the impact on your overall financial well-being,” said Shavon Roman, personal finance expert at Healing Plan Invest.

However, if you already have a pet and are living paycheck to paycheck, that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a tough time. You just need to take this issue seriously and plan ahead. “If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, a pet emergency can create financial chaos,” Roman said. Here’s something ways to be proactive about the possibility.

Consider pet insurance

One way to mitigate the financial risk of pet-related emergencies is to purchase pet insurance. This may add an additional cost to your monthly budget, but it can help you limit the overall costs you might pay in an emergency.

“It’s worth the money it will save you.” The cost of a pet emergency could be thousands of dollars,” Roman said. “Pet insurance is as essential for animals as health insurance is for people. This reduces the risk of financial catastrophe that could take years to recover from.

Last year, the average monthly pet insurance premium in the United States for accident and illness policies for dogs was $53.34, and for cats it was $32.54 $, depending on North American Pet Health Insurance Association. Accident-only pet insurance averaged $16.70 for dogs and $10.18 for cats. The more comprehensive the policy, the more you can protect yourself against the financial risk of emergency situations, but you will need to weigh the cost against the risk. Costs also differ significantly depending on factors such as the age and breed of your pet.

While it may not seem like much, pet insurance can still prove financially difficult for those short on savings. So, if necessary, “consider a temporary side job to cover the cost of pet insurance,” Roman suggested.

Build an emergency fund

Emergencies are unpredictable, but there’s a good chance you’ll face one at some point, whether it’s for your pet, your own health, your car, etc. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you need to find a way to cut an expense or add extra income, like from a side job, to accumulate emergency savings. Otherwise, you could end up spending more in the long run if you have to go into debt.

However, you don’t have to set up a separate emergency fund for your pet. “One emergency fund is enough. This makes things simple and more manageable. Use your general emergency account for all household emergencies, including pet-related emergencies,” Roman said.

A common guideline is to save 3 to 6 months of living expenses in an emergency fund, although this can vary depending on factors like your job stability and risk tolerance. One way to achieve more savings is to look at preventative care plans for pets, Roman said.

You may spend money every year on annual health exams or vaccinations at the veterinarian, for example. So paying for a preventive or wellness care plan that covers these types of costs could be more affordable overall, while potentially reducing the risk of an emergency illness occurring later.

You can also ask for discounts, which you may be surprised to find can work, Roman said. It doesn’t hurt to at least try. For example, maybe you have a pet sitter or daycare that you use on days when you have to go to the office. Maybe they offer a discount that, if you buy a service package in bulk, saves you money overall.

If you’re in a bind, Roman said you can also turn to pet charities. For example, your area might have a pet pantry if you have trouble obtaining essential pet supplies.

Overall, having a pet when you’re living paycheck to paycheck can be difficult, especially in an emergency. But if you’re aware of the financial risk of emergencies and plan accordingly, such as budgeting for pet insurance, you can reduce your risk of going into debt while still providing your four-legged friend with the care they need. he needs.

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