There really is nothing quite like the companionship you get from having a pet around and it can be so tempting to add a little friend to your household, especially when the kids get the idea in their heads! But here’s the thing – it’s not cheap. After all, it’s another mouth to feed and another life to make comfortable, so it’s important to consider the financial implications first. If you’re worried you can’t afford it, it’s always better to wait until you’re sure. If you do decide to go for it, here are some tips for keeping a happy, healthy pet without breaking the bank.
Make insurance a priority. Pet insurance varies depending on the type of pet, its age, health and the area you live in, but if you spread the cost monthly it’s generally not that expensive – especially when you consider the fees you could be paying if your pet is hit with an illness and needs ongoing veterinary attention. Don’t fancy adding another monthly expense? Consider going for lower maintenance pets such as a hamster or a couple of goldfish that won’t necessarily require insurance cover.
Consider set up costs. Your new pet is going to need a clean, comfortable and appropriate place to call home, so carefully consider its needs. Guinea pigs and rabbits will need a well-maintained hutch, for example. Reptiles will need a secure tank and most will need specific heating to regulate their climate. Even an aquarium for the goldfish will require considerable cleaning attention. Again, a pet with smaller set up costs may be the way forward for you.
Keep an eye out for deals. Most supermarkets run regular offers on pet food and supplies, which can add up to a hefty saving over time. Consider buying in bulk while the offer is on. Zooplus.co.uk is a great website for bulk discounts and caters for all sorts of animals.
DIY toys and treats. Toys can be pricey, especially if your pet nudges them a bit and then never looks at them again. Why not make your own toys? For cats, cardboard boxes and tubes can prove invaluable, and dogs are usually happy with a tennis ball or an old slipper to chew. If you find your pet tires of the same toys after a while, don’t feel you need to go out and buy new ones – have a few that you bring out in rotation to keep them happy.
Adopt. There are many, many animals out there that need a home and a family, but sadly there are breeders bringing more into the world for their own financial gain. Why not go and have a look around some rescue centres and shelters? You’ll soon fall in love! Adopting does usually come with a fee, although it’s more likely to fund a good cause than Kevin-down-the-road’s new car. A good place to start is rspca.org.uk/findapet/rehomeapet.
Get your pet neutered/spayed. Whatever animal you go for, one thing’s for sure – it’s eventually going to go looking for fun. Unless you want a whole bunch more mouths to feed, speak to your vet about the procedure. This is a really, really important one to consider.
Beware of ‘free to a good home’ adverts. It’s free – that’s a good thing, right? Wrong. Too often people will use the ‘free’ incentive to get rid of pets that aren’t in the best health, and could end up costing you a lot more. It’s definitely worth doing your research and paying slightly more to a reputable source.
Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is a charity determined to combat problem debt and its causes across the UK, with the help of local churches. This March, its latest service, CAP Life Skills, launches officially. The initiative aims to give people on a low income the skills to live well within their means. All CAP’s services are available to everyone regardless of age, gender, faith or background. Find out more at capuk.org or call 0800 328 0006.
By Adriaan Van Wyk