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What My Pets Really Cost Me

April 21st, 2014 at 12:11 pm

We have had as many as 18 cats and 3 dogs at a time. Plus 4 parrots and a dozen geese. So I am no stranger to the expense of feeding and housing a large number of animal companions. But the financial cost of sharing our home with a bunch of furry and feathered creatures has never really bothered me. It is how these little guys tie me down that gets to me. Here is what I mean.

We did not set out to have a houseful of pets. The number just grew, one rescued stray at a time. And, once adopted, they were all ours to care about and care for. The expense of that either falls under the baseline budget* or spills over into the discretionary fund**. Thankfully, one way or another the money is there. And "the unexpecteds" have certainly called for it.

Like the time we moved from Florida to Maryland and rented a second separate airconditioned truck to move our menagerie 1000-plus miles. Like the time our over-complaining neighbors drove us to build an enclosed 225-square-foot deckroom to give our previously free-ranging cats a good place in which to be house cats without getting our house all peed up. Or like the extended period during which I ran a daily medication clinic for pets with diabetic, thyroid, respiratory and other chronic ailments. But I have always managed to take that type of thing in stride. Not so much the limits my furry and feathered friends impose on my travel freedom.

That is my real problem: constraints on our ability to plan and take trips. Not many pet sitters are willing to tackle 20-plus pets at a time -- including hard-to-handle parrots. Plus geriatric dogs that won't necessarily wait for the pet sitter to do their business. And geese that must be herded into a protective shed at dusk and let back out the next morning. IF a pet sitter can be found, it adds $50 to $60 a day to the cost of a trip. If a pet sitter cannot be found, it is worse because then we have a problem that money will not solve.

So it is a good thing that I was there to look after all these critters when my wife had to go, without advance warning, on a 3-week trip last Fall to care for ailing family. When I had to do the same thing a couple of months later, it was likewise a good thing that my wife was there to provide for our pets.

But this travel limitation is a real thorn in my side. I do not like the constraints it puts on my freedom to enjoy my financial independence. But I love the little poopyheads -- so I will just have to buck up, live with it and stop complaining.

# # #

* My $18K Annual Baseline Budget:
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2013/12/29/my-18k-ann...

** A Discretionary Fund, Not a Discretionary Budget:
http://retired-to-win.savingadvice.com/2014/03/29/a-discreti...

2 Responses to “What My Pets Really Cost Me”

  1. Another Reader Says:

    When you had the maximum number of animals, what were your vet bills? That was probably an impediment to your savings rate at the time. It certainly impacted mine.

    I did cat rescue and TNR and occasionally had the same number. The vet bills were my biggest expense, after the mortgage. And there is no LTC insurance for pets, so you run the nursing home and dispense all the medications and sub-Q fluids.

  2. Retired To Win Says:

    Another Reader Says:

    "When you had the maximum number of animals, what were your vet bills? That was probably an impediment to your savings rate at the time. It certainly impacted mine.

    I did cat rescue and TNR and occasionally had the same number. The vet bills were my biggest expense, after the mortgage. And there is no LTC insurance for pets, so you run the nursing home and dispense all the medications and sub-Q fluids."


    I know what you mean, Another Reader. At the peak of our pet numbers, I had a $3000 a year vet budget, although in truth we never actually hit that number. (We had a good but reasonably priced vet. Wink)

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