I love seeing how other people budget, getting down to the nitty-gritty of their categories and numbers, but I don’t feel it is fair to gain value out of what others are contributing without contributing something ourselves. As promised, here is the fifth Budget Breakdown for the Enough Time Machine. This represents how much we budget per month, not necessarily how much we spend. This week we are looking at Pets.
Pets, animal companions, fur babies – the value that they bring to our lives is immeasurable. At this point in time, we have 2 animal companions, cats (pseudo)named Frank and Jelly. The inspiration for Frank’s Internet anonymity moniker is the main character of the British TV show, Shameless. He knows how to live a life where he has to do as little as possible, and we occasionally find him in odd places. Jelly is named after the jelly-belly (official veterinary term) she developed post de-sexing. We’re working on that.
Before we were cat people, we were dog people (actually, now we consider ourselves both). We lived with two huskies for nearly 15 years before the inevitable occurred. Let’s not dwell on the awful, though. We remember them as larger than life, with two different personalities. They made me get out and exercise, meet all of my neighbours, and get to know every street in our suburb, along with a good proportion of the two surrounding suburbs (huskies need A LOT of walking). I can’t even begin to describe the love and the joy, but if you’ve ever had pets, I likely don’t need to.
While the value that pets bring to our lives may be immeasurable, of course there are actual expenses related to residing with them, and we have a habit of making big purchases based on our animals. When we had the dogs, I bought a station wagon, just so we could transport them. There was no other reason for me to own a large car, and it will feel strange when it comes time to replace my current car after having driven a station wagon for nearly 2 decades. This time, for the cats, we have had the entire backyard netted. This allows them to go outside safely, without being able to leave our yard. This measure keeps them safe, keeps the birds safe (mostly), and means that they aren’t out annoying the neighbours. I know that cats can be perfectly happy as entirely indoor creatures, but I wanted them to be able to experience the sun and the grass and lizards and moths and dandelions. They don’t even really mind the rain.
On to our budget for them.
$150 – This amount represents more than the monthly cost. It looks like it can be nearly halved next year. We do buy premium cat food, just as we always bought premium dog food. I also like to buy in bulk, so having a lump sum sitting there enables me to take advantage of online sales. I already do well in shopping around for the best prices, so there are no goals related to this category.
$20 – This amount represents more than the monthly cost. Now that our fur babies have access to the back yard, they have decided that a particular corner of our garden is their toilet. While this is an unfortunate turn of events, we realised too late and the habit is now embedded. One bright side is that our litter costs are greatly reduced, and with the netting, we know it will remain our problem – not the neighbours’. It certainly wasn’t my plan to have to continue to do poo pickup with the cats!
$25; Open-ended. Keeping the little buggers healthy and parasite free is expensive. One worming tablet costs $11 each, once a quarter! I also like to buy their medication in bulk online, and have realised some huge savings by doing so – we won’t have to buy that tablet from the vet for a very long time.
$100; Open-ended. Being cats, we have listened to advice from others, and can leave them at home on their own for a single night. We just load them up with food on the day we leave, then feed them the next day when we return. For anything longer than a night, though, we usually board them. We do have friends and family that will come around to feed them, but I don’t like asking people to do it for us. Everyone is busy, and this is another task they have to add to their day. This attitude is a bit silly, though, because we are also more than happy to look after friend’s pets, and really enjoy the benefits of playing with them. We board our two back with the breeder, who is fairly local. He knows the cats, they know the environment, so I think it is a win-win. I also like to know that they are comfortable and well looked after in a familiar place when we eventually do get away for a longer break.
Goal 14: accept the generosity of our friends and family to feed out cats far a short period at least once a year.
$50; Open-ended. The known yearly checkup and vaccinations accounts for about $20 of this, so there is a little padding in here for any further needs. Also the pet insurance category will be combined with this next year to begin building a pet emergency fund (or to prepare for their old age, which, like humans, becomes much more expensive). In the meantime, for large unexpected expenses, we have our emergency fund.
$10; Open-ended. This is a little silly. They really are the type of cats that like boxes and rolled up bits of paper and toys that I make out of pipe cleaners for them. However, if you are buying toys, by far the best value one we’ve found is Da Bird. I know it looks like a feather on a stick, but it is an awesome cat toy that is totally worth the money. They go absolutely crazy wild when I get it out. Fantastic toy to get them running and exercising. I will just keep saving into this category, as I’m sure there will be cat furniture we need to replace at some point in the future. We managed to purchase a flat-packed cat tree that is 6 foot tall online, posted from Melbourne – it was less than half the price of an equivalent one in the local pet store, even taking into account postage!
It appears that purchasing online for pets can really save a lot of money – I have experienced significant savings with food, litter, medication, toys and furniture when compared to our local pet stores or vet.
All up, pets represent 4.7% of our total budget. Watch and see how this graph changes as we investigate other Budget Categories.