Living Frugally: Be a Smart Pet Owner

Welcome a Pet Into Your Home

FrugalUncleSamWhile you are certain to incur additional expenses as a pet owner – every day ownership and the occasional visits to the vet can be expensive – owning a pet does not have to be cost prohibitive.

There are many actions you can take to be frugal pet owners, yet ensure your non-human family members remain healthy and happy.

The first thing to consider is how a pet finds its way to your home. As with most things, the cost can range from $0 – hundreds of dollars.

Our household is home to two dogs, both which came to us via local animal shelters. The low-cost of $25 covered the cost of shots and neutering.

Among your first tasks as a new pet owner is to choose a vet. Even in smaller cities like our own, there are multiple vet clinics to choose from. Do a little comparison shopping of the costs for common services among the different clinics. Also, talk to family, friends, and co-workers with pets to get their feedback on the vet clinics they are familiar with.

Pet Insurance

Another early task is to consider pet insurance. While it is an added expense, there are several persuasive reasons why it might be a good idea. It should not come as a surprise that many pets will become sick or injured during the time they are a member of your family. As with other forms of insurance, pet insurance can provide a type of security that allows owners to make healthcare decisions based on medical necessity, rather than what their budget allows.

A photo posted by James Molet (@retirementsavvy) on

If you do decide pet insurance might be right for you, Pet Insurance Quotes is a good place to start comparing rates. Typically, insurance premiums are paid monthly or annually, the latter often offered at a slight discount. The cost varies depending on factors such as type of animal, age, breed and place of residence, the extent of coverage, the size of the deductible, and the percent reimbursed.

Veterinary Services

As your establishing a relationship with your vet, ask for a multiple animal discount. Just as some insurance companies offer discounts for multiple types of policies, some vet clinics offer discounts for multiple pets.

For regular services such as the expression of anal glands and nail trimming, Mrs. SavvyJames takes Zuki and Remi to our local pet store – PetSmart – where the services are less expensive than the vet clinic.

As with shopping for the humans in your family, it makes sense to shop at discount stores – WalMart in our case – for common pet supplies such as food, treats, and cat litter. As you might imagine, the mark-up at most vet clinics is pretty substantial.

And you Savvy Pet Owner, how do you minimize the cost of living with your non-human family member?

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.


  1. Hey, James. I didn’t consider myself a pet person growing up, but when Mrs. Groovy came into my life with two cats, I quickly succumbed. It’s amazing how emotionally attached you get to your pets. Great tips on how to economize on pet ownership. And the advice regarding pet insurance is something every new pet owner should consider. Mrs. Groovy’s second adopted cat got cancer and the chemotherapy cost us over $6K. Thankfully we had enough money in our emergency fund to handle it.

    • I know exactly what you mean. By myself, I probably would not have any pets. However, my wife broke me down soon after our marriage and what was going to be one dog quickly became two …

  2. Greetings! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us valuable information to work on. You have done a marvelous job!

    • Thanks and best of luck with our new endeavor!

  3. I absolutely hate it when I see people who get pets but aren’t in a position to properly care for it, and to handle any emergencies that might arise. We just spent $1500 on a root canal for our dog, and while it wasn’t pleasant, we were able to do it with ease because of our planning. It’s nothing but selfish to get a pet that you can’t properly care for.

    • Great point, Ryan. People should have a firm command of their finances and know exactly what they can – and cannot – afford. Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation.

  4. I wish, like Brian, we had more places to choose from. I must say that I have a decent vet currently, but sometimes I take them to another place for the basic services because they are less expensive. However, I found that one place in particular was not always doing what I was paying them to do. I ended up having to take them somewhere else to get the exact same service – anal gland expression – within a week or two. So be careful and make sure you are getting what you are paying for. If you can’t see it how do you know it was done?

    • No doubt, Karen. Seed out alternatives if you are not receiving the quality care you are paying for.

  5. A Google+ reader notes…

    Really cute and great names as well.

  6. We had a multi animal discount when we had 3 cats and 1 dog. Sadly now we just have one 19 year old cat. We really would like to get a rescue dog, but are being slow about it due to our finances.

    • It is wise to thoroughly assess your financial situation before committing to bringing another pet into your household. While the costs associated with pet ownership are not necessarily excessive, there are costs. Being savvy means recognizing what you can – and cannot – afford at any given time and how an expense might impact your savings/investment plan.

  7. Asking for a multiple animal discount at the vet is a good idea – it never hurts to ask! I also believe in utilizing animal shelters to find pets as you suggest. The cost is lower and you are helping a fellow creature. We are currently a no pet family since the recent passing of my sweet cat companion, but will probably be adopting a pet again in the future.

    • I wasn’t a fan of adopting the first dog…but two dogs later, they have truly become a part of the family!

  8. The TramueLites utilize web based shopping/ coupon sites for discounts on grooming and care. Although we paid a local breeder for Maestro [cocker spaniel] after unsuccessful attempts at a rather political process to obtain a pet from the city shelter and the humane society we have been more frugal in our care for him.

    Fortunate for us we live in a city with many specialty shops and lots of festivals that highlight services and products for our non-humans. We are generally able to find them heavily discounted with great customer service.

    • It’s always nice to be able to enjoy your non-human family members, in a less expensive manner. Mrs. SavvyJames just found out that there is vet clinic on the Army installation where we work that is substantially cheaper than our current vet…something we will be checking out in the very near future.

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