Last week, I took my cats to the vet for their annual checkups and vaccinations. Oh, how they love to get smashed into their crate and taken to the vet. Thankfully, my vet is wonderful, and I always know that the cats are well cared for when we’re there.
The whole thing cost a little bit more than I had budgeted for, but I wasn’t too worried. Unfortunately, my fat cat has been on diet food for an entire year and managed to gain two pounds, so he now needs to be on prescription diet food. Which costs about double what I was buying. And I have two cats, so you try to get them to eat two different things (actually, I have to make sure the skinny cat eats other food plus the diet food, so if anyone has any grand suggestions other than ‘use wet food’ (he won’t eat it), I’d appreciate the help). I do get a small discount because I bring the two of them in at once, so the second exam is much cheaper.
Additionally, I found out that one of my cats has broken a tooth and the vet really thinks it should be extracted before it gets infected or starts to hurt him. Of course, I immediately scheduled the appointment. They were surprised I was so willing to schedule it without first getting an estimate of what it was going to cost. My response to that was “It doesn’t matter what it costs. He needs it, so we’re getting it done.”
The surgical work is going to cost $400 after it’s all said and done, which is not in the budget for the month, but I’ll make it work. It might mean that I raid my frivolity fund, but I made the choice to adopt these cats years ago. In doing so, I agreed to provide for them and care for them. And if that means a $400 surgery, that means a $400 surgery. I don’t even feel as though there’s a choice.
(I don’t have pet insurance, have priced it before and decided it wasn’t worth it for me – and something like this wouldn’t be covered anyway.)
I have noticed a number of stories in the news lately about people losing their homes and leaving their pets behind, sometimes locked up in the empty house without food or water. Realtors are going into foreclosed homes and finding emaciated pets, and sometimes dead pets. I read about one person who was carrying around food, water, and leashes, just in case he discovered another abandoned pet.
On a lesser scale, according to my vet’s office, people are choosing to not have necessary vaccinations and surgeries done for their pets in order to save money. And I am sure there are a lot of people who truly have stretched themselves to the financial limit and absolutely cannot afford this pet care. But there are other people who are choosing to “sacrifice” their pet’s health first, rather than spend less on restaurants or clothing.
Not everyone views their pets the way that I do and I realize that. I can’t imagine doing something that would hurt them. I had the option to put off the cat’s surgery until it became clear that his mouth was bothering him. To me, that wasn’t an option. But I have also managed to organize my finances such that I can afford to spend $400 now. Yes, it’s going to destroy my budget. But the money is in the account (thanks to YNAB and living off of last month’s income). Worst case scenario, I pull a bit from the emergency fund. Not everyone is that lucky.
However, I just wish that all the people abandoning their pets when they leave their homes would take the extra time to drop their pet at a shelter. I don’t know that there is ever an excuse for leaving a pet to starve to death alone in an empty house.
Megan is a 30-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.